It has been just over twenty years since the original Final Fantasy VII was unleashed upon the world. At the time, it didn't seem like there would ever be another game like it. FFVII was marketed as a movie. Original trailers used the line, "...and now, the most anticipated epic adventure of the year, will never come to a theater near you." It was the first Final Fantasy game to be rendered in 3D and feature eye-popping cinematic cut scenes. At the time, it was hard to believe that a video game could ever look more realistic. When the game hit the shelves, it was the most expensive game to ever be made. While the PlayStation had been around for a few years, Final Fantasy VII was the game that made the hardcore Sega and Nintendo crowds finally cave in and say, "Maybe we should give this PlayStation thing a shot."
Twenty years later, we're still talking about this game, how it changed both the series and how we view games in general. Cinematic cut scenes are a staple in almost every major title these days. The main Final Fantasy series has yet to go back to its 2D roots (though a beautifully animated 2D title could be really cool!). Everything in the series from then and into the modern day is just built off of VII.
Final Fantasy VII will see a ground up remake available soon that is said to be told over the course of three games. In honor of the highly anticipated remake, let's take a look at some fun facts you might not know about the highly regarded original release.
15 Much Of The Terminology Is Based On Real World Mythologies
To make a great fictional world, you need to make it feel lived in. One of the major ways of achieving this is to have some of your own expressions and terminology. Some of the major world building words in the game were based on words that reference mythologies from our own world. Slightly changing a word we're familiar with creates a world that feels unique, but also familiar and lived in.
The village of Nibelheim gets its name from the Norse land of the dead known as Niflheim, which means "fog home" when translated literally. Get it? The hometown of Cloud Strife is derived from a word that can almost be translated as "cloud home."
Other examples of this are Midgar being derived from the Norse mythological realm of Midgard, which is essentially Earth. Cloud also has a sword called Ragnarok. Shinra is derived from Egyptian mythology. It's the name of a type of vampire. This makes sense since Shinra is sucking the planet dry.
14 It's The First Final Fantasy Game To Show Blood
This little bit of information should come as no surprise. The graphical capabilities games had in the days of the first PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were relatively new. Prior to this, games were mostly presented in glorious 8 or 16 bits. Showing a little bit of blood here and there was a waste of time, unless of course you're the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat. There was also the strong belief in those days that games were for kids.
Since previous Final Fantasy games used a lot of detail and very small sprites, a spatter of blood on a character or object probably wouldn't have even registered to the eye as blood. It would have looked like a few red squares here and there since so many colors and details were already incorporated. When Final Fantasy VII rolled around with its three discs, there was so much more room for design and greater detail.
13 It Was The First Final Fantasy Game To Explain All Those Monsters
A main feature in every Final Fantasy game is the world seems to be a deadly war zone, over-run with monsters. These monsters aren't just animals that live on and share the planet like a horse or a squirrel. These beasts wield magic and would really like to see you dead. Up until Final Fantasy VII, no Final Fantasy game had offered a rationale for these creatures.
In Final Fantasy VII, Shinra had been engaging in experiments with mako energy on living test subjects. These experiments yielded some less than savory results. Not only did this offer an explanation for the monsters, but it gave the game a stronger tie to reality and enriched the experience.
12 It Was The First Final Fantasy Game To Use Profanity
While the game didn't engage in anything much worse than a "damn" or "hell" in plain text, this was a first for a Final Fantasy game. Like the use of blood as mentioned earlier, this was probably because gaming was largely considered to be the hobby of children and teens instead of adults. You could sell more copies if your game was safe for kids to play.
In addition to letting some of the more tamer swear words make it into the dialogue, there was a pretty heavy use of swearing symbols to insinuate stronger profanity, which was also a first for the series. In addition to the use of actual swearing, there was a lot of insinuation in the game that characters are sleeping with each other and a number of nods to Tifa's breasts. There's also some heavy insinuation at the Honey Bee Inn.
11 It Was One Of The Most Expensive Games Ever Made
If you look at a list of the games that put a lot of money into production, you might not see Final Fantasy VII on the list. If you look at a more thorough list that includes marketing costs and takes inflation into account, then you'll see that Final Fantasy VII is the third most expensive game ever made.
Final Fantasy VII cost $45 million to develop in 1997. To give you an idea of where inflation is going to go, consider that the most expensive game ever made, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, cost $50 million to produce in 2009. Add into the fact that FF VII had a huge marketing campaign that cost $100 million in 1997's dollars - more than twice the cost of development! CoD: MW 2 had marketing costs of four times the cost of development - one of the the reasons Final Fantasy drops down the list.
In today's dollars, FFVII cost $216 million overall, putting it just behind Grand Theft Auto V at $272 million and Modern Warfare 2 at $279 million.
10 The Final Scene In The Game Is The First Scene In Advent Children
It's very seldom that a sequel to a movie or a game picks up exactly where the previous installment left off. Usually some time has passed. Characters have grown and changed over those years and this allows the developer to add new concepts, settings, or abilities. Allowing some time to have passed gives players or viewers the opportunity to enjoy the familiar feel of the original while still experiencing something new.
Advent Children, like Back to the Future 2, picks up right where the predecessor left off. This is a pretty interesting concept since many fans of the series would like a video game sequel to Final Fantasy VII. How cool would it be if a second game picked up from the final scene of the movie? You would need to play the first game, watch the movie, then play the second game to get the full story. It would be a historic first for both film and gaming.
