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Top 5 Mini Games in Final Fantasy VII

The Final Fantasy series is no stranger to Mini games or including scenarios that change up the main gameplay style. From card games, to underwater sports games, to even learning lines for an Opera performance these diversions added variety to the main narrative. Final Fantasy VII took these ideas to another level and added a plethora of mini games that were either ingrained in the main story or fun extras to earn rare rewards. Here are the Top 5 best mini games to distract you from taking down Sephiroth:

1. – Midgar Motorcycle Chase (G-Bike) –

After the climatic battle with Rufus at the top of Shinra HQ the party escape Midgar by stealing a truck and being chased down the highway by Shinra guards. Cloud follows on a motorcycle and the player is tasked with protecting the truck and slicing through the Shinra attackers. While initially part of the main game, the player can play G-Bike again at the Gold Saucer later in the game earing points for taking down other bikes.

ffvii_crazy_motorcycle

2. – Snowboarding (Icicle Inn) –

After obtaining the snowboard and map from the village at Icicle Inn, Cloud rides a snowboard down the mountain through various routes before landing in the Great Glacier. The paths you take result in where you start your trek through the Glacier. Later in the game Snowboarding can played at the Wonder Square in the Gold Saucer and Cid and Tifa can be controlled instead of Cloud. The player can compete in time trials and unlock different courses to race on.

snowboard_jump

3. – Battle Square and Speed Square Shooting Rollercoaster (Gold Saucer) –

Final Fantasy VII had its own amusement park known as the Gold Saucer that housed numerous mini games itself. Each different Square of the Gold Saucer had different events to participate in, such as partaking in the medieval play on the date with Aeris, Tifa or Yuffie (you skip the play if you win a date with Barret). Although the biggest attractions are the Battle Square where you fight a set number of battles with increasing handicaps imposed upon you to gain rare items like Cloud’s Level 4 Limit Break; Omnislash and the Shooting Rollercoaster which plays like an on-rails shooter where you rack up point for hitting targets.

speed_square2

4. – Chocobo Breeding and Racing (Gold Saucer) –

Your first encounter with a Chocobo will usually be when you can catch one to ride over the Marshes and avoid the Midgar Zolom or when you must come first in a Chocobo Race to win your freedom from Corel Prison. After that you can either bet on Chocobo Races or breed your own and ride them to win items and rewards. Chocobo Breeding is extensive and later in the game you can breed different colour Chocobos that have new abilities like crossing rivers and mountains to allow you to explore the World Map and find extremely strong Materia in hidden caves such as the Knights of the Round Summon and Quadra Magic.

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5. – Tower Defence (Fort Condor) –

Once you have access to Fort Condor you can help the villages defend the giant Condor that has makes its home above the reactor on top of the mountain. It is played again in the main game to stop the Shinra from gaining the Huge Materia. It plays like a strategy tower defence game where you buy different soldier types and place them on the field to defeat and block the advance enemy troops.

ff7_minigame_fort-condor

What are your favourite mini games in Final Fantasy VII and how do you think they will be updated in the remake?

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Top 5 Boss Battles from Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII will be remembered for it’s great characters, atmosphere and narrative, but another aspect that really stands out is the memorable boss battles. All the way from the Guard Scorpion at the very beginning of the game to the final showdown in the Northern Cave you better be ready for action. Here are the Top 5 Boss Battles from Final Fantasy VII:

  1. – Rufus Shrina –

The opening hours of Final Fantasy VII is filled with more memorable moments than most games have in their entirety. You bomb two Mako Reactors, meet Aeris, dress in drag in the Wall Market to sneak into Don Corneo’s Mansion, narrowly escape the plate being dropped on Sector 7 and then infiltrate Shrina HQ to find the President murdered by what appears to be Sephiroth. This all leads up to an epic one-on-one showdown on the roof of Shrina HQ between Cloud and the President’s son Rufus. The introduction of Rufus, his speech and the fight all make up a fantastic experience. If you didn’t know much about RPGs you could have been mistaken into thinking this was nearing the end of the game, when in fact it had only just begun!

