Saturday, June 25, 2022

Final Fantasy 7 will always be more important than my favorite game

Final Fantasy 7 turns 25 this week, and Square Enix is ​​celebrating with a special. It’s quite remarkable to think that a 25-year-old title is still as popular today in a series of games preparing to be 16 installments long, let alone all the spinoffs. FF7 Remake brought the historical game and its story to a whole new generation of gamers, and thanks to The First Soldier and Ever Crisis, there’s a whole FF7 universe.

Remake meant a lot to me when it finally came out, as a rare title that lives up to the hype. I’d say the original game meant a lot to me when it launched 25 years ago, but that’s not entirely true. FF7 wasn’t the kind of game I would have noticed as an eight-year-old flipping through PlayStation magazines. I’ve played Crash, WipeOut, and Rugrats: Search for Reptar – which deserves its own remake – but that’s not why we’re here.


RELATED: Final Fantasy 7 Remake has the best opening in gaming history

I didn’t really know what FF7 was when my dad gave it to me, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t excited. It was a new PlayStation game. They could have given me everything in one of those easily breakable, perfectly square plastic cases in the late 90’s and I would have excitedly rushed to my PS1 to play it. I even enjoyed Simpsons Wrestling back then, which should show how low my new game bar was. What I didn’t realize until much later in life was that my father gifting me FF7 was the start of a successful attempt by him to find something we could connect through.

Final Fantasy 7 cover
via SquareEnix

Like most parents throughout history, my father didn’t really see most of the things I liked as a kid. He didn’t follow football, didn’t share my love of Pokémon, and struggled the most with my obsession with pro wrestling. Exactly what drew him to FF7 so much that he bought a copy to watch me play will forever remain a mystery. However, that’s exactly what happened, and since the game has perhaps the best opening mission in a video game to date, I was addicted to a game I’d never heard of, and that was way out of my childhood zone, right off the bat.

I wasn’t the only one in the room grabbed by Cloud and the gang’s successful attempt to blow up a Mako reactor. My father sat next to me and watched as I tried to escape before the explosives detonated as if he were watching it on a big screen with a bucket of popcorn. He was addicted too. What I can only surmise was a fleeting thought that popped into his mind as he passed FF7 on a store shelf somewhere, and quickly turned into a successful attempt to find something that would suit a man in his thirties and his eight year old son would entertain the same time.

Although my father didn’t play games, he was able to help me when I got stuck and explain the story to me when it got too complex for my developing brain. However, the bond did not extend to other Final Fantasy products. A few years later he showed me Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and since it had no connection to FF7 (which I didn’t realize until the movie started), my interest in it fell off a cliff pretty quickly. The same was true for Final Fantasy 8. For some reason I didn’t realize at the time that the game was called 7, which means there were six games before that. I wonder if it occurred to my father.

Last fantasy 7
via SquareEnix

However, our bond with FF7 remained and even helped us bond with other games I would never have given a second look to a kid, like Abe’s Odyssey. FF7 remained our go-to, though, which is why I was so excited when Square Enix revealed a remake was in the works. My father died ten years before the remake arrived, so playing through this iconic opening mission all these years later was emotional and nostalgic for so many reasons.

Even though Remake has been tweaked significantly, there were still moments that hit me a lot harder than I expected. The callbacks to the original game I played with my dad sat right there. The moments we talked about or he had to explain to me when I was a kid. I didn’t need to be talked through the game this time, but there were moments when I wished he’d still been there to see a complete reimagining of the game that brought us closer. The ability to see Midgar from a whole new perspective. I never really finished the original game as a kid, nor do I know where I finally gave up. Not until I’ve played Remake and the memories flooded back. I moved on to a part of Midgar I had never seen before and continued my journey years later without my father.

If you ask me what my favorite games are or get prompted to share them through another viral tweet on social media, FF7 or its remake never make the cut. Sonic 2, The Last Of Us, and Pokemon Yellow are the ones that immediately come to mind. And while these are my favorite games, none of them will ever live up to what FF7 means to me. I have a connection to it that will never be repeated as I am no longer a child and my father is gone. Bring part 2, or whatever you call it, so I can reprise the role of Cloud and continue my emotional nostalgia trip.

NEXT: Pokemon Legends: Arceus has terrible graphics and we should all keep saying it

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