Final Fantasy VII will always be one of those games that cause people to lock arms in heated debates. For starters, you have the western version versus the original version that was never released in west. The discrepancies were relatively significant and quite obvious to anyone who paid attention to the translation, which bordered on being humorous. In addition to people who know the facts, however, you'll always be faced with those who still aren't quite sure what the storyline was or the role each character played. There are plenty of misconceptions people have about the game and the problem, really, was managing to fit them all into one article.
Let's clear one thing up before we continue: Misconceptions are wildly different from opinions, which many people have about this game as well. What you'll find here are the most commonly misunderstood assumptions about the game rather than opinions on how it should have been. While I may have a witty quip every now and then, I don't dictate what people do or don't make sense of from the game... I simply explain it as best I can. When you have a game that involves so many characters, most of them playable, as well as a storyline that's been simplified for an international release, things can very easily become convoluted and confusing. If there's a misconception that irks you and it's one that we've missed, feel free to drop it below so that we can slowly correct that which is the notorious FFVII storyline.
25 Its Conception Was Somewhat Random And Risky
It's true, the entire Final Fantasy franchise began with Hironobu Sakaguchi confronting the president of Squaresoft (those of us who have been there from its conception will remember, others will have heard of the legacy that once was) and requested to do an RPG. Thus, the franchise was born and seven games down the road, we have Cloud Strife. It wasn't an easy battle though, was somewhat rushed, took more money than most games had seen at that point, and a lot of ingenuity and patience on the parts of the devs.
24 There Were Several Fails
This game wasn't brought into conception and instantly perfect. When the production began in 1996, it had followed Squaresoft's split from Nintendo, which radically changed the outcome of the game as a whole. In addition to nearly landing themselves in hot water because of their incompatibility with the console company, they made the decision to go on over to Sony's side. Suddenly, graphics were intended to be top-notch along with extra attention that was now being paid to the storyline for a Sony release.
23 The Game Was Dumbed Down For The West
This isn't an exaggeration and it's not a rumor. The game wasn't released in the west until January of 1997 and developers had it in mind to make the game easier for gamers in that continent. The problem with this was that first, it created this terrible misconception that US gamers couldn't handle a complicated storyline. Secondly, important details were left out that led to many of the misconceptions people have about the game today. This also begs into question the remake: will it be the original story, or the same tired and simplified translation?
22 The Graphics Were Actually Incredible For That Time
Forty-five million dollars was the budget that Square was playing with at the time of FFVII which, for that time, was seriously extreme. It was comparable to a movie budget which really put the pressure on the developers to ensure that every single feature was up to par. While it might seem like the graphics were a little lackluster and the gameplay wasn't as perfect as it could have been, we're dealing with a simplified version (that excluded extra features) as well as a time period where RPGs such as this were still relatively new and risky.
21 The Art Is Actually Manga-Style
The man himself, Tetsuya Nomura, was brought in to replace the original character artist, Yoshitaka Amano. While Amano sported much more elaborately drawn illustrations that were stunning, they were not easily adapted to the style that Square was going with, especially after their merger with Sony. For a 3D platform, Nomura's manga style art fit in flawlessly and was much easier to design with. There are definitely certain tell-tales of Nomura's traditional style, for instance, Cloud's hairstyle as well as the facial features of each character.
20 Aerith Was Not Originally Meant To Perish
Or Aeris, if you prefer the Western release. Originally, her character was meant to last a bit longer but unfortunately for the fans of Aeris, the developers were not against major changes to the story. The idea was Nomura's, and on a phone call to Yoshinori Kitase, the game's director, Nomura offered up the suggestion of introducing Tifa as the main heroine as well as the one who survives out of the two. His suggestion was approved, and thus, we have a cutscene that had fans mourning for days.
19 Tifa Wasn't An Original Character
Fans seem to have mixed feelings about Tifa as a main and playable character, and that's probably due in part to the fact that Aeris is ended so early on in the game. While it was heartbreaking to have such an innocent and sweet character ended off, it left a void that needed to be filled. Enter: Tifa Lockhart. I would go as far as saying she's the complete opposite of Aeris which made for an interesting dynamic between her and Cloud, and while everyone ships him and Aeris, we all know where the true love story is.
