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Cloud, Aeris, Barret, Yuffie, Red XVIII, Vincent, Cid, Cait Sith, & Tifa
The nine main playable characters in Final Fantasy VII are Cloud Strife, an unsociable mercenary who claims to be a former 1st Class member of Shinra's SOLDIER unit; Barret Wallace, the leader of the anti-Shinra rebel group AVALANCHE; Tifa Lockhart, a martial artist and childhood friend of Cloud's; Aeris Gainsborough, a flower merchant who has been pursued by Shinra's special operations unit Turks since childhood; Red XIII, a wise lion-like creature who was experimented on by Shinra scientists; Cait Sith, a fortune-telling robotic cat who rides an animated moogle doll; Cid Highwind, a pilot whose dreams of being the first man in outer space were crushed; Yuffie Kisaragi, a young thief and a skillful ninja; and Vincent Valentine, a former member of Shinra's Turks unit who was killed and brought back to life as an immortal. The game's main antagonist is Sephiroth, a former member of SOLDIER who reappears several years after disappearing in a battle in which he was concluded to have died.
The game's character designer, Tetsuya Nomura, has expressed that Final Fantasy VII was hindered by graphical limitations, and as such his designs were very plain in comparison to his real style. Cloud's original design of slicked back black hair with no spikes was intended to serve as a contrast to Sephiroth's long, flowing silver hair. Nomura feared that such masculinity could prove to be unpopular with fans, and therefore he changed Cloud's design to feature a shock of spiky, bright blond hair. Tifa's outfit with her dark miniskirt was designed to contrast Aeris's long, pink dress. Vincent's character developed from horror researcher to detective, then to chemist, and finally to the figure of a former Turk with a tragic past. Nomura has indicated that Cid Highwind's fighting style resembles that of a Dragoon Knight, a character class which was chosen because his last name is the same as that of two previous Dragoon Knights featured in the Final Fantasy series, Ricard Highwind of Final Fantasy II and Kain Highwind of Final Fantasy IV.
Due to their popularity, several characters from Final Fantasy VII have made cameo appearances in other Square Enix titles, most notably the fighting game Ehrgeiz and the popular Final Fantasy-Disney crossover series Kingdom Hearts. Dissidia: Final Fantasy is the newest game to include Final Fantasy VII characters such as Cloud and Sephiroth and lets players battle it out with characters from other Final Fantasy games. Aeris's death in the game has often been referred as one of the most emotional moments from any video game. Sephiroth remains one of the most popular villains in video game history, unanimously voted #1 by the staff of gaming publication Electronic Gaming Monthly in their "Top 10 Video Game Bosses" list in October 2005, and winning GameFAQs' best villain contest in spring of the same year.
Planning sessions for Final Fantasy VII began in 1994 after the release of Final Fantasy VI. At the time, the game was planned to be another 2D project for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi intended the story to take place in modern New York City in the year 1999. Several of the staff members were working in parallel on Chrono Trigger, and development for Final Fantasy VII was interrupted when the other project became significant enough to require the help of Yoshinori Kitase and other designers. Some of the ideas originally considered for Final Fantasy VII ended up in Chrono Trigger instead. Other ideas, such as the New York setting and the sorceress character Edea, were kept unused until the later projects Parasite Eve and Final Fantasy VIII respectively. The original script of Final Fantasy VII, which was written by Sakaguchi, was completely different from the finished product. Tetsuya Nomura recalled how Sakaguchi "wanted to do something like a detective story". The first part of the story involved a "hot blooded" character named "Detective Joe" who was in pursuit of the main characters. The main characters managed to blow up the city of Midgar, which had already been developed for the story.
Development of Final Fantasy VII resumed in late 1995, and required the efforts of approximately 120 artists and programmers, using PowerAnimator and Softimage
3D software and a budget of more than US$30 million. Final Fantasy VI's co-director and scenario writer, Kitase, returned to direct and co-write Final Fantasy VII and was concerned the franchise might be left behind if it did not catch up to the 3D computer graphics used in other games at the time. Production began after the making of a short, experimental tech demo called "Final Fantasy SGI" for Silicon Graphics, Inc. Onyx workstations. The demo featured polygon-based 3D renderings of characters from Final Fantasy VI in a real time battle. This experiment led the development team to integrate these design mechanics into Final Fantasy VII. However, as a result of the high quantity of memory storage required to implement the motion data, only the CD-ROM format would be able to suit the project's needs. Nintendo, for which Square had developed all previous titles in the Final Fantasy series, had decided to continue to use cartridges for its upcoming Nintendo 64 console. This eventually led to a dispute that resulted in Square ending its long, tumultuous relationship with Nintendo, and Square announced on January 12, 1996 it would be developing Final Fantasy VII for Sony's PlayStation platform.
