Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII

The North American cover portrays the protagonist, Cloud, wielding his oversized Buster Sword
Developer(s) Square Co., Ltd.
Publisher(s) JP Square Co., Ltd. (PS1)

NA SCE America (PS1)
INT Square Co., Ltd. (PS1)
PAL SCE Europe (PS1)

NA Eidos Interactive (WIN)
Designer(s) Hironobu Sakaguchi (game producer)
Yoshinori Kitase (game director, scenario)
Tetsuya Nomura (character designer)
Kazushige Nojima (scenario)
Yoshitaka Amano (image illustrator)
Nobuo Uematsu (composer)
Series Final Fantasy series
Release date(s) JP January 31, 1997 (PS1)
NA September 7, 1997 (PS1)
INT October 2, 1997 (PS1)
PAL November 17, 1997 (PS1)[1]
NA June 24, 1998 (WIN)
Genre(s) Role-playing game
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ESRB: T (Teen)
USK: 12+
ELSPA: 11+
PEGI: 12+
Platform(s) Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Windows
Media 3 CD-ROMs (PS1)
System requirements 133 MHz Intel Pentium CPU, 32 MB RAM, 2 MB video card RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, DirectX 5.0, 260 MB available hard disk space, Windows 95 or Windows 98 (WIN)
Input Keyboard, mouse, or joystick (WIN)
PlayStation controller (PS1)

Final Fantasy VII (ファイナルファンタジーVII Fainaru Fantajī Sebun?) is a console role-playing game (RPG) developed and published by Square Co., Ltd. (now Square Enix). Released in 1997, it was the first game in the Final Fantasy series to be produced for the Sony PlayStation, the first to be ported to Windows-based computers, and the first to use 3D computer graphics[2] featuring fully rendered characters on pre-rendered backgrounds.[3][4][5]

The game's story centers on a group of adventurers as they battle a powerful mega corporation called "Shinra", which is draining the life of the planet to use as an energy source. As the story progresses, conflicts escalate and the world's safety becomes a major concern.

A major critical and commercial success, the game remains arguably the most popular title in the series,[6][7] and is often credited with allowing RPGs to achieve mainstream success outside Japan.[6] The ongoing popularity of the title led Square Enix to produce a series of sequels and prequels in the early-to-mid-2000s under the collective title "Compilation of Final Fantasy VII".




Like previous installments of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy VII consists of three basic gameplay modes: an overworld map, town and dungeon field maps, and a battle screen. The overworld map is a 3D display, featuring a scaled-down simplified version of the game's fictional world,[3][8] which the player navigates to travel between the game's locations. As with the preceding games in the series, the world map can be traversed by foot, by chocobo, by airship, or by other means of transportation.[8] On field maps, the game's 3D playable characters are directed across realistically-scaled environments, consisting of 2D pre-rendered backgrounds that represent locations such as towns or forests.[3] The battle screen is a 3D representation of an area such as a building interior or grassland, in which the player commands the game's characters in battles against CPU-controlled enemies through a menu-driven interface.[3][9]

Initially, the player is restricted to travel within a single city, but as the game continues, more areas become accessible, and the scripted adventure sequences gradually yield more freedom to explore.[8] Progression through the game's storyline is largely developed by way of scripted sequences, which cannot be skipped, and require frequent player interaction to proceed. At other times, pre-rendered cinematic cut scenes advance the story.



During its turn-based battle sequences, the game uses the same Active Time Battle (ATB) system of the three preceding Final Fantasy games. Unlike previous games in the series, which allow 4-5 playable characters to participate in battle, Final Fantasy VII allows for only three characters to be present in the party at any one time.[3]

Final Fantasy VII's skill system is built around the use of materia, magical orbs that are placed in special slots on weapons and armor, allowing characters access to magic spells, summons, and special abilities. In addition to their individual traits, materia can be used together in a fixed number of ways to enhance their effects or produce other abilities.[10][11]

A modified form of Final Fantasy VI's Desperation Attacks appears here as the Limit Break.[12] Every playable character has a bar that gradually fills up when they suffer damage in battle. When the bar is completely filled, the character is able to access his or her Limit Break, a special attack which generally inflicts significantly more damage on an enemy than normal attacks, or otherwise aids the party in battle.[3][9] Character designer and battle director Tetsuya Nomura implemented this advanced form of Desperation Attacks in response to the low probability of their occurrence in Final Fantasy VI, where they would randomly become available as an attack substitution only when a character's hit points (a numerically based life bar) were low.[12]

Nomura decided to incorporate elaborate summon spells in the game, one of which lasts more than a minute.[12] This idea became popular with Final Fantasy fans, and they were incorporated into the development of future games in the series.[12] However, critics have described these animations as tedious.[13]





The game's setting follows in the footsteps of Final Fantasy VI by presenting a world with considerably more advanced technology than the first five games in the series. Overall, the game's technology and society approximates that of modern or near-future science fiction.[14][15] The world of Final Fantasy VII, named "Gaia",[16] is comprised of three land masses. The eastern continent features the city of Midgar, an industrial metropolis that serves as the headquarters of the Shinra Electric Power Company, a ruthless mega corporation that operates as the de facto world government. Shinra's major military base, Junon, is also located on the continent, along with a chocobo ranch and several small towns.

