When you’re only 10-years-old and playing Final Fantasy VII for the first time, there’s only so much you can take in. Even after subsequent playthroughs, it’s impossible to register all the game’s subtleties because the A.D.D-rattled brain of a child has barely developed beyond realizing that sticking metal objects in electric outlets usually yields bad results.
Fast forward twelve years or so and you’re playing Final Fantasy VII again through the PlayStation Network. Except now you begin to notice things that you didn’t before. Important things like plot, character development, overarching themes and how absurdly enormous Tifa’s boobs are.
There’s also a plethora of life lessons that can be derived from analyzing Final Fantasy VII. Granted, Square-Enix would probably refuse to endorse any of these valuable (if somewhat misguided) lessons and yet they’re there just waiting to be applied in the most inappropriate ways.
7. Never let down your guard because your murder is always one tragic plot twist away
After trudging through a lost city infested by every type of homicidal monster known to man, you find Aerith who, presumably having fought her way through aforementioned mob of demons and blood thirsty beasts, stops to kneel down and pray. And then promptly gets impaled by a samurai sword when Sephiroth drops out of the goddamn sky.
If you’re walking through a shady part of town full of crack dealers, murders and rapists, stopping in the middle of the street to thank God that you haven’t been stabbed in the kidneys yet is a lot like walking up to fate and daring to nudge it in the balls. At best, you’ll be mugged by a thug armed with a knife and a keen awareness of irony. At worst, you’ll end up being shanked through the heart with a broken bottle.
6. Investing in property is for the rich and stupid
In the resort town of Cosa De Sol, you’ll stumble across the beach home of President Shinra. Shinra no longer needs it, having been murdered and all, and it’s up for sale for the exorbitant price of 300,000 gil. You’d figure with that kind of price tag the villa would come with a two-car garage and an underground Batcave, right? Wrong. All you can do is sleep there. You could stay at an inn about a thousand times for the same price and at least you’d get cable TV out of the deal.
Similar to the seashore house for sale in Earthbound, the villa really illustrates what a piss poor investment real estate is. Half the time you’re not really sure what you’re putting your money in, and, evidently, the payoff is seldom what it should be. A nomadic lifestyle is clearly recommended, particularly if you have an airship to crash on. If not, you can always live transiently underneath your local highway. That way, the only type of foreclosure you’ll ever face is when the hobo next to you starts peeing on your cardboard box.
5.Genetic engineering is either really bad or totally awesome
On one hand, Final Fantasy VII clearly shows that genetic engineering can be pretty badass. Sephiroth is created from the cells of a genocidal alien and he quickly becomes the poster boy of the Shinra army, a talented, powerful soldier without peer. On the other hand, Sephiroth also exhibits mental instability as a result of the gene therapy. He flips out halfway through the game, murders an entire town, stabs the president and then tries to annihilate the planet by crashing a meteor into it.
Oddly enough, they never show this as a potential side effect in Gattaca.
In the not-so-distant future, when the doctor asks if you want to pay to infuse your unborn baby with genes that could make them smarter, faster and stronger than a normal human being, remember what Final Fantasy VII taught you: Your genetically enhanced offspring could grow up to be a brilliant scholar and prodigious athlete, with wealth and fame as theirs for the taking. At the same time, they could also lock himself in their room upon hitting puberty, develop a Messiah complex and stab you to death in your sleep.
4. Racial stereotyping is alright as long as its about your own race
Despite being developed by the Japanese, Final Fantasy VII’s cast of characters is comprised of mostly Caucasians. The only Asian looking character in the party, Yuffie Kisaragi, is a racial stereotype. She’s a sneaky ninja who comes from the archaic city of Wutai. The White-ruled Midgar is the pinnacle of technological advancement with trains, power plants and skyscrapers. Wutai, however, is modeled after 14th century Japan, presumably because its governed by spirit-worshiping, ass-backward Luddites. Or maybe because they’re just Asian.
Can you imagine how pissed off people would be if the developers made the token black character Barret’s hometown a crime-infested, lawless, dilapidated slum? Oh, waitthey already did that? Never mind then.
It’s never acceptable to use the “N-Word”. Unless you’re black, of course.
3. A good suit and a sense of style makes all sins forgivable
The Turks pull a rather dick move near the beginning of the game when they trigger an explosion that crushes an entire district of the city underneath a huge metal slab. To reiterate, the Turks intentionally blow up a bomb that kill thousands of people, including your close allies, men, women, babies and probably even a kitten or two.
However, a few humorous encounters later, the Turks are fondly remembered as a bunch of bumbling goof balls instead of being demonized as heartless, child-killing bastards. In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, they’re practically elevated to “good guy” status.
But why? Some may claim that the Turks should be forgiven because they were just following orders, even though that excuse didn’t really work out that great for the Nazis. The real reason why gamers are so quick to turn the other cheek, though, is because the Turks look awesome. They have snazzy suits, cooler-than-thou personalities and loads of style.
Appearances are everything when it comes to public perception. A solid wardrobe and charisma usually is enough to earn you an attractive stranger’s telephone number. But, in the Turks’ case, it’s also enough to get you off the hook for mass murder.
When you accept that that job as CEO of a nuclear waste facility constructed precariously close to a nearby town’s water supply, make sure you’re dressed for the position. When your company inevitably becomes the subject of headlines that scream “Who’s To Blame?” and “Hundreds Dead, Thousands Ill”, you’ll be well prepared for the backlash.
Grin, wink at the camera and make sure you emphasize that, yes, your suit was imported from Italy and, yes, your sunglasses are very, very expensive. Just smile and act like an innocent rascal and your impeccable sense of style and roguish charm will convince the public that it was probably the townspeople’s own fault they got radiation poisoning.
2. Terrorism is OK as long as the other guy is a bigger asshole
AVALANCHE routinely blow up power plants in Midgar, probably killing dozens workers and guards who had the gall to seek lawful employment there. Most people would call this an act of terrorism. However, Barret explains that the reactors are killing the planet, which in turn justifies murdering a bunch of innocents. After all, you can’t make an omelet without breaking multiple boxes full of eggs, right?
To AVALANCHE, the ends justify the means, even if the ends is something stupid like protecting trees and the means is voluntarily manslaughter. Oh, and these are the guys we’re supposed to be rooting for.
Assuming you’re actually taking lessons in morality from Final Fantasy VII, eco-terrorists might not sound so crazy after all. Then again, if you’re actually letting a video game dictate the direction of your moral compass, you’re probably crazy.
This also makes us wonder what the developers at Square-Enix really feel about the United States’ War on Terror in Iraq. After all, aren’t “insurgents” and “terrorists” really just “freedom fighters” like AVALANCHE and the plethora of other heroic rebel groups featured prominently in Final Fantasy history?
Nice try, Square-Enix. Or should we say Al-Qaeda? We (and homeland security) will be keeping an eye on you guys.
1. Raping the planet sucks more than Armageddon
The truth about Final Fantasy VII is that it’s really Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, only with more swords, magic and spiky hair. However, instead of global warming being the ultimate consequence of years of abusing the planet, huge Godzilla monsters will emerge from the sea and retaliate by wrecking the shit out of our cities. Oh, and a meteor will totally slam into the planet, killing everyone.
In other words, the Apocalypse will be like the best summer movie of all time. Only with less witty one liners, and more tragedy and death.
Unless we have an arsenal of nuclear weapons and the dynamic trio of Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis and Michael Bay to orchestrate the planet’s defense, we should probably consider easing up on the oil drills for a little bit.
Wait –we actually have all those things? Alright, then! Screw the planet! Keep the drilling for oil! Full speed ahead!