Retrograding Roundtable Final Fantasy VII

There are few games that are as polarizing as Squaresoftâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s Final Fantasy VII. The majority opinion is that this is a game that is a wonderful piece of storytelling, the Citizen Kane of video games, so to speak. Recently though, several other members of the gaming press has said that Final Fantasy VII is one of the most overrated games of all time.

Any long time readers of Inside Pulse or 411 Games before that understands that itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s nice that everyone else is catching up to the sentiments weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve held since the game was released nearly a decade ago. We put together a venerable whoâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s who of both old and new writers to discuss Final Fantasy VII as a game, as a mass media tool, and as a cultural relic. Since rumors have been flying about Final Fantasy VII being re-released, the success of Kingdom Hearts which prominently features Final Fantasy VII characters, a spin off game in Dirge of Cerberus, and a Final Fantasy VII movie, we decided to take a second look. 52 pages later and we have one of the most bizarre discussions inspired by Final Fantasy VII. I salvaged a solid 25 pages from that mess for this Kliq Off. Letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s meet the participants.

-Jonathan Widro: Inside Pulseâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s Founder and rather angry fellah if MTV is to be believed.

-Alex Lucard: Inside Pulseâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s editor of all things gaming and if youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve got extra bunnies, heâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d love to take care of them.

-David E. Olivera: Former IP writer returning to the fold and an original participant of the first staff discussion of Final Fantasy VII.

-Mark B: Inside Pulseâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s gaming MVP and ten times scarier then he was before this roundtable.

-Tom Pandich: Inside Pulseâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s general bitch and a master of the salsa.

QUESTION 1: On Jan 31st, 1997 Squaresoft released Final fantasy VII to the Japanese market. In August of that same year, it came stateside. It has now been 9 years since the game has been around. What was your initial impression of the game when the media blitz started?

Mark B: “Wow, I can’t wait”.

Jonathan Widro: It was hard not to get caught up in the hype… graphically it was impressive and square’s pedigree was strong until that point.

Tom Pandich: I was stoked about it. I also was wondering where the hell Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI went.

David E. Olivera: I wonder how much it cost to run these commercials every 5 seconds that is interrupting my cartoon watching.

Alex Lucard: To be honest guys, I bought into it. I really was looking forward to it. It seemed like after the suckfest that was 3-6, that Square was finally putting out something new and original and innovative.

Tom Pandich: And you’re the only one wondering that Alex. Pretty much everybody loved IV-VI including me.

Mark B: I personally thought FF3/6 was the single greatest RPG ever made. So I was pretty hyped about it.

Tom Pandich: VI is in my top three RPGs ever too.

David E. Olivera: Not I.

Alex Lucard: That’s why we worry about you Tom.

Tom Pandich: You should worry about Mark too then.

David E. Olivera: VI just seemed way too focused on gimmicks.

Mark B: He should worry MORE about me.

Mark B: I think it’s the greatest traditional RPG ever made.

Alex Lucard: Seriously, until the advent of the internet I had not encountered a single human being that liked any FF besides the first. Of course, the internet also introduced me to furries and people who think I am a vampire.

Tom Pandich: Final Fantasy VI swapped classes for Espers. I’m ok with having every character learn magic.

David E. Olivera: I hate every character eventually becoming a clone of one another.

Tom Pandich: Ok, until I encountered 411 Games, I had never met anybody who agreed with me that Final Fantasy VII was a terrible insult of a game.

Jonathan Widro: It seemed like it was universally adored and this classic game and I was always shaking my head.

Alex Lucard: Like I said, that’s the internet. it allows the crazies to find each other.

QUESTION 2: Did you buy FFVII? if so when and for how much?

David E. Olivera: I bought FFVII… for 19 dollars at a K-Mart.

Mark B: Yes, retail price, day of release. And I bought Tobal because it came with the demo of FFVII.

David E. Olivera: Oh, I forgot to mention I bought it the week of release at a K-Mart for 19 dollars.

Mark B: Wow. Okay, you win.

Tom Pandich: Nope, never bought it. I might be the only person who has never owned a PS1. I borrowed the PC version from a friend and was instantly turned off by it barely making it through the first disc.

Alex Lucard: I bought it I believe the week after it came out for full price. In a Media Play along with the Warhammer: Curse of the Horned Rat and Clock Tower.

David E. Olivera: Obviously you win Alex. You bought Clock Tower and Warhammer.

Tom Pandich: Hey, I should win. I didn’t buy it at all.

Alex Lucard: I won what? One amazing game and two that I regret buying for the rest of my days?

Tom Pandich: Clock Tower 2 is a great game. Warhammer, not so much.

David E. Olivera: …

David E. Olivera: Oh, wait, you’re using the Japanese designation.

Tom Pandich: With as f*cked up as the Final Fantasy numbering system is, I figured we might as well confuse everyone with Clock Tower.

Mark B: Hey, I got Tobal out of it all, I’m still happy.

