My prior associations with Final Fantasy VII weren't positive: Hey, look! We're pimping out all our female characters! (I've realized only recently how much the horny teenage attitude of the 32-bit generation led to me getting out of then-current video games for a good while.) Fans seemed awed at the incorporation of sci-fi technology in an RPG setting, which was old news to me as a Phantasy Star fan. They were psyched at how "grown-up" the game was - look, look, you're playing as terrorists, and your little chibi avatars can say "damn" now! Above all, they were in love with Final Fantasy's new polygonal art style, which surely spelled the death of those kiddie pixels forever. (It also came from Sony, whose U.S. division was heavily invested in an "RPGs suck & aren't cool enough for our system" narrative at the time.) I know the main story beats by osmosis, but the whole enterprise seemed tryhard. I never actually played it.
At the seven-hour mark - just outside Midgar, at the party's first step into the larger world - I can say that the game embodies everything that was wrong, but a lot that was right, with the 32-bit era. It has been so long in my mind as the symbol of the former - the prizing of polygons over the optimal artistic choices; the obsession with a 12-year-old's idea of "maturity"; treating women like garbage - that I might not be able to engage with it fully. But I am enjoying it currently, and I can see, in some way, why everyone lost their minds about it a couple decades ago.
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