With the announcement of a remake of Final Fantasy 7 many long time gamers were suddenly awash with a mix of nostalgia and slight foaming at the mouth. For many, this was the remake that they've always wanted to happen and while I'm doing my best to curb my own personal hype, I can't help but admit that I'm excited. But why? Why would I be excited about playing a remake of a game? I can't speak for everyone but, for me at least, Final Fantasy VII was the game that really made me fall in love with video games. This is going to get a little gushy so brace for that as I step in a mental time machine and hearken back to middle school.
Final Fantasy: VII was released in January of 1997 (so it's old enough to vote), but I didn't play it until years after its release. If there was an award for being late to the party, I would have won best in show. Then again, I was eight years old in 1997 so I would have had no idea what in the world was going on anyway let alone have enough faculties to facilitate a disk change. I first picked up the game when I was 12 years old (like I said, really late to the party). It was a splurge purchase at the local EB Games (are those still around?) because it was on sale. The box was a little messed up but it was multi-disk so I felt as if I was getting a lot of bang for my buck. As it turns out, I was absolutely right.
I doubt I'm going to say anything here that someone else already hasn't said but there was just something so special about that game. Final Fantasy VII showed me exactly what a game could do and it showed the world what the Playstation could really do. As it turned out, it could do a lot. The combination of the soundtrack, the pre-rendered backgrounds, the overall story, and just the feel of the game made for a perfect storm of staying up late during school nights and talking about the game with my friends.
It had the first epic story line that I've ever experienced at that point, it was my first game that called for a disk change, and it was the first game that really made me hurt when I saw a character die in the story. It also had a really interesting battle system. I can honestly say that I don't remember another Final Fantasy battle system that I liked as much as the one in VII. Then again, I stopped at XI and there's a theory out there that you'll always love your first Final Fantasy so I could be grossly biased.
Battle system aside, Final Fantasy VII was the first game I truly got lost in and it was that quality going forward that I looked for in games. It's like that first love that you inevitably, no matter how hard you try, compare everyone to. To this day I still have a love for games with a good story that can really suck me in. I've lived a thousand different lives with a controller in my hand and it all started with that one game. That's why I have such a deep appreciation for it and it's also why I'm both excited and worried about the remake.
There's a reason I haven't replayed this game since middle school and it's not just because I lent it to a "friend" of mine and he gave it back to me WITHOUT the CD case, stuffed in a single cardboard sleeve, and with every disk looking like it was attacked by a tiger. I have an irrational fear that if I play it, the magic will taper off. I've looked at this game with rose tinted nostalgia glasses for so long that maybe I've made it out to be something bigger in my head. I have that same feeling for this upcoming remake. I'll still play it because I'm a dead sucker, but a part of me is worried that with the announced changes to battle system and some of the story that perhaps it won't have the same magic that it had for me some 14 or so odd years ago. But here's to hoping and here's to faith.
Until then, I still have my memories of sitting in my living room with the a Playstation controller in my hand, a can of Mountain Dew sitting to my left, and some Flaming Hot Cheetos to my right.