OK, so maybe 420 isn’t a joke

I guess I misspoke yesterday. It seems that San Francisco is really, really serious about 420. I guess it makes sense; our hippie legacy means that pot is probably the closest thing to a religion you’ll find within the city limits. And political activism, especially for pointless left-wing rallying causes, is all the rage. Combine the two and mix in the fact that most pot fans consider smoking up in itself to be a political statement and you have a clear explanation of why the city had a blue-tinged haze yesterday. The last time I’ve smelled as much dope as on my bus ride home last night was when I was at the Fillmore (a hippie institution) to see Ozric Tentacles (’nuff said). I kept wondering why there was a skunk-like miasma hovering over me all the way home until I stood up to leave and realized the entire floor at my feet was covered in burnt marijuana.

Anyway, the foul smells put me in a foul mood so when i got home I decided to celebrate the release of Advent Children by writing about Final Fantasy VII. I’d call it a review, but it’s not. It’s basically free-form antipathy. Which apparently is what people used to come here for in the first place, so hey. Knock yourselves out.

48 thoughts on “OK, so maybe 420 isn’t a joke

  1. I had an older (like, mid-50s) coworker profess her love for marijuana to me yesterday. It was out of the blue. I guess she assumed I smoke weed, which I don’t. It was an uncomfortable moment, but it answered the questions about why she’s arguably the worst library employee ever and can’t focus on any tasks.

  2. In reference to your little FF7 expose, you gripe at it for making this whole ‘overly streched filler’ crap that killed the genre… Seriously, did you actually play through FF6? I’m pretty sure it coined that one.

  3. I don’t remember FFVI having enormous load times, lengthy animations for every action and 30-second summons. I also don’t remember FFVI having anything nearly as boring and asinine as the desert prison or the Gold Saucer. Maybe you played the ultra-rare FFVI: Special Crappy Edition where you had to sit idle for 10 seconds at the beginning of every battle?

  4. I watched last year as my girlfriend played through the whole of FF7. She loved it. She’s far and away from being a nerd. There’s something about that game that makes people love it. I know and understand all it’s faults, and yet I still love it. And I’d been playing RPG’s since “Final Fantasy 2”, so I can’t blame it on being new to CRPGs. But hey, I still regard Chrono Trigger as gamings greatest achievement, so all hope isn’t lost, right?

  5. Oh yeah. I keep forgetting that a lot of people reading the site are new and might actually take my off-the-cuff remarks seriously.

  6. Oh, come on, Parish! FFVII’s plot was anything BUT incomprehensible! I mean, once you realize that Sephiroth actually died of Mako exposure after being tossed into the lifestream by Cloud and that his corpse, after floating all the way up to the Promised Land, has become little more than a beacon/gathering point for all the other Jenova cultures/Sephiroth clones, and that every time you supposedly “meet” Sephiroth you’re actually meeting one of his clones who is in reality a giant headless naked woman, everything starts to fall into place. Like a puzzle. Not convoluted at all.

    I’m gonna go kill myself.

  7. The Japanese version of Mother 3 is more comprehensible than the English version of FF7.

  8. You forgot a category: People who like Final Fantasy VII enough to consider the recent flood of spinoffs like Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus as fanservice and not torture, but still consider other RPGs such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI to be way better. I’d fall into that one.

    I really liked Advent Children, and I’ll probably buy or at least rent Dirge, but man, if Square whored out FFVI and Chrono Trigger like they’re doing VII, I’d be shelling out money fast enough to leave friction burns on my wallet. That said, I don’t know that FFVII really deserved an entire page bashing it. Kefka certainly deserved praise, though.

  9. Have you played Dirge of Cerberus, Guy? It is so so bad. So very bad. Like “this should not be inflicted upon humans” bad. If that’s fanservice, I will happily sign up for torture instead.

  10. Parish, since you live in San Francisco, have you checked out zombietime.com at all? Basically, a guy goes to all the anarcho-communism-what-have-you rallies in the San Francisco area, takes pictures of all the shenanigans going on and provides amusing commentary. It actually makes me very glad that I live in the midwest.