QUESTION 3: What was your honest first initial impression of playing the game the first day you got it?

Tom Pandich: I hated it. It was boring. The characters were poorly developed and Cloud’s sword was excessive.

Alex Lucard: I thought it was very pretty and the music was good, but the plot was pretty barren, the characters transparent and it played exactly like every other FF game ever same with really long summonings I couldn’t cut through.

David E. Olivera: This game is pretty; I really hate the spikey haired douche; this gal has big tits. Why is Mr. T in this game?

Mark B: I thought it was great. The story wasn’t important… it looked and sounded awesome, and it played into the right things; Cloud had a giant sword, Tifa was of large chesticles, I just KNEW it was the greatest game ever made. Har.

Alex Lucard: What have you done with Mark???

Mark B: YOU SAID the first day.

Mark B: I’m slow. These things take time.

David E. Olivera: I also wondered if I should have bought a pizza instead of FFVII. There was a Little Caesars in that K-Mart. I regret not buying that pizza.

QUESTION 4: What was your impression a week and a month later?

Mark B: A week? I was wondering why every time I tried to load the third disc, the game locked up. A month later, I had realized it was because God was trying to warn me to give up.

Tom Pandich: I still hated it. I then had totally forgotten about it a month later before venturing into forums and IRC a few years later.

David E. Olivera: 1 Week: Hey, didn’t I see this thing before with Nei and Nei-First? 1 Month: Hey, I can make a sandwich during these Sephiroth summons… and lemonade.

Alex Lucard: To be honest I got through the first 2 discs and was wondering why I wasn’t playing more Clock Tower. It’s like I was hoping it would get better. I tried passing it around to other people on my dorm floor and after a day they gave it back all saying the same thing “Pretty but crap.” And this includes a guy who brought his NES and SNES to play FF1 and VI.

Tom Pandich: That’s one guy who liked Final Fantasy VI, Alex!

Alex Lucard: Yes, but he had no friends and smelled of urine.

Mark B: THAT WAS YOU?!?

David E. Olivera: I should have played more Clock Tower too.

Alex Lucard: LOL!

QUESTION 5: Since so many of us had an initial awful reaction to the game despite our high hopes, what do you think managed to keep it so appealing to so many gamers?

Mark B: Fanboy bullshit.

Alex Lucard: Expand Mark

Mark B: It requires little thought to understand and accept what the game is trying to say. No one has a “deep” character; hell, most of them don’t have a “character at all”. It’s video game whipped cream, sweet, with no substance.

Tom Pandich: It was many people’s first JRPG. It was pretty at the time. It spawned a million imitators that were worse then Final Fantasy VII that made the game look better by comparison.

Mark B: But the combat and Materia systems were also awesome, and it was very pretty.

David E. Olivera: First of all FFVII, whether we like it or not, is many people’s first RPG. Nostalgia plays a big part in why they like it. Also, the media blitz made it very visible, when people thing RPG they think Final Fantasy in the US.

Alex Lucard: For me I just chalked it up to the lowest common denominator. Most gamers I had encountered to that point lived up to the creepy geek stereotype and I just thought it basically that.

David E. Olivera: The graphics, at least back then, were ultra swank. This played to the US social bias of enjoying pretty things.

David E. Olivera: FFVII required little to no thinking, no complex plot or moral ambiguities.

Mark B: It also did deliver what was, at the time, an amazing “cinematic” experience. A lot of people really seemed to dig that.

David E. Olivera: Plus, of course, the fanboy wank material of bishy sephy, or cloud or big tits Tifa.

David E. Olivera: Just look at how much FFVII hentai exists… *shudder*

Alex Lucard: At the same time Dave, I like 2D shooters, which is just an hour of mindless seizure inducing violence. Why has that genre died off in the states while the RPG risen, totally reversing what the scene was like in the NES days

David E. Olivera: Because shooters don’t pretend to be deep.

David E. Olivera: I love shooters as well but they don’t wrap themselves into this air of pretentiousness.

Tom Pandich: Plus shooters are challenging. Final Fantasy can be beaten by leveling.

Mark B: Shooters never received the “big game”.

David E. Olivera: FFVII’s story is just one giant f*cking save the planet sermon written by retarded monkeys.

Mark B: Don’t forget the death scene.

QUESTION 5: Aeris’ death seems to be everyone’s big “OMG” moment of the game. Why do you think that is? After all that happened in many games long before this one.

Mark B: Because it was a cutscene.

David E. Olivera: Because the music there wasn’t that shitty.

Alex Lucard: For me, give me Nei’s death in PH2 over Aeris any day. More depth and emotion in it. Maybe it’s just because I managed to get that first?

Mark B: I doubt it. Did you play Vay, Alex?

David E. Olivera: Hmmm… I think Nei’s death was more interesting because there was no romantic love.

Alex Lucard: I like Vay.

David E. Olivera: Vay rocked but I forgot most of the game.

Mark B: Right. Remember Pottle’s death?

Tom Pandich: Again, people didn’t play the other games where it had happened before in the US.