18 Aerith Also Can't Be Revived, Contrary To Ben Lansing
This isn't true, accept it and mourn. Obviously, players of the game now are well aware of the fact that there is literally no way to save Aeris. It's just something you have to accept is coming and mentally prepare for. However, back in the day, a mysterious, supposed translator of Square claimed Aeris could absolutely be brought back, but that it was something left out of the Western version of the game. After the rumor made its way around, "Ben Lansing" revealed that it was all fake, thus making a (justifiable) mockery of US gamers.
17 Typos Were Simply An Effort To Please US Gamers
There were some rushed aspects of the game due to all the changes going on in the game development world and the fact that Square was back on the upswing. One of these rushed features was, in fact, the translation of the game that left something to be desired. In the days before voice acting, everything had to be translated from Japanese to English which caused some understandable jokes about how things were quite literally translated. Some players were unappreciative though, claiming the efforts to make things super understandable just led to more confusion and inconsistency.
16 The Western Version Has Much More
Let's discuss the one good thing about the western version of the game: Fixed bugs. Since it was a later-released version, devs had time to address some issues that were not changed in the first game. One of these was the conversion of materia, which is simpler in the second version. In addition to that, there were significant changes made to Weapon bosses as well as Sephiroth's cutscenes during attacks, which were made much longer. Yuffie was also given back an additional weapon (Rising Sun), which made things feel a little more complete.
15 It's Much Popular Now Than It Was Then
Many gamers might be under the impression that FFVII was an instant success which is not the case. In the US, Square had to work much harder to make an impression as gaming there was not what it was in Japan. On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, Japan couldn't get enough of the RPG and it became successfull nearly overnight. A major budget was set aside to increase marketing in the US which eventually paid off, but it wasn't nearly as easy as selling 2.3 million copies in Japan in three days.
14 Unpopular Opinion: The True Love Story
Whether you want to believe it or not, there was not a definitive love story between Aeris and Cloud. Everyone wants to ship them because they make a striking couple, however, it's quite obvious in the original story that Cloud's one and true interest was always Tifa. There's a moment during a flashback when the two are sitting at the playground from their youth, looking at the stars, where Cloud reminisces about their childhood. That's the just the beginning, as Tifa's flashbacks always seem to boil down to her devotion to Cloud. Aeris's true love was Zack.
13 When You Think You're Fighting Sephiroth, It's Actually Jenova
This is a super common, and probably just about the biggest, misconception of the entire game. It's incredibly easy to believe that your main boss and ultimate villain throughout is Sephiroth, but that's simply not the case. Sephiroth is just a puppet for Jenova, who has a long and twisted history in the Japanese version of the game; an unfortunate side effect of Square having released two separate versions. You realize by the end that Jenova has controlled everything up to this point, Sephiroth and Cloud included. She is the be all and end all of the game.
12 The Mako Cannon And Midgar
The mako cannon causes a bit of confusion since it is eventually moved to Midgar as per the storyline. While there are eight original reactors, the mako cannon I'm referring to was originally placed in Junon. It's not until it's eventually moved to Midgar after the destruction that almost was, that it's referred to as the Sister Ray. The cannon might have had a long and complicated history, but the story of how it eventually gets dubbed by Scarlet is quite simple.
11 Stop Writing WEAPON As "Weapon"
It's a super minor, small thing unless you're a game purist like I am and know that in the game translation, WEAPON is always capitalized. There's no point in time when it's not, very similar to how SOLDIER is always capitalized. It's a nod to the fact that these are names and not referring to the actual, physical noun of a "weapon" or a "solider," which is why not capitalizing them can be so confusing. It's a minute detail, but it matters if you're choosing to talk game details. Don't make the noob move.
10 Tifa Is Not Actually That Mean
I wasn't initially a fan of Tifa until much later in the game and I always believed that she was the type of character you'd just have to eventually warm up to. She's rough around the edges and definitely comes off as somewhat of a cold character, but in time you realize she has everyone's best interests at heart. Her original character was not intended to be viewed as we do in the US, she was created to be the female heroine and someone who was a compatible partner to Cloud.
