Contains very Minor Spoilers but nothing actually important will be mentioned!
It was Christmas of 1997. PlayStation was the newest hottest system. An astronomic leap from Super Nintendo. Graphics that blew your mind, a disc based system, it was the future.
We weren’t very wealthy, and my brother and I hatched a plan. Let’s set aside our differences, squash the resentment, forget our troubles, and unite. Let us come together as a team! If we combine our Christmas list into one single ultimate gift, we just MIGHT be able to get a PlayStation. And so we did. And my parents saw what it meant to us, and made it happen. Let me tell you, it was absolutely magical.
We got it, the holy grail, the most beloved PlayStation, and two games. Command & Conquer: Red Alert and, what is likely the most influential game of my life, Final Fantasy 7. No memory card though.
And so we played both, as often as we were allowed. And sneaking in time when it wasn’t allowed. And something just clicked with FF7 and me. Without a memory card, I played the first Reactor sequence a dozen times. We would leave it on overnight, because without the memory card we couldn’t save the game. It took weeks before we could afford the memory card and actually progress through the game.
The graphics were mind blowing (remember its 1997). Full motion videos made the hairs on my arms stand up. The soundtrack pulled me deep into the world. Characters with rich backgrounds and stories. A ridiculously in depth, complicated story. With ALL SORTS of innuendos I didn’t understand as young boy. 35 hours of gameplay as a kid, might as well be 6 months of time for an adult.
My father implemented a “1 hour of game time, per 1 hour of books read” rule. I immediately finished every book I owned, I moved onto some of his books. I’m a kid reading White Fang. I’m a kid reading the dictionary, dropping new words learned like bombs at the dinner table conversations to prove to pops I was reading. All for that sweet, succulent, Final Fantasy Time.
I bond with the main character. I see myself in Cloud, but yet I also bond with Sephiroth. The main, very bad guy. And all of this because the characters are so deeply fleshed out that you understand how and why they are doing what they do. The game literally blows my mind. And I play it repeatedly throughout the years.
I’m following the lore, movie, and spin off games. I have wall art, tee shirts, action figures, full play throughs, and then some. I crush all the Weapons. Even the extra two, Ruby and Emerald who are essentially bonus content that require you to grind, level up, and have all your ducks in a row. There’s only a handful of people I know that beat them ever, and I dropped them multiple times, in different ways. They don’t stand a chance against me and my full party Quadra Cut, Counter/Mime, Enemy skill, Final Attack/Phoenix Materia combo.
And 23 years later they bring it all back...
What they give us is the first 8 hours of gameplay from the original game. Except they turned it into a “first chapter” for the remake. And they turned that 8 hours from the original game into 35 hours for this remake. That said, they've been real tight lipped about how many more games there will be in the sequel. But I’m guessing at least 2 more titles. It would be poetic as the original game was 3 discs. But it was everything a die hard fan could want. It felt like I was playing through for the first time even though I knew what happens throughout the story. Yes, some of the events' timing is slightly changed and they made a few tweaks. But it doesn’t deter from nostalgia, it just made it feel fresh!
The opening scene brings a tear to my eyes. A lifetime of memories instantly come flooding back. But it’s different... How could it not be it’s been 23 years. To simply remake with modern graphics, sure it’d be neat, but they took it and turned it up to 11!
It’s the same people, in the same world, but with a shit load more content and depth never before imagined. There’s a reason turn style battle systems died out, and I’m glad they didn’t keep it. The new system keeps the old tactical charm, with a much more fast paced, adrenaline pumping style that you’ll recognize if you played “Crisis Core”. The Materia system is, again, the same; but updated with new abilities and revamped old abilities to fit the new style.
The music is AMAZING!! To go from MIDI to a full on orchestra is just fantastic. They kept the heart of the old tunes and tied it in so perfectly with scenes that I didn’t immediately recognize some songs. However, when the familiar notes hit...it pulled on my heart strings. (The final boss fight had me AMPED UP!!!)
They added the “Whispers”, which at first I was taken back by. But after playing through the game, I realized it’s pure genius. It gives them an opportunity to change things up without everyone pissing about how “It’s not the same”. All while also reminding you that “Hey dude, it’s been 23 years, we’re having fun with this, and we're adding new stuff. Enjoy!”
FACT: I’ve been a gamer my whole life. And I used to take time off work for new releases. However, In recent years I don’t play as much as I used to. But I’ll still drop an 8 hour game sessh every now and then. But the FF7 Remake re-ignited the fire in my soul. I got the game Tuesday night, played until sunrise, barely slept, and then played the ENTIRETY of Wednesday. I’m talking 11am- 4am. And then had another mega session Thursday. Finishing the game around 2 am. So we’re taking about 35 hours gameplay in 55 hours of total time.
Just to further detail how great this game is. At one point I was supposed to meet up with a group of friends. When they couldn’t get a hold of me (because clearly it's FF7 time), they reached out to my girlfriend, to get ahold of me. To which I genuinely replied “I don’t care about anything else right now”. Yeah, the game is THAT good.
Look, I imagined how great this remake could be, and I was so wrong. Because it's so much more than what I hoped for. It brought me back to my childhood while also bringing itself to modern times. And it's done in such a way that I’ve never been more pleased with any other product ever. In my life. And I am more than excited for the next chapter in the remake and what the future holds. In the mean time, I'll be replaying the remake on hard mode!