Nostalgia Kills

While there’s exciting things going on in the writing and general life fronts, I don’t feel like talking about those, yet. Instead, I’m going to ramble for a bit about something that occurred to me last night. It’s a gaming post, so those of you disinterested in such things can safely skip along, having missed nothing.

Still here? Okay. Here we go. I’m about to murder a sacred cow, here. I have all my healing supplies at the ready, and am prepared to suffer the slings and arrows that will be coming my way. Hopefully you’re all sitting down, have your digitalin, albuterol or epinephrine at the ready, and are not prone to heart conditions.

Final Fantasy VII sucks. There. I said it. And I feel ever so much better having done so. I hear fanboys shrieking. I hear jaws hitting the floor. “How could you?” I hear you saying.

For just a moment, take your blinders off, forget that it’s the first RPG you played, forget that it almost single handedly skyrocketed the Playstation to the number one slot, forget that it made you aware for the first time, even if you were already fans of the series, that there were at least four entries you knew nothing about. Judge it on its own merits and demerits. Perhaps you’ll agree.

I’m going to skip the argument of certain stupid plot points. (”Why didn’t they use a Pheonix Down on Aerith?” “Why not use Soft on Sato?” “How does Sephiroth’s ultimate attack literally destroy the planet, but leave the heroes standing with 1 HP each?”) The reason? Because video games. If we fault FFVII for that, it’s an indictment against the whole genre at the very least, if not gaming as a whole.

Instead, let’s just talk about how the whole freakin’ game doesn’t make sense. We’ll start with Nibelheim.

So, Nibelheim was a sleepy little town where two of our characters grew up. It was also home to one of Shinra’s Evil Labs (TM). Now, we’ll forgive the haunted mansion full of monsters trope; again, that’d slam games as a whole. But when our plucky hero Cloud comes back the first time, as a grunt soldier tagging along with Sephiroth and Zack, things go south real quick. Long story short, Nibelheim gets blown up due to Seph’s mommy issues. Rocks fall, all die. Cloud represses this memory. I don’t remember if they even explain Tifa’s POV on the situation.

So, quaint home town burns down. All that remains is creepy haunted mansion full of experiments (including secret vampire party member Vincent, Sephiroth’s corpse, and Cloud’s memories of what happened that day). Shinra rebuilds the town, hires a bunch of people to impersonate the innocent townsfolk, and pretend nothing happened. Of course, this makes Cloud seem crazy (until they find Vince, Seph and the remains of Jenova in the mansion, anyway), but here’s the logic flaw: nobody saw the town go boom? Even if they did, would they care? Wouldn’t it make people more suspicious if everything is just fine, later? And that’s even getting into potential security leaks if one of the actors decides he hates his job.

Gosh, we wouldn’t want to either seal off the rubble, remove Vincent, Sephiroth and Jenova or slag the place further so nobody knows what happened other than that Nibelheim is gone. Nah, let’s leave all the evidence and turn it into Stepford. Way less likely to blow up in our faces.

Then we’ll go to Sephrioth himself. Aside from the fact that we never actually meet Sephiroth (the thing wandering around that we think is him is actually some weird Jenova clone thing. The “real” Sephiroth – if there is such a thing – is in the Nibelheim Mansion, cut in two. And quite dead.), he is not some ultimate badass bishi that we should all worship and toss our panties at. He’s an androgynous asshole with long hair and an impossibly big sword. That does not a character make. He doesn’t have any actual characterization other than wanting to kill Cloud and blow up the planet because they hurt his “mommy” (technically himself, given as he is a pile of Jenova cells.) That’s it. They tried to fix it later  with Crisis Core, but that was over a decade later, so doesn’t count for this discussion. He wants to kill people because reasons. Never mind that he’s bad at it – the only people he kills who stay dead are Zack and Aerith, both of whom were weakened and distracted, and Zack still managed to fatally wound him – and thus his badass points are substantially lowered.

Then there’s that whole “His parents are Lucretzia and Hojo or maybe Vincent and oh, we threw in some Jenova cells and there might have been a rape and never mind all the characters are supposedly roughly the same age so there’s no way Vincent would have been old enough for that to even work unless Zack and Cloud (and Angeal and Genesis, later/earlier) totally didn’t notice the sudden promotion of someone who’s beenin the program “all his life” but has only been around for a year or two.” Thing.  Yes, that was all said in one breath. Raging. Sorry.

Not even touching the “Blue 14 Sephiroth Clone!” or “You can resurrect Aerith?” plots/rumors. Or that the level of characterization is almost nonexistent, so when those big reveals, deaths and vengeance driven fights happen, I can’t be moved to care. Not pointing out that it looks bloody awful, either. Yes, it’s old, so it’s not going to look amazing, but if one looks at either VI or VIII, they have aged significantly better.

Here’s the skinny. Go play FFVI or FFIX. Take notes. Be honest. Then come back and do FFVII again. Likewise, take notes and be honest. Then say with a straight face that FFVII has the best plot, characters, emotional moments and combat system ever. And see if your nose grows when you do.

Betcha can’t. Rant over.

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