About a month ago, I got a text saying “FF7 (Final Fantasy 7) is available on PS4, you have to get it.” Now this being one of the games I missed growing up (Sega, Nintendo, Xbox guy for most of my life), I knew I had to play it. For years I had heard my friends talk about how good it is, and really rave about the whole franchise. If I was going to dive into a Final Fantasy game, why not dive into one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time? FF7 has been a blast to play through, and still holds up in today’s gaming culture. It has a rich story, engaging battles, and a memorable cast of unique characters. It’s been like jumping back into a gaming time machine, but in doing that it has brought to my attention a couple things that I have taken for granted in our new age of gaming. Things that I don’t miss from my childhood.
The first thing that comes to mind is that 5 minutes after I got that text I had already bought the game and was watching Netflix waiting for it to download. No need to wait or drive anywhere only to find that they are sold out (Pokemon red! I’m still bitter…). You just go online find what you’re looking for and download it right to your console. Then while you’re waiting for that to
complete, you’re able to binge watch your favorite movies, and television shows. These beautiful systems have not only made our purchase of games easier, but also our ability to socialize with friends (goodbye ICQ, MSN, and Skype, hello online gaming). They’ve changed how we manage and view our digital media, which has made gaming systems more and more accessible to a variety of demographics. They have also allowed for changes in the basic mechanics for how we play games.
When I was young, there was no autosave, only checkpoint based, or scarce manual save
systems, something I had willfully forgotten until jumping back into the PS1 classic. FF7 uses this type of system; and nothing is more infuriating than playing for a couple hours and either not being able to save, or forgetting to save, and then having the game glitch out, or your party getting wiped out, and losing all that time. There is nothing more frustrating to me than having to go back and do something I have already done, especially if it was a struggle. Many a time this has caused me to put a great game down for a month because I was mad–it was definitely never my fault… :p I’ve lost too many hours already in FF7 because of this. Many I know will disagree with me here (mainly the completionist gamers), but let’s take a moment and truly thank the invention of the AUTO SAVE! How many countless hours, and TV’s did this little feature save from a controller being thrown through them! Since playing FF7 recently I will now always think of this and be thankful every time a new game gives you that same stupid reminder of “do not to turn your system off when you see this icon”. However, the auto save was not the only thing to improve your gaming experience in newer generation consoles.
After going back to FF7, I appreciate even more voice acting in games. Not that it would ever stop me from playing a great game like FF7, but I can definitely attest that the voice acting in games gives another level of immersion and sophistication. Even if it’s in another language and subtitled, being able to hear the tones in a voice greatly increase the effectiveness of storytelling. FF7 probably would’ve been 8 disks instead of 3 for them to do that though, so I understand. Video games, are not just about in game experiences though and I feel some of the magic from what games were like during my childhood has been lost.
What I do miss from this era of gaming is couch co-op. Being able to bring a game over to a friend’s house and not take turns, but play together all night (Greg was the kid on the right). Just typing that brings me back to
being a kid. It seems these days only indie developers are doing this. So thank you to the indie developers that are keeping human interaction and bonding a part of games, because growing up that is a huge part about what made gaming great.
The last thing that has been a change, for me at least, is actually finishing games. When I was growing up I beat every game I owned.This could be due to a less saturated gaming market, and the scarcity of actually getting new games (usually only Christmas and my birthday), but this allowed for me to really hunker down and beat whatever it is I bought. Nowadays, with the ease of buying games from the comfort of your couch, and new awesome titles coming out practically every month, it has become harder to stick with one game till the end. I have played through so many titles almost to the end only to put them down forever in favor of something new. I even recently put down FF7 in order to play Gone Home, a game Billy had recommended in an article he wrote (thankfully it was short).
At the end of the day I would like to thank my friend for getting me to purchase and finally play Final Fantasy 7 because not only is it a great game, but it is one that will take you back to being a kid, frustrations and all, and also give you a great appreciation for where the industry and technology has gotten us. If you yourself have never played FF7 I definitely recommend it for the reasons stated above. It is a great time to reflect on these things, right as the industry is about to change again. The Oculus Rift releases in March of this year — could be a “game” changer. hahaha!