  11. Keep on being your beautiful self man. Hatin’ on the seven comes naturally to people who’ve played good games. (Of course I’ve been playing Phantasy Star Online I&II so what do I know.)

  12. Guy: please do. Better yet, just watch the YouTubed video clips. The FMV is incredible, better than Advent Children by far. The gameplay itself is a clumsy blend of an on-rails shooter and DMC. Also, Gackt :(

  13. I always thought I was the only person I knew who realized that Advent Children was trash. Most people I talked to thought it was great. D:

    Although I have to say I do still think FF7 was a good game. It wasn’t a masterpiece and I couldn’t in good conscience agree with the slavering fanboys, but I liked it well enough and still do today. At the very least, until my dying day I will maintain that it was far better than FF8.

  14. Yeah, if you think San Francisco embraces/accepts pot, then come to Santa Cruz. But I guess Santa Cruz falls into the same league as Humboldt County (i.e. where pot is imbedded in the culture).

    Mr Raroo: While your colleague may be the worst librarian of all-time, we’re not all space-cases. And perhaps a little more relaxed than most.

  15. DoC is so bad that japanese game stores wont even buy it back any more. a week after it came out, you could walk into any store anywhere and see it for 20 bucks used, by the hundreds. SO BAD.

  16. Parish, you’re such a tease. I enjoyed VII. And I owned the first Final Fantasy for the NES (I was 7, never got past Garland). It certainly wasn’t great, but it was kinda fun. Not “Chrono” fun, but passable. Knights of the Round was God’s punishment, I’l give you that.

  17. “hours of unmitigated awesome?”; “broke the world in his quest for raw power, then ruled over the ruined remains with divine fury”. This is the good stuff. Over the years, it’s been delightful to see you grow. Um, as a writer, I mean.

  18. Thank you SO MUCH for getting rid of Gatsu’s comments. Yeesh. Oh, and getting vaguely back on topic, thanks also for bringing Ozric Tentacles to the attention of those of us who are kinda out of the prog rock loop. I grabbed a copy of Erpland based on your glowing recommendation and MAN, am I not disappointed. Good stuff.

  19. I see FF7 as an awkward, experimental phase Square was going through as it came to grips with those newfangled “polygonal 3D graphics” and “CD storage” fads. There were good intentions with the script, but these were hindered by terrible editing; furthermore, the recent influence of Evangelion only shoehorned the pointless religious symbolism and amateur psychology into the plot.

    I have to confess, however, that I was looking forward to DoC due to having been spoiled about the villains’ ultimate plot. But between these comments, and Vestal’s EGM hands-on, I think I’ll just look up the relevant character’s appearance on YouTube after all.

    If you can come up with this fervent deconstruction of FF7, though, it makes me wonder about how FF8 would hold up. I haven’t played it in at least five years, but I remember a) liking it far more than 7, and b) recognizing, even when it was brand new, that it was also weighed down with inappropriate design choices and forced narrative.

  20. I agree completely with this article. My problems with FF7 mostly come from the storyline and the characters. I felt that the game had become, at this point, too “Japanese-y” if you’ll excuse the expression. It’s basically the equivalent of having an inarticulate idiot tell you a story. It takes forever to get all of the details, and in the end it’s much too ridiculous (For some reason, I liked Xenogears’ story, even though it was like this). FF6 will always be the opus of the series for me, the story is so elegant and simple, it’s hard to explain why. I feel that FFX is probably the best story since 6, although again, I’m not really sure why that is.

    I’m pumped for FFXII because something about the footage and the scenes I’ve played give me a similar feeling of FF6’s evil empire/steampowered type era. I hope I’m not wrong!

    P.S. Earthbound has an amazing storyline as well, you should be kinder to it.

  21. The last FF I enjoyed after VI was IX. I can’t stand XIII or X. Although if it is as you say it is Mr. Parish then I egerly await XII.

    That has got to fill my roman numeral use quota for the rest of the year.