The western continent features most of the playable areas, which include an amusement park, a seaside resort, and a settlement constructed on a plateau called "Cosmo Canyon". The tribe inhabiting the canyon places a strong emphasis on living in harmony with nature and dedicate great consideration to its well-being.[17] Their settlement features an observatory and serves as a research facility for those who wish to participate in a philosophy known as "the Study of Planet Life", an environmentally conscious way of life that encourages utmost deference for nature, and teaches that the planet has a life of its own.[17] The northernmost continent is a heavily glaciated wasteland covered in snow and ice, with its few settlements largely concerned with excavation or research. It does, however, feature a ski resort. There are also underwater locations accessible via submarine.

The Shinra Company began as a small weapons research and development corporation, but within one generation achieved global political dominance due to their discovery of mako energy,[18] a power source derived from a green ethereal substance that forms within the planet's core. Siphoning this substance from the planet via facilities called "mako reactors", the company soon discovered that it could be used both to provide electricity and create small orbs called "materia" that would grant humans magical powers.[18] Moreover, they learned that if infused directly into the bodies of strong and healthy individuals, the energy would provide permanent superhuman abilities. Quickly establishing a monopoly on the development of mako energy and the production of materia, Shinra manufactured a line of superhuman warriors called "SOLDIER". Dispatching this army, the company brought a rapid end to a worldwide conflict that had lasted several years. In the postwar society that followed, daily dependence on mako and materia allowed Shinra to quickly establish worldwide rule.[18]

Following the establishment of Shinra's control, eight towns in the corporation's vicinity were united as a single city, becoming Midgar.[19] Catering to the upper class, Shinra expressed little concern for the welfare of Midgar's poorer citizens, constructing a seventy-story skyscraper to serve as their headquarters while erecting a massive metal plate over the city for upper class citizens to live and work upon. In the meantime, the lower half of the city became known as the "slums", its view of the sky obstructed and its air polluted. Many citizens living in these conditions became malnourished or otherwise unhealthy, but Shinra did little to assist them.[20]

Shinra's operations began to face opposition, however, from those who believed that the use of mako energy was depleting the spiritual essence of the planet, a massive swell of ethereal matter the Study of Planet Life referred to as the "Lifestream". The philosophy explained that this energy wave was not only the life force of the planet, but the source of life for all lifeforms living upon it. Those who followed the lifestyle referred to mako energy as "spirit energy" instead, a term that would fall into disfavor as the populace became increasingly dependent on mako. The Study of Planet Life held that when an organism was conceived, it was given a small amount of the planet's own spirit to live. As the lifeform grew, its accumulated life experiences would allow its spirit energy to grow as well, such that when the organism died, its spiritual energy would return to the planet's core, enriched by its experiences in life, allowing the Lifestream as a whole to grow.[21][22] Those who followed the philosophy argued that Shinra's activities were sucking up the life force of the planet and slowly weakening, with the inevitable result being the death of the entire world and all creatures living upon it.[21][23]

One devoted follower to the Study of Planet Life decided that the only way to prevent the world's destruction was to oppose Shinra by violent means, forming an eco-terrorist organization called "AVALANCHE".[21] The organization began a long guerrilla war with Shinra, focusing on attacking mako reactors and performing repeated assassination attempts upon the company's president.[24] Though the original incarnation of AVALANCHE was eventually defeated due to the efforts of Shinra's elite espionage and assassination division, the Turks, a smaller unit bearing the same name and objective was later established by Barret Wallace, one of the game's main characters.[21][24]



The main playable characters in Final Fantasy VII are Cloud Strife, an unsociable mercenary who serves as the game's protagonist and claims to be a former 1st Class member of Shinra's SOLDIER unit;[25] Aeris Gainsborough (named "Aerith" in later Final Fantasy VII titles and the Kingdom Hearts series), a flower merchant living in the slums of Midgar who has been pursued by Shinra operatives since she was a child;[26][27] Tifa Lockhart, a childhood friend of Cloud's with romantic feelings toward him, and a desire for revenge against Shinra for the destruction of her hometown; Barret Wallace, the impatient leader of the second incarnation of the anti-Shinra organization AVALANCHE, who bears a grudge against the corporation for razing his hometown, and causing the deaths of his friends and family;[28] Red XIII, a wise lion-like creature capable of speech who was experimented on by Shinra scientists; Yuffie Kisaragi, the young, bitter princess of Wutai, a nation descended from ninjas that was defeated by Shinra in a war several years before the events of Final Fantasy VII began;[29][30] Cid Highwind, a pilot whose dreams of being the first man in outer space were crushed when he canceled his rocket's launch to save the life of one of his assistants, leading to the withdrawing of the Shinra Company's funding of a space program;[31][32] Cait Sith, a fortune-telling cat who rides a magically animated stuffed moogle doll;[33] and Vincent Valentine, a former member of Shinra's Turks unit who was killed and brought back to life as an immortal through experimental anatomic reconstruction.[34][35][36]

All of the game's main characters have had significant ties to the Shinra Company in their past, and all harbor disapproval or outright hatred for the corporation and its activities. Although the antagonists for the first portion of the game are the Shinra executives, a mysterious man named "Sephiroth" — once hailed as the greatest SOLDIER — reappears several years after disappearing in a battle in which he was concluded to have died.[37][38] He is soon revealed to be the most immediate threat to the planet, prompting both AVALANCHE and the Shinra Company to take up the position of defending it, though their methods differ significantly.[39]

