FFVII: Why It Sucks

From Jeremy Parish, comes this snippet from his Final Fantasy VII retrospective:

Sadly, the follow-the-leader nature of Japanese RPG devs meant that they trod lemming-like into wretchedness, following FFVII’s lead into tedium and excess. Gamers, they discovered, would suffer through any amount of boring combat as long as there were flashy cinematic special effects (which had the net effect of dragging things out even more). They’d traipse along in pursuit of the dangling carrot provided by 30-second nuggets of slick FMV, regardless of how boring or illogical the story in between turned out to be.

Come to think of it, “wretched exercise in visual overkill at the expense of story” (and gameplay) makes for a pretty good description of FFVII in general. In that sense, Advent Children was a chip off the ol’ Materia. Square even tried to compensate by tossing in a handful of minigames, which were simultaneously terrible and inappropriate. Hey gang, Aeris just died a tragic, heartbreaking death — it’s time for snowboarding!
Wow, those Final Fantasy fanboys are so wrong! I don’t need to play this game at all! I knew I was on to something when I got bored playing FFVII after less than two hours.

BTW, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is awful. I saw it last year. Visually amazing, but the story isn’t.

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[Via Game|Life]

  16 comments for “FFVII: Why It Sucks

  1. 27 April 2006 at 13:51

    The Toasty Frog’s assessment is, well, just plain wrong. Whether or not you like FF 7 is primarily based on whether or not you made a connection to the characters. It had little to do with “firsties” (as he calls it) or cut scenes. Please see my full response to him at http://www.onlineroleplayer.com/Home/tabid/36/EntryID/29/Default.aspx

  2. 27 April 2006 at 14:20

    Unfortunately, my experience with FFVII was that of sheer boredom. The first few moments of a game are supposed to hook the player, to leave her wanting to play again and continue the story. I got bored and frustrated with the high number of random battles, and the relatively small amount of reward for that time I put in. The endless layers of menu upon menu screen was irritating. I just wanted to play the game, not read menus.

    I can’t say that I have played all the linear, Japanese style console RPGs that exist, but I will continue to play a game as long as it remains good for me. Final Fantasy VII failed in that respect. Even games that are as conventional in their concept, like the Golden Sun series were more fun for me. Yes, there were random battles, yes there is the level grind, but the fact is that games like this hooked me early on. Because of that, I was willing to continue playing.

    Cloud could hardly be called a character. He was listless, dull, uninteresting, and I found it difficult to identify with him at all.

  3. 27 April 2006 at 15:12

    Brinstar, there is nothing wrong with not liking FF 7. The problem with the original article was not that he didn’t like FF 7. Surely there is room for difference of opinion here. No work of art is for everyone. The issue I took up against the original article on Toasty Frog was his mind-reading explanation of why others that *did* likeFF 7 weren’t entitled to their own opinion. He figured they were all clearly brain washed and simply unable to evaluate the situation as well as he could. Hog wash! It’s a lame explantion and it’s provably wrong.

    On the other hand, if you never played FF 7 all the way through (presumably by forcing yourself against your will), you don’t know for sure if you would get into the story or not at some point. Probably not… but who knows.

  4. Id
    28 April 2006 at 09:53

    There is nothing wrong with liking FF7, however I feel that the game has been placed too highly in the pantheon of good games. This idolation of FF7 has led to a niglect of Square Enix’s other promising franchises. It is my understanding that the budgets for Xenogears and Chrono Cross were both cut, so they could make FF9. I hated FF9. Square Enix now seems to be trying to cash in on the nostalgia of FF7 with new games and Advent Children. I watched Advent Children last night, I enjoyed it, for its beauty if not its story. But I realized that I would have prefered to have finished versions of Xenogears and Chrono Chross, and wish that the money that had gone into producing the movie had been spent elsewhere.

  5. 28 April 2006 at 13:27

    I suppose you’re right in a way. What FF 7 is remembered (IMO) most for was for it’s ability to make it’s character’s feel real. In terms of game play, I think a lot can be said bad about it. (I also think a lot can be said good about it.) To me it’s like Tolkein. I always hated LoTR until the movies came out. I just couldn’t see why people liked it so much. They were *obviously* a bunch of “me toos” that couldn’t evaluate the story as the crud it was because it was “the first” of it’s kind and they were too enamored with it.

