Final Fantasy VII on the Nintendo Switch was the very thing I never realized I wanted. And now, new generations of Nintendo fans who are seeing Cloud in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster will have a chance to really see what he’s all about! Admittedly, I never played the ports to other platforms like the PS3 or PS4. I truly haven’t played the game in over 20 years since its heyday on the original PlayStation. However, I have fond memories of my hundreds of hours spent playing and replaying the game during my middle school years.
The Nintendo Switch version rushed all of that nostalgia right back at me. While I’d played the entire game multiple times many years ago, I’ve only been able to complete just over a third of the game as of this writing on the Nintendo Switch. However, I’ve seen plenty to offer a few quick impressions.
A lone soldier no longer, Cloud begins a legendary journey
The game’s story is timeless, and I mean that in every sense of the word. It was always part of FFVII‘s appeal among fans. In this world, the lead protagonist, Cloud Strife, and a rebel group attempt to combat a corporate machine who is controlling the planet’s life force in order to produce energy. The Shinra Company is an energy supplier who has clearly monopolized the market. The planet, therefore, is reliant upon the business to sustain its infrastructure. The greed of the hellbent company has led to ever-increasing poverty with a large part of Midgar, the megacity where Shinra is based, becoming partly consumed by slums.
Cloud used to work for this company as part of its SOLDIER program, a highly trained military unit. He left to become a mercenary fighting on his own terms. Now, however, he has joined the rebels in the fight against Shinra’s control. Throughout the story, there are twists and turns as we learn more about the characters and their past. This is the best Final Fantasy story ever told in my humble opinion.
Ah, just like I remembered…
The gameplay was perfectly preserved and feels right at home for anyone who played the original. Of course, the blocky LEGO-style models are still in play, but the resolution is on par with modern games. The environments outside of battle are prerendered static landscapes. While the more crisp resolution is welcome, it really widens the gap between the character models and the world. The character models look even more like they’re running around on a flat board game type of surface. This is, however, inherent when performing the crucial modernization upgrades for a game as old as Final Fantasy VII, and it doesn’t detract from its brilliance.
Battles, battles, battles
For those who haven’t played the game, it’s an RPG that is led by timers for each character. In battle, each character on your team will have a timer bar that when full will allow you to select an action such as using magic, a summon, an item, or simply attacking. The original game was built around random encounters with monsters or enemies as you navigate the world.
Square did a great thing with adding a feature on this Switch port to stop random encounters. If you’re tired of getting hit with enemy after enemy and are simply trying to get from point A to point B, this option now relieves you of the burden of fighting enemies when you don’t want to. I even remember times in the original where I barely survived a major battle and was on the brink of death. Then some random encounter would pop up before I was able to get to a save point and finish me off. It was entirely frustrating, so this option is extremely welcome. It’s as simple as pressing L3 and R3 at the same time to switch random encounters on and off. Likewise, the ability to speed up the whole game x3 with a click of L3 is appreciated too.
I could go on for days about the incredible Materia system, the cinematic summons, and all of my favorite aspects of FFVII. But just know that it’s all here, just the way you remember. And now, you can finally take it on the go while playing it the way it was meant to be played — with physical controls and none of that touch screen mobile trash. I’m a bit salty about mobile games — can you tell?
Accountant by day, video games enthusiast by night. Somewhere in between all of that, I’m a husband, dad, and generally a giant man-child, too. If a game is all about action, there’s a safe bet I’m playing it. I started laying waste to virtual worlds as a youngin’ on the ol’ Atari and haven’t stopped since.