An Oral History of Final Fantasy VII →

Since Final Fantasy VII has been a pretty common topic here as of late1, I could not let this Polygon piece by Matt Leone go by without linking to it:

When Final Fantasy 7 shipped in 1997, it was Square’s cash cow. The game pioneered 3D graphics techniques, helped Sony’s PlayStation outperform its competitors, established Japanese RPGs in the West and went on to sell more than 11 million copies. To many fans, it defined Square as a company.

Team members describe it as a perfect storm, when Square still acted like a small company but had the resources of a big one — and was willing to pour its money into one of the game industry’s most ambitious projects right as the 3D graphics industry began to take off.

“I don’t think I’ve felt that kind of excitement ever since,” says programmer Hiroshi Kawai. “It wasn’t just the fact that Square had the resources to get all the people and the hardware and the technology together, but even before seeing anything run, it was as if we knew we were going to be making history.”

With Final Fantasy 7 now approaching its 20th anniversary and a high-profile PlayStation 4 remake in development, we decided to look back.

Over the past two years, Polygon tracked down more than 30 people who had a hand in the original game and asked them to tell the story of its creation. Below, in their words, you’ll find a story about a company in transition — and the money, politics and talent that pushed it over the edge.

A not-insignificant portion of my childhood was spent playing Final Fantasy VII. It is easily the most influential video game I have ever played. Even with my own personal history with the game, I never did take the time to learn much about the company and the people that created it.

This oral storytelling compiled by Matt Leone at Polygon does a great job of filling in that gap for me. Not only does it tell the story of how the game came to be2, but it shows how the unexpected success of the game changed Squaresoft as a company.

The timing of this piece could not be much better with the remake sitting on the horizon. While I look forward to playing through the new version when it is released, I don’t see how it can have anywhere close to the impact on me that the original had.

  1. See here and here
  2. The bits about them choosing the PlayStation over the Nintendo 64 were especially interesting to me.