Thursday, January 31, 2013

5 Most Tedious Moments in FFVII

I'm not ashamed to say that Final Fantasy VII is one of my all time favorite games. It's the only game I've played through more than 20 times, and one of the only games I've done a complete 100% run-through of. I go back and play this game pretty often, and while I thoroughly enjoy every experience, there are a few small moments I dread playing through.

This is my list of the 5 most tedious moments in FFVII. Note that these moments aren't necessarily bad for the game; some people might downright enjoy them. I'm just trying to point out some sections of the game that I grew to dread after playing through the game a hundred times.

5.  Giving Priscilla CPR

Upon your first visit to lower Junon, you're introduced to a little girl named Priscilla. Then, almost immediately, she gets attacked by Bottomswell, which is a boss you have to fight. After the battle is won, you find Priscilla unconscious, and Cloud is forced to perform CPR on her. This begins a short mini-game where you have to press square, wait, and press it again. That's it. The whole thing is so unnecessary and drawn-out that it drives me crazy. It's a neat little add-in to the game, and it really isn't that long, but having to sit through this sequence every play-through is quite tedious. You would think it ends after the first breath, but no. You need another one, and another one, and another one...

4. Entering Shinra Headquarters

When you reach Shinra HQ for the first time, you're given the option of either sneaking in through the stairs or breaking in through the front door. Now, which of these options is the tedious one? The answer is both. It doesn't matter which option you take. Both options lead to drawn-out, frustrating sequences. The stairs option is forgivable because it's meant to be tedious. Still, you can't deny that climbing stairs for about 5 minutes is downright infuriating. If you choose to break in, you go through a series of easy battles. It's definitely quicker than the stairs option, but only by a little bit. The battles are tedious and incredibly time-consuming. Either way, you're not going to like the first few minutes of the Shinra HQ chapter.

3.  The Snowboarding Minigame

The minigames in FFVII have a tendency to...well, suck. They're boring, poorly constructed, and tedious. The motorcycle sequence is bad but somewhat memorable, and the submarine sequence is easy to end in the first few seconds. That's why I chose the snowboarding minigame. It needlessly gets in the way of an advancing plot. The controls are frustrating, the balloons are pointless, and getting up from a fall takes ages. And trust me, you will be falling and smashing into things constantly. The worst part is that the minigame is stupidly long. There is only so much of this we can take, why make it twice as long as it should be?

2. Waiting for Diamond Weapon to crawl over to you

Around the end of the second disk, you have to re-visit the Forgotten City and do some chores. As soon as you leave, a scene occurs where Diamond Weapon emerges from the water and starts walking toward Midgar. Obviously, you have to engage it and defeat it. You can try ramming your airship into it, but you just get pushed back. Instead, you have to land near Midgar and wait near the shore.

The tedious part? Diamond Weapon walks really slowly. You literally just have to stand there for several minutes until he gets close enough to you. The worst part is, he starts far away. I never understood the reasoning behind this. Sure, you have time to save and setup your equipment, but time freezes when you're in the menu. You're left to just wait...and wait...and wait. Why? I've always enjoyed this part of the game, but damn it, that wait is tedious.

1.  Battle at Fort Condor

I'm curious: does anyone actually enjoy this bit? Personally, I find the Fort Condor mini-game to be dreadfully boring. I would go as far as to say that it's worse than Blitzball. It's basically a tower defense game where you have to place troops in certain areas to defend your base. It's mostly optional, but there is one section of the game where you have to participate in the mini-game.

I dread this mini-game for several reasons. First of all, it's ridiculously slow. The monsters move at a snail's pace, so even if you choose not to do anything, you'll end up waiting several minutes for them to reach the top. You also have to spend your own gil to fund the army, which is a complete waste considering that there is basically no reward for winning the mini-game. There are strategies to winning, but it just isn't worth it. The quicker, easier, and cheaper alternative is to just wait until you lose the mini-game. This immediately thrusts you into a boss battle that is infinitely easier than the mini-game itself. There are absolutely no punishments for using this tactic.

Like I said, there might be plenty of people who actually enjoy this mini-game. I'm just not one of them. I tried playing it during my first ever play-through, and I hated it from then on. I decided that I would never again waste 20 minutes on something that had no impact on the game whatsoever. It's just.too.tedious.



  1. Fort Condor is pretty easy. Place one unit as low as you can at the start of the battle. That will move the territorial red line downward, allowing you to place another unit further down. Repeat this until you basically reach the bottom and the red line can't move anymore. Then just crowd out that bottom with all your remaining units. When the enemies spawn one at a time at the bottom, you are going to have a 3 vs 1 battle every time and win every time. It also takes minimal time because you don't have to wait for the enemies to crawl up (they get destroyed at the bottom the moment they spawn). In a perfect game you need to play 20 Fort Condor mini-game, but they're so easy the real tedious part is actually just heading back to the place on the world map.

    I don't understand why some of these are complaints, because what makes FFVII special and arguably the greatest game of all time is precisely because of its enormous amount of mini-games. They are the means by which the game achieves immersion.

    Nowadays, if you want to produce an immersive experience, you could just create all these beautiful 3D environments and have the player navigate through it. Takes technical prowess, but not creativity. Back then this was not possible, so game developers really had to come up with creative means to achieve immersion, but most fail anyway. FFVII is really the only game that has succeeded in doing so, in the most applaudable way, too -- namely through *gameplay*.

    Why did they make you play a mini-game to save Priscilla? So that it actually feels like YOU have done the saving. Final Fantasy games since then and most games nowadays would've just *shown* it in a cutscene -- but that defeats the whole point of playing a game. Why was the death of Aeris such a big deal? Because of the connection YOU (not just Cloud) established with her. Because YOU saved Aeris from the Turks by playing that barrel-dropping mini-game, because you dated her at Gold Saucer by playing that mini love simulation game (where you could actually end up dating Barret), and in turn participated in that play (where you get to choose how serious or goofy it turned out), shared a moment of awkward silence in the Ferris wheel (where they even gave you the ability to control Cloud: the only thing you could do was look out the window!). How did they make Gold Saucer feel alive? By giving you the ability to ride the roller coaster, race your Chocobo, play a ton of these games-within-a-game in the arcade. (Compare that to the Gold-Saucer-inspired Nautilus in FFXIII, which is in full 3D but yet somehow feels less alive and memorable because you could hardly do anything there). How do they communicate that North Crater is freezing cold? Have you play a rub-yourself-to-stay-warm mini-game, or have you feel the blizzard through playing a pole-planting mini-game where the objective is to not be lost. Etc, etc. ALL gameplay, all interactive - the proper way of creating immersion in a *game*. Not through an endless array of big-budget cutscenes, not by giving you a ton of text to read, but by actual game design and gameplay.

    1. I had a feeling I had to address this kind of response. I guess I didn't make it clear enough in the post, but I'm not criticizing the game design in any way. I realize all the things you pointed out, and I know that is why I consider ffvii to be one of my favorite games.

      All I'm trying to do is share with other hard core fans what I thought got kind of tedious after several play throughs. It's more of a "you know what I mean?" more than anything.

      Again, I'm not saying these are bad for the game and I know that it would not be the same without these bits. It's not as serious a post as some fans may think


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