It looks like we’ll have to wait for a while before the next entry of the new Final Fantasy VII is playable. I can’t really say it’s Final Fantasy VII Remake Part II because the subtitle, Rebirth, says otherwise. What I can say is it’s looking more likely than not I’ll be able to play it since it’s a PlayStation 5 exclusive, which is what I was afraid of from the very start. I don’t think the price for Sony’s new fangled console will drop to a reasonable price in a year’s time so it’ll be at least a while before I can play the sequel to one of my most beloved games.
So, what will I do between then? I guess I’ll be able to play the other Final Fantasy games Square Enix will be pumping out for the PlayStation 4. There’s a lot to cover, actually. There’s going to be Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core: Reunion by the end of the year. Final Fantasy XVI will come out in January supposedly. I could even try out the multitude of Final Fantasy games, such as Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XV. That should be enough to tide me over until I get a PlayStation 4, I think.
However, as good as they might be, they won’t be able to satiate my Final Fantasy VII itch. I really want to know what will happen to Cloud, Barret, Tifa, Aerith and Red XIII as they explore the world after leaving Midgar. I want to see new characters like Yuffie, Cait Sith, Cid and Vincent and see how they blend with the current team. Most of all, I want to know what will happen with Cloud’s quest to defeat Sephiroth.
Then I realized I didn’t have to wait to get a Sony PlayStation 5 nor wait for Square Enix to release Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth next year. I could know all of that or, at the very least, get a general idea of where the story is going. All I had to do was play the original Final Fantasy VII for myself!
That’s what I did recently. I went to the PlayStation Store and purchased a playable version of the original Final Fantasy VII just to see for myself what’s going to happen next with Cloud and company. I’ve been playing it for a while and I’ve already completed the Midgar portion, basically the events from Remake and, honestly, this was a really weird experience for me.
To be frank, it’s not like I’m entirely unknowledgeable regarding Final Fantasy VII. The game is practically video game royalty and certain plot points already leaked into my brain even before I played Remake. I know most of the main plot points and even the big twists like it was already in my head all this time. What I haven’t had is the actual experience of playing the original Final Fantasy VII. I know the broad strokes of the story but not the nitty gritty of what makes the game celebrated. I can still safely say the experience of playing the original after playing Remake was not what I expected.
The first thing that caught me aback, strangely enough, was the graphics. I guess I was spoiled by Remake as that game was super realistic. Seeing chibi versions of Cloud, Barret, Tifa and Aerith had me experiencing some mixed emotions. I get why they look super deformed as the first PlayStation couldn’t really do high polygon models to make them look realistic. It does make it hard to take the dramatic and emotional moments seriously because they look like toys to me. They may have been enough to convey the idea but, after seeing how they did those scenes in Remake, they just don’t have the same impact.
The combat and difficulty also feels rather… I don’t want to say “easy” because it’s not exactly the right word. It feels a little more braindead because all I was doing for most of the battles was spamming the attack command. Maybe I’ll toss in a healing or an elemental spell here and there but, for the most part, I was just telling everyone to attack, attack, attack and attack. Some of the bosses, like the Airbuster, went down surprisingly easy, which is really head scratching because I had so much trouble with that monster of a robot in Remake. I’m not sure if I leveled up too much but I know I did go back and fight a whole mess of monsters because I wanted to earn enough money to buy all the upgraded weapons. Maybe that’s why the Airbuster and most of the bosses I fought in Midgar went down so easily.
However, the biggest surprise for me was how short the entire Midgar section was in the original Final Fantasy VII. Final Fantasy VII Remake was just the Midgar section and it took me around 60 hours to beat it on my first playthrough. The same section in the original Final Fantasy VII took me around 3 hours my initial go around. It’s not even like I didn’t try to do everything I could because I did! I tried completing every single side quest and I tried going through every nook and cranny I could. I still did everything in 3 hours!
Then again, Remake did expand on every single portion of Midgar and the characters, making the Mako city seem much bigger. In Remake, there were a lot of portions in the game which really extended things, so playing the original does seem disappointingly short. The train graveyard in Remake really feel like a train graveyard, emphasis on the “graveyard” now. It’s a super massive area with a lot of area to cover and was used to develop the personalities of the characters. In the original, it felt like Sector 7 was just a short hop, skip and a jump away from my destination.
Speaking of character development, Remake also does this in spades when compared to the original. In Remake, you really got to know the other minor AVALANCHE members as you even get to go on a new added mission with them. This makes their deaths hit incredibly hard when they supposedly perish when the Sector 7 plate falls. I don’t even recall seeing Bigg or Jessie as I had Cloud make his way up the pillar. I remember Wedge eating it when he plummeted to the ground but the other two? I just can’t remember if they were even there!
There was one thing which did pop into my mind after finishing the Midgar section and, honestly, it’s bugging me a little bit. I can’t help but wonder what if Square Enix made an actual remake of Final Fantasy VII. We already know the story will make some radical departures as Cloud and company eliminated the Whispers. We also have hints that Sephiroth has some knowledge of the original game’s events and he’s messing with Cloud’s head much more in Remake. So I can’t really help but think what would be the reaction if Square Enix expanded on the events and segments of the original game but kept the general story intact. I know most fans are happy with the direction the new Final Fantasy VII games are taking. However, people like me who haven’t played the original before did have to wrap our heads around the idea this wasn’t an actual remake but more of a sequel.
I’m already all the way at Cosmo Canyon so I’ve covered a good chunk of the original game. I still have a long ways to go and, while I’m enjoying the story overall, I can’t help but compare what I’m currently playing to Remake. I don’t think the original is a bad game as I’m having a good time. What I will say is my experience is just… weird. I guess my brain still has to accept this as a new retro game even though I’ve already played an ungraded version of it.
How does the original Final Fantasy VII stack up to Remake? Did you play the original or Remake first? Let me know in the comments section below!