9 The Mako Eye Glow Isn't Specifically Green
It's easy to make this mistake if you've played through the game once and noticed that everyone who has been exposed to large amounts of Mako is sporting green eyes. Because, you know, Mako is the new green. It's actually not accurate that a Mako-user's eyes will always be that neon, radioactive color, it just appears that way in the game because so many people base the judgment off of Sephiroth's eye color. In fact, Mako will cause a person's eyes to glow, period... but not to glow a specific color.
8 SOLDIER Has No Official Ranks
Believe me or don't on this one; if you pay enough attention, you'll notice (especially during Cloud's Sephiroth/Jenova-controlled flashbacks) that the system of rank SOLDIER uses is pretty interesting. Sephiroth is some type of leader, sure, but he's the only one. Cloud was never really any rank as you find out later on, and Zack was simply a member of SOLDIER and following Sephiroth. Other than "high ranking" and "SOLDIER", there really are no extensive ranks or anything signifying an organized military structure.
7 Let's Get One Thing Straight, The Real Villain
Spoiler alert: It's Jenova. Everything is Jenova. This is a major detail that the Western translation of the story lacked significantly and gamers paid for it quite a bit when it came to understanding what was going on. Long story short, Jenova landed from outer space and made it her goal to rise in power. Sephiroth was her way of doing that after Hojo got a bit daring and injected him with Jenova's cells, thus ensuring that she had a way to control normal human beings. Sephiroth was never really in control.
6 Maybe He's Born With It, Or Maybe It's Mako
Speaking of Sephiroth, let's discuss the fact that he's everyone's favorite villain. Heck, he's one of mine, too. There's no denying that his long, silver hair and massive Masamune makes him a worthy opponent but, in reality, that's really all he is. It's because of Jenova that he's so powerful, conniving, and manipulative. Her actions are completed through him. We really don't know his backstory (if you played Crisis Core, then shh) other than he started out as a normal guy with normal parents until he was face to face with mutant cells, i.e. Jenova.
5 Jenova Is Not Actually "Mother"
I know I'll get some eye-rolling for this one because it seems so obvious, but in truth, if you didn't pay super close attention to the game, go over the storyline in further detail after you've played, or research the original Japanese storyline, it's difficult to catch. Sephiroth refers to Jenova as his "real mother," but you find out about halfway through the game (thanks Vincent) that Lucretia was his biological birth mother. He's so twisted and manipulated by having Jenova's cells coursing through his body that he firmly believes an alien lifeform is his real mother.
4 Cloud's Life Is Pretty Much A Lie
Maybe you understand this, maybe you don't. Cloud believes for much of the game that he's a worthy member of SOLDIER but quickly finds out through his flashbacks with Sephiroth featuring Zack that he never really was. His "memories" are actually his late best friend's and though he always had a desire to bear a noble title, he never really did. Instead, he's somewhat of an experiment just like Sephiroth was, and has a dark and tragic history that will forever ignite the bromance between him and the one-winged angel.
3 Cloud Is Also Part Of Jenova
Plot twist! Just kidding, it's actually the truth. The game follows the story of these "Sephiroth clones" (many "failed" experiments can be seen in black coats mumbling toward the end of the game), of which Zack and Cloud were part of. Zack eventually ended up failing as a clone, but Cloud held promise in the sense that he was unforgivably attached to Sephiroth but still had some control over his mind with his burning rage for avenging his hometown. The combination of these two things caused him to be a worthy opponent, but he's still part of Jenova.
2 Aerith Is Not Jenova, Change My Mind
There's a pretty big air of mystery surrounding Aeris and Jenova since they both have that "Ancient" history going on. The fact is that Jenova is responsible for ending Aeris since she is essentially Sephiroth for all intents and purposes. It was all to further her plan, but other than that, the only person who makes the (wrong) assumption of Aeris being "mother" is Kudaj. Other than that, Aeris is just Aeris, with no other connection to Jenova other than being her victim.
1 We Should All Feel Sympathetic Toward Sephiroth
If you've played Crisis Core, then you'd know that Sephiroth did have a history. While I would love an in-depth prequel that takes a look inside how Sephiroth was as a person prior to being controlled by an alien virus, that won't happen. Regardless, he's a character that you can't help but feel bad for because he's being controlled entirely. Not only that, but he firmly believes in a lie about his life, because the truth is too hard to handle. While he appears perfect in a sociopathic type of way, he's really just as messed up as any of us would be in that situation.