I got into the whole RPG genre pretty late. It’s one of my absolute favorite genres now, right up there with platformers and action adventures, but back in the day I didn’t even know the genre existed. I think my sister played a bunch of Ultima on the NES, but I never did. I was just too young to appreciate it.
No, my first RPG experience was the SNES swan song known as Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, and what an introduction it was! It opened up a whole new world for me. Oh, I’d heard about the “Final Fantasy” series and the “Dragon Warrior/Quest” games, but I’d never had any interest in playing them… until Super Mario RPG.
So imagine my surprise when a copy of Final Fantasy IV (labeled II as all you FF fans know) landed in my lap. As I previously stated, I’d never given the Final Fantasy series the time of day, but having heard what an amazing game it was, I decided to give it a try. I lost weeks of my life to that game. It was just that good. Unfortunately this was well after the N64 had released… well after the Final Fantasy VII hype train had run out of steam. I never tracked down a copy of Final Fantasy VI, though it is on my list of games I want to experience.
What Final Fantasy IV made me do is begin to look into the series as a whole. I would confess myself to be a fan of the series thanks to seeds sown by that SNES game, but there is one thing I will never do. I will never play Final Fantasy VII.
Alright, I’m sure I just lost all the hardcore Final Fantasy fans. They’re probably zipping down to the comments area so they can post incredulous messages questioning my sanity for refusing to play “the greatest Final Fantasy game of all time.” Please, let me explain myself. I’m not here to say that Final Fantasy VII is a bad game. I believe it is much over-hyped when it comes to games, but I feel the same way about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. However, I will defend that game to the death as an example of an amazing video game.
No, the reason I refuse to play Final Fantasy VII is because it is the game that symbolizes the point when Square quit caring about Nintendo. Why do I say that? Let me answer my question with another question: Did you know that Final Fantasy VII was originally going to be a N64 game?
Well, actually it was going to be a SNES game, with development starting just after Final Fantasy VI was released on SNES. The development transitioned to the N64 in order to take advantage of the advanced capabilities of the newer console. It seems like an amazing prospect in retrospect. Final Fantasy games had always appeared on Nintendo systems, and it was unsurprising that the series would continue on a Nintendo platform. But Square had a disagreement with Nintendo about storage formats. Square was right. Cartridges, while being more secure and having no load times, do not have the storage capacity of disc-based media and are more expensive to produce. But sometimes the only thing worse than being wrong in an argument is being right.
Square, maker of Final Fantasy II, Super Mario RPG, and Chrono Trigger, left Nintendo to develop games for Sony. I know it makes very little logical sense to deprive myself of an excellent game because it released for a console I loathed, but the feelings of disgust that accompany the game cannot be avoided. And that is why I will never play Final Fantasy VII.