    After seeing the movies, I went back and read the books … and realized just how wrong I was! While Tolkein has a ton of problems that can be legitimately brought up… you have to give him credit for the genius of being able to make his world seem so real.

    So it is with FF 7. Love the game or hate it. It’s just a matter of opinion. But frankly there is some sort of genius in the game such that it was the first video game to characterize so well as to bring tears to some people at the death of Aeris. Let’s face it, characters die in video games all the time. The question we should be asking ourselves is “why was Aeris’ death so effective?”

  6. skanderberg
    3 May 2006 at 02:37

    Emmm FFVII is good because it introduced video games and in depth video games to a normally EA and Ocean movie tie in hooked market.
    As such FFVII is great and the patronising article is plain wrong, its kind of sad that you had to use it to justify not liking FFVII

  7. 3 May 2006 at 03:16

    I disagree with you. FFVII was not a fun game. Me disliking FFVII is not new. I justified my dislike a while ago. The article just confirmed the fact that the game isn’t deserving of all the adulation that it receives. It’s kind of nice to find someone else who shares my opinion about FFVII.

  8. skanderberg
    3 May 2006 at 04:27

    So you are implying that its a well written, funny and balanced article?
    OK I like RPGs, right from the day of D and D and yes FFVII is not the greatest game ever but it did introduce a the idea of RPGs and games with stories to an otherwise shallow market.

    You say Cloud is a bland character most protagonists are, look at Arthur Dent, or indeed Mr Caulfield who only tries to be deep. Point is the story that evolves around Cloud is warming and rewarding. Red XIII being a particular favourite of mine.

    End of the day its fine that you dont like the game, cos its not fun. Well I agree it aint a fun game, but I do think its the best FF game and I aint a fan boy.

  9. 3 May 2006 at 06:10

    I thought it was well-written and funny. Balanced — no. Some questionable arguments — perhaps.

    In FFVII you play someone else’s role that was written for you, having very little choice in affecting the overall narrative of the story. So you basically play a story. I tend to call games like this “RPGs” in quotes, because they aren’t traditional RPGs in which your choices affect plot outcome.

    Cloud’s role is poorly written. As you say yourself, every other character in the story is more interesting than Cloud. If I find it difficult to identify with the main character, it will be harder for me to get into a game. Not only was the gameplay boring, but I unsuccessfully tried to get over the fact that Cloud was also boring.

    However, FFVII wasn’t the first RPG ever created for videogame consoles, nor was it the first game that introduced story to the videogame market. The more memorable early “RPG” created for a console was Dragon Quest, and I still remember hearing news about the queues that wound their way around city blocks in Japan when the latest DQ game came out. In the West, there were the Ultima and Wizardry series of games. Both DQ and FF were heavily influenced by Western computer RPGs.

  10. skanderberg
    4 May 2006 at 03:48

    yeah but back then computers were ickle things not the multi billion market now…
    Bards Tale
    D and D
    Fallout
    All great etc etc but undeniably not as big as FFVII which no body can deny

  11. 4 May 2006 at 19:43

    Brinstar,

    While I respect your opinion that “FF 7 was not fun” for you personally, I have to say that you’re obviously wrong about this quote: “The article just confirmed the fact that the game isn’t deserving of all the adulation that it receives.”

    Please read my counter article:
    http://www.onlineroleplayer.com/Home/tabid/36/EntryID/29/Default.aspx

    Parish is just plain wrong and so are you. FF 7 has a legacy for some very specific reasons. This was the first widespread game that was played that people actually felt emotions for the characters in. You can say “well, X game was better at that” (which would be an uninformed opinion since you haven’t played it) but it’s still just an opinion on your part.

    The hard facts are that FF 7 actually moved people to tears and caused people to get depressed over the death of Aeris because the characterization was so good. (I have never heard of something like this happening in Wizardry, Ultima, or any other game from before that time period, btw.)

    Creating this level of emotion in a game is NO SMALL FEAT! Blowing off the whole legacy of FF 7 because you personally don’t like it is simply misinformed.

    That all being said, let me emphasize this again: The fact that FF 7 deserves 100% of it’s adolation does not mean that you “should like it.” It doesn’t mean that at all. Not everyone likes Shakespear, either. Whether you liked it or not is personal.