David E. Olivera: US audiences don’t like popular characters dying.

Alex Lucard: Pottle’s death was more interesting than Aeris’s.

Tom Pandich: This was the first time casual gamers who were getting into anime saw a game like this.

Alex Lucard: Also this isn’t the first time a FF character has permanently died. What made this stand out to gamers more than others?

Mark B: Right. Shot through the shoulder with a poison arrow, plunged to his death off a bridge. But it’s not that it’s more “interesting” per say. We knew he was dead.

David E. Olivera: Not many people who were FFVII’s target audience expected Cloud’s love interest to be offed. Plus many people who played the game were younger folks, it affected them on a more base level.

Tom Pandich: Mega Man’s death is more interesting then Aeris.

David E. Olivera: Personally, the robot in Planetfall and Alys in PSIV were much better deaths.

Mark B: Yes! PS4! Definitely.

Mark B: I still don’t get how you could love someone with no personality, but whatever.

Alex Lucard: What I’m noticing is that we all seem to be coming back to the idea that it was younger gamers or those new to RPG’s that caused FF7’s appeal. Is that accurate assessment?

Mark B: I’d think so.

David E. Olivera: People buy blowup dolls all the time. Final Fantasy VII is the blow up doll of RPGs.

Tom Pandich: Pretty much. That and the fact that Final Fantasy VII was released when anime was having its first real break into the mainstream in unedited form. You know, other then the Streamline releases.

David E. Olivera: It has all the holes to use but none of that pesky personality or thoughts to get in the way of the action.

Editorâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s Note- The topic veers in a rather disturbing direction at this point so just skip this. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s been left in though simply because I think itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s pretty funny.

Alex Lucard: Unedited yes, but Anime was very popular in the very EARLY 1980’S. Voltron for example wasn’t edited (although the name was changed) and it was so much more popular in the US, the Japanese creators made a second season

David E. Olivera: The anime explosion was just starting to get rolling. Hell, old tape traders like myself were starting to leave because of the new wave of morons coming in. I mean, hell, I saw the English version of Captain Future.

Jonathan Widro: The early 80s anime explosion was different though… the 90s anime became a much bigger deal and still is around nearly a decade later.

Alex Lucard: I agree with that.

Tom Pandich: Voltron was big, but Voltron was no Pokemon or Dragon Ball Z.

David E. Olivera: It also brought furries.

David E. Olivera: And more child porn.

David E. Olivera: And cosplay.

Tom Pandich: Furries add so much to the world. Pain, suffering, real life horror, so very much horror.

Mark B: I don’t see anything wrong with furries, actually.

Alex Lucard: I hate furries.

Alex Lucard: You’ve never had someone dress up like a squirrel and want you to f*ck them before, have you Mark?

Mark B: No, but I know people who draw furry art and want my manbeef.

David E. Olivera: Furries… oh god… Otakon. Christ… I feel nauseous.

David E. Olivera: Make it stop…

Tom Pandich: Mark, imagine Roger Rabbit. Now imagine Roger Rabbit with a two foot dick bumf*cking Gadget from Rescue Rangers.

Tom Pandich: That’s why furries are wrong.

Mark B: That’s HAWT.

Alex Lucard: We had a furrie on 411’s staff for a while. Bebito and I chased him away after seeing his website.

Editorâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s note- Ok, you can read again.

QUESTION 6: I know we joke a lot that FF7 ruined the RPG, but is that really true? After all, for a long time it was the least popular genre of gaming with only a few exceptions.

David E. Olivera: Actually, FFVII did get people to bring more RPGs over.

Mark B: Anyway, regarding the question, the problem isn’t that it made RPG’s popular.

David E. Olivera: People saw a market beyond working designs and Vic Ireland’s hairy asshole and took a gamble.

Mark B: It IS that no one could compete with FFVII, not even Square.

Tom Pandich: Final Fantasy VII reminds me a lot of Halloween. It thrust the genre into the mainstream again (and good films were made because of it), but the vast majority of PS1 RPGs were trying to be Final Fantasy VII.

David E. Olivera: What did we have for the PSX before then? Beyond the Beyond?

Mark B: And Suikoden.

Tom Pandich: Plus Halloween is a much better film the FFVII.

David E. Olivera: I happen to love Suikoden.

Mark B: As do I.

David E. Olivera: Except IV, which is like Final Fantasy and thus needs to be remade.

Alex Lucard: I can’t comment on Suikoden as Konami signs checks for me now (Edâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s note: Alex loves Suikoden with all his heart and soul. Reallyâ┚¬Â¦)

Mark B: And because of FFVII, Suikoden 2 is now worth over $100 on Ebay.

Mark B: BECAUSE NO ONE BOUGHT IT.

Jonathan Widro: FF7 is close to that on E-Bay too despite having millions in production.

Alex Lucard: What? Really?

Mark B: Only the original printing.

Mark B: The GH version nets around $50.

Jonathan Widro: Non-GH is like $100.

