19th Anniversary FF7 Tribute Post
Final Fantasy VII is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) for the PlayStation platform. Released in 1997, it is the seventh installment in the Final Fantasy series and the first in the series to use 3D computer graphics, featuring fully rendered characters on pre-rendered backgrounds. It was also the first game in the main series to be released in Europe. The story follows Cloud Strife, a mercenary who joins the eco-terrorist rebel organization AVALANCHE to stop the world-controlling megacorporation Shinra from draining the life of the planet to use as an energy source. Cloud and his allies become involved in a larger world-threatening conflict and face off against Sephiroth, the main antagonist.
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Development of Final Fantasy VII began in 1994. It was originally developed for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, but was moved to the Nintendo 64; since the Nintendo 64’s cartridges lacked the required storage capacity for substantial prerendered movie footage, Square moved the game to the CD-ROM based PlayStation. It was directed by Yoshinori Kitase, written by Kazushige Nojima and Kitase, and produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi. The music was composed by Final Fantasy veteran Nobuo Uematsu, while the series’ long-time character designer, Yoshitaka Amano, was replaced by Tetsuya Nomura.
Helped by a large pre-release promotional campaign, Final Fantasy VII was a critical and commercial success. It was released in 1997 for the Sony PlayStation, in 1998 for Windows, in 2009 on the PlayStation Network, in 2012 on PC Digital Download, and in 2013 on Steam. In 2014, the game was released for Android and iPhone devices through the Japan-only streaming service “Dive In”. On December 6, 2014, it was announced that Final Fantasy VII would be released on the PlayStation 4, with upscaled graphics. It has continued to sell solidly, with more than 11 million copies sold by 2015, making it the best-selling title in the series. Final Fantasy VII has been praised for its graphics, gameplay, music and story. Criticism has primarily pertained to its English localization. The iOS version of Final Fantasy VII was released on August 19, 2015, adding touch controls and the ability to disable random encounters.
The game is acknowledged for having boosting the sales of PlayStation consoles and popularizing Japanese role-playing video games outside Japan. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest games of all time. The game’s popularity has led to a series of prequels and sequels under the collective title Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. Square Enix announced a high-definition remake of the game at E3 2015 for the PlayStation 4.
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As with previous installments of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy VII consists primarily of three major areas: an overworld map, field maps, and a battle screen. The overworld map is a 3D model, featuring a scaled-down version of the game’s fictional world, across which the player travels between the game’s locations. As with preceding games in the series, the world map can be traversed by foot, on chocobos and in an airship or sea vessel (in this case, a submarine and a plane used as a boat). It also includes an additional means of transportation—a buggy.
On field maps, characters are directed across realistically scaled environments, consisting of 2D pre-rendered backgrounds which represent locations such as towns or forests. Initially, the player is restricted to the city of Midgar, but as the game progresses the entire world becomes accessible. Progression through the game’s storyline is largely developed by way of scripted sequences, although pre-rendered cinematic cutscenes are also used.
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The game’s setting is similar to that of Final Fantasy VI insofar as it is a world with considerably more advanced technology than the first five games in the series. Overall, the game’s technology and society approximates that of an industrial or post-industrial science fiction milieu. The world of Final Fantasy VII, referred to in the game as “The Planet”, but retroactively named “Gaia”, is composed of three main land masses. The eastern continent is home to the city of Midgar, an industrial metropolis that serves as the capital city and hosts the headquarters of the Shinra Electric Power Company, which operates as much of the world’s de facto government. Other locations on the eastern continent are Junon (Shinra’s major military base), Fort Condor (a fort with a huge condor covering up a Mako reactor on top of it), a Chocobo ranch, and Kalm (a small town inspired by medieval Europe).
The western continent features the Gold Saucer (an amusement park with Corel Prison below), Costa Del Sol (a seaside resort), Gongaga (a small town containing the remains of a destroyed Mako reactor), Nibelheim (a town residing at the base of Mt. Nibel), Rocket Town (the location of Shinra’s failed space rocket launch), and Cosmo Canyon. The tribe inhabiting Cosmo Canyon emphasize living in harmony with nature and dedicating themselves to the planet’s well-being. Their settlement features an observatory and serves as a research facility for those who wish to participate in a philosophy known as the “Study of Planet Life”, a lifestyle that encourages deference for nature and teaches that the planet has a life and energy of its own.