The game's character designer, Tetsuya Nomura, has expressed feeling that Final Fantasy VII was hindered by graphical limitations, and that his designs were, consequently, very plain in comparison to his "true" style.[12] However, he was able to find other means of expressing some of his ideas. Cloud's original character design called for slicked back black hair with no spikes, intended to serve as a contrast to Sephiroth's long, flowing silver hair. To give Cloud a unique feature that would emphasize his role in the game as the main character, Nomura changed the design to feature Cloud's now trademark shock of spiky, bright blond hair.[12] For Tifa's design, Nomura has admitted to facing a difficult decision in choosing to give her a miniskirt or pants. With input from other members of the game's development staff, he eventually selected a dark miniskirt, contrasted by Aeris' long, pink dress.[12]

Vincent Valentine's character developed from horror researcher to detective, then to chemist, and finally to the figure of a former Turk with a tragic past. It has been explained that his crimson mantle was added to symbolize the idea of carrying a heavy weight on his shoulders associated with death. Nomura has indicated that Cid Highwind's fighting style resembles that of a Dragon Knight, a character class so chosen because his last name is the same as that of two previous Dragon Knights featured in the Final Fantasy series, Ricard Highwind of Final Fantasy II and Kain Highwind of Final Fantasy IV.[12]

Due to their popularity, several characters from the game have made cameo appearances in other Square Enix titles, most notably the fighting game Ehrgeiz and the popular Final Fantasy-Disney crossover series Kingdom Hearts. Sephiroth remains one of the most popular villains in video game history, unanimously voted #1 by the staff of gaming publication Electronic Gaming Monthly in their "Top 10 Video Game Bosses" list in October 2005.[40] During spring of the same year, the character won GameFAQs' best villain contest.[41]



The story of Final Fantasy VII begins as the protagonist, Cloud Strife, joins the anti-Shinra organization AVALANCHE in a bombing raid on one of eight mako reactors that surround the city of Midgar. The mako reactor is destroyed and the group makes their way back to their base.[21] En route, Cloud encounters Aeris Gainsborough, a flower merchant. During their next mission, AVALANCHE is trapped by President Shinra and a robotic guard before they can escape the mako reactor that they have rigged to explode. Although they defeat the guard, the reactor's explosion sends Cloud hurtling from the upper levels of Midgar into the slums below. Falling through the roof of a derelict church in Sector 5, he lands on a flower bed unharmed, where he is formally introduced to Aeris.[42] Cloud agrees to work for Aeris as her bodyguard, an agreement prompted by the arrival of operatives of the Shinra Company's Turks organization, who have been ordered to capture Aeris.[43]

After the player defends Aeris from her would-be kidnappers, Cloud accepts her offer to show him the way back to Sector 7. Along the way, she reveals that her first boyfriend had been a 1st Class SOLDIER, as Cloud claims to have been. The two spot Tifa entering Wall Market, an area of Sector 6 infamous for criminal activity, to which they follow her. After infiltrating the mansion of crime boss Don Corneo, the three learn that Shinra has discovered the location of AVALANCHE's hideout and plan to collapse the upper level of Sector 7 onto the slums below.[44] Despite AVALANCHE's efforts to prevent it, Shinra successfully destroys Sector 7, killing its population and three members of AVALANCHE. The Turks finally capture Aeris, who the player learns is the last living member of an ancient race called the "Cetra".[45] The Cetra, it is explained, are closely attuned with the planet. Therefore, President Shinra believes that Aeris can lead him to a mythical land of fertility known as the "Promised Land", which Shinra expects to be ripe with mako energy that can be easily harvested.[46]

As the only remaining members of AVALANCHE, Tifa, Barret and Cloud infiltrate Shinra's headquarters to rescue Aeris. After freeing her and the lion-like Red XIII, who joins the party, they escape when most of the personnel in the building — including President Shinra — are slaughtered. Finding the body of President Shinra skewered by a long sword, Cloud suspects the acclaimed SOLDIER Sephiroth has returned from his presumed death. These suspicions are confirmed by an executive spared during the massacre, who claims to have witnessed Sephiroth murder the president and state that he would never allow Shinra to claim the Promised Land.[47] The party also learns that during Sephiroth's attack on Shinra, the headless body of a creature named "Jenova" disappeared from the building's research facility.[48]

While President Shinra's son, Rufus, assumes control of the Shinra Company, AVALANCHE pursues Sephiroth across the planet, fearing his intentions for the Promised Land may be more destructive than Shinra's. During this pursuit, the group gains several new members: Yuffie Kisaragi, Cait Sith, Vincent Valentine and Cid Highwind. As the journey progresses, each member of the group must come to terms with personal conflicts from their past, and the full scope of Sephiroth's plan is eventually revealed to the player: if the planet is significantly damaged, the Lifestream within will gather at the point of injury, attempting to heal the wound. Sephiroth explains that he intends to use a powerful spell known as "Meteor" to fatally injure the planet, inciting a reaction in the Lifestream to heal the wound before it can cause the planet's destruction. Entering the fissure created by the meteor's impact, Sephiroth would merge with all the energy of the planet, granting him god-like power over it.[49] At an ancient temple erected by the Cetra, AVALANCHE attempts to undermine Sephiroth's plot by claiming the Black Materia needed to activate Meteor, but Sephiroth displays a mysterious power over Cloud, forcing him to relinquish it.

Fearing that Sephiroth may cast Meteor, and having gained a greater understanding of her heritage from scholars in Cosmo Canyon and the memories of her ancestors in the Cetra's temple, Aeris sets off to stop him on her own. Concerned for her safety, AVALANCHE follows her to the northern continent, where the player must enter an ancient Cetra city. After finding Aeris praying to the planet for aid, Sephiroth, unseen, begins affecting Cloud's behavior once again, and attempts to force him to kill her. Though Cloud resists Sephiroth's command, Sephiroth himself appears and impales Aeris, killing her.[40][50] After laying her body to rest, the surviving characters resolve to defeat Sephiroth and avenge her.

