For example, our main hero, Cloud, is in love with the beautiful flower girl, Aeris, (or Aerith, if you actually pay attention to the translation.) At first, the flower girl seems to reciprocate the love Cloud is trying to give. In a shocking twist, it turns out she was only in love with Zack, the real First Class Soldier that Cloud has taken the identity of after somehow absorbing his memories. This explains why he loves Aerith so much, yet she never truly loves him in return. Meanwhile, Cloud's childhood friend Tifa loves him unconditionally, but he refuses to see these blossoming feelings. He goes bug-ducks crazy and lets Aerith get killed by the game's main antagonist Sephiroth, who is actually a clone at the time. As a result, adolescent gamers have been given a scene that's been permanently etched in their minds. In fact, there's a lake in Japan comprised exclusively of tears shed by emo gamers over the Aerith death scene.
After the death of Aerith, some more fights with the clone of Sephiroth, the discovery of something called Black Materia, and the disappearance of an ancient pyramid—oh yeah, don't forget about being possessed by a naked man in a cocoon in a glacier volcano—Cloud kicks the whole emo thing into hyperdrive. The player has to guide him around in a complete and utter stupor, and each step has him crying even louder about how much he sucks. (I have to agree with him on that.) You know who is there to save him after he falls into the Mako Lifestream? Tifa. She is the only character you should legitimately feel bad for in the game. She's like the high school kid who's attracted to the jock or cheerleader, yet is never given a chance to be with them. Except Cloud is neither jock nor cheerleader (though he looks okay in a dress); he's just an emo tool.
A perfect example of this comes right after the final battle. It looks like Cloud is dead until someone reaches out to save him (Tifa, of course.) Does he thank her? Nope. Instead, he says something to the effect of: "Hey, I know Aerith is dead. But the Lifestream is telling me about this Promised Land, and I bet I can meet her there." All Tifa can say is, "Yep, let's go."
On top of the convoluted Young and the Restless love triangle between the main characters, you need a flow chart to understand any of the nonsensical drama in the game. Let's look at the main villain that has become, for some reason, one of the greatest villains in video game history. Sephiroth is at least as emotionally unstable as Cloud, constantly whining after he finds out that he's a clone and that the evil empire has his "mother" tucked away inside a glass tank somewhere. He literally destroys an entire village of what are presumably meth houses (considering how closely built they are and the obvious lack of any visible source of income for the townsfolk.) Sephiroth also kills a girl, who happens to be a member of this supposedly awesome Soldier program, and then taunts the hero with mind control. Maybe it was all just a crappy attempt at getting Cloud alone with him to listen to some Barry White. To me, Sephiroth has never quite fit the role of the horrifying villain—you know, the guy that would blow up the world just because it was Tuesday. He was more like a whiny momma's boy.
Somehow, Cloud and Sephiroth have become two of the most popular RPG figureheads in the industry. Final Fantasy VII has become the perfect game, and the fans have been endlessly whining for an HD remake. But have you considered why the head honchos over at Square Enix aren't rushing to make that cool mint they know they would off a remake? Simply put, once people played it, they would fail to be rushed by the emotions they once had, quickly realizing this new incarnation was stealing their memories and trouncing on a "classic." People don't want remakes of their favorite franchises, no matter how much they ask for them.
Do I feel that the gameplay of Final Fantasy VII is solid and enjoyable? Of course I do. But it's the entire package that makes a game. Even though I love the side characters and their underscored storylines, it's the overbearing, nonsensical trappings of the main story's arc and the weak characters that have forever ruined a game that's considered among the greatest of the great.
By Matt Walker
CCC Site Director
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*