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Final Fantasy VII review for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: N/A
ESRB: T

At long last the impossible is officially possible, with Final Fantasy VII on a Nintendo platform. So if you needed to hear anything beyond the fact that you can now buy the beloved FF7 for Nintendo Switch then we had a chance to check it out for ourselves. And you know what it’s a really solid port.

So if you haven’t played Final Fantasy VII yet then you’ve been missing out. And just in case you somehow managed not to get spoiled on some of the biggest spoilers in gaming history then don’t worry this review is keeping the story very light.

The game starts out by introducing its Star with Cloud who is a mercenary out to make a quick buck with AVALANCHE by waging attacks on a corrupt leadership. From there these ruffians meet a local flower girl Aeris and the cast are quickly fleshed out with some interesting stakes established to move things along. I have to be honest in that my familiarity with the story has been outweighed by just how good it is even today. The pacing is very strong and I found myself swept up in the game’s events all over again even finding extra hours in my evenings to see a little more.

Keep in mind that this game was a technological marvel back when it came out. I remember arguing with friends in college about how it looked as good as a movie but they wouldn’t listen and decided to play uglier games. Well some things haven’t aged as well as others and the visuals are one of them. They’re far past their prime and things such as the character models outside of battle are very crude compared to their in-battle counterparts or the prerendered backgrounds and cutscenes. That’s okay since the game has been given a small facelift but I also think there’s a charm to its age. Do these graphics bug you?

With that said a friend was mocking me for enjoying the Switch port when compared to how PC modding can use AI upscaling to restore the once-beautiful backgrounds and at seemingly no cost to those who play these games on PC. Well I did write him off but saw their efforts look just stunning! Now I feel it’s too bad Square isn’t putting in this kind of effort to games that they really seem to love re-releasing because it would really go a long way toward keeping the original background art without gumming it up with filters like they did with this and Final Fantasy IX. The fact that the visuals are taking a hit on these classic ports just sucks.

One good thing is that this port based off the PS4 version which has a better UI than the copied-over PC version which got all the ugly mobile assets. On the downside the game can’t be modded like PC and there’s a layer of anti aliasing or something that just looks bad if you fixate on the text or backgrounds. But if you’re not constantly comparing this to prior versions every five minutes you’ll probably get over it. I also think the game looks better in portable mode since these issues aren’t as blown up as on the big screen.

I also like the simplicity of the battle system and how Materia is used. This was before things like the sphere tree in later games where you had less to worry about and grinding was kind of relaxing. This game came at a time when it’s major selling point it was the visuals and audio and less about trying to complicate RPG leveling systems so just keep that in mind if you’re looking for something with really really deep gameplay.

I said in our review of the FFIX port that some of the added features like 3x speed ran too fast for my taste. Well the same speed enhancement is here in FF7 but the simplistic nature of battles actually makes it a comfortable speed to play the game. A slider for this effect would be ideal but another plus is that it is now mapped to clicking in a joystick instead of pausing the game for a separate menu. So toggling the 3x speed, unlimited Limit break, and “no random battle” features are much easier to use and actually feel well-implemented instead of an afterthought like with the FFIX port. In some ways you have less cheat codes but it also gives you everything you would want to speed up the slow parts and enjoy the story.

It goes without saying that the game is pretty well represented here even down to the music. There is a bug which causes the music to restart out in the overworld and another where the screen will flicker when transitioning between FMVs from real-time but these are minor issues that will hopefully be patched. While they didn’t ruin the game for me it would be nice to have them cleaned up because these are two issues the original game didn’t have to begin with. But so far it doesn’t look like Square wants to release patches for these things.

But besides those minor complaints this is a very worthy version of Final Fantasy VII as it originally appeared and still worth playing today. If the few bugs are patched out it’s an even better deal. Whether you want to play it on the Switch with its unique hardware abilities or pay less on a different platform is up to you but I’m glad we even have these options. So it’s a good recommendation and we even got through the review without making a pun about the AVALANCHE of Final Fantasy releases now moving over to the Switch.

Note: Square Enix provided us with a Final Fantasy VII Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B+