Final Fantasy VII was released for the Sony PlayStation in 1997 and was later re-released for PCs, mobile phones, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
The seventh Final Fantasy takes place in the world of Gaia. The planet’s life force, the Lifestream, is a flow of spiritual energy that gives the world life, but it is being drained for energy by the Shinra Electric Power Company, a mega corporation in the city of Midgar with aspirations of world domination. All existence is under threat thanks to Shinra, and you are the world’s only hope.
There are four important groups in the game:
AVALANCHE, an eco-terrorist group who seeks to stop Shinra and save the planet.
SOLDIER, an elite force of humans who also opposes Shinra.
The Turks, a covert branch of Shinra’s security forces.
The Cetra, a near-extinct tribe of humans who maintain a spiritual connection with the Lifestream.
Cloud Strife, an unsociable mercenary who claims to be a former top soldier before joining AVALANCHE.
Barret Wallace, the brazen but paternal leader of AVALANCHE.
Tifa Lockhart, a shy martial artist and childhood friend of Cloud’s.
Aerith Gainsborough, a carefree and loveable flower merchant who is one of the last surviving Cetra.
Red XIII, an intelligent feline-like creature from a tribe who seeks to protect the planet.
Cait Sith, a robotic fortune-telling cat controlled by a reformed Shinra staff member named Reeve.
Cid Highwind, a pilot.
Yuffie Kisaragi, a ninja and thief.
Vincent Valentine, a former Turk and victim of Shinra experiments.
Rufus Shinra, son of President Shinra who eventually leads the Shinra corporation.
Sephiroth, former SOLDIER who was thought dead but reappears with his own ambitious goals.
Jenova, a hostile alien life form imprisoned by Cetra 2,000 years ago.
Sephiroth and Jenova have a connection.
Sephiroth was a Shinra experiment who was injected with the cells of Jenova as a fetus. He was once the most powerful member of SOLDIER, but after Sephiroth discovered his origins during a mission to the village of Nibelheim, he learns Jenova, who he considers his mother, attempted to take control of the planet 2,000 years ago. Sephiroth feels it is his destiny to follow in his mother’s footsteps.
He attempts to merge with the Lifestream and become all powerful by summoning a meteorite to damage the planet. This will cause the Lifestream to heal the planet’s wound, and when it flows to the impact site, Sephiroth will absorb the power and become immortal.
Cloud and Sephiroth also have a connection that becomes clearer as you progress through the game. Their rivalry has become one of the most deep and iconic in gaming history.
The game was directed by FFVI scenario director Yoshinori Kitase. The art was done by Yusuke Naora (later the producer of Code Age) and Tetsuya Nomura had his first role as a character designer. It was written by Yoshinori Kitase and FF newcomer Kazushige Nojima, who would later go on to write Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, and a number of games in the Kingdom Hearts series.
It was the first FF game with three-dimensional graphics and thanks to the power of the PlayStation, the first with cinematic cutscenes.
New features include the Materia system proposed by producer Hironobu Sakaguchi. Materia is the source of magic in the game that is used to cast spells and summon magical allies in battle such as these:
Tetsuya Nomura refined the Desperation Attacks from FFVI with the newly named Limit Breaks. Limit Breaks were special moves you could perform in battle once your limit gauge filled up. The more damage you receive, the more the gauge fills, so Limit Breaks were like special retaliations against your foes.
Final Fantasy VII received huge acclaim when it was released. To this day it remains the single most popular Final Fantasy game and the one that most people think of when they think of Final Fantasy. Its popularity contributed significantly to the popularity of the PlayStation.
It was a fun and challenging RPG with a deep and mature story that many gamers consider a highpoint in gaming history. In fact this game is on more Best lists than most other games.
Its popularity was so huge that it received a number of spin-off games and movies that expanded on the game’s narrative:
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2004) was a direct-to-DVD sequel film that took place two years after the events of FFVII. It was directed by Tetsuya Nomura and written by Kazushige Nojima, with animation by Visual Works, the same studio behind the cutscenes in the game.
Last Order: Final Fantasy VII (2005) is an OVA detailing the destruction of the town of Nibelheim, a key event in the game. It was directed by Morio Asaka with animation by Madhouse (Wolf Children, One-Punch Man).
Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, released for mobile phones in 2004 exclusively in Japan, was a game split into 24 episodes on a subscription-based model. A prequel that told the story of the conflict between the Turks and AVALANCHE.
Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII was a third-person shooter released for the PlayStation 2 in 2006 that took place three years after FFVII and focused on Vincent Valentine.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was an RPG released for the PlayStation Portable in 2007, a prequel that focused on Zack Fair, a past friend of Cloud’s who was only alluded to briefly in FFVII.
This group of spin-offs was known collectively as Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.
The popularity of the characters from the FFVII universe have led to their inclusion in other games as well. For example, Cloud Strife has appeared in the Nintendo crossover fighting series Super Smash Bros. alongside characters like Mario, Link and Pikachu. In addition, Cloud, Aerith, Yuffie, Cid and Sephiroth have all appeared in the Kingdom Hearts series alongside Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy.
Final Fantasy VII was a huge step for the franchise. It made RPGs even more mainstream and the Final Fantasy series even more popular. A lot of money was spent on the marketing for the game. For the first time, a Final Fantasy game was being advertised in America during popular shows like Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons, and even in ads inside DC and Marvel comics. This was part of Sony’s plan to eclipse Nintendo in the gaming market, which they did for a long time since then. Square’s ambitions for creating cinematic gaming were too big for the power of the Nintendo 64, and the popularity of FFVII pretty much guaranteed the series’ allegiance to PlayStation from that point forward.