  22. And could someone tell Sierra to release a proper sequel to Betrayal At Krondor, the best RPG game ever created ever! Antara didn´t even had a story written by Raymond E. Feist. GIVE US A NEW BAK!
    I also imagine that if Squaresoft made a Betrayal at Krondor like game it could be pretty kick ass. I miss early 90’s rpg games, they were about stats and exploration more than about a lame ass story, there was suspension of disbelief because there was so much to do and explore that the world was full of mysteries your imagination had to fill up (and sometimes the game provided you with some answers, but usualy these led to more questions, a la Tolkien and the Ring Wraiths or Tom Bombadil).

  23. “There’s something about that game that makes people love it.” Yeah, the fact that people are fucking retarded.

  24. Holy crap, you’re right; Kefka IS dressed like a clown, and yet he’s a far more vicious adversary than Sephiroth

    I remember how FF VII initiated a lot of RPG n00bs who went on about Sephiroth’s evil deeds (town burnin’, Aeris stabbin’). They never did know the joy of Kefka’s badassery, of his poisoning Doma to pass the time on summer’s day, or of his frying towns with the Light of Judgement because someone looked at him funny.

  25. Kefka’s got a wicked laugh too. And tons of memorable Woolsley translation quotes!

  26. If you’ll excuse my backpeddling in the comments section here… From what you guys are saying about Dirge of Cerebus, I’m guessing it can be the new powerglove. Its so…. bad…

  27. I didn’t enjoy FF7 while I was playing it, except at the endgame. Perhaps this is because parts of it were spoiled for me, but I doubt it. More likely, it was because before FF7 I played and adored Wild Arms 1, and afterward the poor seven is overshadowed by FF8, which I rather liked and was in fact the last time I really dug a numbered Final Fantasy. Only the silly, crazy, grandiose final battle sequence draws me back from the FAQtard end of your tripartite scale–the highlight of a good article, by the way.
    Speaking objectively, FF7 is a perfectly playable, probably enjoyable, adequate, middle-of-the-line RPG. IT IS NOT CITIZEN KANE!


  28. jparish, no offense, but doesn’t this review make you one of those ‘venemously resentful people with emotional problems’? Hear me out, here. I’ve seen plenty of people who don’t like FFVII; only a few bothered to write rambling diatribes about it years after they played the game. You’re getting pretty worked up over a videogame.

  29. Bionicman: I got the feeling he wasn’t so much worked up over the game, as he was worked up over the “me too” effect it’s had on so many developer talents.

    “Young antisocial man helps magical girl cross the countryside, persued by silver-haired villain with obscure motives, while evil government tries to interfere with the forces of nature they know nothing about” is/was the new hot plot in RPGs, succeeding even “only the teenagers know how to safely control mankind’s greatest weapon.”

    Go play the GameCube version of Skies of Arcadia (for the love of all creation, avoid the Dreamcast version unless you really get your kics on lots of random battles) and you’ll see one of the most bland, stereotypical, vanilla products of FF7’s success ever made. Which is unfortunate since the game started with a unique little premise. But it isn’t long before it reverses into Giant Armageddon Machines sent by Mother Nature to teach men a lesson, the aristocratic politicians with the massive army trying to figure out how to manipulate those Armageddon Machines for their own use, and the pale master swordsman who travels alone and has mysterious reasons for doing what he does.

    Seriously, I’m not making ANY of that up. FF7 had about a five-year impact on RPGs where almost every story felt like they were written by George Lucas. At least they’ve now grown up to “pointless Schwartzenegger flick” status.

  30. japanese rpgs after the mid 90s are like hindi movies- they have only three scripts to choose from, and the only real differences are the songs and the character names.

  31. FFVII was, if nothing else, was definately in the right place at the right time. In retrospect, I find the game extraordinary mediocre (which might be an oxymoron, but eh).

    Really, while FFVII gets (and deserves) most of the credit for mainstreaming the genre here in America, I think the game that really primed Japanese rpgs for the mainstream was Super Mario RPG. It was a much more simple game, but had boatloads more charm and personality, and it presented the genre in a context even the most casual gamers could dig into. Many of my friends sank their teeth in rpgs the first time on SMRPG game, but didn’t get hooked to the genre until FFVII.

    Oh, and in the realm of villians, Kefka beats the stuffing out of Sephy anyday. Then steals his lunch money.