    But Parish’s assessments were so completely wrong that frankly I think it proves that FF 7 truly does deserves it’s place in the annals of great video games. Parish’s arguments are *provably* wrong. There is no way that people moved to tears over events in the game because it had the best cut scenes ever to date. This is what Parish would have you believe. It’s about as bad an argument as can be imagined.

    Everything else you mention as to why you hate FF 7 is just opinion. Do you think there is some universal rule that says “RPGs must not be linear to be considered a fun game?” The fact that so many people found it fun while still being linear proves beyond doubt that there is no such rule.

    Now, there may be a rule that says “RPGs must not be linear for Brinstar to find them fun.” That could well be a true rule. But using this as a judgement for whether or not other’s opinions of FF 7 are valid doesn’t make sense. It’s as valid as saying “I look good in green. That outfit is blue, so it’s bad. The fact the the blue outfit is popular is obviously undeserved because I don’t like it.”

  12. 4 May 2006 at 20:49

    Your counter article, whilst it does concede some points to Parish’s article, and does make some good points of its own, is laden with so many superlatives that it’s hard to see past what appears to be blind adoration.

    Fair enough: FFVII is an important game in that was the first game to do many things, including making some people cry.

    I didn’t say that RPGs have to be non-linear to be fun. In fact, I even mentioned a linear RPG that is fun to play in a previous comenent. Hell, I play an online RPG that has a linear plot. A lot of people disagree with me on its fun factor.

    Whilst I do agree with a lot of points in Parish’s article (which are actually the points you agreed with as well), I didn’t say that people aren’t entitled to their own opinions. I may find others’ opinions disagreeable, and therefore “wrong” in my eyes, but they are welcome to having them.

  13. 5 May 2006 at 08:52

    “Blind adoration” I love it. :P As much as I’d enjoy watching you try to explain yourself, since my view – by your own admission – showed many things wrong with FF7 and was thus far more balanced then the view you originally espoused, I think we should move on.

    Can we at least say this: we both agree that FF 7 was an imporant game in the history of video games because it was the first widespread emotionally moving story for a very large number of hardcord and more casual players? I think we can at least agree on that. And I’m happy to agree to disagree over whether the game was enjoyable or not to us personally. This is simply an opinion and holds no interest to me as it doesn’t help analyze what we can learn from FF 7 and apply to other games. (Of course, while avoiding it’s pitfalls.)

    Let me change to what I think it an important related subject. Can you explain your thinking on this statement you made:
    “…having very little choice in affecting the overall narrative of the story. So you basically play a story. I tend to call games like this “RPGs” in quotes, because they aren’t traditional RPGs in which your choices affect plot outcome.”

    If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that for an CRPG to be a “true” (or at least “traditional”) RPG, your choices must affect the plot’s outcome. Is this a correct assessement?

    I ask because so many people say this… and yet I can’t think of any CRPGs in existence that are what you’d call “traditional.” It seems strange to categorize two groups of games – one called RPGs and other “RPGs” when in fact all games fall into the latter category. Perhaps you can be more specific by making a list of games that are “traditional RPGs” and those that are “RPGs”

    Let me explain a bit further. Let’s look at a list of CRPGs:
    Bards Tale – Linear plot. Choices do not affect outcome.
    Ultimas – All had linear plot, choices do not affect outcome.
    Morrowind – Linear plot, choices do not affect outcome. Yes, it has a non-linear subquest structure. But your choices to not affect the outcome of the main plot.
    KOTOR – Linear plot with a single branch. You can either kill Malack because you’re evil or you can kill Malack because your good. Still very linear and your choices have very little affect on the outcome.
    Jade Empire/KOTOR 2 – Same as KOTOR.
    Baldur’s Gate – Linear plot, choices do not affect outcome.
    NWN – Linear plot, choices do not affect outcome of story. A few sub quest choices. I.e. you can romance Aribeth or not.
    NWN Hordes of Underdark – Linear plot. Choices do not affect outcome. However, choices do affect the ending blurbs, but that’s about it. And you can decide “how” to destroy Meph. But in the end, it’s always the same result.