Final Fantasy VII Cloud Vs Rufus Battle

  1. – Jenova LIFE –

Final Fantasy VII has an unparalleled knack of building up tension and then throwing an epic boss battle at you when your emotions are high. There is no better example of this, than after working your way through the mysterious City of Ancients in search of Aeris, to then witness her sudden death at the hands of the heartless Sephiroth, to then be confronted with an intense battle against another form of Jenova. You hardly get a chance to catch your breath or comprehend what just happened when you are forced to fight for your lives. The emotional rollercoaster is complete when you realise the normal boss battle music when fighting Jenova is not playing, but rather the beautiful Aeris’ Theme instead, a spectacular design choice from the developers.

Final Fantasy Jenova LIFE

  1. – Sephiroth –

After battling your way through the Northern Cave and one last gathering of the party, it’s time to face the final challenge: defeat Sephiroth and release Holy to allow it to try and save the planet. Sephiroth’s first two forms are the real challenge and the angelic second form utilises the lengthy cinematic Super Nova attack that destroys entire planets just to try and stop you. The final battle is just Cloud and a human Sephiroth facing off as Cloud unleashes his ultimate attack, Omnislash to end Sephiroth once and for all. Even though the last battle is unlosable, it is every bit as satisfying as you can feel all of Cloud’s anger, sadness and resentment spill out as he finally settles the score after all those years.

Final Fantasy VII Cloud Omnislash

  1. – Ruby/ Emerald WEAPON –

Final Fantasy VII has a few optional boss battles, but none come close to the complexity of these two WEAPONs. While some of the other battles on this list are memorable because of the storyline that surrounds them, Ruby and Emerald WEAPON are here because of the challenge they present and the strategies needed to cover come them. Final Fantasy VII has a deep and rewarding combat and customisation system and you need to have a strong grasp of how to master it if you are to have any chance of being victorious in these battles. Both offer different tricks such as Ruby being able to permanently knock party members out of the fight or Emerald’s attack that hits harder depending on how many materia you have equipped on each character. The ultimate boss battles in Final Fantasy VII.

Final Fantasy VII Ruby Emerald WEAPON

  1. – Demons Gate –

Fought in the Temple of Ancients, this is a terrifying and difficult boss battle. It is likely the toughest battle at that stage of the game and will really challenge the player’s ability. The design is intimidating and there is a real sense of urgency to the fight as Demons Gate is fast and has some devastating attacks such as Demon Rush. It is a great accomplishment to see the end of this battle and it feels like the start of many more challenging bosses to come.

Final Fantasy VII Demons Gate

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Deconstructing Cloud Strife

If you are a fan of RPGs, there is a good chance you have played the Squaresoft masterpiece Final Fantasy VII. The game is well known for its engaging narrative and memorable characters, but the following article will be an analysis focusing on the motives of the main protagonist: Cloud Strife. *This analysis will only be of Cloud from the original game, no representation of his character from the” Compilation of Final Fantasy VII” titles will be taken into consideration.

Final Fantasy VII Real Cloud

RPGs are often criticized for having protagonists that are just pulled along for the ride and have no real purpose or motivation to participate in the story. Final Fantasy VII featured a scene before the final battle where Cloud asked all the party members to go away and really think about what they were fighting for and if they were willing to sacrifice it all for it. If they were not 100% committed he would accept their decision and go on fighting on his own. He wasn’t sure anyone would come back. All the characters did find their own reasons for fighting, but as the main character of the game, Cloud’s motivations were the most interesting and they make him the most human character I have ever come across in a fictitious story, video game or otherwise.

Cloud: “What are we fighting for? I want us all to understand that. Save the planet… for the future of the planet… Sure, that’s all fine. But really, is that really how it is?”