Mark B: Thank Advent Children for that one.

Alex Lucard: That’s crazy! I still see it in pawn shops for like 3 bucks

Mark B: So buy one and sell it on Ebay.

Jonathan Widro: Buy any you see for $3, we should give one away as a contest when we post this feature.

Alex Lucard: That would involve me owning a copy of FF7 for even a short time.

David E. Olivera: What the hell? Jesus.

Mark B: Jesus had nothing to do with FFVII. Leave him out of this.

David E. Olivera: I still have my original first printing but only because I can’t remember where I left it.

Alex Lucard: What companies and their respective games would we still have seen make RPG’s stateside besides Sega and Working Designs if FF7 had not been released here or tanked?

Mark B: Konami was pretty invested in the Suikoden series, it seems to me.

Mark B: Atlus would’ve found their way stateside eventually, I imagine.

David E. Olivera: Atlus was already around.

Alex Lucard: Atlus was here with Ogre Battle.

David E. Olivera: Persona was released around the same time as FFVII. However it sold like crap.

Tom Pandich: No question, Final Fantasy VII is the reason for the success of Grandia, Wild Arms, and a bunch of other series. I doubt we’d see as many of the other games either.

Mark B: Okay, I re-qualify: Shin Megami Tensei would have found its way stateside without FFVII.

Tom Pandich: I doubt it. There were a few SMT games out before FFVII that never were released. None in the US.

David E. Olivera: Most won’t anyhow.

Jonathan Widro: It’s hard to say though, had Final Fantasy 7 tanked, another game could have broken through with a different presentation.

David E. Olivera: Right.

David E. Olivera: FFVII’s success had people take more risks.

Alex Lucard: Wasn’t Lunacy out before FF7? That’s got Philemon in it.

David E. Olivera: I believe Lunacy came out a bit after FFVII.

Alex Lucard: Ok. I wasnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t sure.

Jonathan Widro: It was also at a time where Sony could do no wrong in the games industry.

Mark B: Chances are, the games that would not have come out would have been A.) the ones made to cash in on the genre, and B.) the ones that are insanely Japanese and don’t cater to Americans.

Tom Pandich: And my guess is that Lunar isn’t re-released without FFVII.

Mark B: Nah, Working Designs would’ve done it; Lunar was probably one of the few games they made a profit off of.

Tom Pandich: Thank goodness that franchise is still running by the way. My vision is all the way back to 20/60 after the horrible clawing my eyes received after Dragon Song.

Jonathan Widro: But it might not have been considered if FF7 hadnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t opened that market up.

Alex Lucard: After FFVII came the FF Movie, which like FF7 was criticized for being beautiful but an awful plot. Yet that tanked horribly where FF7 still makes Square money. Why do you believe that is?

Mark B: You mean Advent Children, yes?

Tom Pandich: Or Spirit Within?

David E. Olivera: Because people are looking through a haze of nostalgia.

Jonathan Widro: Looks matter a lot more in video games than they do in movies… a lot of times a pretty game will be a success because of how striking it looks despite poor gameplay.

Alex Lucard: Yes. Spirit Within.

David E. Olivera: Spirit Within tanked, that’s what he is referring to first.

Mark B: Ah.

Mark B: Spirits Within had an entirely different market to cater to and a substantially larger budget.

Tom Pandich: It tanked because geeks couldn’t get their role play on with it.

Mark B: FFVII could stand to make a profit off of the 6 million copies it sold.

Alex Lucard: Did the tanking of Spirit Within prove that FF7 had a niche audience even though in the gaming subculture it was huge, or was it something else? After all Movie ticket = $8. FF7 = $50

Tom Pandich: That’s it right there.

David E. Olivera: Spirits Within was a final fantasy game put on the big screen. Spirits Within was an animated feature. An animated feature aimed at adults.

Mark B: And a video game based movie.

David E. Olivera: Automatic tank in US.

David E. Olivera: The United States hates animation, considers it child’s fare so it was doomed from the beginning.

Mark B: It had a lot of obstacles to overcome, and was universally panned by critics.

Jonathan Widro: I wonder if the movie came out closer to ff7 if it would have done better.

Alex Lucard: Yet the flaws and strengths between the game and movie are almost identical. odd, no?

David E. Olivera: Yeah.

Mark B: The problem is market share. Super Mario Brothers and Tomb Raider turned a profit.

David E. Olivera: They also probably didn’t cost as much.

Mark B: Because those games are “mainstream”.

Jonathan Widro: But remember the time that pretty video game came out… 3d was still so novel… pretty animation isnt as novel, even if it was cg

Mark B: Right, but people knew who Lara Croft was.

Mark B: They see “TOMB RAIDER” and think either “Ooh, action film”, or “Ooh, Lara’s in a movie”.

Jonathan Widro: Or oooh angelina jolie is hot.

Mark B: What was supposed to sell someone on Spirits Within if they didn’t know about Final Fantasy?

