I wasn’t actually planning on getting back to my Final Fantasy VII challenge any time soon, but then ill health intervened.
I’ve spent much of the weekend coughing up things that wouldn’t be out of place in the FF7 bestiary, and that’s meant I’ve been largely confined to home and with plenty of time on my hands for something relaxing but not too challenging. So, being the stubborn sod that I am, I figured I may as well plough a few more hours into my Final Fantasy VII challenge.
Before I knew it, the hooks were back in, and I was grabbed by what ended up being the final few hours of disc 1. I certainly didn’t plan on finishing Disc 1 this weekend. Indeed, I had many other better things to do with my time, but nowhere near the energy to do them. Still, enemies were ploughed through, plot points resolved and the disc concluded.
One factor that surprised me was quite how much of the plot I’ve actively forgotten over the years. Of course I remember the main beats, but it’s only when you truly submerge yourself in the entire world of Final Fantasy VII that you remember all the side quests that build up your party and shape the characters within it.
As an example, I ended up grinding for quite some time in Yuffie’s quest through Wutai, which I absolutely had no recollection of. It’s just about feasible, but not terribly likely that 20 years ago I skipped it entirely, but given it’s on a really obvious and accessible continent once you’ve got the plane, that feels unlikely. It’s much more likely I’m getting old. Still, losing all my materia and being forced to just fight was tough, but a lot of fun.
Then there’s the elephant in the room, and anyone who’s played FF7 through knows what I’m talking about, because it’s basically the tipping point for the end of Disc 1.
Look, the game is 20 years old and if you’ve got this far you’ve probably played it before, or you’re aware of what I’m going to say. But if you’ve never played it, go away, play the game and then come back.
This is one of my favourite moments in gaming, hands-down, and I’d hate to spoil it for anyone. My own kids have been watching me, on and off as I’ve been playing, and I told them to go play in their rooms while I went through the end sequence just so it wouldn’t spoil it if they choose to play FF7 in the future.
Look, here’s something to act as final spoiler space. Go past this, and I’m taking it as read that you know what’s coming.
Of course, Aeris is dead.
I knew she was going to die, and I knew how it was going to happen, and I knew there was nothing I could do about it.
When I first played through the game 20 years ago, it hit me quite hard, because the game is structured so very heavily to make you actively care about Aeris.
You’re more likely to end up on the date in Golden Saucer with her (I did 20 years ago, and again this time), and while it’s somewhat mystifying why you can’t just drop a Phoenix Down on her to revive her, it worked very well back then.
This time was different, because I knew what was coming, but that actually ratcheted up the tension. I actively considered simply grinding a few enemies for a while to put it off, because I wasn’t sure how I’d take it this time around, especially considering I was unwell.
The only consideration I put into having this foreknowledge was that as soon as Aeris became a compulsory party member for the Temple of The Ancients, I took pretty much all the materia off her so it wouldn’t be lost. I recall losing some great materia to her that way 20 years ago.
While the visuals do look dated, I’m not entirely convinced that this will have less impact in the upcoming remake, especially considering the slighly iffy look of the Secret Of Mana remake Square has going at the moment.
Still, Aeris is gone.
That means it’s time for a quick boss battle, and then the final goodbye.
And now, Sephiroth must pay. Which means it’s time to move on to disc 2.
Retro recollections are just random musings on retro subjects, usually whatever I’m playing at the moment.