Final Fantasy VII Reasons

Cloud is a very complex character and unlike most righteous heroes in RPGs, his motives are mostly personal in nature. As a child, he was an outcast. Living in Nibelheim, the other kids teased him and he often got into fights. He had a crush on Tifa, who was very popular, but she didn’t even think twice about him. When Tifa’s mother died and she ran away Cloud tried to save her, but ended up being blamed for her falling into a coma for a week. As a teenager Cloud decided to leave Nibelhiem and join SOLDIER, his aim was to become a hero like the great Sephiroth. Cloud didn’t want to be a hero for glory or to selflessly help people, he wanted to be somebody people admired, he wanted to impress Tifa and he probably wanted to rub it in the faces of the other kids that had teased him all those years. Cloud was a normal teenager, dealing with real world problems just like us.

Final Fantasy VII Cloud SOLDIER

When Cloud never made SOLDIER and was only a low ranking Shinra Guard, he felt like a failure and he did what most people would do: he hid himself. On his return to Nibelhiem he never removed his helmet to Tifa hiding his face (and failure) from her. After the events that took place in Nibelhiem with Sephiroth losing his mind and burning the place to the ground, Cloud meets up with Tifa again years later in Midgar. He now has a cocky, self-important attitude, calls himself a mercenary and only fights with AVALANCE for the money. Cloud has changed during this time, even if he doesn’t exactly remember it yet. See during this period Cloud is living a lie, as it is shown later in the game that the memories he tells everyone are really from Zack, the former SOLDIER First Class who was killed saving Cloud’s life.

Cid (talking about Cloud): “Just when you thought he was cool, he’d go and do some damn fool thing. And when you thought he was smart, he’d show how stupid he was. Everything about him from his movements to his speech were kinda odd.”

Final Fantasy VII Cloud Attitude

Cloud’s made up persona is quickly worn away as he starts to show his real self again when he meets Aeris and then infiltrates Shrina HQ to save her. It’s when the party leaves Midgar that Cloud realizes his new motive for travelling all over the world which stays with him for most of the remainder of the game: to seek revenge against Sephiroth.

So for most of the story Cloud wants to gain his revenge on Sephiroth, this is taken to another level when Sephiroth mercilessly kills Aeris right in front of him. Towards the end of the game Cloud is fighting for the planet as well, as he wants to save the world from Meteor because it’s the right thing to do and he knows he is the only one who can at this point, but he clearly states it’s not his main motive:

Cloud: “For me this is a personal feud. I want to beat Sephiroth and settle my past. Saving the planet just happens to be a part of that.”

After Tifa pieces together his past in the lifestream and allows him to find his true self, Cloud is finally honest with himself and learns to accept who he is. He acknowledges his shortcomings, he admits he is scared of what lies ahead in the face of overwhelming odds and even contemplates quitting, but in the end he takes the responsibility of being the leader of a group of people that need him and he gives it everything he can. When it all comes down to it Cloud is a positive person with an unwavering determination.

Final Fantasy VII Cloud Answers

Cloud: “I’ll find the answer someday. As long as I keep trying”

How many RPG heroes admit they are only saving the world for a personal vendetta? None, and if they start out with another motive, they usually drop the idea later in the game. Cloud’s real journey in Final Fantasy VII is finding out the truth about his past and accepting himself for who he is, no matter all the faults he has and mistakes he has made. Final Fantasy VII has many emotional themes in its narrative, but Cloud’s story of self discovery is easily the most relatable and scarily human.

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The Rise of SquareSoft (Part 3) – It’s Hip to Be Square

Following their success on the Super Nintendo, Square had originally planned to continue to develop for Nintendo systems. They even created a tech demo rendering some of the Final Fantasy VI characters in 3D for which many thought would be a preview of what Final Fantasy might look like on the Nintendo 64. These plans would soon change though, when a partnership between Nintendo and Sony fell through which ended with Nintendo staying with cartridges for its new system and Sony deciding to enter the video game market with its CD enabled PlayStation. With Sakaguchi and his team looking to push themselves with the expanded storage space offered by the CD format, Square controversially announced they would develop Final Fantasy VII for the Sony PlayStation.