9 Final Fantasy VII Fixed 'The Numbering Problem'
Have you ever been in a video game forum talking about Final Fantasy and you made the unforgivable mistake of referring to Final Fantasy VI as Final Fantasy III? If you have, you're probably from North America and you're probably not an insufferable little snob. If you'd take the Internet at its word, referring to Final Fantasy VI as Final Fantasy III is punishable by death and your raw intelligence is questionable.
What happened with the numbering is a whole other topic so we'll just give you the short version: Not all of the games were released internationally. This skewed the numbering for many players. That's it. You're not an idiot of you didn't know III was actually VI.
Fortunately, when Final Fantasy VII came out in North America, they just decided to leave it at VII instead of calling it IV. On that day, all was once again right in the world.
8 It Was Originally Supposed To Be A Nintendo Release
Years before its release, Final Fantasy VII was first being developed for the Super Nintendo as opposed to the classic PlayStation console. Six installments had already been made with Nintendo and it seemed like the relationship between Nintendo and Square Enix (then Squaresoft) was going to carry on. Fortunately, Square was putting a lot of effort into one of the greatest games ever made and the budget for said game ballooned. Development for FFVII was held off for a later time and it ended up being made for PS1 instead. This game was Chrono Trigger and it's hard to argue we aren't better off for the setback it created for Square.
7 Barret Was Final Fantasy's First Major Black Character
It's a little bit shocking that there had yet to be a major black character in the Final Fantasy series until the seventh installment in the franchise. Then again, inclusion has only recently been a major concern across the different forms of entertainment media. Developers and producers in the 1990s weren't really thinking of the practice as much as they do now. Fortunately, Final Fantasy VII took the step to not only include a major black character with Barret Wallace, but they made him one of the major playable characters as well. In the early portions of the game, Barrett is even mentoring our hero, Cloud Strife. Perhaps in the future we'll get a Final Fantasy game that features a character of color in the hero's role.
6 It Was The First 3D Final Fantasy
If you didn't grow up in the age of the original PlayStation, you will never understand how big of a deal the look of 3D gaming was when it first hit the market. Sure, there were 8 and 16 bit games that created the illusion of walking down a hall. The Sega Master System had an interface for 3D glasses. Being able to get a full 360 degree view of landscapes and characters was entirely new. At the time, many of us thought Final Fantasy VII's cinema scenes looked real as we had no better basis of comparison. The idea things could look any better was non-existent. The marketing campaign built around Final Fantasy VII pitched it in the same way one would make a movie trailer. The epic stories of Final Fantasy played out in a 3D world did feel like a theatrical experience.
5 No, There Is No Legitimate Way To Revive Aeris. Stop it.
There are a lot of rumors out there that make the claim that a player can revive Aeris and completely negate one of the most heartbreaking deaths in video game history. While there are a number of hacks out there to bring her back into the game, none of these ways are legitimate. There's no item you can use or course of action you can take in the game to bring her back in a meaningful way within the context of Final Fantasy VII's story.
Some players have hacked Aeris back into the game and were shocked to find out that she had dialogue in areas of the game where she shouldn't be alive. It's probably this single instance that keeps players convinced there is some way of bringing her back into the main story by conventional means. Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that the creators wanted her death to matter. There is no way to bring her back.
4 It Was Originally To Be Set In New York City
The original concept for Final Fantasy VII was going to deviate far away from the usual look and feel of the traditional setting in a Final Fantasy game. It was originally going to take place in the real world location of New York City. Not only was FFVII going to take place in the real world, it wasn't going to be some post-apocalyptic version of New York or a very distant future where magic and other fantasy elements had returned to the planet - it was to take place in the (then) modern day. The original point in time for this proposed version was 1999, just a small number of years after the game would have hit shelves. Elements of this concept would be held onto and used in a different game for a later date.
3 Original Concepts Made Their Way Into Other Games
As mentioned earlier, Final Fantasy VII was originally being developed at the same time as Chrono Trigger, one of the best games to come out of Square. Chrono Trigger's budget needed a big increase, so Final Fantasy VII was temporarily put on hold. Since this was the case, elements of the original Final Fantasy VII ended up being used in Chrono Trigger.
In addition, we mentioned FFVII was to be set in modern day New York. This game concept wasn't thrown out - it would become Parasite Eve.
Another game that owes its roots to Final Fantasy VII is Xenogears. According to Soraya Saga, she and Tetsuya Takahashi submitted a script for FFVII that was deemed to dark and complicated to be a fantasy game. This script would become Xenogears.
2 The Western Version Had New Material
While there are always differences between two different versions/releases of a game, the Western version (also known as the International version) of Final Fantasy VII featured some major additions to the game that went beyond the typical minor improvements made in hindsight. The International version boasts two more super bosses that were not featured in the original Japanese version of the game. These two super bosses are Ruby Weapon and Emerald Weapon.
In addition, the international version also features a major cut scene that didn't make it into the Japanese version. This cut scene helps to better explain our hero Cloud Strife's past. Japan eventually received an International edition that came with a fourth disc. This extra disc included all sorts of cool supplemental material.
1 It Was The First Final Fantasy Game To Feature Voice Acting
We know what you're thinking. Final Fantasy VII didn't feature any voice acting. Even the cut scenes lacked voice acting for our characters. While our main characters like Cloud, Tifa, Barrett, Aeris, and Sephiroth didn't actually speak in the game, that doesn't mean there was zero voice acting featured in the entire three (or four!) discs of Final Fantasy VII.
Most of us would believe that Final Fantasy X is the first Final Fantasy game to feature voice acting since it's the first game where all the major characters were given actual voices as opposed to read dialogue. While this is true, Final Fantasy VII featured a female voice announcing safety preparations when the Sister Ray cannon readied to fire. It's not much, but this little factoid could prove to be a much needed winner on a trivia night.