Wutai, a village inspired by pre-modern Japan and China, is located on a large island off the western continent. The northernmost continent is a heavily glaciated landmass, and its few settlements include Bone Village (an excavation site), Icicle Inn (a ski resort town), the mythical “City of the Ancients”, and the Northern Crater, where the game’s climax takes place. There are also underwater locations accessible only by submarine; for example, a sunken Shinra plane transporter.
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The game begins with Cloud Strife, working as a mercenary for hire, helping the eco terrorist group AVALANCHE in a raid against the Mako reactors surrounding the Shinra-governed city of Midgar. Barret, the group’s leader, believes the Mako energy the reactors consume to be the planet’s lifeblood, and Shinra’s reactors are killing the planet. Cloud’s childhood friend, Tifa, is also in the group. Although the first mission is successful, AVALANCHE is ambushed at the next reactor during a subsequent raid. When the reactor explodes, Cloud drops down into Midgar’s slums. He is found by Aerith (aka Aeris), a girl he briefly met selling flowers after his first mission with AVALANCHE. Prompted by the arrival of the Turks, who have been sent to capture Aerith, Cloud agrees to act as her bodyguard and defends her from their assault. Meanwhile, Shinra learns the location of AVALANCHE’s hideout in Sector 7 and subsequently destroys it by dropping the upper plate of Sector 7 onto the slums, killing its population. The Turks also capture Aerith, who is revealed to be the last surviving “Cetra”, an ancient near-dead tribe closely attuned with the planet. President Shinra and Professor Hojo believe Aerith is the key to finding the “Promised Land”, a mythical land of fertility they see as an abundant source of Mako. The remaining AVALANCHE members—Cloud, Barret and Tifa—infiltrate Shinra to rescue Aerith, in the process encountering a specimen simply labeled “Jenova”. Joined by Red XIII, a sentient tiger-like creature on whom Hojo had been conducting experiments, the party rescues Aerith but is captured by the Turks while trying to escape and detained within the building. In the morning, they find their cells open and most of the personnel, including President Shinra, killed: the perpetrator appears to be Sephiroth, a legendary SOLDIER leader who was presumed dead several years ago.The group discovers that the Jenova specimen is also missing, presumed stolen by Sephiroth.
While the president’s son, Rufus Shinra, assumes control of the company, the party leaves Midgar and pursues Sephiroth across the planet. They are joined by Cait Sith, a cat-robot secretly controlled by repentant Turk Reeve Tuesti; Yuffie Kisaragi, a teenage ninja from Wutai; Vincent Valentine, a former Turk; and Cid Highwind, a chain-smoking pilot. At a Cetra temple, the party encounters Sephiroth, who reveals his plan: if the world is significantly damaged, the Lifestream, made of pure Mako energy, will gather in an attempt to heal the wound. Sephiroth intends to use the legendary Black Materia to cast a spell called “Meteor” to cause a massive injury, enabling him to merge with the planet’s Mako energy and be reborn as a god. The party drives off Sephiroth, acquiring the Black Materia, but Sephiroth manipulates Cloud into giving him the Materia. While the party recovers from the encounter, Aerith sets off to stop Sephiroth on her own, following him to an ancient Cetra city. The party follows and finds Aerith praying to the planet for aid. Just as they reach her, Sephiroth kills her. Cloud and his allies track Sephiroth to the North Crater. During their journey, they find out that Jenova is an interstellar creature who crashed on the planet roughly two thousand years ago, intent on taking over completely. Attempting to defend itself, the planet created giant monsters called Weapons. While most humans fled, the Cetra managed to defeat Jenova and entomb its remains. A few decades before the present, the remains of Jenova were unearthed by Professor Gast, a researcher for Shinra. Mistaking Jenova for a Cetra, Gast attempted to clone Jenova, assisted by Hojo. Even though Gast abandoned the project, Hojo successfully managed to use his assistant’s unborn child for the experiment: the baby was Sephiroth. Approximately five years before the present day, while on a Shinra mission with Cloud to Cloud’s and Tifa’s hometown of Nibelheim, Sephiroth encountered Hojo’s failed test subjects and learned of his origins. Mistakenly believing that Jenova and he were Cetra, he was driven insane and destroyed Nibelheim as an act of vengeance on the normal human population. Cloud and Tifa confronted Sephiroth during the massacre, after which Sephiroth vanished, presumed dead until his reappearance in the present day.