PlayStation Logo

Yoshinori Kitase was concerned that the franchise would be left behind unless it embraced 3D graphics like other new games at the time and so Square made many advances with the new technology and Final Fantasy VII was the first in the series to feature a 3D world map, 2D pre-rendered backgrounds and character models rendered with polygons. Most famously though was the introduction of higher quality Full Motion Videos (FMV’s) that became a staple of the series.

Final Fantasy VII Cloud Midgar

Square didn’t just focus on graphics though, as the fantastic story of Final Fantasy VII was a joint effort written by Kazushige Nojima, Kitase and Masato Kato, based off an original draft by Sakaguchi. Previous Final Fantasy series artist Yoshitaka Amano was limited during the production due to other commitments and so Tetsuya Nomura, who previously had worked on Final Fantasy V and VI as a monster designer, was promoted to lead character designer. Even composer Nobuo Uematsu utilised the PlayStation’s internal sound chip to create songs with digitized voice tracks.

Final Fantasy VII Aeris Death

Final Fantasy VII was one of the most expensive games of its time and Sony advertised it heavily, especially in North America. It was also the first mainline title in the series to be released in Europe. The game was met with critical and commercial success upon its release and went on to sell 10 million copies worldwide. Final Fantasy VII is often regarded as one of the greatest games ever made and is recognised as the catalyst for popularising RPGs outside of Japan.

Final Fantasy VIII Squall

Final Fantasy VIII followed soon after VII and expanded on its foundations, presenting a more modern and futuristic world, as well as realistic and highly detailed characters again designed by Nomura. With Square’s experience with 3D graphics growing, Final Fantasy VIIIs presentation was much more consistent and it allowed the designers to make more experimental game play mechanics, such as the junction system and the addictive card mini game Triple Triad.

Final Fantasy IX Zidane Moogle

Final Fantasy IX was the last main installment to be developed for the PlayStation and returned the series briefly to its medieval, fantasy roots. Hiroyuki Ito returned as director while the character designs were handled by Hideo Minaba and were made more cartoonish to reflect the older games in the series, it also included black mages, crystals and lots of moogles . Sakaguchi has stated that Final Fantasy IX is his favourite in the series and that it most closely resembles what he initially visioned Final Fantasy to be. The soundtrack is also said to be Uematsu’s favourite composition.

Chrono Cross Kid Artwork

Square seemed to be on roll with the PlayStation and as their popularity grew overseas more of their other games found success as well. Masato Kato was handed directorial duties on Chrono Cross and with returning composer Yasunori Mitsuda they created a bright and wonderful game that dealt with parallel dimensions and featured a cast of 45 different characters to recruit. The action RPG Legend of Mana released with some of the most beautiful art work ever seen in a video game and highlighted the talent of up and coming composer Yoko Shimomura who would go on to score the two Parasite Eve games and many other big name franchises in the years to come. Showing the enormous depth of talent at Square, Tetsuya Takahashi, who had smaller roles on games like Final Fantasy VI directed the amazing Xenogears. It featured one of the most intricate and fascinating stories ever conceived and utilised a battle system that incorporated game play mechanics like combos found in a fighting game. It seemed like Square could do nothing wrong.

Xenogears Combos

Sakaguchi was also a big fan of a small development studio known as Quest who made the Ogre Battle games and he convinced the director Yasumi Matsuno and his team to join Square. Their partnership created more mature and complex games such as the classic strategy RPG, Final Fantasy Tactics and the dark and cinematic Vagrant Story.

Vagrant Story Title

With a whole new legion of fans from around the world, SquareSoft re-released some of their classic games to a new audience and PlayStation ports of Final Fantasy I and II, Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy V and VI were given new life and their quality was appreciated all over again. Square was now a household name and Final Fantasy was one of the biggest video game series ever, could anything stop their seemingly endless supply of talent and creativity…?

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What Makes an Enjoyable Battle System?

I have written before that I prefer turn-based battle systems over action orientated ones, but some designs are better than others. Back when turn-based was the popular choice for RPGs, many developers came up with extremely creative ways to add new mechanics to the traditional systems. Some relied on deep character customisation, while others added team attacks and summons spells to make battles more epic and interesting. The following games made combat fun with game play ideas that were well implemented and developed.

