The FF7 Debate – Why some re-releases suck ass.

So for those of you that don’t know, FF7 was just released on Steam today. But don’t buy it based on nostalgia – especially if you’ve been playing the PSX version in the past and haven’t even touched the PC release. Why? Well here’s a series of quotes from the Steam and Something Awful communities:

“When I saw this game come on steam I was initially very happy, what with my being a huge FFVII fan, but reading the added features — or a lack-there-of — I just can’t ”add to cart” right now, even though it feels like a reflex to do so.”

-munfei_, Steam Community Forums

“Public Service Announcement: Do not buy Final Fantasy 7 on Steam. The music is terrible quality, they didn’t bother to retranslate it or do anything else with the game, it’s literally just the ancient PC release of FF7 with some auto-level-99 cheat tossed in.”

-Jesto, Something Awful Forums.

“It has been 5 hours now and I still have not recieved the confirmation Email for registering to play my single player game, I had to trick the log in with a password recovery of a non confirmed account in order to actually play what I payed for, I cannot even begin to describe how pissed off I would have been had I sat there waiting for them to register me, 5 hours and still nothing ….”

-Ardbug, Steam Community Forums (in a thread about the game’s possible DRM).

“As someone who played the PC version first, it was a mess. The problems with it:

1) The music suuuuucked. The Mario Paint comment was obviously an exaggeration, but man, they weren’t far off. The music did not play nice with other sound effects, to say nothing of the quality difference in the switch to MIDI. One Winged Angel is so muffled and blurry in the normal rip, that I didn’t understand why it was such a favorite track for years until I heard a PSX rip of the song.

2) Despite not being able to change the controls at all, it was a pretty convenient control system- if you had a numpad. With lots of people getting laptops years later, it required a special patch in order to be playable.

3) Getting it to run on anything past Windows 98 was almost impossible. Even with fan-made patches made to fix these only a year or two after release, getting it to work wasn’t a sure shot.

4) One displayable resolution, at least from what I can tell or remember.”

-Plan Z, Something Awful Forums.

And this is just past consumer experience with the original PC port, which is apparently what the Steam version is and currently there’s no evidence to suggest otherwise. All the hopes and dreams of there ever being a re-release of the Final Fantasy 7 people adore from the PlayStation 1 era may as well be smoke and mirrors at this stage with Square-Enix as they seemingly love to tease but never intend to carry out the task in full. The image below sums up the current list of problems people have had since it’s release, bugs which have been fixed once before by fans but, in an act of laziness, Square-Enix have failed to fix yet again.

ff7

Any fan who wanted to play Final Fantasy 7 again? You’re more than likely better off finding a polished version of the original PSX game and putting into a PSX/PS2 than you are buying the version released on Steam. It is, sadly, a poor prospect when other games related to Final Fantasy – including Kingdom Hearts 1 and Final Fantasy X and X-2 – are getting HD re-releases on different platforms (the former for the PS3 and the latter for the PS Vita) and yet their most critically acclaimed game in the series that has this massive fan-base won’t ever likely see an actual re-release or remastering because, quite simply, Square Enix can never bring themselves to do it.

It speaks volumes of the company when they can’t bring themselves to remaster a game they no longer understand, though. It’s spawned spin-off games (Dirge of Cerberus, Crisis Core, etc.) and even a movie (Advent Children), but even these don’t actually do the game justice, and most of the time portray the lead character of the original release as a completely different person as he finished the game as – even going so far as to make Cloud (not Vincent, as it was originally intended) the character in Kingdom Hearts 1 that appeared in the arena when Cloud actually came out of Final Fantasy 7 confident, strong and, perhaps more importantly, more like himself than he had been at the start of the game.

Why was this interpretation of Cloud so prevalent in the extended universe? My guess is that most people who got absorbed into the game never actually managed to fully complete it – and those that did probably didn’t understand the change in personality when Cloud did return from his drop in the Lifestream halfway through the second disc, thinking he was the same person who actually left the party back when he got mindfucked in the North Crater. For anyone who needs a lesson in what happened, here is a great Let’s Play thread concerning Final Fantasy 7 (may require an SA account if paywall is up).

It’s perhaps because of this that most people are left confused on what they remember about Final Fantasy 7, and why so many remember characters in a completely different way to how they were actually portrayed in their universe. It’s also meant that a lot of spin-offs, fanart and other such EU-derailed content contains stuff that make absolutely no sense – I mean, Vincent Valentine as a fucking vampire? Cloud as an emo-child? And let’s not even go into topics about how the fans have butchered Tifa. It still astonishes me, to this day, how so many people could’ve got the characters so wrong – and all it would have taken is a few minutes of paying attention and finishing the game to understand it better.

It’s honestly a shame – FF7 is an amazing game that a lot of people remember, but so many people remember it for the completely wrong reasons, even the company who created the game. And it’s disappointing to see.

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