It’s 1995, and the role-playing game rockstars at Square are trying to decide what to do with the seventh entry in their flagship series. They look over at the Nintendo 64, and then they size up Sony’s brand new PlayStation, and they decide to go with the latter, changing the video game industry forever.
Today, Final Fantasy VII comes out on Switch, and that’s a little bit more significant than your average port. It’s the first time Final Fantasy VII has ever come to a Nintendo console, a move that 20 years ago would have seemed unthinkable. Final Fantasy VII was the game that helped create one of Nintendo’s biggest rivals, and now it’s finally come back to papa Mario.
It’s hard to imagine now, but back in the 1980s and early ‘90s, Final Fantasy was a Nintendo darling. The iconic RPG series started life on the NES and then grew up on the Super NES, with six main entries and a handful of spinoffs. Even the Game Boy got its share of Final Fantasy thanks to some devious Square marketers changing the English titles of early SaGa games to Final Fantasy Legend and the original Seiken Densetsu to Final Fantasy Adventure. This relationship between Square and Nintendo seemed destined to last forever, sort of like Cloud and Aeris.
Then word came down that the Nintendo 64 would stick with cartridges rather than adopting high-end CD-ROM technology. Square’s designers were too ambitious to work with a machine like that. They wanted to make a big, expensive 3D game, one with computer-generated cutscenes that looked straight out of the movies. You couldn’t fit that stuff on a cartridge. You couldn’t really fit it on a CD, either, which is why when Final Fantasy VII eventually did launch for the PlayStation, it came on a whopping three discs. (Final Fantasy VIII would go on to use four.)
When Final Fantasy VII came out on the PlayStation in January of 1997, it exploded, helping secure Sony’s home console dominance and leaving Nintendo out in the cold. Even the advertisements took shots at the N64's puny cartridge-based infrastructure.
Now, 22 years later, bygones are finally bygones. Final Fantasy VII is on the Switch. This appears to be a port of the PC version, complete with high-res models and easy-access cheat codes. Unlike the mediocre Switch version of Final Fantasy IX, which makes you hit pause and then a button in order to turn on fast forward, the Final Fantasy VII port lets you speed things up by simply pressing down the left thumbstick, which makes a massive difference. Also, the fonts are way better.
Plus, this is history in action. Final Fantasy VII is on a Nintendo console. The unthinkable is now thinkable. The inconceivable has been conceived. And Aeris is still... well, you know what, if you’re a hardcore Nintendo player, maybe you don’t even know? Aeris is doing just fine. Just fine.