Archive for July, 2013

Why Am I Buying Final Fantasy 7 For The Third Time?

As you may or may not have heard, today Final Fantasy VII was finally released on Steam, after many months of knowledge that info for the classic Squaresoft RPG has been hidden deep in Steam’s files. I immediately grabbed for my wallet to purchase it, hopping around in my chair like a little Mog. I stopped, however, when I realized that I also own this game for the original Playstation and on my PSP.

This got me thinking: why am I buying this game for the third time?

Well, as you may guess, the answer is a rather personal one. I’ve played video game all my life, starting with begging my parents to let me play on their NES, running immediately to my grandmother’s basement during visits to play her Intellivision II, and sharing my Genesis with my little brother while he shared his SNES with me. Still, I was so young at that point that I didn’t really think of video gaming as the incredible creative medium that I now recognize it as.

For me, gaming wasn’t serious as a child. I stopped playing video games and began to play outside in the backyard and with my other toys, so my mother gave my Genesis to my cousin, and I never missed it once until adulthood. Aside from the rare round of Mortal Kombat with the kid down the street, I never thought about or touched video games when my age got into the double digits.

Then, my family moved. The first person I made friends with at my new school happened to be a gamer. She invited me over to her house one day after school and insisted that she show me this amazing new RPG she’s playing. My first question was ‘what’s an RPG?’.

Oh, what a silly little thing I was.

She simply smiled and turned on Final Fantasy VII. I remember seeing commercials for it and being rather confused. Where were the other 6? (As well all know now, the answer to that question is not an easy one). I had never heard of this game series before until they had put ads on TV, and I had certainly never seen the game in action before.

She spent hours showing me the game, explaining how turn-based combat worked, how equipping items worked, how leveling up worked. I was in absolute awe. I felt adrenaline running through my body. I was completely transfixed. I was experiencing something that was going to change my life.

A few months later, my 13th birthday rolled around. I asked my friends for money as a gift, and then had my mother take me to the local Toys ‘R Us and picked up a Playstation, the biggest memory card I could find, and FFVII, along with its strategy guide.. I spent years playing this game with that friend. We’d hang out with our strategy guides and write notes in it for certain parts to help each other out (my copy of the guide now has no cover and has so many things written in it and highlighted that it’s almost sad). We’d breed chocobos and compare them. We’d find new armor and items that we didn’t know existed and would share our findings. We’d come to each other crying in frustration over boss battles, and would help each other beat them.

Not only that, but my brother eventually got into it, too. He would grab the controller and run around as Cloud whenever I had to step away, and was perfectly content to just explore whatever town or area of the world map I was in. He would play with his toys in my room just so he could watch me play as well. Sometimes, he would even get up and pretend he was Cloud when I was in a battle, slashing and dodging at an invisible enemy, and loving every moment of it.

It wasn’t just a game, it was a bonding experience.

Finally, one day, alone in my room, my mother called me down for dinner. I came to the stairs in tears, and my mother instantly got worried. “What’s wrong?”, she’d asked me. I simply sobbed harder. “I just beat Final Fantasy VII. It’s over, Mom!”

Of course, she told me to stop being so over-dramatic and to wash up for dinner, but she didn’t understand the experience I had just gone through. She didn’t understand how invested I had become in the story, in the characters, in the entire process of playing through my first RPG, one that, whether you like it or not, changed the RPG genre forever. It may not be as great as everyone with their nostalgia goggles on claims it to be, but it was and still is a damn good game. It was my first RPG, and first foray into my life as a serious gamer.

So, yes, Final Fantasy VII is more to me than just an old-school RPG that many think is overhyped (it is, in my opinion, but that doesn’t make the game any less great!). To me, it is a definitive mark in my life as a gamer. It was the beginning of what I know will be a lifelong passion of mine.

And that, my friends, is why I am not hesitating to open my wallet again.

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