This guy are sick
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a part of the soundtrack, a gameplay mechanic, a line of dialogue, or anything else about the game that is particularly noteworthy and/or awesome.
This series will no doubt contain spoilers for the games being discussed, so keep that in mind if you plan on playing the game for the first time.
With a remake finally announced this year at E3, this entry will be all about Final Fantasy VII. Just imagine all of these moments in glorious HD! Feel free to share some of your own favorite things about the game in the comments!
The descendant of the Shinobi
Picking a favorite character in a Final Fantasy game is usually pretty tough (unless that game is Final Fantasy IX). I have a soft spot for most of the party members in Final Fantasy VII; Cid and Barret are comically vulgar, Red XIII is awesomely adorable (that part where he’s trying to walk like a human <3), Tifa has this sort of quiet badass-ness surrounding her, and Cait Sith is really weird, but I just want to snuggle up with the giant Mog like Mei napping on top of Totoro. If I had to choose a favorite, though, I would have to pick Yuffie.
I feel like Yuffie often gets a bad rap. She’s a thief, after all, and is constantly plotting to steal the party’s Materia. She’s also kind of a brat, and can come off as rather obnoxious and selfish. But even so, she has so many shining moments throughout the game where she demonstrates a wonderful sense of humor and optimism. It’s also revealed through a side quest that she only wanted to steal Materia to help out her father and their home town, so even as a thief she still manages to be a sympathetic character. Then again, Yuffie and her father hatch up a plan to steal everyone’s Materia again after the adventure is over, presumably for selfish reasons. I guess some things never change.
When she’s not stealing things, she can be found suffering from motion sickness, slicing things up with giant shurikens, calling people “old farts”, pretending to be a news reporter, and other crazy stuff that a teenage ninja girl might do. She also has my personal favorite theme song; it’s very upbeat and cheerful. Hearing it always makes me really happy! Whenever I replay Final Fantasy VII, I always make it my mission to recruit her to the team as quickly as possible. How anyone could hate Yuffie is beyond me.
Interrupted by fireworks
The Gold Saucer: an endlessly exciting theme park with obnoxiously happy music, filled with games, rides, haunted houses, live theater, fireworks, racetracks, battle arenas, and all sorts of fun stuff. Not to mention the fact that it’s built on a giant, almost unreal, tree-like structure towering above a desolate wasteland. It’s a truly magical place.
While the rides and games are fun and addicting (the motorcycle and snowboarding games are my favorites), the highlight of the Gold Saucer occurs after the party decides to rest at the inn. Depending on certain choices the player has made in the game up to this point, one of four characters will knock on Cloud’s door late at night and ask him out on a date, where they walk around the park, take part in a theatrical performance (which is always hilarious), and go on a romantic gondola ride during a fireworks show.
Obviously, the two main options for date night are Tifa and Aeris, but it’s also possible to go on a date with Yuffie and, surprisingly, even Barret. Tifa and Aeris might make the most sense, but the scenes on the gondola with Yuffie and Barret are some of my favorite moments in the game.
The date with Yuffie is adorably awkward. Yuffie clearly likes Cloud, and she even manages to work up the courage to give him a peck on the cheek, but Cloud just sits there like a grumpy, silent lump and embarrasses the heck out of her (“Gawd, I could just die.”). Poor Yuffie!
The date with Barret, on the other hand, is just plain awkward as hell. Barret asks Cloud to accompany him because he wants to go for a walk, so it’s not framed as a date at all, but it sure starts to feel like one. The gondola ride starts out in awkward silence as the two men just sit there and stare at each other with their arms crossed, until Barret gets pissed about having to enjoy the fireworks with another dude and asks Cloud why he never asked one of the girls out. He then goes on to basically accuse Cloud of pedophilia by falling in love with his daughter, Marlene (she’s like four years old!), and gets even more pissed off to the point where he starts shooting at the fireworks to make them shut up. I mean, geez, you could just cut that sexual tension with a knife, am I right?
The protector of Cosmo Canyon
Final Fantasy VII has no shortage of emotional, tear-jerking moments. Of course, while there is the big one which you’re no doubt thinking about right now, my personal favorite moving moment happens much earlier in the game when the party first arrives at Cosmo Canyon and learns a little more about their mysterious animal friend, Red XIII, or as he’s known in Cosmo Canyon, Nanaki.
While sitting around a big bonfire, Cloud has a chat with Nanaki. He reluctantly begins to open up about his parents and how the thought of his mother fills him with pride and joy, while the thought of his father fills him with anger. Apparently, his father abandoned his mother and the town and left her to die. Nanaki’s grandfather, Bugenhagen, overhears the conversation and asks if Nanaki really cannot forgive his father.
Bugenhagen then leads the party through a dangerous cave full of ghostly terrors in order to show Nanaki something special. At the back of the cave, the party finds themselves at the bottom of a cliff, at the top of which sits a stone statue resembling Nanaki. Bugenhagen reveals that the statue is actually Nanaki’s father, Seto, who was turned to stone by poisonous arrows as he was trying to drive enemies out of the canyon to protect the town. He still remains there today, watching over Cosmo Canyon.
Learning all of this about his father, Nanaki has a sudden change of heart. He decides to accompany Cloud and the team in order to help protect the planet and proudly declares, “I am Nanaki of Cosmo Canyon! The son of the warrior, Seto! I’ll come back as a warrior true to that noble name!” Upon making this announcement, drops of water begin to fall from above, and Nanaki looks up to see that the statue of his father is shedding tears of joy. Nanaki jumps up onto a small outcrop and begins to howl up to his father.
