Final Fantasy VII is considered by many to be the flagship of the Final Fantasy series. While I do agree with this, we still must honour the original Final Fantasy. While many ports of Final Fantasy VII have been done, this is the first time it has been on Xbox One or the Switch. It has been on many other devices, but how do these recent ports play, and are they worth the price?
By far, Final Fantasy VII is one of my favourites of the series. I must say also that I have played the original Final Fantasy more often than this one as I played it on the original NES, the Game Boy Advance, and on iPhone. I have not played FFVII since the original releases on the PlayStation and the PC. The good side of this is that it’s almost like playing a game I have never played before. I have forgotten many things about this game, and while I do remember some key moments that I have encountered since replaying it, and I do remember the main characters, such as Cloud, Sephiroth, Tifa, etc., this has been a shot of blast-from-the-past for me.
The story focuses on main character Cloud, an ex-member of SOLDIER, who joins the resistance fighters of AVALANCHE to stop the evil government of Shinra from destroying the planet by using all its resources. In the typical Final Fantasy fashion, you will find new teammates and can switch them out in your party. Later in the game, you can do this almost at will, except during combat. The game also has one of the best stories that I can remember. I would put it up there with the storytelling of other great series of games like Halo, Knights of the Old Republic, The Force Unleashed, and Fallout. Great storytelling and narratives can make a mediocre game great, even if it has other flaws, such as bad controls. I would have to say that the only real flaw that is in Final Fantasy VII is the graphics, which simply don’t hold up. While the PlayStation 4 is getting a remake of the game, it would be nice to see it on other systems. Beyond this, I did not notice any differences between the Xbox One and Switch versions of the game. While there are some features that have been added, the game still plays like the original. Honestly, the major differences that do exist between the two comes down to portability for the Nintendo Switch and achievements for the Xbox One.
The controls for both consoles are nearly identical. First, the new features added to the game are the ability to refill HP, MP, and the Limit Break meter by pressing on the right stick. Another feature is speeding the game up by three times by pressing on the left stick. The last feature is to disable random battle encounters by pressing in on both sticks at the same time. The only one of these features that I have had issue with is the increasing speed. While running around through the world and fighting to gain levels, I put the game in 3X speed mode to hurry things along. The issue comes up when the combat starts. When playing the game at regular speed, I can simply hold the A button down to attack, but this does not work when in 3X mode. I’m sure this could be patched, but it is unknown if it will be. As for the rest of the controls, the left stick and directional pad are for movement and menu navigation. The Y button brings up the menu, and the B button is for cancelling out. The A button is for selection and advancing dialogues. The B button is seldom used, except for some special purposes. The difference between the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch controls comes up with the controls for the view feature and the map.
The view is controlled on the Xbox One with the view button (the one closest to the D-pad), and on the Switch it’s the “-“button. This brings up descriptions of the enemies in combat and also describes what the options in the combat menu carry out. It also puts a pointer over Cloud on the map and shows red and green arrows for exits and ladders. For the map, it is the menu button (near the XYAB buttons) on the Xbox One and the “+” button on the Switch. The Pro Controller for the Switch works identically for the controls. The only issue with the controls that I have found is that when using the 3X speed mode, it is sometimes difficult to get Cloud to face NPCs in order to talk to them.
The music of Final Fantasy VII can only be described with one word: classic. It is unchanged, as it should be. This is one of the most famous soundtracks of any game. This is also one of the most successful soundtracks with which to do travelling symphonies. Not many other games have had that. Now, on the other hand, the graphics do not hold up as well. The polygonal characters, mainly in the main world, simply do not look right, and this game could have really used a facelift in this department. If only the character models had been redone, that alone would have made this version of the game an actual remaster. Another graphical enhancement I would like to have seen would be to change it from 4:3 aspect ratio to widescreen. At the very least, make this an option in the menus to have the original ratio, have the widescreen ratio, or add sidebars to the screen instead of just the black dead space.
Developer: Square Enix Co. LTD.
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Release Date: 26th March 2019