Final Fantasy VII is as memorable as it is largely thanks to its multifaceted soundtrack.
As with all of the numbered Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy VII is defined by its characters and its moments. And like other games in the series, its soundtrack enhances the story in a way mere words cannot.
From character themes, the funny parts, the serious storied moments to its tragedies; Nobuo Uematsu’s soundtrack remains iconic. It’s difficult to pinpoint a standalone scene or character moment that’s perfectly conveyed by its music when the game holds so many.
That said, here are a few of my favorite compositions which help translate visuals and text into emotional moments, bring characters to life, and play on nostalgia.
SPOILERS for FINAL FANTASY VII
Final Fantasy is also defined by sound—in its menus, and its encounters. This is a truth that I would only discover years later once I familiarized myself with the series. But back in 1997 when I was entering its universe for the very first time, my definition of Final Fantasy began with The Prelude.
The prelude enters so sweetly. Some names I’d eventually learn over the years, rolled across the credits. And from there, the game goes into the opening bombing sequence mission for an explosive start. What happened there? What happened was that Final Fantasy VII showed it had range. It could bring delight at various locations, such as in its very own theme park. Then it could have your party chasing a bloody trail. Slap fights atop large cannons are natural in its world. Comedy. Drama. Mystery. Spy stuff. It could do all of these things and more, with the music switching the tone to match the sentiment.
But everything starts with “The Prelude”—a calming, fairy-tale piece that prepares to tell the rest of its story.
It’s Difficult to Stand on Both Feet
Many wonder how well the Final Fantasy VII Remake will handle its funnier moments, of which there are plenty. This is just one.
The crew sneaks on board a cargo ship disguised as sailors. There’s a constant pulsing horn sound that is heard throughout this track, breaking once in awhile to hold longer notes. It’s actually sort of annoying but so can being on a boat rocking along on the sea for an extended period of time, which is what the piece captures. The steady sounds are repetitive to replicate the steady rhythm of the waves bobbing. There’s a little variation that heightens that frustration of the long voyage, before returning to the ebb and flow nature of the piece. Despite all this, it still manages to be fun—especially as it involves a scene with Red XIII dressed to kill with adorableness unmatched, in his widdle sailor suit.
All evil corporations wish they could have a cool theme like this one. So big name evil empire. So dragged out. So serious. Real deal serious. It’s all biz, and not caz. Stupid board meetings.
Don of the Slums
What a playful mess of a piece. Calling it a mess is only half right. Calling it playful is also right but a tad disturbing, considering this theme belongs to a sleazy, lecherous man. Lots of things happen at the Wall Market in preparation to be ‘invited’ to spend the night at Don Corneo’s mansion. Lots of shady things you probably wish you could forget. This theme will always remind you of that one night on the town, with your cheap cologne and your smelly wig of indeterminate scents
and origin. It does for me. And I don’t want to talk about it anymore, okay?!
Still More Fighting
The coolest boss fight theme of any Final Fantasy belongs to _________ . Some may be better than others, but they’re all really awesome because boss fights are supposed to be the intense moments we are fond of or the ones that make the blood boil. This one is right up there with the rest. Roaring guitars to set the pace. Where did they come from? Out of thin air. The best kind of guitars! But this track helps facilitate the speed of battle, and the urgency every time a boss threatens to decimate your party. Except that one battle with Gi Nattak. Oh you funny Undead things, and your aversion to curative magic and phoenix downs.
The Forested Temple
This is just the cutest music for being so unassuming. It represents a confusing little place and at this point you visit in the game, it often feels the beginning of the end—at least as a contributing factor to the moment when things start spiraling out of control, and there’s more to the story than just the evil Shinra abusing the planet’s energy.
The clock. The hands of time. The Time Guardian. The history. The piece feels as though it has moving parts over a wonderful, airy, pleasant acoustic guitar number that’s full of mysterious folklore and forgotten time. It really gives the illusion of that timeless ticking clock motif. The bell chimes aid that feeling and add mystery. Overall it’s such an inquisitive piece in how it’s arranged.
The motorcycle chase is great for the cut-scene that precedes the mini-game. Cloud’s entrance is ridiculous. It’s such a build up to excitement in the opening notes. Those little blips make up the intro for 5 seconds, until giving way to some bass and heavy drums. It’s so fantastic. In the game, the rest of the time is spent fighting off waves of motorcyclist attacks while protecting the truck carrying your friends. By then I’d say the action takes over and the soundtrack sort of gets lost in the background, as the focus becomes the thrill and concentration players are expected to engage in to beat that section. It’s one of the most memorable tracks and scenes in the game, and of any Final Fantasy game.
After the J-E-N-O-V-A fight, and hearing its very alien theme (which is just the best for being so on the nose in conveying that), you have to wonder what greatness could be in store for a final confrontation. It’s an onslaught worthy of the source of all that ails the planet. It may have the same catchy opener as the first meeting but it’s a pressing, end of the line battle.
Cid’s theme is great because Cid is *&?#%! great.
What hasn’t been said about “One-Winged Angel” (Really, what hasn’t been said about Final Fantasy VII)? We could talk all day about golden chocobos making the last battle easy. We could talk about Sephiroth being an overrated villain (but don’t do that! You might hurt my feelings!). We could talk about that chorus. We can talk about any number of things, but what’s most important is that Final Fantasy VII came down to this moment.
How do you follow Final Fantasy VI’s “Dancing Mad”? With “One Winged Angel”. Others would argue that you just don’t follow FFVI’s final boss theme. There are days I’m not sure which one is greater but one doesn’t have to reign supreme over the other. There’s room in this world for two brilliant pieces, and we’re better for that.
Though, if you wanted to argue it or tell me Final Fantasy VIII has the greatest final boss music, then you do you. I would probably respectfully disagree and point to “Maybe I’m a Lion” as the better part of that fight. But I digress.
I could shuffle my Final Fantasy VII playlist, and there would be something to talk about. These memories represent just a small portion of my most treasured pieces from Final Fantasy VII’s eclectic soundtrack. They may be yours, too.
You may have other compositions from the game which you hold dear for personal reasons. I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to share them and your Final Fantasy stories in the comments below!