Nostalgia sucks. Everything about the concept is a horrible delusion of one's own psyche. Nostalgia will make you think that a movie is the greatest movie of all time—until you watch it again (Hackers)—or that something was so pivotal that you'll even consider doing it again (Rat-tail haircuts). Nostalgia is a part of almost everything we hold dear.
The concept is all too prevalent with our "favorite" video games. We tend to find them amazing to look at, to play, and even fondly remember as the greatest experience on the face of the planet. Yet the simple fact is that if you could step back and truly look at the games you like to reminisce about, you might be forced to reconsider their greatness. Nostalgia makes you think things are far better than they ever actually are. Case in point – Final Fantasy VII.
Why is it that one of the most pivotal entries into the RPG genre, the kick-start success of Sony in the video game industry, the long sought after Holy Grail of remakes, doesn't stand up to the test of time? Simple: it wasn't the be-all and end-all video game that everyone claimed it was.
I think the biggest culprit in this delusion was its graphical beauty. Everyone likes pretty things, and Final Fantasy VII was definitely pretty. With cinematic cutscenes to rival the scope of any other title on the market, it's no wonder Square became known for its cutscenes. There were people—myself included—who would pick up anything from Square in order to see the graphical quality they would bestow upon each title. Why do you think The Bouncer sold so many copies?
Another factor in the illusionary greatness of Final Fantasy VII was the sound quality. The music from the game has become the epitome of the video game soundtrack. In fact, Final Fantasy titles have always been expected to have fantastic music. (I have no idea what happened with Final Fantasy XIII.) Coupling the soundtrack with the cinematic cutscenes made for what many consider to be the most emotionally moving moments to have ever happened in a video game.
However, if you went back and removed the nasty nostalgia that you've attached to the game, you would see it for what it truly is: a giant emo-driven, depressing story of two of the worst characters in history. I am, of course, talking about Cloud and Sephiroth. But before we talk about these emo tools, let's first look over the clichéd story line.
Giant monster voice: "Oh, big bad evil company steps on little man. Rarrgghh! Our company is so evil that we let people live in poverty underneath our giant disc. We end up destroying the world just because we can. Rarrgghh!"
That's the basic introduction of the villains in the game. The heroes? You guessed it: a rebel alliance of sorts, determined to take down the big evil empire. Of course, everything eventually rests on the shoulders of a boy from a small town. His name is Luke—I mean, Cloud Strife—and he's an ex-member (it's far more badass to be an ex-member than a member) of a group called Soldier. (What an original name!) Members of Soldier are the elite of the elite soldiers of the evil corporation, exposed to magic earth liquid called Mako. What does Mako do, exactly? It causes people to talk about their eyes for like two of the three discs of the damn game. Cloud's Mako Eyes are talked about so much that you start to think they're actually major characters.
So we have the cliché bad empire trying to destroy the world and the lone hero who will band together with a group of friends to take them on. You mean that's not convoluted enough for you? Thankfully, Final Fantasy VII has you covered with its meandering rabbit-hole of twists and sub-plots. I would venture to say that current soap opera writers could learn a thing or two from the game.