QUESTION 7: 9 years later we’ve seen something of a backlash against FF7 with even some magazines downgrading their original scores of the game. Was it game Informer that shot it down to a 5 from a 10? what do you think started that? The geeky “hate what’s popular” attitude?

David E. Olivera: Basically.

Jonathan Widro: I never support retroactively changing scores… scores represent the context of the time.

Mark B: Maybe that, combined with a little perspective.

David E. Olivera: The writers are seeing all the people who panned it for ages and are thinking: whoa, that’s the cool thing to do, but in a tasteful manner.

Tom Pandich: Pretty much. It doesn’t look as good as it used to, and it’s edgy to hate Final Fantasy VII now.

Alex Lucard: I agree, leave a score alone. Unless you change the system you use then you can go back

David E. Olivera: Besides, those rags are all advertising.

Tom Pandich: If they remake it for the PS3, watch the straight tens pile up.

Jonathan Widro: Game Informer changed the score after Gamestop stopped selling PS1 :).

David E. Olivera: 10’s as in bills used to bribe.

Alex Lucard: It’s funny, because I’ve known Dave for ten years know and we both hated FFVII since day 1.

Mark B: But plenty of people don’t hate it.

Mark B: IGN ran that feature, what was it, “The 30 most overrated games” or something like that?

Alex Lucard: Plenty don’t but there is a much larger percentage of gamers that do now.

Jonathan Widro: Was Halo on that list by any chance?

Mark B: FFVII was on the top of the list, as I recall. Next thing I saw, people were obliterating them six ways from Sunday.

Tom Pandich: Everyone tosses it on there these days. From EGM to IGN.

Mark B: Yes, I think it was.

David E. Olivera: That’s one of the first things we found in common: a burning hatred for Square as well as a strange fondness for quirky games.

David E. Olivera: Of course. People hate being told what they hate sucks.

Tom Pandich: They also put Super Mario Brothers and Katamari Damacy on the EGM list.

Mark B: Oh, the Sacred Cow barbecue?

David E. Olivera: I never saw the appeal of Katamari Damacy. But SMB is still awesome.

Jonathan Widro: I think overrated isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t that negative for a game the size of ff7 because itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s SO large that it would have to be overrated.

Alex Lucard: EGM also gave Shining Force Neo a nine when everyone else gave it a six.

Mark B: Yeah. They hated FFVII because the characters dressed like Duran Duranâ┚¬Â¦. Yes, they really said this.

Jonathan Widro: Thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s before Duran Duran was cool again i guess

Alex Lucard: Oy vey.

David E. Olivera: I gave Need for Speed Underground 2 a really low score.

Mark B: It was like two months ago.

Jonathan Widro: Ha

Mark B: Wait, Duran Duran was cool?

Alex Lucard: Cut that. It was just an aside.

QUESTION 8: Advent Children was also expected to do mind numbing numbers and give Square lots of profit. yet…when it came out, good portion of FF7 fans hated it. Why?

Tom Pandich: It was terrible.

Alex Lucard: Personally I think it’s because there was no slash, and it wasn’t at all like the pretty pretty fan fiction people wrote when they were 15.

David E. Olivera: I think Advent Children wasn’t enough “more of the same”.

Mark B: I don’t recall ANY FFVII fans hating it.

Alex Lucard: You’d be surprised Mark. FF boards were pretty divided. Even the FF LJ’s were hilarious drama comedy

Mark B: But I imagine they hated it because it was, as I’ve said, the very definition of the word “pander”.

David E. Olivera: Plus it showed how shallow the FFVII story was overall.

Mark B: Just curious, have any of you sat through that mess?

Alex Lucard: I have one person on my friends list who maintained the Advent Children community on LJ and her posts around that time, and the comments were sheer hilarity for me.

Alex Lucard: I haven’t watched it. All I watched was the ensuing aftermath.

David E. Olivera: I sat through Advent Children for one reason: the animation.

Tom Pandich: I did Mark. I bitched the entire time.

Alex Lucard: Bitched about what and why Tom?

Mark B: Me too. Go fig.

Tom Pandich: Well… it was horrible.

David E. Olivera: I watched it with subtitles, the sound off, and while very pretty it made me question whether or not suicide would be a lesser waste of my time.

Tom Pandich: To expound a bit more, the plot was awful, the characters shallow, and the movie itself one big wank fest that required you to play a 60 hour game to have any clue who these people were.

Mark B: A decade old 60 hour game, at that.

David E. Olivera: Basically it was the game, condensed to 2 hours or so.

Mark B: Oh, also, “Dilly-dally, Shilly-shally” is the stupidest line I’ve heard in years, and whoever wrote it should be f*cking shot.

David E. Olivera: Ah… what the f*ck is that?

Mark B: Aeris says it in Advent Children. I had to chew back the bile.

David E. Olivera: Oh for Judas’s sake…

QUESTION 9: All the FF7 follows up appear to have bombed. Is it because they weren’t RPGs, not very good games, or something else?