Suikoden II

Regarded now as a classic, the second game in the Suikoden series build on the foundation of its predecessor and offered tradition RPG battles, Scissors, Paper, Rock style one-on-one duels and massive scale grid-based strategy war combat. The variety was great and the different combat styles fit in with the story, but even the regular battles were full of strategy and new mechanics. Firstly your battle party could consist of up to 6 members out of a possible 108 recruit- able characters, offering a lot of diversity in how you customised your party. Another mechanic that worked well in turn-based battles was that your characters would overlap their attacks resulting in more intense combat and the ability to combine certain characters attacks. The range of options in Suikoden II kept the game feeling constanly fresh and new.

Final Fantasy VII

The Final Fantasy series has made a name for itself by reinventing its battle mechanics in each new iteration. The seventh installment saw the implementation of the Materia System. What seems at first like a simple way of equipping your characters with magic, actions and stat boosts, becomes a system that enables you to link Materia into infinite combinations. Weapons and armour come with empty slots to fill with Materia that you can purchase or find on your quest and many of them come with linked slots.  Combining the Lightning Materia with an All Materia means you can cast a spell that targets all enemies, but if you also combine it with HP Absorb, then you will also regain health when you cast the spell, but then if you also use the W-Magic Materia you are able to cast that spell twice and regain health each time, then if you combine it with MP Absorb… you see where this is going? The Materia system is simply the best customisation system utilised in any RPG, as it is both intuitive and simple to learn, but extremely complex and dense all at the same time.

Radiant Historia

As the most recent game released in this article, it proves there is still plenty of ways to make turn-based battle systems relevant in the modern era. Radiant Historia places enemies on a 3-by-3 grid and your characters can knock the enemies around the battle field or stack them on top of each other to allow your other characters’ attacks to hit multiple targets at once. The most interesting addition though, is the ability to manipulate the turn order of battle. When it is your characters’ turn you can opt to swap it with any other character, so you can exchange your turn with an ally that can heal the party when desperate, or you can even give up your turn to the enemy in a strategic ploy to line up your characters turns together to enable you to perform a combo attack. These strategies become very important in boss battles and are often the deciding factor between winning and losing.

There are a number of features that can keep combat engaging, fun, strategic and challenging. Over the years RPG mechanics have evolved, but I often think that designers should take a note from battle systems of past and see how they used creative features to expand upon an old formula and make it feel new and exciting. What have been some of your favourite battle systems in RPGs?

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What Makes a Memorable Villain?

RPGs often have memorable main characters that the player feels a real connection with, but what about the villains? Sometimes the bad guys take the spotlight, and this is an important ingredient in providing an engaging story. With most RPGs dealing with saving the world from a greater evil, a memorable villain really enhances the experience, as the player has more of urge to defeat them. Some of the most iconic villains in the Final Fantasy series come from the sixth and seventh instalments and they both have several traits that make them memorable.

Kefka was a nihilistic and insane antagonist that not only threatened to destroy the world, but actually achieved it. Kefka’s list of evil includes poisoning the water to create a mass murder, killing his own allies and causing destruction to the world. While most antagonists seem to have a plan that they never quite put into action, Kefka wasn’t about to wait around for you to interfere, he was unpredictable and impulsive and it made him extremely dangerous.

Kefka was so memorable because he was a worthy adversary, you felt like he would stop at nothing to achieve his goal of destruction and you couldn’t reason with him.

Kefka: “Why do people insist on creating things that will inevitably be destroyed? Why do people cling to life, knowing that they must someday die? …Knowing that none of it will have meant anything once they do?”

Kefka was compelling not only because he performed unimaginable evil, but because his way of life and thought processes was intriguing. He was different to us, he was different to the main characters and you needed to stop him.

Sephiroth was another story, we first hear about him as a hero, the greatest SOLDIER of them all. Until you get further into the game you are not sure why you are against him, until his true past is revealed. Sephiroth is then portrayed to the player as a tragic character, as once he found out about the horrifying experiments that were used to create him, he goes insane. This makes Sephiroth seem more human and relatable, compared to the superhuman he is initially shown to be.

