Game Review #223: Final Fantasy VII (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: Square Enix Co. LTD.
Release Date: 03.26.2019
Price (at time of review): $15.99
Buy Final Fantasy VII from the eShop here.
The Time Has Finally Come
In the late 90s I made the big jump from Nintendo to PlayStation, following the trend of newer consoles and getting on the hype train. It was a fun ride, and I have glorious memories of playing games like Resident Evil for the first time ever that are forever etched into my brain. But, in 1997, Final Fantasy VII came out, and I can distinctly remember my friends going nuts.
Now I’d never been an RPG fan, so I didn’t see what the big deal was, aside from how awesome the characters looked. I ended up playing it at a friend’s house, sinking in hours just trying to get a foothold since I wasn’t familiar with playing JRPGs. I would go on to revisit it years later and truly understand the allure and greatness behind the game. So, to find out that the hottest current console—which happens to be both Nintendo and portable—was getting Final Fantasy VII was almost too good to be true, especially since there is a history there.
Final Fantasy VII + Nintendo
In 1997 Square developed Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation, but before that, back in 1994, the development was originally started for the SNES. After delays and technical difficulties from experimenting on several platforms, Square moved production to the PlayStation, largely due to the advantages of the CD-ROM format. Veteran Final Fantasy staff returned, including series creator and producer Hironobu Sakaguchi, director Yoshinori Kitase, and composer Nobuo Uematsu.
Although the gameplay systems remained mostly unchanged from previous entries, Final Fantasy VII introduced more widespread Sci-Fi elements and a more realistic presentation. Final Fantasy VII received widespread commercial and critical success, and remains widely regarded as a landmark title and one of the greatest video games of all time. The title won numerous GOTY awards, and was acknowledged for boosting the sales of the PlayStation, as well as for popularizing JRPGs.
In Final Fantasy VII you play as main protagonist Cloud, a mercenary who joins an eco-terrorist organization to stop a world-controlling corporation from using the planet's life essence as an energy source. Events send Cloud and his allies in pursuit of Sephiroth, a superhuman intent on destroying their planet. During the journey, Cloud builds close friendships with his party members, including Aerith, who holds the secret to saving their world.
To note a couple of things, the bond you form with Cloud, Barret, and Aerith is one of the major selling points as to why people love and adore this game. The writing is fleshed out well, and not only does it pull you in and make you care for and connect with these characters, but it also remains relevant to present day events, and that can really hit home emotionally. Also worth noting that having these amazing characters would be such a waste if they didn’t have the perfect baddie to play off of in Sephiroth, as he is one of the all-time best main villains.
We’ve Done This Before & Had A Blast
Just to gloss over things—as most people already know what they’re getting into—I’ll give a quick overlay before getting into what to expect with this version on the Switch. The game features three modes of play: the world map, the field, and the battle screen. This was the first time that the series used the 3D models, and there are tons of environments you’ll explore in the world map that’ll scale when you enter the field. In field mode you explore the environments, talking to NPCs and moving the story along, as well as playing mini games—of which there are a lot!
At any random time during exploration of the field mode you’ll be tossed into battle mode where you have to fight it out. This was something that drove me crazy in the original, as I’d just be minding my own trying to progress the story, and boom, another fight. This made it a grind fest to become powerful enough to move along, but we all made our peace with what it was.
The battle system is nothing new, as attack, magic and item are all here as usual. Pretty much everything that can be said has been said about this amazing game, so let's dive into what’s different about this port on the Switch.
How Does The Fantasy Switch?
The days of sitting in my room for hours and hours playing video games, just waiting on meals to be made and my mom to holler for me to come eat are long gone. Now, being an adult and having kids and responsibilities consumes so much time, and it seems like this port knew I needed a little help. Everything that was added made this such a fun and enjoyable experience.
There are 3 major added changes. The first change is that you can speed up the in-game time by threefold, which helps the game move quicker and feel more breezy. This would normally play out like a 100-hour movie, with characters taking long pauses and walking slow all for effect, but this is easily negated with this new feature. The only thing I would recommend is turning it off during fights, or if nothing else, boss fights in particular. Everything is sped up, so if you don’t act quickly enough, they move two or three times to your one move, but this is easy to switch, as you just push in the left joystick to turn it on or off.
The second change is the ability to turn random encounters on or off by pressing both joysticks in. I know this is part of the grind we’ve all come to expect, but it just helps move everything along quicker and streamline the experience.
The third change is a feature that, by pressing in the right stick, allows you to go into every battle with all your HP and limit meters refilled each time. This is more so for someone wanting to get through the game and take the easy way, or for newcomers that want a little bit of an edge so they don’t feel completely lost while playing.
All of these modern improvements to the features are easily turned on and off, so they’re just a button click away. I wish this was integrated so seamlessly in Final Fantasy IX, but either way, I’m happy it’s here! It really lets you choose the experience.
Audio & Visuals
The beautiful storytelling is only matched by the amazing and legendary soundtrack that you’ll hear throughout the game, which leaves you feeling every emotion possible. I really can’t say enough about the astounding soundtrack, aside from that it’s so great that you should seek it out, however you listen to music, and add it there to enjoy even when you’re not playing. Unfortunately, the music bug/error that has been present in the most recent ports is in this port as well. It resets the soundtrack upon each battle.
The character models have been given a high-res face life, and look great. The backdrops, however, are the exact same and haven’t been updated. Even so, I still personally feel this is one of the best-looking RPGs of all time, and in handheld mode this game truly shines like a diamond, as whatever small things that may bug you about the background on a 60” TV quickly go away. In handheld mode, the game is crisp and gorgeous!
It’s A Wrap!!!
Final Fantasy VII is considered by most to be the best in the series, and also the greatest game of all time. Now, I wouldn’t go that far, but I will say it’s undeniable that this game changed the industry, became the benchmark to aim for when making a JRPG, and changed how westerners felt about JRPGs in a broad scope. Now, at this price point, I’m not sure what else needs to be said, as this thing should fly off the invisible eShop shelves—it’s digital only, but oh, how my heart longs for a physical copy of this one! Newcomers and fans of old, feel secure in knowing that this game is worth every penny, and is a must have for your collection!
Buy Final Fantasy VII from the eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by fortyseven communications