The transition from 2D computer graphics to 3D environments overlaid on pre-rendered backgrounds was accompanied by a focus on a more realistic presentation. While the extra storage capacity and computer graphics gave the team the means to implement more than 40 minutes of full motion video movies, this innovation brought with it the added difficulty of ensuring that the inferiority of the in-game graphics in comparison to the full motion video sequences was not too obvious. Kitase has described the process of making the in-game environments as detailed as possible to be "a daunting task". The series' long-time character designer, Yoshitaka Amano, was busy opening art workshops and exhibitions in France and New York, which limited his involvement in the game. This issue was addressed by bringing Nomura on board as the project's main artist, while Amano aided in the design of the game's world map.
Final Fantasy VII was both a critical and commercial success, and set several sales records. Within three days of its release in Japan, the game had sold 2.3 million copies. This popularity inspired thousands of retailers in North America to break street dates in September to meet public demand for the title. In the game's debut weekend in North America, it sold 330,000 copies, and had reached sales of 500,000 units in less than three weeks. The momentum built in the game's opening weeks continued for several months; Sony announced the game had sold one million copies on the continent by early December, prompting business analyst Edward Williams from Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co. to comment, "Sony redefined the role-playing game (RPG) category and expanded the conventional audience with the launch of Final Fantasy VII". Final Fantasy VII had sold over 9.8 million copies worldwide including Final Fantasy VII International as of December 2005, making it the highest-selling Final Fantasy title. Although Square's announcement that Final Fantasy VII would be produced for Sony rather than Nintendo and that it would not be based on the Final Fantasy SGI demo was initially met with discontent among gamers, the game continues to maintain a strong following.
Upon release, the game received near universal acclaim from critics. GameSpot commented that "never before have technology, playability, and narrative combined as well as in Final Fantasy VII", expressing particular favor toward the game's graphics, audio, and story. IGN's Jay Boor insisted the game's graphics were "light years beyond anything ever seen on the PlayStation", and regarded its battle system as its strongest point. RPGamer praised the game's soundtrack both in variety and sheer volume, stating that "Uematsu has done his work exceptionally well" and "is perhaps at his best here".
Since 1997, Final Fantasy VII has been selected by many game magazines—including Electronic Gaming Monthly, IGN and Gamespot—as one of the best and most important video games of all time, and has placed at or near the top in many reader polls of all-time best games. Upon its release in 1997, it was referred to by Gamefan as "quite possibly the greatest game ever made...," a quote which continues to feature prominently on the back cover of the game's jewel case. In January 2005, it was selected by Electronic Gaming Monthly as sixth on their list of "the 10 most important games ... that helped redefine the industry since ... 1989". Citing its "beautiful cut-scenes and a deep, introspective narrative", they claimed that "Square’s game was ... the first RPG to surpass, instead of copy, movie-like storytelling." In late 2007, Dengeki PlayStation named Final Fantasy VII as the "best story", "best RPG", and "best overall game" in their retrospective awards feature about the original PlayStation. GamePro named it the fourteenth most important and most innovative video game of all-time, as well as the best RPG title of all time. Final Fantasy VII placed second in the "Top 100 Favorite Games of All Time" poll by Japanese magazine Famitsu during March 2006, while users of the video game website GameFAQs voted Final Fantasy VII as the "Best Game Ever" in November 2005 and in 2004, and placed second in 2009.
Final Fantasy VII is credited as "the game that sold the PlayStation", as well as allowing console role-playing games to find a place in markets outside Japan, and (as measured in copies sold) remains the most popular title in the series. The game's popularity and open-ended nature also led director Kitase and scenario writer Nojima to establish a plot-related connection between Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X-2. The character Shinra from Final Fantasy X-2 proposes the concept of extracting the life energy from within the planet Spira. Nojima has stated that Shinra and his proposal are a deliberate nod to the Shinra Company, and that he envisioned the events of Final Fantasy X-2 as a prequel to those in Final Fantasy VII. In addition to the PlayStation and PC releases, the game was released onto the PlayStation Network in Japan on April 10, 2009, in America on June 2, 2009 and in Europe and Australia on June 4, 2009. The game has also inspired an unofficial version of Final Fantasy VII for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Chinese company Shenzhen Nanjing Technology. This port features the Final Fantasy VII game scaled back to 2D, with some of the side quests removed.
The full motion video sequences and computer graphics presented in Final Fantasy VII would allow Sakaguchi to begin production of the first Final Fantasy film, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The game also introduced settings dominantly suffused with modern-to-advanced technology into the Final Fantasy series, a theme continued by Final Fantasy VIII and The Spirits Within. Re-releases of Square games in Japan with bonus features would occur frequently after the release of Final Fantasy VII International. Later titles that would be re-released as international versions include Final Fantasy X (as "International"), Final Fantasy X-2 (as "International + Last Mission"), Kingdom Hearts (as "Final Mix"), Kingdom Hearts II (as "Final Mix"), and Final Fantasy XII (as "International Zodiac Job System").
Had to let Wiki go IN! Lol I learned so much today and proved my damn point.