Title: Final Fantasy 7
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Available On: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mobile
Official Site: https://square-enix-games.com/
Release Date: March 26th, 2019 (Xbox & Switch versions)
Where to Buy it: PSN, Xbox Store, Steam, Nintendo E-Shop
By now, you’ve all probably read a million reviews of Final Fantasy 7. I’d like to promise that this will be the final one, but I can’t. We all know for a fact it’ll be ported onto countless future generations of consoles, not to mention the upcoming (one day I hope, finally) Final Fantasy 7 remake. For now, the original game we’ve all played to death has finally released on a Nintendo console, 22 years after the initial release.
It’s taken a long time to make it over to Nintendo. A long, long time. That wasn’t always going to be the case. Back in 1994, Final Fantasy 7 was initially being developed for a Nintendo console, namely the SNES. There were difficulties with the tech as Nintendo were insistent on using carts for their systems causing Square to jump ship to Sony in favor of the CD ROM format. A move that didn’t go down to well with Nintendo. It was reported that Square Enix was told never to come back, but back they came. Seems that some burned bridges can be repaired. Of course, we’ve had Final Fantasy back with Nintendo before this, it’s just great to see the game that caused the troubles back with Ninty, finally.
No doubt most of you have played Final Fantasy 7 or are at least aware of it. Some love it, some hate it. This version is no different from the PS4 version that released in 2015, but that was almost 4 years ago so it’s about time we had a fresh review in celebration of the Switch release. It’s a monumental occasion people. Whilst this will be a review of the Switch version, it can apply to most versions out there so treat it more like a retrospective with a score attached.
First things first, I love Final Fantasy 7 and the series in general. FF7 is my favorite of the franchise, but that’s likely due to the fact it was the one I played first when it originally released on the PlayStation in 1997. Had I played 8 or 9 first, they may well have been my favorite. One of those may be yours and I won’t argue. They are all fantastic games, but we’re here for 7 so let’s press on with the matter at hand.
Final Fantasy 7 tells the story of Cloud, an ex-member of an elite fighting force called Shinra who joins forces with a band of terrorists to take down his previous employers and save the world. I’m not joking on the terrorist part either, the first mission literally has you blowing up government property. There’s much more to the story than that and it develops nicely with some tear-jerking moments (you know what I’m talking about) to boot. I won’t delve into the story too much as it’s one that should be experienced with as fresh a mind as possible. All I will say is Sephiroth is an awesome villain, right from his hair to his ridiculously oversized sword. He’s great and arguably the best villain in the entire franchise. Some prefer Final Fantasy 6’s Kefka and I won’t argue, it’s all subjective.
If you’ve played a JRPG before you’ll know exactly what to expect here. Exploration, turn-based combat, random battles, and grinding are all present and accounted for, which is not a bad thing. What sets Final Fantasy 7 apart is the Materia system. These are little colored orbs that can be added to available slots in weapons and armor, separated into five different colors depending on what they actually do.
Green, for example, indicates magic Materia such as Fire, allowing the user to cast a fire spell against an opponent in battle. Blue Materia is for support, a good example here is the All Materia and it comes in very handy. Combine this with the above mention Fire and the user will cast the spell against all the enemies instead of just one. Command Materia is Yellow, an example here is the Enemy Skill Materia that lets you learn certain moves from enemies. The penultimate color is purple, independent Materia such as the Chocobo Lure can be found here and is used as a means of obtaining Chocobos to ride on. Finally (I promise) we have the Red Materia, the most spectacular of all, the Summons. These are huge creatures that can be used in battle to inflict major damage on opponents.
I know I’ve just gone on about Materia for a while and, to be honest, I could fill up plenty more pages with the nuance of Materia. There’s just so much you can do with it. So many combinations that can be used for different effects. An absolute necessity in order to take down some of the game’s tougher bosses. Like the in-game characters, Materia also has its own XP system. Leveling them up causes them to become stronger until they are maxed out, leaving you with the full powered version and a brand new baby version to do it all over again. Either can then be sold at shops.
I promise I’ve finished on that subject, even if there is so much more to go through. Remember ages ago when I said this will be a review of the Switch version? Well, here comes something to do with that and it’s an issue I have. Control wise, the characters in Final Fantasy 7 were always guided around using the D-pad, this wasn’t an issue on the PS1 but it’s something I struggle with on the Switch. At least when I’m using the joy con and its separate buttons that equate to the D-pad. I find these difficult to use as you can’t just tilt your thumb as you would in the day. There’s full analog support and I had to switch to this method but I wasn’t happy doing so. This won’t be an issue for many people at all, just a personal preference to me. On the flip side of that, the separate joy con buttons work really well when navigating the combat menus, so I shouldn’t moan too much.
