This week saw the release of the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV demo, which has been quite well-received and seems to be reviving interest in the Final Fantasy series after a rough stretch of years. So, what better time to take a look back at the most successful game in the series, Final Fantasy VII?
Final Fantasy VII was a bombshell when it first arrived in 1997. The game put Sony’s new PlayStation on the map and transformed RPGs from low-key, stat-heavy grindfests to the lavishly produced, cinematic adventures we see today. Here are a few things you might not know about the game-changing Final Fantasy VII…
Warning: We will be brazenly discussing major plot points in this article, so if you’re still avoiding 18-year-old spoilers, proceed no further!
1. Final Fantasy VII was originally going to be a Super Nintendo game. While Final Fantasy VII eventually became a flagship game for Sony’s new PlayStation, it was originally supposed to come out sometime in 1995 and act as Square’s grand farewell to the Super Nintendo. Ultimately, the SNES version of of Final Fantasy VII was killed by Chrono Trigger, as that game’s production ballooned to such an extent that Square had to put FFVII on hold for year, picking production back up in late 1995/96.
An early concept image of the 16-bit version of Final Fantasy VII.
2. The game was NOT in development for the N64. You know you’re reading a poorly researched Final Fantasy VII article if they slip in the old chestnut about Final Fantasy VII once being under development for the N64. It’s a fact! It’s practically common knowledge! It’s also totally untrue.
Back in 1996, Square wasn’t sure if they wanted to go with 3D visuals for Final Fantasy VII, so they cooked up a proof of concept, featuring various Final Fantasy VI characters rendered in 3D. This proof wasn’t destined for any platform in particular, it was just made to see if 3D models would be feasible, but once people saw it, they assumed that it must be for the N64. All of the past Final Fantasy games were for Nintendo systems, so the next one obviously would be, too! In reality, the relationship between Square and Nintendo had been on the rocks for some time, and the makers of Final Fantasy were eager to leave Nintendo behind. By 1996, it’s unlikely that Square had any interest at all in putting Final Fantasy on Nintendo’s next console.
3. Final Fantasy VII was going to be a detective story set in New York. Final Fantasy VII went through some storyline changes as the game developed. The more modern setting and dark tone were always supposed to be there, but the game was originally going to take place in a near-future New York City and feature a gruff main character named Detective Joe. Show of hands, who now desperately wants a Final Fantasy game starring a guy named Detective Joe to actually happen?
4. The direction of the game changed after Final Fantasy mastermind Hironobu Sakaguchi lost his mother. Life, death, learning to accept tragedy; Final Fantasy VII dealt in some heavy subjects because the game’s producer and head writer Hironobu Sakaguchi was dealing with some heavy stuff at home. During development of FFVII, Sakaguchi’s mother died, and shortly thereafter, the game transformed from a straightforward detective adventure story to the deeper tale we ended up with. Obviously, his mother’s death also led directly to him deciding to kill (WARNING: Almost 20-year-old spoilers!) Aeris. Sakaguchi wanted to get away from the Hollywood-style noble deaths they’d had in past games and present something more shocking and raw, which he probably wouldn’t have done if his real life hadn’t been so raw during development.
If Sakaguchi has to be sad, he’s bringing us down with him.