Later, Sephiroth begins causing Cloud to doubt his memories and insists that he is not a real human, but rather a specimen created from Jenova's genetic material by Professor Hojo of the Shinra Company. Jenova, the player learns, was an interstellar creature who crashlanded on the planet approximately 2000 years earlier, arriving via travel on a meteor. This collision formed a large impact crater, grievously harming the planet.[51][52] Jenova soon emerged from the crater, intending to infect all living organisms on the planet with a virus that would induce insanity and incite monstrous transformations.[53] Among its victims were most of the Cetra, who were approached when Jenova used its mimic abilities to appear as their relatives. Attempting to defend itself, the planet created giant monsters called "WEAPONs", while the majority of humans fled rather than fight Jenova. However, a small group of Cetra survivors fought to defend the planet and managed to defeat Jenova, confining it within the fissure created by its landing.[54] Afterward, the WEAPONs entered hibernation to await any future threat that could harm the planet. Eventually, the mummified remains of Jenova would be unearthed by Professor Gast, a researcher for the Shinra Company. Mistaking the creature for a Cetra, Gast was given authorization to conduct an experiment to artificially produce a Cetra by combining cells from Jenova with the fetus of an unborn child.[53]

Five years before the present-day events seen by the player, Sephiroth learned that he was the product of this experiment while on a Shinra mission in Nibelheim, the hometown of Cloud and Tifa. However, unaware of all details involved, he concluded that he was a Cetra who had been produced solely from Jenova's genetic material. Enraged, he burned down the town, intending to kill all descendants of those he believed had abandoned his ancestors in the defense of the planet. According to Cloud, he confronted Sephiroth during this massacre, after which Sephiroth vanished under unknown circumstances and was presumed dead until his reappearance in the Shinra building. When AVALANCHE reaches the Northern Crater, Sephiroth tells Cloud that he was not in Nibelheim, showing him images of a 1st Class SOLDIER with dark hair who occupies Cloud's place in his memories.[55] With Tifa unable to refute Sephiroth's claims, Cloud breaks down and allows him to cast Meteor, resulting in the WEAPONs' awakening. During the earthquake that follows, Cloud is separated from his companions and falls into the Lifestream.

As the meteor summoned by Sephiroth slowly approaches the planet, the Shinra Company focuses its efforts on protecting humanity from the WEAPONs,[39] who have begun to perceive everything as a threat to the planet. Meanwhile, AVALANCHE searches for Cloud, eventually locating him on a tropical resort island where he washed up following the casting of Meteor, they learn that he is in a catatonic state. The WEAPONs' destructive activity quickly causes the island to split open, depositing Cloud and Tifa into the Lifestream below. There, she reconstructs Cloud's memories and learn the truth about his past. Although the player learns that he is a real human being and had actually been in Nibelheim during Sephiroth's attack, he never actually succeeded in joining SOLDIER and only managed to attain the rank of private in Shinra's military. The player learns that the previously-seen dark-haired SOLDIER is named "Zack", and was Aeris' first boyfriend. During Sephiroth's destruction of Nibelheim, Zack, Tifa and Cloud fought Sephiroth in Nibelheim's mako reactor. Although Tifa and Zack were defeated, Cloud and Sephiroth severely wounded one another. After decapitating the body of Jenova, which had been stored in the mako reactor, Sephiroth fell into the Lifestream, taking the creature's head with him. Rather than dying, however, his body and consciousness were preserved in mako inside Jenova's crater.

While Tifa was taken to safety in Midgar, where she joined AVALANCHE, Cloud and Zack were among the wounded survivors who were apprehended by Shinra as part an elaborate cover-up of Sephiroth's massacre. Professor Hojo subjected these survivors to an experiment, in which he performed the same enhancements given to members of SOLDIER. However, because Hojo conducted the experiment without any concern for the subjects' mental capacities to handle the procedure, all but Zack entered a comatose state. Nearly five years later, Zack broke free from his confinement and took Cloud with him. The player learns that the procedure used to enhance members of SOLDIER involved both mako showers and the injection of cells from Jenova. The alien cells inhabiting Cloud's body allowed his mind to construct a false persona, built around Zack's behavior, fighting style, and description of Sephiroth's destruction in Nibelheim, but they also allowed Sephiroth to modulate his behavior. The cells' inherent ability to duplicate information led Cloud to believe that he had been the 1st Class SOLDIER in Nibelheim, as Zack was shot and killed outside Midgar by pursuing Shinra soldiers, shortly before the beginning of the game. Afterward, Tifa discovered Cloud, who was wearing Zack's spare uniform, and offered him a job with AVALANCHE.[53]

With the truth revealed, Cloud awakens and rejoins AVALANCHE. The player learns that, in her final moments, Aeris was casting a spell known as "Holy", the only means of opposing Meteor. Though she succeeds, Sephiroth's focused will prevents the spell from taking effect and has been restraining it since. Deciding that humanity must be protected from the WEAPONs before Sephiroth can be approached, Shinra and AVALANCHE destroy the WEAPONs, but nearly all of Shinra's executives are killed in the process. Among the few survivors are Reeve Tuesti, revealed to be the repentant controller of Cait Sith,[56] and Professor Hojo, who is revealed to be Sephiroth's father. He explains that he and his wife were assistants to Professor Gast, and offered up their unborn child as a test subject to research involving Jenova.[53][57] When Hojo attempts to help Sephiroth to gain mastery over the Lifestream afterward, AVALANCHE is given no choice but to fight and kill him.