Speaking of combat, as I mentioned everything is turn-based using the ATB (active time battle) system. The player can have a battle party of 3 (from the many great characters on offer, making it hard to choose sometimes) whose details are displayed at the bottom of the screen. Health (HP), Magic Points (MP, used up when casting spells etc), a limit gauge and the ATB gauge. Once the ATB gauge is full, you are permitted to select a move for that character who will then attack the enemy, cast healing or attacking spells or any of the other wonderful things your equipped Materia (sorry) has on offer. The limit gauge fills up based on damage taken and allows for a limit break (super move) to be used, with each move depending on the individual character they apply to.
There’s plenty of depth and strategy to the battle system, which is lucky as you’ll be using it a lot. As well as the scripted events, there are plenty of random battles. Every few steps the screen will swirl and throw you into a fight. You can run but more often than not it’s better to fight, grind out experience points and strengthen your characters for the later parts of the game. The turn-based system and grinding is one aspect that puts many people off of JRPGs but not me, I do love a bit of a grind.
Graphically, Final Fantasy 7 was a behemoth back in the day. Square truly outdid themselves. Today, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way it looks, but age has crept in. During exploration, the characters appear blocky with deformed features (which I love) in a cartoony kind of way. In the cutscenes and battles, they take on a more realistic look. This drastic difference between the two styles could put off some people. Not me. As you can tell, I’m an avid fanboy. The one problem I have with this port is what they have done to clean up the blocky characters. The models have been improved to make them look cleaner, which causes them to now stand out above the pre-rendered backgrounds so much it can make what once looked so beautiful look murky and unconnected. 1997 was also a time before widescreen so the game is presented in a 4:3 format, cutting off the edges of the screen. Even in handheld, there’s still big enough to see what’s going on. Minor gripes.
Nobuo Uematsu’s musical score is beyond brilliant. I love it to pieces and recently had the chance to see One Winged Angel played live (with Nobuo in attendance), giving me goosebumps and bringing a small tear to my eye. The music did give me a problem in this playthrough though as I couldn’t stop myself from humming along to every single song, every time. I’m very thankful I didn’t play this on the bus with headphones or I’d have been locked up. Each area, battle, and theme song are that perfect with personal highlights that include the aforementioned One Winged Angel, the Cosmo Canyon, and Golden Saucer theme tunes. If you don’t want to buy the game, just get the soundtrack. Seriously.
The Switch version doesn’t bring anything new to the table. What it does bring though is the thing I hate most about the other ports. Cheats. These are great for some players, I’m sure, but using them negates the challenge and really takes away the enjoyment of the game. I know they don’t need to be used and I’m being grumpy, so don’t moan at me in the comments. Should you wish to use the cheats (you shouldn’t), you can speed up the game, turn off random encounters, restore health, and things like that.
I feel I’ve talked to you so much about this game and yet told you so little. Honestly, I could go on for another 10,000 words if I was allowed. I’m not. There is so much I’ve missed out though. The amazing characters, the world map, the towns and villages to explore, optional bosses, side quests, ultimate weapons, and all sorts of other features. Not even to mention the quite fantastic cross-dressing section. Final Fantasy 7 is such a huge game with so much to do and explore. It’s just great and well worth the price of admission for newcomers and veterans alike, even if it doesn’t add anything new. Why try to change perfection?
I can’t quite give the game full marks, even if I want to. The Switch version is the same as other versions you may have already purchased and it’s pretty much the same as the game that came out in 1997. If you want new features, it’s best to wait until the remake comes out. For those of you looking to relive the old glory or dive in for the first time, stop reading and get it on the download. I’m more than happy. I’ve replayed this game for the umpteenth time and I’m really hoping Square Enix can now just find a way of bringing Final Fantasy 8 back to us as it seems to be long forgotten by the company.
What did you think of the game? Which installment is your favorite? Let us knon in the comments below. You can even complain to me about parts I’ve missed out or rambled on about too much. I don’t mind really. In the meantime, I’m off to replay some more Final Fantasy. Bye for now.
Verdict: Final Fantasy 7 has taken its time coming to a Nintendo console. The Switch version doesn’t do anything new, it just brings the same great game to a different set of hands. Fans will still love it and haters won’t find anything to change their minds. For me, it still retains its place as an all-time classic.
- Same great game
- Great Music
- Wonderful characters and story with a rich and engaging world.
- Turn-based combat isn't for everyone
- Updated character models are jarring
- Anything you didn't like, you won't like now
Steve is the resident Englishman, just don’t hold that against him. He’s been playing games for the best part of 3 decades and will continue to do so for as long as his thumbs hold up. When they no longer work, he’ll still find a way to play Resident Evil 2. Lover of most things nerdy Steve also likes sports. Go sports!