Despite this, the real reason Sephiroth is such a successful villain is his relationship to the main character Cloud. He was Cloud’s childhood hero, but after he went insane he set fire to Cloud’s hometown and murdered many of the people there. Cloud seeks revenge and the personal vendetta is what keeps the motivation high to settle the score. Once Sephiroth’s true plan is revealed and he kills Aeris in cold blood the player is so invested with the characters mindset that there is nothing more important than bringing his reign of terror to an end.

Cloud: “…Shut up. The cycle of nature and your stupid plan don’t mean a thing. Aeris is gone. Aeris will no longer talk, no longer laugh, cry… or get angry…. What about us… what are WE supposed to do?”

Having Sephiroth tied to Cloud’s past and portraying him as a fallen hero made him an intriguing character and a memorable villain.

As the final battle with the main antagonist is usually the last thing for the player to do in most RPGs, its villains such as these that make the victory more rewarding and satisfying.

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Top 5 RPG Locations

While RPGs are rich with fantastical storylines and memorable characters, these elements are nothing without an interesting world in which to explore. From sprawling vistas, to cities in the sky, each new location that you visit makes the world feel more real and enchanting. These are my top 5 RPG Locations:

1. -Midgar (Final Fantasy VII)-

Definitely not the most enticing location on this list, but certainly the most memorable. The city of Midgar is divided into two layers; the floating city on top of the plate supported by pillars and the slums below. It is separated into seven sectors, but nobody remembers their names anymore. The unsettling atmosphere created a perfect backdrop to begin the events of Final Fantasy VII and for a while you never thought you would leave. It provided the Mako reactors, the eerie Train Graveyard, the slums, Aeris’ Church, the sleazy Wall Market and of course Shinra Headquarters. The city itself had enough character to support some of the most memorable events in the game and made sure it would never be forgotten.

2. -The Kingdom of Zeal (Chrono Trigger)-

Arriving in Zeal for the first time was wondrous. In the dark ages, the magical kingdom floats elegantly above the clouds, comprising of four separate islands connected through sky bridges and teleporters. The architecture of the palace was mesmerising and the music made you feel like you were visiting another world. For video games back in the Super Nintendo era, nothing was more impressive than seeing this floating city in the sky made with the combination of magic and technology.

3. -Lindblum (Final Fantasy IX)-

After narrowly escaping Alexandria by airship, you are introduced to the massive city of Lindblum. It is so big it is divided into four areas that are accessed via Air Cabs. Lindblum Grand Castle is the home of Regent Cid and has it’s own airship dock. The Theather District houses the theatre as well as the hideout of the band of thieves known as Tantalus. The Business District is the largest commercial area in the game providing shops, inns and access to the outside world and finally the Industrial District, where the engineers work and visit the famous pub. The scope of the city is huge and you can easily get lost making your way around trying to find all of its little secrets.

4. -The City of the Ancients (Final Fantasy VII) –

Final Fantasy VII had such memorable locations, that it is not a surprise to see another shown here. The Forgotten Capital is the ruined city once inhabited by the Ancients. Many of the houses above the ground are made from shell-like materials and invoke a vision of the bottom of the sea. A hidden underground section is made up of beautiful crystal castles connected to the surface with a staircase of brilliant light. With the haunting melodies playing in the background and the foreshadowing of events to come, this once glorious civilisation kept you on the edge of your seat as you discovered a place that had not been touched for centuries.

5. -Zanarkand (Final Fantasy X)-

The original Zanarkand was a utopian metropolis full of life, featuring skyscrapers, highways and a gigantic Blitzball stadium. When it lost the Machina War against Bevelle a thousand years ago the inhabitants turned it into a dream state that was ultimately destroyed by Sin. What is now left is the Zanarkand Ruins, known as a holy place and is the final destination for summoners on their Pilgrimage. Zanarkand was such a magnificent location in Final Fantasy X and combined with it’s beautiful musical theme and great importance to the overall plot it remained with the player long after they finished playing.

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