Very few video games can be credited with actually changing the landscape of gaming as a whole, but Final Fantasy VII is often one of those cited as a gamechanger for the industry and especially the RPG genre when it released back in 1997. Originally developed for the Super Nintendo, production was later pushed back and eventually led to it releasing for PlayStation instead. The game has since released on numerous platforms over the years, and now it has finally arrived on a Nintendo console for the first time with Final Fantasy VII for Nintendo Switch.
For those that have somehow lived under a rock for the last two decades, Final Fantasy VII stars Cloud Strife, a mercenary with a mysterious past that starts off working with the eco-terrorist organization AVALANCHE. This is where he is introduced to party member Barret and Tifa, who work together to bomb the Shinra reactor in Midgar. This sets off a chain of events that leads to Aerith being introduced and the introduction of one of the most iconic villains in all of gaming, Sephiroth. Diving into the story any further than that would be very spoilery and isn’t really necessary at this point for a game with the pedigree of Final Fantasy VII. All you need to know is that the game offers around a captivating 40 hour long story full of charming characters with twists and turns that will keep you interested until the very end.
The combat system found in Final Fantasy VII might feel a bit dated in today’s gaming landscape to some, but it still holds up quite well considering. Not quite the traditional turn based system, this game uses what is known as the ATB, or Active Time Battle system, where each character has a time meter that you must wait to fill up to make a move. This works for both your party members and the enemy, so speed plays a big role on the order players will be attacking in battle.
These battles themselves are typically triggered via random encounters as you walk around the map as per usual, though this version includes a neat feature that was added in the more recent mobile and PS4 versions. That is the ability to turn random encounters off entirely, which is done by just pressing down on the left and right analog sticks. You obviously can’t keep them off the entire game or you would get severely outleveled, but the ability to turn off random encounters when you want is a fantastic feature that more RPGs should have. Even if this can make the game a little easier by allowing you to more readily escape from areas when at low health, the quality of life enhancement to speed past annoying areas is well worth it.
Another feature that is carried over from the other recent ports of the game are the Battle Boosts, which you can activate by pressing the right analog stick. This automatically refills your HP and MP meters and puts your Limit Break meter to max, allowing you to obliterate pretty much any opponent you are facing. This is essentially an easy mode being added to the game that most people will not use, but it can still be a good feature to have included to help people past fights that might cause them to give up on the game entirely otherwise.
The ability to turn off random encounters when you want is a fantastic feature that more RPGs should have
Final Fantasy VII in its original form already let players choose their speed for battle, battle messages, and field messages, which was helpful enough. However, recent Final Fantasy game re-releases, including this one, have also included an outright speed up feature that can be used. Simply by pressing down on the left analog stick, you can instantly speed up everything in the gameplay itself by three times. This includes both movement around the map and battles themselves without the music being sped up and ruining the beautiful soundtrack that still sounds as amazing as ever. Navigating through the menu is also not sped up, which is something that could have gotten frustrating if it was and you had to keep disabling the 3X speed just to use it as a result.
Menu navigation will become very important early on in the game as well once the Materia system is introduced. Materia plays a huge role in the game as a whole and you will be using it to imbue your different party members with different skills, summons, and more. This is done by equipping Materia onto your weapons and armor, with each one having different slots available for Materia. Each piece of Materia can also be leveled up, which is done by having it equipped when participating in battle and earning Ability Points. There are even Support Materia that can be used to strengthen connected Materia to it as well, providing you with near countless combinations to choose from in the game. This system is still very intricate and remains one of the best in the entire Final Fantasy series.
Back when it released on the PlayStation, Final Fantasy VII was a technical marvel for the system visually with its occasional FMV style cutscenes. Dating back to the PC release, the blocky character models themselves were improved upon and they definitely look much more smooth than the original release here as well. You definitely should not be expecting a complete remake of the visuals in this version, but they still look good enough and aren’t a distraction while playing. The FMV scenes, albeit found few and far between, still hold up incredibly well and really show how impressive this game was back in the day as well.
While it may feel a bit blasphemous to play Final Fantasy VII on a Nintendo platform after the history of the game, the game feels right at home on Nintendo Switch. Bringing in the higher texture character models and the three quality of life cheats that you can activate if you want, Final Fantasy VII can be enjoyed by most everybody on the Nintendo Switch for both longtime fans and those that have missed out after all these years.
Fans may be waiting for the Final Fantasy VII Remake to eventually arrive, but there is no doubt that the original is still a classic regardless of the platform. Even with no new upgrades following the recent PS4 port, Final Fantasy VII on Nintendo Switch is without a doubt the definitive way to play the game on consoles with the ability to not only play at home, but also take the game on the go.
- Available On: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC
- Published By: Square Enix
- Developed By: Square Enix
- Genre: RPG
- US Release Date: March 26th, 2019
- Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
- Quote: “Even with no new upgrades, Final Fantasy VII on Nintendo Switch is without a doubt the definitive way to play the game on consoles with the ability to not only play at home, but also take the game on the go.”