With each member of AVALANCHE at peace with their past and all other opponents defeated, the group travels through the mantle of the planet to its core, where they defeat Sephiroth and free Holy. However, due to Meteor's already close proximity to the planet's surface, Holy is unable to destroy it alone. Selected as Meteor's target, Midgar is almost completely destroyed by the storms that spawn from its presence. However, sent by Aeris' spirit, the Lifestream itself rises from the planet to aid Holy by pushing Meteor away, allowing Holy to destroy it.[58] During the epilogue that follows, the ruins of Midgar are shown five hundred years later. While the landscape had once been desolate due to Shinra's operations, it is now a land of lush greenery.



Development of Final Fantasy VII began late in 1995,[50][59] and required the efforts of more than one hundred artists and programmers[59][60] using such software as PowerAnimator and Softimage XSI,[50] and a budget of approximately US$45 million.[61] Final Fantasy VI's director and scenario writer, Yoshinori Kitase, returned to direct and co-write this installment of the series and expressed a concern that the franchise might be left behind if it did not catch up to the 3D computer graphics used in other games at the time.[2] Production then began after the development of a short, experimental technology demo for Silicon Graphics Onyx workstations.[59] Called "Final Fantasy SGI", the demo featured polygon-based 3D renderings of characters from Final Fantasy VI in a real-time battle and incorporated interactive elements.[59][62][63] This experiment led the development team to decide to integrate these design mechanics into Final Fantasy VII.[59] However, as a result of the high quantity of memory storage required to implement the motion data, 3D models and computer graphics effects involved, it was decided that only the CD-ROM format would be able to suit the project's needs.[50][59][61][62] Nintendo, for whom Square had developed all previous titles in the Final Fantasy series, had decided to continue to use cartridges for their upcoming Nintendo 64 console. As a result, Square decided to end their long, often tumultuous, relationship with the publisher and announced on January 12, 1996 that they would be developing Final Fantasy VII for Sony's PlayStation system.[50][61][62]

The transition from 2D computer graphics to 3D environments overlaid on pre-rendered backgrounds[3][4][5] was accompanied by a focus on a more realistic presentation, which challenged the development team. According to Kitase, "Right from the time the decision to go with CD was made he [producer Hironobu Sakaguchi] set down a ground rule for the team saying, 'If the player becomes aware of the access times, we have failed'", demanding that an immersive atmosphere be upheld, which led to the programming of various animations to activate while the game loaded data.[50] While the extra storage capacity and computer graphics to which the team now had access gave them the means to implement more than 40 minutes of full motion video movies[50] — an unprecedented undertaking in the genre at the time[50][61] — this innovation brought with it the added difficulty of ensuring that the inferiority of the in-game graphics in comparison to the FMV sequences was not too obvious. Kitase has described the process of making the in-game environments as detailed as possible to be "a daunting task".[50] Among the difficulties faced was the potential inability to render 3D polygon models based on the designs of Yoshitaka Amano, the series' long-time character designer. As his style was considered too exquisite to be compatible with the visual format of the project, this issue was addressed by bringing Tetsuya Nomura onboard as the project's main artist, while Amano aided in the design of the game's world map.[61] Previously a monster designer for Final Fantasy V,[64] Nomura's style was more reminiscent of manga, and considered easier to adapt.[61] Another problem faced during development was a rushed production schedule. Veteran series composer Nobuo Uematsu commented in the liner notes of the game's soundtrack: "There is one thing common in all the Final Fantasy games. None of them are complete". Despite delaying the game's release from December 1996 to January 1997, several additions to gameplay and story needed to be made for the game's North American release,[4][61] prompting a rerelease in Japan under the title "Final Fantasy VII International".[61]

Art director Yusuke Naora refers to the game's atmosphere as "strong [and] dark",[65] achieved through lighting effects that he considers "the darkest of darkest",[66] and a story that emphasised realism while drawing on a variety of myths, legends, and religious and philosophical systems to "[use] as a framework for loftier ethical aspirations and ecologically conscious evangelism".[2][50] These concepts were reflected in names, such as "Sephiroth",[67] Cloud's personal conflicts, the permanence of Aeris' death and the plot element of the Lifestream.[50][2] Tetsuya Nomura has explained that, during the early stages of development, the game was to have featured only Cloud, Barret and Aeris, with the intention that one of the three would die.[2] Feeling that Cloud could not die due to his leading role and that the death of characters such as Barret was already too great a cliché in the Final Fantasy series and fiction in general, he expressed frustration with the frequent presentation of death in fiction as an awe-inspiring, often romantic idea centered around sacrifice and resurrection. As a result, he suggested that Aeris die and not return, believing the audience would not expect such a development and that it would emphasise the sudden, harsh, and irreversible nature of death.[2][50][61] Alternatively, Sakaguchi based the philosophy of the Lifestream on ideas from cultures who believe in an invisible, inextinguishable energy that permeates planets and all life upon them, and was given its in-game representation by Kitase.[50]

Members of the development team have revealed that they intended some aspects of the game's story to be left open to the interpretation of individual players.[12][68][69] Scenario writer Kazushige Nojima has explained that he intended players to feel encouraged to speculate about what Cloud might be thinking in certain situations rather than be provided with actual insight into what he felt.[14][50] The game's ending left the fate of the characters ambiguous until the release of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children in 2005,[70][71] but the ultimate fate of humanity remained unclear nonetheless. At the time of Advent Children's release, Kitase suggested that the game's epilogue may signify the extinction of human beings.[2] However, Nomura has since stated that the game's final scene symbolizes humans living in harmony with nature,[72] and Square has provided explanations for other details of the game's plot with the publication of the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω guidebook.

