Monday, October 31, 2011

Fifteen years after Final Fantasy VII

Last week, when I started playing Dissidia 012 [duodecim], I experienced a sudden gush of nostalgia. I was ecstatic at the thought that I would get to play Final Fantasy VII's Tifa Lockhart and witness the possibility of more interactions with Cloud Strife.

Truth be told, Final Fantasy VII was the very first of the  franchise I had ever played, having grown up as a platformer and fighting gamer. Yeah, I was one of those "n00bs" older gamers used to belittle, the way my generation now scoffs at new "gaming kids", whose equivalent of our Super Mario is now Angry Birds. I was too young to play the earlier installations but I more than made up for it after FFVII. I have to admit that while FFIV and FFVI had deeper storylines, there was something about VII that made me remember the characters more despite its unoriginal epic tale.

I can't believe this was how it looked like back then.
And we all thought the graphics were freakin' awesome!

I guess I could credit the memories to Cloud's interactions with his comrades. Advent Children (AC), the 3D animated film that takes place two years after the final battle, may have turned Cloud into brooding Squall Leonhart, but I don't think I could ever forget how funny it was when he disguised himself as a girl just to get Don Corneo's attention. Or those hilarious dating combinations that can have a player picking brawler Tifa, sweet Aeris Gainsborough or dark, hulking Barret Wallace (dude in bottom-left screenshot) as possible escort. And that romantic Cloud-Tifa moment under the Highwind!!

(Much as it pains me to admit, I had thought Cid Highwind and Barret were old at 35 and 39 respectively, and Cloud was mature at 20. Now I am nearing Cid's age. Haha!)

Date scenes with Barret and Tifa.
Photos below are of Tifa and Cloud under the Highwind.

Some hardcore fans might grudgingly say that Square-Enix is milking the franchise with all the follow-up games, movies and merchandise but I, for one, am happy. I am one of those who rooted for a Cloud-Tifa angle, and reading developer interviews cemented my love for the game. It was especially thrilling to find out that they initially intended for Cloud to do something intimate with Tifa under the Highwind (but they scrapped the idea, fearing it would be too risque). I also wondered why Cloud became so cold in AC and it turns out that FFVII's scenario writer, Kazushige Nojima, had written novelas explaining the relationship between Cloud, Tifa and the children they adopted.

Tifa in both AC and original costumes.

I tried reading fanfics just to get my fill of Tifa Lockhart but they were nothing compared to Nojima's telling. I loved how he deepened the girl's character by making her tough yet vulnerable at the same time, generous endowments notwithstanding. She had spunk and wasn't afraid of letting Cloud know that she was having none of his seeming apathy.

Honestly, the best part of all the installations that followed the FFVII world is that I don't need to replay the game. Goodness knows, I don't really want to go back to timed battles (they were easy, but the pressure!!!), snowboarding (which made me dizzy), and that blasted Temple of the Ancients (rocks kept rolling all over me, which makes me wonder how I managed to finish harder games like the first Castlevania). I'm too old for mini-games that require good hand-eye coordination. In fact, if they ever remake some aspects of the game, I really do wish they'd come up with a tactics version. Or something that would be kinder to our generation, since we love the characters so much.

For those who are just as hungry as I am in getting your hands on some important snippets of Final Fantasy VII, here are some related (non-playable) literature:

  • Advent Children
  • Last Order OAV - warning: there are some scenes that deviate from the original game, which they fixed when they released Crisis Core.
  • On The Way to A Smile - a series of pre-AC short stories penned by Kazushige Nojima, the second of which focuses on Tifa
  • On The Way to A Smile: Episode: Denzel - an anime based on the first of Nojima's short stories and was released with AC Complete.
  • Maiden Who Travels the Planet - written by Benny Matsuyama, this is a novel that tells of Aeris' experiences in the Lifestream after her death. This was published in the FFVII Ultimania Omega.

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