David E. Olivera: Not very good games, people see what they thought was awesome sucked terribly, easy cash ins.

Mark B: AHEM That’s all I have to say about that.

Tom Pandich: All three. They were terrible. A non-RPG requires some degree of substance for people to like it. Final Fantasy VII has lost its mystique.

David E. Olivera: I skimmed through that review.

David E. Olivera: All I saw was: y is aerith sitll ded ;_;

Mark B: Don’t feel bad. I skimmed through writing it.

QUESTION 10: Another RPG series debuted a year earlier sold better, and actually knocked Final Fantasy out out the top three selling RPG franchises in Japan. It’s also the best selling video game series of all time (besides spin-offs).

Tom Pandich: In Japan?

Mark B: Dragon Quest.

Alex Lucard: Best selling world wide period.

David E. Olivera: Dragon Quest?

Alex Lucard: Wrong.

Alex Lucard: PokÃÆ’©mon.

Mark B: PokÃÆ’©mon.

David E. Olivera: Fuck PokÃÆ’©mon.

David E. Olivera: I hate that crap.

Mark B: Now now. Let him finish his question.

David E. Olivera: Collecting, level rewards, puts the user in the “game”…

David E. Olivera: Cute characters.

David E. Olivera: Easy to pick up, takes a bit to get really into the game and learn it.

Mark B: I gotta agree with Dave.

David E. Olivera: Everything needed for success to be honest… except I hate it.

David E. Olivera: HATE IT!

Alex Lucard: Why do you think even with the strong following FF still has in the states, the big three in Japan are Megaten, Pokemon, and Dragon Quest.

Mark B: Japanese gamers want substance in their games.

David E. Olivera: Nah, I’m not buying the Japanese gamers want substance. Hell, look at their music market.

Mark B: Hey, Gackt is f*cking awesome.

David E. Olivera: Megaten has tons of lore and everything that attracts Japanese like flies.

David E. Olivera: I mean, almost everything they put out has references to either Jungian references or different mythologies. PokÃÆ’©mon is just, well, Japanese.

Mark B: But PokÃÆ’©mon also does the “collecting” thing. See also Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh.

Alex Lucard: Anyway, back to the original; question. Dragon Quest, Megaten, PokÃÆ’©mon, Those are the big three in Japan. What made Final fantasy fall off?

David E. Olivera: Cultural tides change.

Tom Pandich: PokÃÆ’©mon.

David E. Olivera: Maybe people were sick of the format?

Mark B: PokÃÆ’©mon appeals to a wider audience; children like it too.

Alex Lucard: Especially as there’s still a lot of rabid love for FF in the states where PokÃÆ’©mon garners an even more emotional reaction than FF7

Tom Pandich: Megaten has a great story, Dragon Quest is crack, PokÃÆ’©mon has a community aspect. I think fourth is still respectable though.

David E. Olivera: Final Fantasy is eye candy and tweaking of things.

Alex Lucard: It is, but one would automatically assume FF is the main series to beat considering its popularity in the states, no?

David E. Olivera: Right, but that is a very US-centric view point.

Alex Lucard: We have a US centric audience.

Mark B: And to most, PokÃÆ’©mon isn’t considered in the same realm as FF titles.

Alex Lucard: Yet it’s more popular and makes more money. That’s what’s odd.

Mark B: Right. GTA is more popular and makes more money. Do you want to compare that to FF?

David E. Olivera: I like the GTA series.

Alex Lucard: PokÃÆ’©mon and FF are both turned based RPG’s though. A comparison there is apt.

Tom Pandich: Well again, PokÃÆ’©mon appeals to kids and adults. Final Fantasy has a much more limited audience.

David E. Olivera: It’s exactly what it says it is. Like a bad 90s TV show.

Mark B: Yes, but no one considers PokÃÆ’©mon and FF as relatives. It’s a perception thing.

Mark B: PokÃÆ’©mon is “Fischer Price My First RPG”.

Tom Pandich: Yeah, it’s like people who argue that strategy games are the same as RPGs.

Mark B: Final Fantasy is “Grown Up RPG Gaming”.

Alex Lucard: That is a very American outlook on the genre.

Jonathan Widro: As it should be.

Mark B: Hi. I live in America.

Alex Lucard: I’m just pointing out the difference between the cultures involved.

Mark B: And that was the point I was going for.

Mark B: In Japan, though, I imagine there’s a similar perception to be had. Perhaps not that PokÃÆ’©mon’s a “childish” game…

Mark B: But more that it’s a game everyone can play, whereas FF isn’t.

Alex Lucard: Actually, it’s quite different, much like in America the reality vs perception is different. The average age of a PokÃÆ’©mon player in the US is 17 and 19 in Japan. FF is 15 in America/17 in Japan, so the FF audience core is actually younger on the average. Remember though PokÃÆ’©mon has a much larger audience so the figures are skewed.

David E. Olivera: Right.

Mark B: But perception dictates reality. We see PokÃÆ’©mon and think “kids game”.