The game's release in North America was preceded by a massive three month marketing campaign for which Sony allocated a US$100 million budget. The high-profile campaign consisted of three 30-second television commercials on major networks, a holiday promotion with Pepsi, and printed ads in publications such as Rolling Stone, Details, Spin, Playboy and comic books published by Marvel and DC.[61][73][74] In 1998, a PC version of Final Fantasy VII was ported to Windows. This rerelease featured smoother graphics, though it suffered from various glitches.[61][75][76]



The soundtrack for Final Fantasy VII was provided by the series' veteran composer, Nobuo Uematsu. Instead of recorded music and sound effects for the game, Uematsu opted for MIDIs, using the PlayStation's own internal sound chip. He has explained that he chose this method because it allowed the console's CPU to process audio data more quickly, which in turn allowed it to focus more on processing the game's 3D engine and to prevent noticeable load times. The game was originally intended to feature a vocal piece, but this was cut due to the limitations imposed by recorded audio. However, a song with full choral backing is heard in "One-Winged Angel".[61]

The game's soundtrack was commercially released on four compact discs;[77][78] a single-disc album of selected arranged tracks, entitled "Final Fantasy VII: Reunion Tracks", was released separately.[79][80] A piano-only arrangement of selected tracks has also been produced,[81] and several remixed versions of tracks from the game have surfaced in subsequent Square productions, including Final Fantasy VII Advent Children[82][83] and Kingdom Hearts.[84]



Final Fantasy VII was both a critical and commercial success, and set several sales records. Within three days of its January 1997 release in Japan, the game had sold 2.3 million copies.[61] This popularity inspired thousands of retailers in North America to break street dates in September to meet public demand for the title.[85] In the game's debut weekend in North America, it sold 330,000 copies,[86] and had reached sales of 500,000 units in less than three weeks.[87] The momentum built in the game's opening weeks continued for several months; Sony announced that the game had sold one million copies on the continent by early December,[88] prompting one business analyst to comment that "Sony redefined the role-playing game (RPG) category and expanded the conventional audience with the launch of Final Fantasy VII".[88]

Although Square's announcement that Final Fantasy VII would be produced for Sony rather than Nintendo and that it would not be based on the Final Fantasy SGI demo was initially met with discontent among gamers,[62][63] the game continues to maintain a strong following. It placed second in the "Top 100 Favorite Games of All Time" poll by Japanese magazine Famitsu during March 2006,[89] while users of the video game website GameFAQs voted Final Fantasy VII as the "Best Game Ever"[90] in November 2005, a little more than one year after it won the site's "Best. Game. Ever." tournament in 2004.[91]


Critical response

The game received extremely favorable reviews from many well-known gaming publications. GameFan called it "quite possibly the greatest game ever made",[61] while GameSpot commented that "[n]ever before have technology, playability, and narrative combined as well as in Final Fantasy VII", expressing particular favor toward the game's graphics, audio and story. The UK-based publication Edge gave the game a 9/10,[92] and Electronic Gaming Monthly granted a 9.5/10, claiming that "No other RPG can pull off a cinematic experience like Final Fantasy VII".[5] At the time of release, multimedia website IGN insisted that "FF7's graphics are light years beyond anything ever seen on the PlayStation", held that its plot "is deep ... and epic", and regarded its battle system as its strongest point.[3] One RPGamer staff reviewer praised the game's soundtrack "both in variety and sheer volume", suggesting that "Uematsu has done his work exceptionally well" and "is perhaps at his best here".[93]

Final Fantasy VII has received negative criticism, as well. GameSpy rated it 7th on their "25 Most Overrated Games" list in September 2003, saying, "Most FF aficionados will tell you that VII, while very good, is hardly the best game in the series".[94] While giving the game an overall 5/5, Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine questioned the game's highly linear progression,[95] as did GameSpot.[4] OPM considered the game's translation "a bit muddy, causing unnecessary confusion and clouding the fine story", sentiments echoed by one member of RPGamer's staff who suggested that "[the game] is far from perfect", citing its translation as "packed with typos and other errors which further obscure what is already a very confusing plot".[71] GamePro also considered the Japanese-to-English translation a significant weakness in the game,[76] and IGN regarded the option to use only three characters at a time as "the game's only shortcoming".[3] Overall, the game has earned a 92% universal approval rating from critics on Metacritic and Game Rankings.[96][97]

The game has also been the subject of criticism from parental groups concerned with violence in video games, particularly in the wake of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Following the event, several parents of children murdered in the massacre filed a US$5 billion lawsuit against companies that published and developed video and computer games. Among the co-defendants were Eidos Interactive, publisher of the PC version of the game, with Final Fantasy VII cited as their offending contribution.[98][99]



Final Fantasy VII is regarded as one of the most influential titles in the history of video games. It is credited with allowing RPGs to find a place in markets outside Japan, and remains arguably the most popular title in the Final Fantasy series.[6][7] In January 2005, it was selected by Electronic Gaming Monthly as 6th on their list of "the 10 most important games ... that helped redefine the industry since ... 1989". Citing its "beautiful cut-scenes and a deep, introspective narrative", they claimed that "Square’s game was ... the first RPG to surpass, instead of copy, movielike storytelling", and that, without it, "Aeris wouldn’t have died, and gamers wouldn’t have learned how to cry".[100] The game's popularity and open-ended nature also led the director and writer to establish a plot-related connection between Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X, another popular Final Fantasy title.[70]

