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A Sick Day Spent in Final Fantasy VII Nostalgia

Ugh.

Just ugh. I’ve been fighting a sore throat and sinus drainage thing this week, and today, I was feverish when I woke up so I stayed home from work. I hated to do that as I have this coming Saturday off anyway, but I also wanted to give myself a chance to just recover so that maybe, just maybe, this won’t last until Saturday. My wife and I have plans, see; it’s her b- b- b- birthday weekend!

While not relaxing with her after she had gotten home from work today, I mostly spent the day playing Final Fantasy VII. Well, I woke up to there being a two-hour delay for school, so my daughter and I were able to spend a little time together this morning prior to her going to school and back to her mom’s house this afternoon, which was nice.

In the game, I’ve been attempting as completionist a playthrough as possible. I have the Playstation 4 re-release of the game via the Playstation Network, which as far as I can tell is faithful to the original Playstation version but with some typos corrected (“Off course!” and “No, way!” have been corrected to “Of course!” and “No way!”, disappointingly) and added trophy support. I was really hoping to score every trophy on this playthrough, but I wasn’t familiar enough with the Golden Saucer dating mechanics to land a date with Barret.

I also managed to mess up my chance to end the game with four maxed-out enemy skill materia, and I just a few hours ago locked myself out of winning the umbrella (or parasol) from the Speed Square game at the Golden Saucer. Aside from those and the dating mishap, I think I’m on track to having everything completed.

Or at least I don’t think I’ve fudged up anything else from the “first disk” (the game originally played across three disks; the digital re-release doesn’t have that mechanic); although, as I’m writing this and cross-checking a couple references, I notice that “completionism” requires getting ninety-nine of every item, one of which is incredibly difficult to come by, save for a reliable method at Fort Condor which I’ve already locked myself out of.

I remember playing the game back on my original PlayStation in the late 90s. I didn’t have all of the Internet guides, and there was certainly no Fandom wiki dedicated to the game which I could reference. All I had was the BradyGames players’ guide, as error-riddled as it may be. But with a lot of hard work, I managed to unlock at least most of the materia, enabling me to assemble a team that had little to no problem dealing with the endgame weapon fights. That’s one of my proudest achievements. But still, I’m sure I missed a lot, such as never completing the Battle Square battles.

I’m hoping this playthrough corrects that, but I’m not going to lie, having one-click access to a “3x speed” mode (all animations are sped up times three, allowing much faster grinding) and god mode (health and magic replenish instantly during battle, unless a character is killed in one hit; limit break meters also fill instantly upon use) is making it hard to play through the game legitimately — sometimes I’m accidentally enabling these modes simply because of how easily their buttons are pressed through normal play.

Not gonna lie, I’ve relied on the god mode for a few things; I like it because it doesn’t make the entire game a cinch: you can still be affected by status effects (all of which still affect you other than poison), you can still be one-hit killed, you still have to win mini-games such as the escape from Midgar or Fort Condor battles legitimately, and you can find yourself stuck in the final round of the Battle Arena attempting to get the keystone from Dio, turned into a frog with a broken weapon and no access to items or materia, doing 7 damage per turn (or 15 on crit) to an enemy with over 2,000 hit points. Oh, and a certain character still dies permanently, in a scene that few games can rival to this day.

I saved my game outside of Icicle Inn before quitting for the night, and I’m pretty sure I’m heading into what was my least favorite part of the game way back when. Fortunately, once I get all the items from the next couple of areas, I don’t think I have to return to them. Maybe.

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