This scene always sends a shiver down my spine, and the howling almost makes me shed a tear. It leaves me feeling simultaneously sad that Red XIII’s father is dead and happy that the two could reunite and come to an understanding. And the music, a more melancholy version of Red XIII’s theme, fits the scene perfectly. It gets me every time!
Love and rockets
Another wonderfully touching moment happens a bit later in the game, when the party sits down to have tea with Shera at Cid’s place in Rocket Town. The relationship between Cid and Shera comes off as particularly volatile, with Cid constantly shouting and cursing at her and generally acting very agitated whenever she’s around. The party asks her how she can put up with all of his anger, and she explains that he wasn’t always this way.
This cues a flashback of Cid’s first attempt to launch a rocket into space. Shera is busy checking an oxygen tank, which Cid claims she’s wasting her time with. It then cuts to Cid in the cockpit, ready to take off, and the countdown begins. But there’s a problem: a mechanic is still in the engine section of the rocket, a very dangerous place to be when the rocket is about to blast off, as the heat would surely kill them.
The lingering mechanic is Shera, of course. She stuck around to do some final checks on the oxygen tanks, since they weren’t testing to her satisfaction. She’s urges Cid to continue with the launch, and seems to be dead set on fixing the oxygen tanks even if it means she’ll be killed. She only wants the launch to be a success, to fulfill Cid’s lifelong dream of making it into outer space.
Cid doesn’t want her to die, but the countdown has already started, and if it’s canceled they’ll have to wait another six months until the next launch. In a panic, Cid shuts down the engine at the very last second, saving Shera’s life but sacrificing his dream. Later, the Space Program was cut back and plans for another launch were canceled.
So that’s why, according to Shera, she’s okay with all of his abuse. She blames herself, so she feels she deserves it. Deep down, though, I still think Cid really cares for Shera. He may not show it very well, but he did save her life, after all. It’s a complicated relationship for sure, but that just makes it all the more interesting.
Just play it cool, boy
Is there no cooler theme song than the Turks’ theme? It fits the group perfectly, with their cool, confident demeanors, sleek suits, and take-no-shit attitudes. It’s a really interesting part of the soundtrack, too, because it’s made up almost entirely of percussion sounds, with a slight bit of melody thrown in occasionally for good measure.
I like to imagine the Turks walking down the streets of Midgar with this song playing, snapping along to the music and kicking stuff out of their way while other people look on in intimidation. Maybe they throw in some subtle dance moves while they’re at it, like they’re performing a more subdued version of “Cool” from West Side Story. They could totally pull it off.
Awkward encounters at the Honey Bee Inn
Midgar’s Honey Bee Inn, a seedy brothel run by women in sexy bee costumes, happens to be the home of some of the most unexpected scenes in Final Fantasy history. During Cloud’s visit to the inn, he has access to one of two rooms: the Group Room and the &$#% Room. They sound pretty exciting, no?
Choosing the Group Room, the sexy bee lady steps aside as a mob of sweaty, muscular men barge into the room and practically force Cloud to take a bath with them (what a lucky guy!). Or if he chooses the &$#% Room… well, I’ll just let you imagine what goes on in the &$#% Room.
I’m honestly really surprised these scenes weren’t censored from the game. I’m also kind of glad that they weren’t. Not only because my pervy teenage mind enjoyed them (even if I probably didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time), but also because this awkward, racy, unexpected content was part of what made Final Fantasy VII feel so special. I mean, who honestly thought they would see stuff like this in a Final Fantasy game?
Hits like a truck
I love it when Final Fantasy gets real weird with its boss fights. The Ultros fights from Final Fantasy VI and the fight against Sandy, Cindy, and Mindy from Final Fantasy IV always stick in my mind because of how silly they were. There always seems to be at least one humorous boss fight, and in Final Fantasy VII, that boss is Palmer.
Palmer is the head of the Space Program for Shinra, but he’s a very incompetent and obnoxiously childish old man. In Rocket Town, the party interrupts him while he’s trying to steal Cid’s plane, the Tiny Bronco, which leads into the boss fight.
During the entire fight, Palmer bounces back and forth in a ridiculous, taunting manner. Occasionally, he’ll use up a turn to spin around and smack his butt in the party’s direction, muttering, “heh heh hic!” as though he’s drunk (and he probably is).
The best part, though, is at the end of the fight. After Palmer is defeated, he does this weird little dance, almost gets his head chopped off by the propeller of the Tiny Bronco, mocks the party to save face, then turns to run away only to get hit by a truck out of nowhere and sent flying. The entire cutscene is just crazy. Why is the Tiny Bronco suddenly moving on its own? Where did that truck even come from? I mean, they’re fighting in Cid’s fenced off backyard, so did it drive over his fence? It’s the most absurd, unexpected way to end a battle, especially in a mostly serious game like Final Fantasy VII, but that’s exactly why I love it so much!
Past Experience Points
.01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
.02: Shadow of the Colossus
.05: Demon’s Souls
.06: No More Heroes
.07: Paper Mario
.08: Persona 4
.09: Final Fantasy IX
.10: Mega Man Legends
.11: Rayman Origins
.12: Metal Slug 3
.13: Animal Crossing
.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
.15: Super Mario Sunshine