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When the party reaches the Northern Crater to confront Sephiroth for killing Aerith, they learn he is but one among many Jenova clones Hojo created from both animals and humans. Upon reaching Sephiroth, who has been killing and absorbing the Jenova clones to instantiate the “Reunion” of Jenova’s cells, Cloud is manipulated into delivering The Black Materia bodily to Sephiroth, all interim apparitions having been the shape-shifter Jenova employing his spectre to achieve this goal. The act proves Cloud himself a Jenova clone and unwitting Reunion participant, evidence of which Sephiroth exhibits in memories of the Nibelheim incident featuring a black-haired SOLDIER in Cloud’s place. Instantly Sephiroth summons Meteor, activating the planet’s Weapons, but he blinds them to his posing its prime threat, despite being physically right before their eyes; the Weapons disperse in search of its source. The ensuing earthquake separates Cloud from his companions and he tumbles into the Lifestream. The rest of the party and the Turks that had followed them to the Crater escape on the airship, the Highwind, where the party members are placed under arrest. As Meteor approaches the planet, the Weapons turn on humanity in an attempt to return as much Mako energy to the Lifestream as possible to aid the planet. Shinra focuses its efforts on protecting humanity from the Weapons and attempting to destroy Meteor directly, which eventually costs the lives of the majority of Shinra’s personnel. Tifa, Barret and the others are sentenced to be executed, but escape. They find a catatonic Cloud at a hospital in a tropical resort, where he washed up following the events at the North Crater. Tifa stays behind to help Cloud recover while the rest of the party continue their fight against Shinra. An attack by the Weapons destroys the island, and Cloud and Tifa both fall into the Lifestream. There, Tifa helps Cloud reconstruct his memories and learns the truth about his past.
It is revealed that Cloud was not accepted into SOLDIER and that the SOLDIER in Sephiroth’s visions was Aerith’s first love and Cloud’s friend, Zack Fair. The two were present during the Nibelheim incident, with Cloud managing to critically wound Sephiroth, who only survived through Jenova’s cells: Zack and Cloud were severely wounded and later taken and used by Hojo to perfect his SOLDIER and Jenova experiments. Zack tried escaping with Cloud but was killed by Shinra soldiers. Cloud recovered, took Zack’s sword and made his way to Midgar: Cloud’s aspirations to SOLDIER and Zack’s memories and stories combined, with the help of the Jenova treatment, to create a false personality. Realizing and accepting his past, Cloud is able to recover. After Cloud and Tifa emerge from the Lifestream, the party regroup and learn that Aerith, in her final moments, was attempting to use the White Materia to cast the spell “Holy”, the only means of opposing Meteor. It turns out she was successful in casting the spell, but Sephiroth has been preventing its release. The group decides first to stop the rampage of the Weapons. Alongside this, the party confronts Hojo, revealed to be Sephiroth’s father, as the scientist attempts to aid his son by feeding Mako energy to him. After mutating himself with Jenova cells, he is killed in combat. After this, they launch their final assault on Sephiroth, who is defeated by Cloud after a series of battles. The party escapes from the crater as Holy is released. Holy attempts to block Meteor under Midgar, but Meteor has drawn too close for Holy to combat it alone. Just before Meteor’s impact, the Lifestream rises from the planet to aid Holy in destroying Meteor. Five hundred years later, Red XIII is seen with two cubs looking out over the ruins of Midgar, which are now covered in greenery, showing the planet has healed.
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