The game's legacy includes the acceptance and standard inclusion of FMV sequences in RPGs,[61] as well as significant advancement in computer graphics. These developments would allow series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi to begin production of the first Final Fantasy film, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.[101] The game also introduced settings dominantly suffused with modern-to-advanced technology into the Final Fantasy series, a theme continued by Final Fantasy VIII and The Spirits Within.[14][15][102] Rereleases of Square games in Japan with bonus features would occur frequently after Final Fantasy VII International's release. Later titles that would receive this treatment include Final Fantasy X,[103] Final Fantasy X-2,[104] and Kingdom Hearts.[105]


Related media


Compilation of Final Fantasy VII

Compilation of Final Fantasy VII is the formal title for a series of games and animated features developed by Square Enix based in the world and continuity of Final Fantasy VII. Spearheaded by Tetsuya Nomura and Yoshinori Kitase,[106][107][108] the series consists of several titles across various platforms, all of which are extensions of the Final Fantasy VII story.

Media related to Final Fantasy VII
(Compilation of Final Fantasy VII listed in bold)

Square has labeled this project "the company's first steps toward ... 'polymorphic content'", a marketing strategy designed to "[provide] well-known properties on several platforms, allowing exposure of the products to as wide an audience as possible".[106] Compilation producer Yoshinori Kitase has said that when given the opportunity to expand any previous Final Fantasy title for the company's experiment in polymorphic content, he "immediately chose Final Fantasy VII for the project", explaining that "The ending of FFVII seemed to ... open up so many possibilities with its characters, more so than other games".[2] Nomura has revealed that when he was brought onto the project, he only expected for Final Fantasy VII Advent Children and Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- to be developed, whereas Kitase envisioned a production of greater scope, leading to the introduction of several other titles.[109][110] Square Enix president Yōichi Wada has announced that the Compilation will remain an active franchise until the twentieth anniversary of Final Fantasy VII's release.[111]

The first title announced in the Compilation was Advent Children, unveiled in September 2003 at the Tokyo Game Show,[112][113] and screened in its completion for the first time on September 2, 2005 at the 62nd Venice Film Festival.[112][114] It is a CGI film sequel to the original Final Fantasy VII, set two years after the conclusion of the game. Produced for DVD and Universal Media Disc (UMD) for Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP), it was released in Japan on September 14, 2005,[115] and in European and North American markets on April 25, 2006.[116][117][118] The sequels also include Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- and its midquel Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode -Final Fantasy VII-, both of them first-person/third-person shooter hybrids.[119][120] Developed for the PlayStation 2 and set three years after the events of the original Final Fantasy VII,[121][122] Dirge was released in Japan on January 26, 2006,[119] and in North America on August 15, 2006.[119] Lost Episode was released for Amp'd Mobile phones three days later on August 18, 2006.[123]

Another mobile title in the Compilation is Before Crisis, a prequel starring the Turks that focuses on the six years preceding the original game.[24][124] Released by subscription in twenty-four chapters,[125] full service began in Japan on September 24, 2004[126] for the NTT DoCoMo FOMA 900i series of mobile phones.[124] Other prequels include Last Order -Final Fantasy VII-, an original video animation produced by Madhouse that recounts the destruction of Nibelheim,[127] and Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, an action RPG for the PSP that will revolve around Zack.[128][129]

Some speculate that this anthology will include an enhanced remake of the original Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation 3. This speculation was sparked at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo by the release of a Final Fantasy VII technology demo featuring the opening sequence of Final Fantasy VII recreated using the PlayStation 3's graphical capabilities.[130][131][132] Though Yōichi Wada explained that the presentation was intended only for technological demonstration purposes[132] — claims echoed by Yoshinori Kitase in an interview in Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω[130] — the June 2006 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly stated that the video was actually a "sneak peak at a next-gen revival" of Final Fantasy VII.[133] An official statement from Square Enix later debunked this claim, reiterating that the company had not announced such a project.[134][135]



Though not under the Compilation label, two novellas set within Final Fantasy VII's continuity have been produced, while a third Final Fantasy VII mobile game has also been developed. The first of the two novellas is The Maiden Who Travels the Planet. It follows Aeris' journey in the Lifestream following her death at the hands of Sephiroth, taking place concurrently with the second half of Final Fantasy VII.[136] The second novella, On the Way to a Smile, is a story based on the events that immediately followed the end of the game, with one part narrated from Tifa's perspective and the other narrated from that of a boy named "Denzel", orphaned after Shinra crushed Sector 7.[137] Finally, Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding is a mobile port of the snowboarding minigame featured in the original game.[138]



