Final Fantasy VII was a game of firsts.
It was the first Final Fantasy launched on PlayStation. It was the first Final Fantasy to be made in 3D. It was the first to include CG movie cutscenes that allowed the team to reach a truly global audience and deliver a new kind of gaming experience.
It is, it’s fair to say, a very special game for the fans and the Square Enix team. I have worked as Game Director and am excited that a whole new generation can experience it on PS Now.
Final Fantasy VII first premiered in 1997, but its content has a timeless appeal that is relevant at all times. I think that’s why the game still has so many fans today – and the fact that the series continues with titles like Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is because of their support.
Launching the original game on PS Now made me reflect on its development, and the PlayStation team asked me to share some of those memories with all of you.
The origins of Final Fantasy VII
During the development of Final Fantasy VII, the games industry began to shift from 2D to 3D, mainly focused on titles developed in Europe and North America. We wanted to produce a title that would take advantage of this new dimension to bring the characters and the story to life more vividly than ever in the series.
We were also starting to get interested in 3D CG. We had the desire to make the Final Fantasy series something that would stand up for decades to come.
We were able to achieve these two ambitions thanks to a new player in the console market: the PlayStation system.
Avalanche members Biggs, Wedge and Jessie
Work on PlayStation
Working on PlayStation for the first time gave us opportunities that we hadn’t considered before. One of the biggest draws was the massive capacity (at least at the time!) Of CD-ROMs.
We packed Final Fantasy VII with a large volume of movie cutscenes, which improved storytelling and allowed us to showcase a world in more detail than any previous game. The decision to include these film scenes was only possible thanks to the memory offered by the CD-ROMs.
On the other hand, working with new technology has posed challenges for us. Games on CD ROM usually took a long time to load. We worked extremely hard and had to really innovate to make sure load times didn’t feel too long when transitioning between battles and movie scenes.
Mo films, mo money, mo problems
The movie scenes themselves also came with a learning curve – especially for me!
We recruited many artists from the CG industry to do these scenes, and they brought a completely different work culture to this industry. I had no knowledge or experience of them, and I failed several times in leading them.
For example, I remember a time when the first cut of one of the scenes from the film came back. I had an alternative idea when I saw it and suggested this change to the artists. In game development, doing this kind of recovery is a common and daily phenomenon … but not in the computer world!
I didn’t realize that even rewriting a single second of footage was a job that would cost millions of yen! Suffice to say that it was a difficult lesson to learn!
A character game
We worked incredibly hard on the game during development, to include features that would excite players and innovate the RPG genre. For example, we built the materia system, which gives players great control over character abilities, and created many fascinating characters, each with their own deep stories and arcs.
My favorite is Vincent Valentine. It’s an optional party member – so if this is your first time playing the game on PS Now, be sure to thoroughly explore a certain mansion… that’s all I’ll say.
I love the character because he’s the kind of dark hero that typically appears in horror movies, and the type of character that wasn’t in Final Fantasy games before that point.
When the game finally released, we couldn’t wait to see all of this hard work pay off.
Fortunately, Final Fantasy VII was a success. From the sales data, I could see that it was selling well to people all over the world – but at the time, we didn’t really have the opportunity to interact with our global fans, so I didn’t. didn’t really feel like I was just How? ‘Or’ What it was well received.
I didn’t really get it until five years later, in 2002, when we released Final Fantasy X for PlayStation 2.
I did a promotional tour of Europe and North America for the first time – it was the first chance I had to meet international fans and many of them brought me their copies of Final Fantasy VII for me to sign. It was then that I really felt the level of our success for the first time – it was memorable to say the least.
I’m excited that PS Now’s streaming technology allows people to play classics from the past whenever they want. For Final Fantasy VII, I think the game still has a lot to offer. The visuals can now have a somewhat classic feel, but polygonal models still leave that important place for players to fill things with their imaginations. Hope you enjoy the game while feeling the atmosphere of the time when it was released!