David E. Olivera: I tried PokÃÆ’©mon and just couldn’t stand the cuteness… which is odd considering I love other cute things.

Alex Lucard: I agree totally Mark. I just think it’s funny how different the stats are from the perception.

Tom Pandich: Final Fantasy is “designed” for adults the same way Mortal Kombat and every other game that skews to an older audience is in reality trying to bring in the kids.

Alex Lucard: In other words, trying to make the kids feel older and thus cooler?

Tom Pandich: Mhhm.

Mark B: Well, PokÃÆ’©mon also appeals to the ladies.

Mark B: Look. My ex HATES Final Fantasy, can’t stand it, even the BRAND makes her ill, but she owns five PokÃÆ’©mon titles. PokÃÆ’©mon appeals to female gamers.

Tom Pandich A lot of women gamers like Final Fantasy though too. Your ex is an exception to the rule. Who do you think writes all that Cloud/Sephiroth bullshit fanfiction.

Alex Lucard: Gay men?

Mark B: But PokÃÆ’©mon appeals to MORE female gamers, is what I’m saying.

Tom Pandich: I don’t think it does though.

Alex Lucard: The female gaming population does indeed love PokÃÆ’©mon. As I told Tom the other day, the fifth most popular PokÃÆ’©mon game of all time according to PokÃÆ’©mon stats…is PokÃÆ’©mon Channel. Yet most men hate that game.

Mark B: Go to an anime convention. You’d be surprised how many girls never got into anime until they watched PokÃÆ’©mon on WB.

Tom Pandich: The hardcore PokÃÆ’©mon audience gets really into the math of the game.

Alex Lucard: That stat does indicate PokÃÆ’©mon ‘s audience is primarily adult females

Tom Pandich: I’ve been to anime conventions too Mark, and there’s a whole lot of Squalls and Clouds and Tifas and Yunas.

David E. Olivera: There are min/maxers who get into PokÃÆ’©mon.

Alex Lucard: I think it’s pretty even between the two honestly.

Mark B: Right. But there are plenty more not dressed up at all, checking out the stuffed Pikachu’s.

David E. Olivera: They’re the ones who also buy SRPGs even if they aren’t made by Nippon Ichi.

Tom Pandich: Fair enough. The 12-18 go for FF. The older go for PokÃÆ’©mon.

Alex Lucard: I was just typing that.

David E. Olivera: That makes sense.

QUESTION 11: What would you say are the top three RPG franchises in the US?

David E. Olivera: The teens whatever love the angst. Top three by sales or by what I like?

Alex Lucard: Sales and overall popularity.

Tom Pandich: On a loose definition of RPG I’d say Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, PokÃÆ’©mon.

Alex Lucard: I say Final fantasy, PokÃÆ’©mon, and to be honest I’m not sure. I want to say Megaten, but I’m too skewed by my time in Japan with the series.

David E. Olivera: Final Fantasy, PokÃÆ’©mon, Tales of Crapola… ooh, Crapdom Hearts.

Mark B: Final Fantasy, PokÃÆ’©mon, Xenosaga.

Alex Lucard: We all agree on 2/3rds of the list, and none of us said Dragon Quest.

Mark B: Because Dragon Quest isn’t all that popular. It hasn’t been in years.

David E. Olivera: Dragon Quest was selling for half price a couple months after release.

Alex Lucard: Isn’t that funny?

Tom Pandich: Well, I bought Dragon Quest VIII for $10 four months after its release.

Mark B: Part Seven was received about as well as a priest in a brothel.

David E. Olivera: I liked the first 100 hours of VII.

Alex Lucard: It just doesn’t appeal to the US audience as a whole.

Mark B: Right.

Mark B: Because it maintains old school conventions.

David E. Olivera: Depends on who’s old school you’re talking about. I cut my teeth on much harder PC rpgs.

Tom Pandich: 8 had a better push. It mixed the cuteness of PokÃÆ’©mon with the appeal of a solid traditional RPG.

Alex Lucard: America wants new & flash? Japan was homey and familiar?

Mark B: And does nothing to ingratiate itself to the cinematic intermission fanbase. Console old school. TRADITIONAL RPG’s, not TRUE RPG’s.

David E. Olivera: Japanese culture loves conformity and no surprises.

Alex Lucard: Persona, Dave or is that the exception?

David E. Olivera: The exception that proves the rule.

Tom Pandich: I don’t think that’s it Alex. Americans love being told the same story. They just like it flashy.

Mark B: Their game market is going down the toilet nowadays, actually.

Alex Lucard: Quality or #’s being bought Mark?

David E. Olivera: Look at traditional Japanese business practices and social graces.

Mark B: Numbers purchased.

David E. Olivera: And yes, Americans like flashy new ways of saying the same things.

Mark B: Most folks are buying the games, beating them, and trading them, or so I’ve read.

Alex Lucard: That doesn’t surprise me.

Mark B: Well, they get better value on their trade-ins than America does.

