Welcome to The Starlight Megaphone‘s playthrough of Final Fantasy VII, releaseed by SquareSoft (now Square Enix), exclusively on the Sony PlatStation in Japan on 31 January 1997, in North American on 7 September 1997, and in PAL regions on 14 and 17 November 1997.
Final Fantasy VII was the highly-anticipated next-generation title in a franchise that had customarily been considered part of the ‘niche’ genre of JRPGs. Heavily marketed by Sony towards more ‘mainstream’ gamers, as a means of boosting the profile of the then-struggling Sony PlayStation, the title’s success represented an enormous coup: not only did Sony’s marketing pay off in terms of both PlayStation and game sales, it also vindicated SquareSoft’s decision to abandon their long but fraught partnership with Nintendo, changing the landscape of the game industry almost overnight. In the years to follow, Nintendo’s influence would diminish as Sony’s would grow, a circumstance which prevailed until only recently.
In the quarter century which followed the release of Final Fantasy VII, additional spin-off titles, movies, and remakes have followed, building upon and expanding the story of the original game into an international media franchise.
In a break with the overall tradition of the series, the world of Final Fantasy VII situates the player within a society possessed of modern technology: electricity, automobiles, space programs, and metropolitan life, all powered through the wonder of mako, an energy source extracted by the Shinra company from within the planet. In clear parallels to the environmental conservation movement, the use of mako as an energy source is connected to the death of the planet itself. And, as the story of the game develops, still greater threats–the interplanetary calamities Jenova and Meteor–are revealed, pitting the game’s protagonists against both political and supernatural forces, and even against each other.
The battle system utilises the highly-popular Active Time Battle system (ATB) which had been a series staple since Final Fantasy IV, but incorporated the highly customisable materia system, which builds upon the customisability of the Esper system in Final Fantasy VI, allowing characters to learn specific spells, use specific abilities, and gain special attributes. Differing primarily in stats and weapon types, the characters are otherwise less structurally unique, allowing a level of customisation even exceeding that of the Job System found in Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy V. The further development of critical mode from Final Fantasy VI into the Limit Break system, and the technological innovation of summon magic CGI, are some of the game’s most well-known features.
Final Fantasy VII has been the subject of numerous re-releases, updates, and even an ongoing remake project. Later versions of the game sharpened the graphics, corrected the translation, and added features to make the game easier for children, infants, and video game journalists, ensuring that everyone can play through the famous experience of Final Fantasy VII, even when they are otherwise unable to play video games. The remake, which is more of a remimaging of the original game (although it relies upon understanding of the original story) is available as well, aimed both at audiences who care only about graphics, and also those fans of the original game who, out of a sense of masochism, wish to see their hopes and dreams of a respectful remake trampled underfoot by a band of psychotic, development goons.
Please use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, strategies and content you have uncovered, and any aids you are using in your playthrough. Do you believe that Final Fantasy VII will be forgotten in favour of its modern ‘remake’? Do you prefer the menu-driven ATB to modern real-time button-mashing action? Do you find the exploration of the world liberating or confusing? What sorts of changes would you make to the game? What features would you add or remove? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.
The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game by 7 October 2022. Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play the game. This will help to sustain our discussion and encourage other players to complete the game, and it will guide us to know when it is time to close our playthrough. Please also make use of our official Discord channel, where we have an #events channel dedicated to playthrough chat.
Please join in with us and comment about your experience! Our playthrough is intended to encourage anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the genre. Comment and tell your friends!
Without further adieu, we invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone‘s staff members and readers in Celebration of Final Fantasy VII: a Final Fantasy VII playthrough!