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Final Fantasy VII iOS review

Platform: iOS
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

I’m willing to be that most of you are pretty familiar with Final Fantasy VII at this point. Originally released on PS1 back in 1997, and going on to make what I assume is a kajillion dollars, it’s a pretty popular RPG that most us who grew up in that era have played. And I’d venture to say that most who grew up after that era have played it too, with a few different opportunities to do so across platforms like Steam, PSP, Vita, and PS3. So chances are you if you’ve ever had any interest in playing Final Fantasy VII, you’ve found a way to do so at this point.

But, I still think it’s a pretty neat thing to have available on iOS. And it’s not that we’ve never had Final Fantasy VII on a portable platform before, but being able to boot the game up while laying in bed using my iPad is just sort of neat to me. It looks pretty good, with some cleaned up character models that are still polygonal as hell, but look a bit sharper than the PS1 emulation available on Vita and PSP. The pre-rendered backgrounds don’t hold up quite as well, as you can likely imagine, coming off a bit fuzzy compared to the monsters and characters.

materia_screen_4_v2All the menus and text boxes look sharp, with easy to read font on either a phone or tablet, showing that Square Enix at least put some effort into making this port work on a variety of screen sizes. And despite not being as ideal as a controller, I generally found the touch controls worked fine throughout. My only real complaint with this version of the game is that I’d have loved the ability to simply tap menu commands, especially in battle. As it currently stands, you’re given a virtual D-Pad for menu controls, with a large set of face buttons on the right hand side of the screen. Since the controls overlay in an opaque fashion, sometimes across the menus, by default you just want to tap a menu option before realizing that doesn’t work. It takes some adjusting to, but eventually it doesn’t feel awkward.

Movement controls fare a bit better, with the option to switch between analog and digital style controls. When moving around the world, no matter where you place your left thumb you’ll get a analog/digital control overlay that pops up, so unless you’re really exaggerated with your thumb movements, you’ll have no trouble controlling Cloud and company. There’s also a no-encounter option, which is really about the only special feature I could find, but it’s easily accessible via the same controller overlay placed at the bottom of the screen.

materia_screen_5_v3Outside of these additions and changes, this port is pretty much the unchanged Final Fantasy VII experience you know and love. I still find this to be a fun experience to revisit, and overall this port does the game justice. There’s really no technical hiccups here, no loading issues, and once you get accustomed to the virtual controller set-up, movement and combat feel fine. It’s still a somewhat dated experience, so if you are one of the few who have never experienced Final Fantasy VII before, it might feel like a step back compared to modern day releases. But I think it’s a game that is well-worth experiencing, especially in light of the remake announcement that came out of E3 this year. The asking price, like most Square Enix titles on mobile platforms, is a little steep for what you get. But overall this is a pretty solid port, and the novelty of playing FF VII on a phone or tablet is enough to make me suggest picking this up.

Grade: B+