When it comes to Final Fantasy, there are many stand-out editions of the main (numeral) games. Every Final Fantasy fanatic has their favourite entry of the series, and for many the favourites can change over time. When it comes to popularity, there’s no denying that two Final Fantasy series’ stand out, and those are Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X.
Both games set new standards in gaming, and both of them spawned sequels and spin-offs. But which game is truly the better of the two? There can be no ultimate ruler of course, it all comes down to opinion, and gamers could argue this one to oblivion. So to keep the debate going, Charles Singletary and I decided to create an argument for the game we feel is the better of the two.
Final Fantasy X: Charles’ Pick
I have a personal connection to VII with it being the first game I played with mature themes. I found it in my uncle’s library in South Carolina when I was around 10 years old, nearly two years after its release. He told me it was too complex for his younger son and that I was welcome to it. Truly, at 10 I had no business playing if the ESRB was to be believed. Nevertheless, I found myself initially enamored with the vulgar language and mature themes prevalent throughout. I’d never played an RPG up to that point and I was completely immersed beyond the initial shock value (Ex: Barrett) in a matter of minutes. The story, gameplay, music, and environments have stuck and will continue to stick with me forever, but it’s with all this being said I must acknowledge the brilliance that is Final Fantasy X.
The unfair comparisons are the foundation, with the more powerful technology offering an updated aesthetic across the board. The PS2’s upgrades lent to beautiful venues, detailed characters, an immersive soundtrack, great cinematics (I’d take the CGI in animated film form with no problem) and, for the first time in FF, voiced characters. VII fans weren’t treated to voiced characters until Advent Children, which probably shattered perceptions for some characters (Yuffie was much, much more annoying in my mind during the original playthrough…..and Cloud a little less depressed….a little). The gameplay was also greatly improved, taking the turn based formula and tweaking it ever so slightly. Switching characters on the fly from the very beginning helped to avoid pitfalls from the previous games where you stuck to developing certain characters. Granted, you can still end up with characters better developed than others in the late game (my Kimahri was ALWAYS terrible), but the ability to throw them into the fray even briefly in order to earn EXP helped to soften the blow from late game conflict.
The story is certainly one of the best to be penned for the FF franchise, having so many layers I found myself still realizing things years after finishing. Tidus’ development from pretentious athlete with abandonment issues to hero and lover, Yuna’s jaded perceptions being shattered during her pilgrimage, Auron’s intense desire to do his duty (so intense it transcended life and death): All these things lent to an incredible narrative. Even so, they only scratch the surface. I refuse to entirely ruin the plot, especially right before some will be attempting X for the first time in the HD remaster, but later plot elements take an incredible turn. I still see the occasional discussion on the happenings on social networks and the ending is just as emotionally engaging as the first run.
And Blitzball. Oh blitzball. On occasion you can find those that enjoyed some of the tedious bonus games in VII, VIII, or even IX, but I absolutely loved Blitzball. As you read this, I actually have a save file in the Thunder Plains (first place you have full control of Blitzball) where I’ve nearly maxed out the potential of the bonus game. I’ve never invested in side quests as heavily as I did in Blitzball and I haven’t progressed the story beyond that point at all (on that save file). I have a problem.
Final Fantasy VII: Gary’s Pick
I have to admit that I’m the opposite to Charles, in the sense that Final Fantasy VII wasn’t the first Final Fantasy I played. It was actually Final Fantasy X, and for a long time I believed this to be the best JRPG I’ve ever played. Years later I tried Final Fantasy VII, and though I enjoyed it I was too ignorant to put up with the dated graphics. I dropped the ball and stopped playing before even leaving Midgar.
Enter 2012, Final Fantasy VII is released on PC via the Square Enix store. By this time I’m less of an ignorant gamer and decide it’s finally time to finish Final Fantasy VII. This time around I’m in love. Every second of the game enthralled me, and I quickly began to understand why this game was so highly praised. To be quite honest, the lack of decent JRPGs in recent years was a contribution to my fast growing love for FFVII this time around. But that’s not to say that the game itself isn’t simply, brilliant.
In my opinion Final Fantasy VII has the most compelling cast of characters in any FF game. Final Fantasy X had many memorable characters, but I didn’t feel like they were all as developed as the ones we see in Final Fantasy VII. Yuffie is one of my favourite characters and not only for the fact she was completely optional, but her side quest in Wutai really lets you delve beyond her tough personality, and you begin to see the girl who just wants to restore her homeland. Furthermore, I always get a kick out of the way you recruit her by dismissing her instead of begging her to join you. In my opinion FFX also lacks the same dark humour we see in FFVII, and my belief is that it’s because it has a clearly darker story.
Though these are preset characters with their own back story and outcomes, the fact that they are both voiceless and in a sense jobless (meaning you can define their skills through Materia) means you can project some of yourself onto them. It also leaves room open for your own imagination to take off. Sure there are spin-offs where the majority of these characters are voiced, but when I play FFVII I like to imagine I was playing it in 1997, when the follow ups didn’t exist. If you effectively block out the popularity that came after FFVII’s release, then it’s easy to see the game for the gem that it is. I feel like many shun this game simply because it’s the most popular, which may blind some from seeing it’s true qualities.
I can end this off by mentioning one name, Sephiroth. Not only is he one of the baddest bosses to ever grace a video game, but he’s also responsible for one of the most heartbreaking death scenes in a video game. I also love his back story, the way he discovers the root of his power and lashes out on Shinra (and the world) for their experimentation is intense, and it’s helped by the way you get to relive the moments in Nibelheim via flashback. I’ll also go on to add that Sephiroth has one of the longest special attacks ever, which is thankfully made tolerant by the kick-ass One Winged Angel score. It’s rare for the final boss in a Final Fantasy game to actually be the villain you spent the entire game chasing, but this is one of the games that provides you with the final payoff of defeating the actual antagonist at the end of the game. Yu who? Oh Yu Yevon, yea.. no thanks!
There’s so much I could expand on, like the list of mini-games and that joyful feeling you get when visiting the world map for the first time but I will leave it to you readers out there to share your favourite experiences in the game.
Which Game Is Your Winner?
Mine and Charles’ opinions are just that, opinions. Not factual. This is a discussion that can span generations, and we want you guys to have your say. Leave your comments and let us know which game you prefer and why.