    Incidently, FF 7 had several optional subplots and your choices did affect a lot of things. For example, I still know nothing about Vincient (one of the more popular characters) because I didn’t do the sub plots that caused me to cross paths with him. I’m not sure FF 7 is much more “linear” in story or in game mechanics then most on the list above.

    Side note: An interesting thing about FF 7 that nobody every mentions is that it’s optional sub plots didn’t feel like sub plots because they tied so well to the main storyline. They felt very integrated. I have suspicions that this is one of the reasons the story hung together so well despite some uneven writing. You were also “rewarded” for doing this subplots with additional story information rather then with a new weapon or toy. For example, you could find Zack’s parents or you could find out what happened to Zack. It wasn’t required, but it was possible. It’s a very clever game mechanic that I haven’t seen used in many games since.

    I await your list of “RPGs” and “traditional RPGs.”

  14. 5 May 2006 at 13:48

    Hey, I just reread my post and it comes across more negative then it sounded like in my head. I apologize for that.

    Honestly, I’m interested in how you define what you call an “RPG” vs. a “traditional RPG.” And I am hoping you’ll take the time to actually think it through and come up with a clear (or relatively clear, anyhow) seperation.

    From my post, you can probably guess that I’m skeptical that such a seperation actually exists. But everyone seems to see it, so I was hoping to get more info.

    That being said, I think many people would call FF 7 (as our prime example here) “non-traditional” for the following reasons:

    1. You don’t get to create your own character as you do in D&D
    2. It’s a bit more linear then, say, Ultima is. There are fewer subquests and less things to do that aren’t relevant to the main plot.
    3. It relies heavily on cut scenes (which is getting more common now a days, but wasn’t back then) and thus often feels more like a movie.
    4. It uses non-standard stats.
    5. You can’t pick your weapon type.

    I would argue back that none of these points alone make a game any less “roleplaying.” Also, I’m not sure there is really such a thing (right now) as a non-linear plot for a CRPG. If Ron Edwards theories are correct, this may not be possible. (My conclusions based on his theories, not his.) All you can really get is a few branches.

  15. Craig Shepherd
    25 January 2007 at 01:43

    Ahhhh, the arrogance of youth… wait no your just stupid! You clearly are one of these nintendo fan boys who is still pissed and sore as a result of the third largest game franchise in the world leaving your console just as it hit it came up with a brilliant game and nintendo wasn’t nearly awesome enough to sustain its unbelievable prowess. Also i find that those who don’t like Final Fantasy love legend of zelda and think that ocarina of time is one of the best games ever, of course you know as well as i do that its the sales figures that count and Final Fantasy VII sold more than a million extra than ocarina of time. However you are entitled to your opinions (however obscene) and i’m sure Yoichi Wada is laughing at your futile attempts to dent the reputation of Final Fantasy. Yoichi Wada is the prsident of Square Enix and the chairman of the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association. So i’d watch what you say about him or his games which have made him a very powerful man in the gaming industry, clearly showing that nothing that Square Enix creates is less than genius.

  16. 25 January 2007 at 03:44

    Hi Craig. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am slightly irritated that your first sentence opens up with an insult, but I will just dismiss that as the arrogance of youth.

    Firstly, I am not a “Nintendo fan boy.” I am a woman. Although I do like Nintendo, I hardly follow the company with the slavish and nigh-uncritical devotion of a fan. You seem to show very clear evidence of being a Final Fantasy and SquareEnix “fanboy” yourself, c.f. your statement that “nothing that Square Enix creates is less than genius.”

    I am not “pissed” about Final Fantasy having left Nintendo. I was indifferent to the news. In fact, apart from the nearly two hours I spent playing FFVII, I have never played a Final Fantasy game in my life.

    I do not “love” the Legend of Zelda series of games. I find the series to be above average at best, nor do I think Ocarina of Time was one of the best games ever. In fact, I never finished Ocarina of Time because I got bored — just as I got bored with Final Fantasy VII, though with Ocarina of Time, it took quite a bit longer for the boredom to set in.

    Just as I am entitled to my opinions, so you are entitled to yours, however misinformed and fanboyish yours seem to be.

    I am fairly sure that Yoichi Wada does not care about my opinion of Final Fantasy. If he read my opinion, he would most likely say that the Final Fantasy series is not for everyone.

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