“This is the best game you’ll ever play” were the words of my old babysitter upon giving my brother and I his copy of Final Fantasy 7 before heading off to college. I didn’t realize it then, but this man was handing me something that would inspiree me into doing what I do today.
Final Fantasy 7 was the first “mature” -ish game that I played during my early life at the time. This was no Spyro the Dragon. This was no Crash Bandicoot. This was 70 hours worth of story and gameplay packed onto 3 discs of so much awesome I couldn’t even pick a better adjective to describe it because I’m too excited as I type.
Spoilers if you are somehow reading this and haven’t played the game after 18 years.
My brother and I spent our adolescent years playing through Final Fantasy 7, amazed by the depth of story telling and combat system that was unlike anything we had played prior. It was our first real gaming experience with something more than pokemon or sports games. And we spent some 50 hours playing through just the first disc until the moment that shocked so many people who played the game.
In hindsight now, it doesn’t seem all too shocking, but for me at the time Aerith’s death from being impaled by Sephiroth was something I didn’t see coming. Then the unthinkable happened. Just after the Jenova battle that developed and the cutscene that played following where Cloud puts Aerith in the lake, my disc froze. And I was destroyed.
So we bought scratch creams, repair wipes, and everything we could to try and get the disc through that cutscene, but it was no use. So we let it go. And 5 years later, when I was a freshman in high school, my mom came home one day because she happened to find a copy in the store. We were so excited we started playing right then that night.
We made it through the first two discs with ease and popped in the third, following Sephiroth into the Northern Cave. Unfortunately for us, we used it at the point of no return once we were in the cave, and didn’t realize until we were at Sephiroth to know we were severely under-leveled and unprepared to beat the last boss. Realizing we were stuck, we gave up after many many tries, discouraged and defeated.
Then when the game was released on the play station store as a digital download, I felt new inspiration again. So this time, realizing the strategies and training that were necessary to defeat the last boss, we took every moment we could to make sure we were the strongest we could be. And 70 hours later, with our characters over level 80 and maxed out health, we defeated Sephiroth with ease. Almost a decade later after I was first handed the game I beat it.
I could sing you every song in this game. It inspired me to play music.
I could tell you the entire plot and every character arc. It made me want to tell stories.
I could tell you every emotion I felt playing that game. It made me want to invoke emotion.
It may sound absurd, but this one game shaped who I am. And I will carry that with me forever.