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The Top 7... games that don't deserve nostalgia

Ooookay, here we go.

This was a fine game. Solid battle system, good soundtrack, memorable villain, all the things you want in an RPG. But Jesus Crackers people, let it go. It's not as good as you remember, and it never was as perfect as fanboys have let it become over the years. It's reached this untouchable, unassailable point where you're not even allowed to dislike it, let alone berate it. Well, we are. Right now.

The characters are poorly realized. Compare them to FFVI or even FFIV on the SNES and they're rote, uninteresting stereotypes that pale next to the likes of Cecil, Terra or Rydia. And Aerith, well, she's been immortalized as the biggest shock in all of RPG history somehow, even though most of the people we know barely batted an eye when she bit the dust. Our PC editor even offered this bit of constructive criticism sure to enrage the legions that had never played an RPG prior to FFVII:

"She seems passive, but she’s really passive aggressive and manipulative about her feelings for Cloud. She’s confused and doesn’t know what she wants, which is fine. But she’s too weak to do anything but smile stoically and take a beating like all perfectly tragic princesses should.

"Her death was not an example of how games can invoke a strong emotional response from the player. It’s an example of how a cutscene can trigger an emotional response, and that’s been happening since the introduction of dem dar movin’ pictures. She doesn’t deserve a literal beating. She deserves a symbolic burning in protest of what she stands for, the one dimensional Barbie Doll smiling face that will forever go on feigning optimism and happiness in the name of femininity."

The main thing to take away is that FFVII was the first RPG millions of people played, so it unfairly becomes the standard by which all others should be judged, even though it's impossible for another, better game to actually surpass it. It was a pretty good game with amazing, ahead-of-its-time presentation, enough to shroud the comparatively lame characters and style-over-substance gameplay that would define the franchise for years to come. And for all the dust it kicked up, FFVIII, released just two years later, looked phenomenally better, so even VII's unprecedented delivery was outdated in a matter of months. And if you want to talk strict gameplay, Materia is a poor man's Esper.

We like it fine, but it's nowhere near as good as people make it out to be and doesn't deserve the crushing amount of misty-eyed nostalgia it forcibly extracts - and that's as true today as it was in 1997. 

Wanna get worked up over an entirely different list of videogames you love/hate? Check out our Top 7 Compendium for more of the good stuff.

May 12, 2008

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73 comments

  • sean-wiederholt - May 31, 2014 8:38 p.m.

    So i played FFVII as a 12 year old when it first came out. I had played Cecils quest on final fantasy many times before, loving every second. I never got into FFVI which is considered by many to be the greatest rpg of all time. With that stuff said....7 knocked my pubescent socks off. Iplayed morning noon and night.... Missing school and sleep, grinding heavily to get those difficult weapons and materia. I finished playing this gem just recently and i was flush with nostalgia. Tears even. The music is responsible mostly to be honest. But it is STILL so wonderful. The story is trite, the sprites are blocky jenga messes, and sephiroth isn't that great of a villian. Jenova should've been the antagonist. And yet, with all its faults, even 14 years later, this game showed us what new tech can be and how accessible rpgs could be. It's not the greatest because of the sum of its parts, it's the greatest for how it changed the culture.
  • PatHan-bHai - March 11, 2013 8:18 a.m.

    *stupid-face* Final Fight was epic!! do not compare it with other 2d brawling crap!
  • wishingW3L - November 17, 2011 8:55 p.m.

    I played FFVII and FFIX for the first time ever in 2010 after beating FFXIII and I think that FFVII is not only much better than FFIX but it deserves all the praise and hype too. The game's amazing. My first FF game was FFVIII and after playing FFVII and couldn't believe what I was missing out. That part when u first get out of Midgar and see the open-world map for the first time is still striking even by today's standards. The way it opens up it's so masterful. If all those haters only took out the time to play the game beyond the first few hours in Midgar everybody would understand why this game has such a big legion on fans. And let me end this by saying that I used to be one of those blind haters.
  • Mezolitik - September 7, 2011 2:53 a.m.

    I think it's a little unfair to say that the characters were poorly realised. Pick any character, say Barrett; he had a ton of personality traits, as did Tifa. How else would we know that Barrett is an overprotective father-figure with a foul mouth, or that Tifa is a shy, determined, girl-next-door type? VII had significantly more character development than Fallout, the Witcher, Baldur's Gate, etc. In fact, with the possible exception of Dragon Age, there are very few RPGs with any character development at all, these days. It's a shame. And now that EA has got their claws into BioWare, the RPG scene has gone to the dogs.
  • Vordhosbn - September 7, 2011 2:22 a.m.

    The Nes Power Pad bit is pretty much my whole experience with the Wii.
  • liadz - September 7, 2011 1:32 a.m.

    I always thought the materia system had nothing of awesome about it. I see lots of people saying how innovative and customizable it is when it's not. Being able to combine some "all" materia with some magic damage materia is nothing to write home about. And about the graphic, I do agree. I didn't play this game in the year it was launched. I played it some time after 2000 and it looked so ugly compared with many other psx games, even with games from the same year like Xenogears (it uses sprites, but has 3d environments and giant robots), also I like the soundtrack but I prefer newer versions since the psx version had such a terrible sound. I like VII, more than VIII, but for me it still doesn't get close to look complete as games like Chrono Trigger or even Chrono Cross do. I'm playing VI right now and the cast of characters feels really more mature than VII, and also the game has a much better sad mood about it (and the soundtrack helps a lot). For me, VII is the beginning of the j-rock emo plot-hole driven RPGs in SquareSoft.
  • nosaints9 - July 19, 2011 6:04 p.m.

