7 RPG Lessons I Learned From Final Fantasy 7 That Are Still Valuable 25 Years Later
Always cherish those save points.
Final Fantasy 7 is celebrating 25 years, having been originally released in Japan on January 31, 1997. Its director, Yoshinori Kitase, and character designer, Tetsuya Nomura, expressed warm sentiments to celebrate the milestone.
Final Fantasy 7 wasn’t my first turn-based RPG. That honor goes to the criminally underrated Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, though at the time I just saw it as “a Mario game that’s different from the other Mario games” that I really enjoyed before I had to return it to Blockbuster.
Final Fantasy 7 wasn’t my first Square game, either. That game is Secret of Mana, a game whose opening music still makes me emotional.
What Final Fantasy 7 is to me (beyond its fantastic story, iconic characters, and ridiculously good music) is the first RPG where I really started to get a sense of what an RPG was. I don’t just mean that from a storytelling perspective, but from a gameplay perspective where you level grind, do sidequests, and strategize who to have in your party based on their skill set in certain situations.
Or you just keep Tifa in because she’s pretty and strong and you have a girl crush that you aren’t labeling as a girl crush.
I sort of had an idea of what RPGs were in 1997, but I didn’t really get how to play them until Final Fantasy 7. This means I did a lot of reckless things, and I’ll delve into them in this list of 7 lessons I learned back then that are still relevant now as someone who still loves her some RPGs.
Because Final Fantasy 7?
Save often. Save always
These days games have autosave features, but even so, that doesn’t stop me from saving at the nearest inn or whatever the designated savepoint is in the game. If anything, seeing the autosave icon can be a sign of terrifying things to come, depending on where you are before that spinning icon activates.
Final Fantasy 7 is also where I began having multiple save slots, paranoid that I’d done something wrong so I wanted to be able to go back and try again.
Always have a healer in the party AND someone else who can, at least, use Curaga
Never underestimate the importance of always having a healer in your party in some way, shape, or form. At the very least, more than one person should be able to use Cure magic. Potions are also a viable resource, but there will come a time when you’ll run into an opponent who hits so hard that Potions won’t do enough healing.
And don’t get me started on Poison spells, spells that turn you into stone, spells that make you attack your party, spells that put you to sleep, there are all sorts of disastrous scenarios where you’re gonna need a healer on deck.
Expect the unexpected
To this day, Aerith’s death is one that’s still talked about. At the time, I hadn’t had a moment where a party member was killed in the middle of the story. At the end? Sure, that’d happened before. Secret of Mana ended with you losing a party member (granted, they weren’t STABBED), but at that point, the game was over, so I didn’t have to figure out what to do without them besides be really sad.
Aerith, however, was my healer, and I couldn’t believe they expected me to go on without her, especially since you could level her up so much (I never maxed her out but I had a friend who did).
That tip I had about always having a backup healer? Yeah, this is why.
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When the game asks “are you sure” you better be sure
My greatest Final Fantasy 7 error has to be when I jumped into the Northern Cave Crater WITHOUT doing much level grinding in the previous discs. It’s not that I hadn’t done any, but those major sidequests that get you all kinds of fantastical weapons hadn’t been touched.
I tried to fight one of the Weapon bosses, got my ass kicked, and called it a day.
These days I know to level grind and try again, but back then I just put in the third disc and went for it, not realizing that it was the end of the game.
When I tell you I STRUGGLED.
Check your status before moving forward
You never know when the next battle is gonna start, so you need to make sure you’re healed enough to survive. You also need to make sure you aren’t suffering from any status ailments, the last thing you want is to enter into a battle with half your party poisoned or petrified.
Along with that, it’s good to check your status to see how much you’ve leveled up. Have your abilities grown? Did you gain something new? It’s good to know these things as you run around in a circle through the grass to purposely activate a battle.
Level grinding and side quests are the key to survival; this is why the battle music slaps, you’re gonna hear it A LOT
As silly as it is to put saving the world on hold in favor of playing hide and seek with some kids or going to drama club (hey Persona) or whatever else a random NPC asks you to do, it’s always worth it in the long run.
And while you do those quests, be sure to engage in battle, even if you start feeling yourself because you can suddenly one-hit kill enemies that used to give you a hard time. Though honestly, half the fun is going back and easily annihilating an enemy that you struggled against, especially if it’s an enemy that killed you.
Thanks to Final Fantasy 7, I was ready for games like Final Fantasy X where I maxed out Yuna so much that she became the strongest member of my party. It’s really satisfying to see 9999 when you bonk someone on the head with your staff.
When in doubt? Ask a friend
So how did I manage to beat Final Fantasy 7 after being so ill-equipped? Well, I asked a friend for help.
I had a friend come over and show me his save file, which is where I learned about epic summons like Knights of the Round and Ultima weapons. Of course, I was already at the end of the game and suffering a great deal, but he at least talked me through the Sephiroth fight until I did the impossible: beat Final Fantasy 7.
From that point on I took my time with RPGs, went through the seemingly pointless sidequests in order to gain ridiculously overpowered items, and delighted in building myself up into a threat who could take on those extra bosses that RPGs like to throw at you.
And if I get stuck? I ask a friend, or at the very least, tweet in distress because someone out there has been where I am. While not a turn-based RPG, I am forever thankful to friends and followers who let me know that I would die a LOT in Hades and Hollow Knight.
Happy anniversary, Final Fantasy 7. Thank you for unintentionally helping me navigate an entire genre of video games that I would come to love.
(Image: Square Enix)
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