#MaybeInMarch – Final Fantasy VII

For the month of March I have set out to complete some of the games that have been sitting in my backlog for quite some time. I still have a few Sega Genesis games that I’ve owned since childhood that I never finished(Dynamite Headdy, X-Men). To kick off my #MaybeInMarch goal, I recently finished Final Fantasy VII, a game considered by many as a timeless classic and among the greatest of epic RPGs for any console.

Final Fantasy VII is one of the games that have been aging in my backlog of games for 10+ years. I remember being aware of the game before its release in 1997. I was only 11 at the time, but even then I was aware that this next Final Fantasy game had some massive hype around it. I was even given a promotional VHS tape from SquareSoft showcasing FFVII and a few other upcoming games by a neighbor when I was given the option of getting either a Playstation or Nintendo 64 for my birthday(11 year-old me chose Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie over Crash Bandicoot and Final Fantasy).

I first purchased Final Fantasy VII around 2001 after it had been out for a few years and had been cemented in place as the pinnacle of modern RPGs after much critical and commercial success. I had since attempted to play through it a few different times and never even made it past Midgar. I would usually get stuck somewhere partially due to having a hard time discerning pathways or objects that are able to be interacted with in contrast to the rest of the pre-rendered backgrounds and feeling overwhelmed by what seemed like constant random enemy encounters. Combined with not completely grasping gameplay mechanics like Active Time Battles or Limit meters and the sheer amount of items and equipment to manage(Materia, airships and chocobos too!), FFVII felt a little overwhelming at times. This past December, with renewed determination I set out to finish this game I’d been playing here and there for 20 years. I defeated Sephiroth and finally reached the end of my journey Saturday night. This lined up perfectly for the start of the #MaybeInMarch hashtag so I figured I would share a few thoughts about the game after playing through myself.

The story and characters were by far my favorite part of the game. I had always been aware of how iconic of a character in gaming Cloud is (he got added to Smash Bros. right?), but simply being aware of something and understanding why can be different. There’s something resonant in Cloud’s youthful feelings of wanting to leave his small town to make a name for himself. I found myself when starting out the game viewing Cloud as just another protagonist, which can be found throughout video game history, but you begin to form an attachment as the characters are given time to development over the course of the game. This also goes for the other party members like the badass-with-a-heart Barrett, steadfast girl next door Tifa, or sailor-mouthed pilot Cid. I also enjoyed FFVII’s storyline, which features some not-so-subtle themes of corporatism and environmentalism. It’s impressive how a story revolving around a planet being sapped of its resources and life force by giant corporations with little to no regard to its ramifications and their conflict between a group of eco-terrorists was told during a time when video games were still considered an inferior art form, if considered one at all. The game’s storyline is also interesting in comparison to 2020 where the mere mention of climate change is considered by far too many as “SJW propaganda”.

Having finished Final Fantasy VII, I can greater understand longtime fans fondness and devotion to the game. My biggest issues with FFVII were mostly feelings of “I may enjoy this game as a whole, more than I enjoy playing it”. I have long used games like Goldeneye, Ocarina of Time, and even FFVII as games that deserved every bit of the praise and adoration they receive even from a mere mention of the game, but have at the same time aged relatively poor in areas. For how impressive the pre-rendered backgrounds and FMV cutscenes look, some of the game mechanics and controls feel a bit antiquated and clunky. There were numerous times where navigating through the background areas was made more difficult due to the fixed camera angles, similarly to numerous Capcom games in the late 90’s. The character models have also suffered the effects of time as the jagged polygons that once looked impressive are now almost comical as you gaze upon Cloud’s square hands and bulbous hips and shoulders.

Final Fantasy VII was still an experience in spite of a few wrinkles here and there. I have made no secret in past posts one of my greatest weaknesses is completing games, particularly RPGs which typically demand both time and attention and not just the former. The game was once an intimidating task to play through, but one I’m glad I was able to accomplish. In the same way I finally completed Link’s Awakening this time last year, I was able to finish Final Fantasy VII in preparation for the remake(which looks AMAZING).

What are your some games in your backlog that you’ve set out to complete? What do you think of the upcoming FFVII remake? Let me know in the comments. There’s still a few more in the backlog I’d like to finish for #MaybeInMarch. Thanks for reading!

Games of the Decade

We are in the final stages of 2019 and are nearing the end of another decade in video games. Yes, I know it’s “not actually the end of the decade” and all that, but for convenience I’m going to make up this list a year “early”. The past decade has been great for gaming; our wonderful hobby is enjoyed by more people every day and we have seen new ways video games can be pushed in terms of technology and as an interactive artistic medium. Video games as an industry have surpassed movies and music in terms of revenue and I would even dare to say popularity as gaming is light years away from the niche hobby of basement-dwelling loners as nearly everyone partakes in some aspect of video games; I haven’t even mentioned the rise of platforms like YouTube or Twitch. I have, after much deliberation and numerous lists scribbled on my desk, created two separate lists for my games of the decade; one list with my favorite game of each year of the decade and another simply comprising of my 10 favorites of the decade. After looking through all(well, pretty much) the releases of the decade it’s hard to not point out 2015-18 as being downright amazing years for gaming. The early years of the decade saw some great games like the first Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2, Skyrim or The Last of Us, but outside of a few big games I don’t feel anywhere near as enthusiastic about 2010-14 as I do 2015-19.

2015 – the year that saw releases like Bloodborne, Metal Gear Solid 5, Fallout 4, Undertale, and The Witcher 3.

2016 – we received the phenomenal Overwatch and Persona 5, along with the revitalization of beloved franchises with the release of Resident Evil 7 and Doom.

2017 – the year began with a brand new Sony-exclusive in Horizon: Zero Dawn, only to be eclipsed by Breath of the Wild and the surprising success of the Nintendo Switch(yes, it was a surprise for most of us), with Super Mario Odyssey capping(get it?) off the year.

2018 – I don’t even need to say much further than – God of War, Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

***I will point out right away that while both The Witcher 3 and Persona 5 are looking to be INCREDIBLE games, I feel like I haven’t played enough of them at this time to accurately include them in my list, not entirely at least. Without further ado, here are my favorite games of each year of the past decade…

2010 – Red Dead Redemption

2011 – Batman: Arkham City

2012 – Far Cry 3

2013 – Grand Theft Auto 5

2014 – Destiny

2015 – Bloodborne

2016 – Overwatch

2017 – Super Mario Odyssey

2018 – God of War

2019 – Death Stranding

Here’s my personal favorites games of the decade. I included Red Dead Redemption 1 & 2 as a single pick, NOT sorry, I DO make these rules…

Super Mario Odyssey

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Far Cry 5

Marvel’s Spider-Man



Horizon: Zero Dawn

Grand Theft Auto 5

God of War

Red Dead Redemption(1&2)

That’s my list! What are your favorite games from the past decade? Let me know in the comments or just let me know how much you agree or disagree with any of the included games. I have also been working on a 2019 Games and Moments of the year that I will post soon. I’m heading back to re-watch more Star Wars movies! Thanks for reading!