QUESTION 12: Do you think the Final Fantasy series has improved, gotten worse or stayed about the same as a series over the past 9 years?

Mark B: Gotten worse.

David E. Olivera: Man, they have gotten much worse.

Mark B: They ripped off Dragonball Z for the plotline of part 9.

Mark B: You don’t get much worse than that.

Alex Lucard: I think it’s ebbed and flowed. FF Tactics was the best FF game ever IMO, and then it started to go down hill.

David E. Olivera: No real innovation except a couple of tweaks to the Meteria system.

Alex Lucard: Plus Lee gave FF X-2 like a 9.

Tom Pandich: I’d say stayed the same. As the core series goes down, pieces of the others got better. Tactics and Crystal Chronicles for example.

David E. Olivera: Haha FFTactics (original) is such a pale imitation of Ogre Battle.

Alex Lucard: Well, it was made by the Ogre team. ;-)

David E. Olivera: Only lobotomized for Final Fantasy audiences.

Alex Lucard: But you’re right. Give me Ogre Tactics any day.

Mark B: Lee did what?

Mark B: Oh wait.

Alex Lucard: Lee gave FFX-2 a 9. On our scale

Mark B: What I meant to say was, LEE DID WHAT?!?

Alex Lucard: http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages4/562386.asp Go look! We gave it a 9!

Tom Pandich: David, you never played through the snowball fight that starts out Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced. Ugh.

Mark B: FFTA was abysmal.

David E. Olivera: I did.

Mark B: If I never see the Judges again, it’ll be too soon.

Tom Pandich: If FF: Tactics was lobotomized, FFTA was Terry Schiavo.

David E. Olivera: Yeah, no shit.

Alex Lucard: We all know I dislike FFTA . I don’t need to beat a dead horse.

Alex Lucard: Isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t the next FF game set totally in the FFTA world?

Mark B: Yes.

David E. Olivera: Yeah.

Mark B: Good luck finding someone to review that.

Tom Pandich: Yeah, with Final Fantasy XI’s battle system :-/

David E. Olivera: Basically an MMORPG without MMORPG stuff.

QUESTION 13: What do you think the future holds for FF as a series? Will they finally bite the bullet and make a direct sequel to FF7?

Mark B: No, they’ll just re-release FFVII again, like everyone’s begging for them to do when they’re not saying FFVII sucked.

Alex Lucard: PSP or DS re-release? Or something else?

Tom Pandich: Sequel no. Remake yes. There’s a lot of money in the franchise still and they’ve know it. The problem is that a turn based RPG is the only way to put out a mediocre game and get that money.

David E. Olivera: They’ll go through the rest of the alphabet.

Jonathan Widro: I wonder if they launch the ps1 emulator service on PSP with ff7.

David E. Olivera: Final Fantasy VII Everyone Loves Cait Sith is next on the agenda.

Tom Pandich: I say PSP release followed by a PS3 remake in 07/08.

Mark B: PS3.

Alex Lucard: I want a Wii version where you have a special controller that’s actually the size of Cloud’s sword.

Mark B: I want a DS version where you can actually move the stylus to kill Aeris yourself.

Alex Lucard: I also don’t see any change in the franchise. Same style of games. Pretty and good music but no substance that sells really well but is ultimately forgotten by all but the hardcore fans.

Jonathan Widro: But isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t that how almost all long running series go?

Alex Lucard: Mostly yes.

Jonathan Widro: So I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t think its a specific indictment of ff.

David E. Olivera: Some just end. See Phantasy Star. While they use the setting, really Online and such aren’t real Phantasy Star games in my opinion.

Alex Lucard: Oh it’s not meant to be. I just don’t see fans ever finally crying out for something different or Square choosing to make changes on its own.

Mark B: If it ain’t broke, it’s still making money. See also Resident Evil.

PENULTIMATE QUESTION: RATE FFVII with the ten point scale!

Mark B: FFVII: I think I gave it a 6.5 on my interview review, so that’s what I’ll strick with.

David E. Olivera: FFVII: 4.5.

Tom Pandich: Final Fantasy VII is a solid 5 in my book. Great music and pretty visuals at the time. The gameplay is horrible as are the controls.

Alex Lucard: Plot 3, graphics 10, sound 8, control 6, replay 3, balance 3, originality 3, addictivness 6, appeal factor 8,. miscellaneous 5. Overall 5.5 exact.

Jonathan Widro: 5.5 looks good… misc might have been higher at the time.

David E. Olivera: Summons = -1.0 to the score.

LAST QUESTION: Will there ever be a game that hits the zeitgeist like FF7 did?

Mark B: Sad as it is to say, the only RPG making company that I see making an RPG that’ll outperform FFVII is either Bethesda or whoever the hell made KOTOR (Bioware).

Tom Pandich: If any game is going to set the world on fire, it’ll be Spore coming out in 2010.

Ok folks, I totally missed some stuff. Just so you know, this Kliq Off stands at 25 pages in Word at the moment. It started at 52 before any editing. Thanks for reading.