However, just last week I started replaying Final Fantasy VII, and damn I’m hooked. I’m so hooked that I spent a solid 20ish hours straight playing just a few days ago. And let me tell you…it was totally worth it. The game absolutely holds up. In fact, it’s so good that even though I was sleep deprived, the game was telling me to get some sleep.
That’s right! It told me I needed to nap…god dammit. I had declined to nap in one of the houses outside the giant conch and once I did that, the path was cleared. The game is so smart, so well designed that it told me that I needed sleep in order to realize what to do next. I mean, I didn’t go to sleep. I’m no slave to some robot master…not yet anyway.
But I digress.
Regardless of how the Remake does, the original will always be cherished. It’s an amazing game and replaying it has given me the chance to see why. My quick answer is that Final Fantasy VII truly embodies what an RPG is, a Role Playing Game. The game isn’t just discovering the mysterious back stories of beloved characters or going to save the world from an indomitable villain, in this case it makes for great story, but the game also has amazing game mechanics too.
Somewhere in the middle of the game they also introduce Chocobo breeding. Chocobos, for those who aren’t in the know (Cole), are essentially bad ass horse-sized chickens. This mechanic doesn’t only introduce a new side quest but it uses several previously established mechanics in order to get the best Chocobo. You need to be able to use materia, your knowledge of the world map, and the new stats and items based on Chocobos. If you succeed in getting a Gold Chocobo, you will be able to get some of the best materia in the game.
Good RPGs aren’t just about collecting a ragtag group of adventures to save the world; they allow players to experience many different roles. The really great RPGs are designed so that when a player does choose to experience something apart from the main story, they will be rewarded, and FFVII not only gives you many hats to try, it also rewards handsomely.
For me, this is a huge difference between the old and the new, especially in the case of the RPG. A lot of RPGs these days will have many different side quests and objectives, but unfortunately the side quests become a lather, rinse, repeat cycle. You go to a new area, you meet NPCs, and an NPC has a problem he needs a hero to solve. So go get him 10 apples so he can make his pie. It’s all very linear and due to its repetitive nature, it becomes stale, boring, unnatural, and most importantly unrewarding. The benefit hardly outweighs the time needed to do half the menial tasks NPCs set out for you. Because of this, it also breaks a player’s suspension of disbelief. If you’re supposed to be some sort of destined hero, why are you getting this guy 10 apples? Why can’t he do it himself or get literally anyone else to do it for him?
Thanks for reading.
Sorry the ending felt a little rushed. It is. I’ll revisit this next week because there’s so much more to say on the topic.
Love, el Presidente