  1. SCEE (1997). SCEE 1997 - Key facts and figures. SCEE Press Room. Retrieved on November 25, 2006.
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  19. Jessie: The 8 Reactors provide Midgar with electricity. Each town used to have a name, but no one in Midgar remembers them. Instead of names, we refer to them by numbered sectors. Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  20. Barret: Look... you can see the surface now. This city don't have no day or night. If that plate weren't there... we could see the sky. ... / Barret: The upper world... a city on a plate... It's 'cuz of that &^#$# 'pizza', that people underneath are sufferin'! And the city below is full of polluted air. Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
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  22. Bugenhagen: Eventually... all humans die. What happens to them after they die? The body decomposes, and returns to the Planet. That much everyone knows. What about their consciousness, their hearts and their souls? The soul too returns to the Planet. And not only those of humans, but everything on this Planet. In fact, all living things in the universe, are the same. The spirits that return to the Planet, merge with one another and roam the Planet. They roam, converge, and divide, becoming a swell, called the 'Lifestream'. Lifestream.... In other words, a path of energy of the souls roaming the Planet. 'Spirit Energy' is a word that you should never forget. A new life... children are blessed with Spirit energy and are brought into the world. Then, the time comes when they die and once again return to the Planet... Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  23. Bugenhagen: Spirit energy makes all things possible, trees, birds, and humans. Not just living things. But Spirit energy makes it possible for Planets to be Planets. What happens if that Spirit energy were to disappear? ... / Cloud: If the Spirit energy is lost, our Planet is destroyed... Everyday Mako reactors suck up Spirit energy, diminishing it. Spirit energy gets compressed in the reactors and processed into Mako energy. All living things are being used up and thrown away. In other words, Mako energy will only destroy the Planet... Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
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  27. Cloud: It's amazing how she's avoided the Shinra for all these years... / Elmyra: The Shinra needed her. So I guess they wouldn't harm her. Square Co.. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  28. Barret: It happened when Dyne and I were out of town for a few days. Corel was burned down by the Shinra troops. All the townspeople........ All my relatives......... Everyone...... Everything...... Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  29. Elmyra: Oh... it must have been 15 years ago... ...during the war. My husband was sent to the front. Some far away place called Wutai. Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  30. Yuffie: You scared of the Shinra? Then why don't you fall into line and obey them, just like all of the other towns! Those guys are the ones who are really fighting the Shinra! / Godo: Shut up! What would you know about this? / Yuffie: You get beaten once, and then that's it? What happened to the mighty Wutai I used to know? Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  31. Cid: Well, they came up with a Rocket Engine. There was so much excitement about the thought of going into outer space. Our dreams got bigger and bigger. They put a major budget into it and made prototype after prototype! Finally, they completed Shinra No. 26. They chose the best pilot in Shinra-- no, in the world-- me. I mean, come on. And finally we get to the day of the launch. Everything was goin' well... But, because of that dumb-ass Shera, the launch got messed up. That's why they became so anal! And so, Shinra nixed their outer space exploration plans. After they told me how the future was Space Exploration and got my damn hopes up... DAMN THEM! Then, it was all over once they found out Mako energy was profitable. They didn't even so much as look at space exploration. Money, moola, dinero! My dream was just a financial number for them! Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  32. Shera: He pushed the Emergency Engine Shut Down switch, aborting the mission, to save my life. After that, the Space Program was cut back and the launch was canceled. Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
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  42. Aeris: You okay? This is a church in the Sector 5 slums. You suddenly fell on top of me. You really gave me quite a scare. / Cloud: ......I came crashing down? / Aeris: The roof and the flower bed must have broken your fall. You're lucky. Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  43. Aeris: Say, Cloud. Have you ever been a bodyguard? You DO do everything, right? / Cloud: Yeah, that's right. / Aeris: Then, get me out of here. Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  44. Don Corneo: Shinra's trying to crush a small rebel group called AVALANCHE, and want to infiltrate their hideout. And they're really going to crush them... literally. By breaking the support holding up the plate above them. / Tifa: Break the support!? / Don Corneo: You know what's going to happen? The plate'll go PING and everything's gonna go BAMMM!! I heard their hideout's in the Sector 7 Slums... Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  45. Cloud: Why is Shinra after Aeris? / Elmyra: Aeris is an Ancient. The sole survivor. Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  46. President Shinra: She's the last surviving Ancient... Don't you know? They called themselves the Cetra, and lived thousands of years ago. Now they are just a forgotten page in history. / Red XIII: Cetra... That girl, is she a survivor of the Cetra? / President Shinra: Cetra, or the Ancients will show us the way to the 'Promised Land.' I'm expecting a lot out of her. / Red XIII: The Promised Land? Isn't that just a legend? / President Shinra: Even so, it's just too appealing to not to pursue. It's been said the Promised Land is very fertile. ...If the land is fertile... / Barret: Then there's gotta be Mako! / President Shinra: Exactly. That is why our money sucking Mako Reactor is a necessity. The abundant Mako will just come out on its own. Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  47. Cloud: Did you see him? Did you see Sephiroth? / Palmer: Yeah, I saw him!! I saw him with my own eyes! / Cloud: You really saw him? / Palmer: Uh! Would I lie to you at a time like this!? And I heard his voice too! Um, he was saying something about not letting us have the Promised Land. Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
  48. Cloud: ...Did it get away? Jenova...? / Red XIII: Jenova Specimen... Looks like it went to the upper floor using that elevator for the specimens. Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. SCE America. PlayStation. (in English). 1997-09-07.
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External links

Final Fantasy VII and Compilation of Final Fantasy VII

Advent Children - Before Crisis - Crisis Core - Dirge of Cerberus - Last Order - Lost Episode
Cloud - Aerith - Tifa - Barret - Red XIII - Cait Sith - Cid - Yuffie - Vincent - Sephiroth - Jenova - Rufus - Turks
Character list - Location list - Term list - Timeline
AVALANCHE - Materia - Midgar - Shin-Ra - One-Winged Angel - Soundtrack - Reunion Tracks - Advent Children Soundtrack - Dirge of Cerberus Soundtrack

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