    Oregon Trail II was legit!
  • TR4rulez - July 8, 2011 2:42 a.m.

    A list like this is really hard too argue with, simply due to one unavoidable factor. It's merely opinion. I agree with some of the choices and remarks that were made in this article. On the other hand I highly disagree. Nostolgia is different for different people. So for those who have any nostolgic emotions for any of these games I can concur(sp). As far as Final Fantasy VII, I loved it and stil love it, but that said it is the first RPG I ever played, and that fact that it sold millions says to me that it is the first for many, so when you look at it from that perspective, It kind of makes sense why it's so highly "nostolgic."
  • BloodyShenlong - May 7, 2011 1:12 a.m.

    Fuck Final Fantasy. Period.
  • BladedFalcon - April 14, 2011 6:57 a.m.

    Tat doesn't make FFVII any less overrated, really.
  • Hydrall - February 21, 2011 4:03 a.m.

    I love how they called final fantasy 7 over rated when they gave freaking FF13 a god damned 10
  • g4m3rk1dd - January 8, 2011 11:48 p.m.

    give us a remake of FF7 and we wont get so nostalgic about it...duh...
  • Cloud1Fair3 - December 31, 2010 4:33 a.m.

    I didn't quite follow the editor's quote on Aeris, (yeah the original Japanese name) but if what he's saying is that Aerith is a character to spur pride in feminist gamers, I strongly disagree. The reason she is so popular is here modest passive personality she's the typical rpg girl with the lame (tee-hee) laugh. She might dress like a respectable woman but she screams sex appeal to fan boys and she's that quite, reserved side-kick female role not at all a strong female lead. Look at Tifa if you're looking for a more feministic female lead. Anyways, off that topic before I get an ulcer. Dude FFVII wasn't all that great, yes my name is based off of it's anthology but that's more because of crisis core and it's great story/cinematic cut scenes (which kicked ass!!!!). Albeit, it borrowed from VII's story obviously, being a prequel, VII's story is highly over-rated and Sephiroth is a long-haired, overpowered samurai dude, not that amazing by say Jecht's standards. You guys wan't to play a REAL definitive RPG play final fantasy X, that games has great combat (pokemon esque Aeons) a wonderful leveling system, a pretty good story (better than VII's at least) and a much bigger suprise than the death of Aeris (drop da bomb Tidus is a ghost total sixth sense shocker moment). Overall, I suprisingly am going to have to agree with GR on this one.
  • freestyler3rmg - October 22, 2010 7:26 a.m.

    finally... someone sane enough to understand that FFVII is just an ordinary games... I don't know about all the hype for FFVII (beside the graphic)... FFIX is better than FFVII...
  • TearsofLaughter - October 20, 2010 2:49 a.m.

    I'll have you all effen effs know that FF7 was indeed a ps1 game not a ps2 game.......wait what is everyone talkin about?
  • skatingsteve - October 18, 2010 7:27 p.m.

    This whole article is designed to insight flaming and arguments but FF7 is the definitive rgp/jrpg. It easily stands as one of the top 20 games ever made. The characters were well designed and the way in which the game gradually unfolds to give you more freedom allows the characters to become better understood too. FF6 was ok but far too linear. THE MOST ANNOYING THING HERE > The writer of this whole article has clearly never heard of headings. People cant be bothered reading pages of information about games they never played/had no interest in just to find out why they shouldnt like them anyway.
  • Ash9102 - September 11, 2010 8:44 p.m.

    I enjoyed Sonic Adventure. Sonic can grow into the 3d scene. It just needs to improve on its weaknesses AND LEAVE all the not needed additions. E.g Sonic unleashed and its were hog. =.=
  • Millikin - September 11, 2010 8:41 a.m.

    You're forgetting what it was like getting Sonic Adventure when the Dreamcast came out. The visuals were absolutely mind blowing. There was nothing on any other console that could compare. Sonic Adventure took a mostly 2D, pixellated character and gave him a 21st Century makeover that made Super Mario 64 look like a lumpy blu tak figure with paper squares tacked over it. What's more, Sonic's levels were jaw-dropping incredible. Even if the camera was a bit of a pain occasionally, for the first time in Sonic the Hedgehog history, we were running through a Sonic level... FAST!! Sonic ran so fast. The idea that Sega could design beautiful next gen levels only to whisk by them at 95mph was amazing, even if most levels stuck to floating, open air tracks. The plot and characters were as complicated as they could have been. Admittedly, Big the Cat was pointless, and the embodiment of Sega's preoccupation with a huge range of daft minigames, from kart driving to pinball to chao raising to fishing. However, Sonic Team were taking simple, largely silent characters with pretty plastic profiles (This is Sonic, he has an attitude. This is Tails, he's young and loyal. This is Knuckles, he's tough and brave but a bit of a blockhead) and giving them voices, opinions and individidual stories to play out that mesh together in the surprise ending chapter. Sonic Adventure may look silly now, but it is fully justified for haunting us with waves of nostalgia. I was introduced to Sonic through Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2 and 3. I played Sonic Adventure when I was 10 or 11, and it absolutely blew my mind.
  • Ganonpork - July 24, 2010 7:04 a.m.

    ffIV is interesting until cosmo crater opens up, I like ff13 and ff6 better.
  • superdude22 - July 19, 2010 2:04 a.m.

    Dear Mr. Elston, I agree with many of the things you wrote in this article. I find that Terra and Cecil are much more interesting than a whiny emo Cloud. They actually develop throughout the story. Cloud is the same at the beginning as he is at the end except maybe more emo. Please write more articles such as this one.

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