  32. I can’t help but notice how Final Fantasy VII drew a tad of attention towards the site. Love or hate, such is its power over gamers. Perhaps we could harness it and abandon fossil fuel altogether.

  33. I need to tell my Final Fantasy VII story, because this game was very influential in my videogame purchasing in a very good way, and was almost just as influential in a very bad way. Like many, I got a PlayStation for Final Fantasy VII. I knew the CG wasn’t the actual gameplay, but still, I saw the game running and thought it looked pretty snazzy, and I absolutely loved Final Fantasy III (VI, whatever) so I saved up my pennies and bought a PlayStation and a copy of FFVII. Noticing I still had $20 left, I picked up a copy of Castlevania: Symphone of the Night, too. Because, hey, Castlevania has never done me wrong (this was before Castlevania 64).
    I hurriedly took my new prize home and hooked it up. It was New Years eve and my sister was holding a party in my house, but I didn’t care – I just shoved aside anyone in front of the TV so I could get my game on. So, I popped in Final Fantasy VII, and played for a few hours… and was drastically disappointed. I was actually BORED. So shattered was I that I nearly considered returning the Playstation. But, before doing this, I decided I may as well try the other game I got. So, I popped Castlevania into the system… and quickly became hooked. Game didn’t leave the system for a few weeks at least.
    Ultimately, I’ve come to terms with Final Fantasy VII, and I don’t hate it anymore. I just think it was (and still is) ridiculously overrated.

  34. What I hate about VII’s fans is that they are directly responsible for VIII’s bad rap. I mean, it’s not my favorite either, but the difference between the two is like shit and chocolate.

  35. I’m not the biggest Final Fantasy VII fan. Personally I think the two Lunar games have more to offer then the entire series.

    But VII does get crapped on way more then necessary.

    Its the Ridley Scott of videogames, once a geek gets to a certain level of knowledge they feel the need to disparge it since they know normal people like it, and they feel the insecure need to show they’re better then the rabble.

    Hell if it doesn’t have subtitles then how are you to know if its any good or not?

  36. “In the realm of villians, Kefka beats the stuffing out of Sephy anyday. Then steals his lunch money.” And laughs about it.

  37. When did quibbling over the definition of “Role-Playing Game” come back in style? J-RPGs have nothing in common with tabletop role-playing? You don’t say! I also hear that Cloud’s sword is, like, way too big, and Sephiroth is in fact too pretty to be a plausible warrior.

  38. Really, when it comes down to it, genres are increasingly blending and diversifying to the point that arguing over how a game should be defined in terms of genre is increasingly asinine. Someone wants to call Secret of Mana a role-playing game and you know they should be calling it an action-adventure? It’s… well, not that important. Is Oblivion an RPG? A real-time RPG? An action-RPG? An action-adventure? A US-style RPG? A PC-style RPG? A first-person RPG? A sandbox game? A sandbox RPG? A cross-genre title? Argue any of these and you may be right, but argue any of these and viciously attack anyone that disagrees with you, and you’re taking the whole “genre” thing wayyyyy too seriously.

  39. its true, FFVII was one of my first coherently remembered RPGs. I blame my youth.

    also typo alert: “Kefka” is spelled “Kekfa” the second time you say it… i beleive in the one like paragraph that went “advantage: kefka” or something along those lines.

    Nice criticisms, I never did really get the FFVII plot completly, especially the ending, but I like the materia system better than than FFVI’s system which confused my silly little self. maybe I just wansn’t paying attention.

  40. I’ll grant FF7 is overrated, but come on, didn’t you just get through singing the praises of Chrono Cross? Like THAT’S not a fucking gold standard for “stiflingly linear narrative-driven adventure games bogged down with excessive menu-driven combat” or “incomprehensibly dense plots with at least two obligatory twists, usually centered around the protagonist’s conveniently forgotten connection to the villain or crisis at hand”.

    And did it really take you longer to finish 7 than 6? I blew through 7 in 35 hours my first time, well under what it took me to beat 6.

    “Maybe you played the ultra-rare FFVI: Special Crappy Edition where you had to sit idle for 10 seconds at the beginning of every battle?”

    Yeah, that one was on the PlayStation.

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