In the year 1997, the release of “Final Fantasy VII” ended up redefining the franchise and the Japanese role-playing game genre as a whole for years to come; being highly acclaimed by critics and players alike. Now, 22 years after its initial release on the Sony Playstation, the game has seen its latest rerelease, and its first on a Nintendo platform via the Nintendo Switch eShop. Even after all this time, this latest rerelease is the ideal way for longtime fans to re-experience this acclaimed title and for newcomers to get immersed in its world.
The story sees a group of young freedom fighters trying to save their home from the corrupt Shinra Corporation, who seek to plunge the world into chaos in their pursuit of a rare energy source known as “Mako.” They include the swordsman Cloud Strife, the muscular gunman Barrett and the brave young woman Tifa Lockhart. Facing the villainous Sephiroth and a group of mercenaries with ties to Shinra, the fate of the planet is at stake in an RPG that became the standard for all future installments in the “Final Fantasy” series and countless other games in its genre.
Though the game retains some artifacts from its original release (such as the supporting character of Aerith being romanized as “Aeris”), several tweaks have been made for the title to suit the jump to the Switch (as well as its fellow rerelease on the Xbox One). While the graphics do retain the blocky polygons from the original Playstation release, the frame rate has a faster option and the textures have been significantly cleaned up from their original pixelated forms.
Even if the then state-of-the-art technology may now be a product of its time, the gameplay remains satisfying. Though the controls do take some getting used to, the exploration and combat are simple enough to pick up and play; yet tough to completely master. The appeal of the story and characters has endured over the past 22 years, with numerous spinoffs and guest appearances in other game series such as “Super Smash Bros.” and “Kingdom Hearts.” A remake of the game has also been in development since being initially announced in 2015.
No matter what console it’s played on, “Final Fantasy VII” remains a groundbreaking achievement for the series and JRPGs after all these years. As development on the current-generation remake continues, there has never been a better time for longtime fans to re-experience the game and for newcomers to check out for the first time.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 Stars
Review by Steven Pryor
Publisher and Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: Nintendo Switch eShop and XBox Live Arcade
ESRB Rating: Teen