Now Playing: Final Fantasy VII

If you play video games at all, especially RPGs, you’ve probably heard of Final Fantasy VII.  It released in 1997 for the PlayStation and has come to be known as one of the greatest games of all time.

It is certainly one of my husband’s favorite games ever, and he is greatly anticipating the upcoming high-definition remake of the game.  He’s been wanting me to play the game for years; I’ve started it multiple times and never progressed very far (I didn’t even get to the open world map).

So we’re taking a staycation this week and playing FFVII.  Or more accurately, he’s watching me play it (the reverse of what usually happens).

I’m playing on this actual PS1 and a tiny TV that B first used to play the game in the 90s.

The game follows soldier-turned-rebel Cloud Strife and his party on their quest to save their planet from the evil Shinra corporation and the godlike Sephiroth.  I already know the basic story, and “spoilers” for a 20-year-old game is kind of a silly concept.  I’ve also already seen Advent Children, a movie set after the game.  So I know all the characters, and I know who dies.

My goal for Monday was simply to get farther in the game than I had before (aka, leave the Shinra building), and I was successful!  B gave me a mod that started me with tons of XP and money, so combat is super easy and I don’t have to grind.  This is speeding up the game a lot, and I might actually be able to finish it this week.

As I said, B is watching me play so he can give me advice and help me when I get stuck.  He knows exactly what to do to get specific outcomes.  This is really helpful, because I’m used to relying on game journals in RPGs to remember what I’m supposed to be doing, but FFVII doesn’t have one, and I’d be wasting so much time just wandering around.

B told me to get the one that shimmers so I get picked by the Don.  But then B fell asleep, and I couldn’t figure out how to get the tiara or makeup.  Aeris got picked.  Oh well.

My biggest challenge starting out was figuring out how to walk in a straight line, and where the paths go.  In my defense, the graphics are not what I’m used to haha.  But I’m getting better.

I’m about 14 hours into the game now, and I’ve gotten out to Midgar onto the world map, crossed an ocean, and learned more about Cloud, Barret, and Red XIII’s backstories.  Red XIII in particular is a favorite of mine; I call him “Red Shii” because of this video.

I’m really enjoying way the story is told, with lots of unfolding mystery and flashbacks.  I also already loved the music, which I’ve seen performed live, and I find myself humming along.

Shiva, my first summon.  Aren’t the pixels great? >_<

My party is generally either Cloud/Tifa/Aeris or Cloud/RedXIII/Aeris.  Basically, a fighter, a thief, and a magic user.  The materia system is also really fun and I’m trying lots of combos with different characters.

I can already see a little why this game had such a big impact on so many young gamers, including my husband, in the 90s.  Maybe I’ll be playing the remake when it comes out, too!

Distant Worlds

My husband and I just found out that Distant Worlds is coming to Columbus this weekend!! (And the composer Nobuo Uematsu will be there also.)  We’ve already been once this year, when it came to Pittsburgh.  Here’s what I wrote about the experience back in February:

Last weekend, my husband and I headed to Pittsburgh, just a couple of hours’ drive for us, for the Distant Worlds concert there.  For the non-Maria and Draco obsessed, Distant Worlds is a touring philharmonic featuring music from the Final Fantasy video games.  My husband has been wanting to go for years (and trying to get me to finish playing FFVII for just as long), so when I heard it was coming to Pittsburgh, I bought tickets for us.

I had never been to Pittsburgh before, and I was really pleasantly surprised by the downtown Cultural District.  We easily found cheap parking, everything was very walkable (indeed there were lots of people out and about), and I had trouble choosing where to eat dinner from so many tasty-sounding options.  We had a great dinner at India Palace on 6th St. (good food, not at all crowded) and then walked over to the Benedum Center for the show.

The Benedum is totally elegant and a beautiful concert hall and a great venue for a symphony, but it was a little at odds with the audience, most of whom looked like they were going to a con.  I haven’t seen that much dyed hair all in one place in a while!  Some people even cosplayed; there were several Marias.

All the fandom was actually very refreshing; I am all for getting people who aren’t traditional “classical music fans” into a symphony.  I did have to laugh a little at the two guys next to us who bought a third seat (~$60)for their coats; apparently their world view did not include a coat check.  On our other side was a couple that brought the average age up a bit, and they only looked about 35; they were just some of the few dozen people there that looked like they might not have seen a chocobo before.  I wonder if they were secret FF fans, or simply trying to use season tickets.

The concert itself was great.  The orchestra was composed of mostly local musicians, with Arnie Roth conducting.  The program included lots of old favorites, opening with the Bombing Mission from FFVII.  I LOVED the Chocobo Medley, and Vamo’ alla Flamenco with guest guitarist Shota Nakama was great.  We also got to hear the North American premiere of “Eyes on Me” from FFVIII, performed by Susan Calloway (although my husband prefers this artist for FF vocals), as well as “Blinded by Light” from the new FFXIII.  And we ended by all singing SEPH-I-ROTH! together in “One Winged Angel.”

Overall, it was a totally awesome experience and I would highly recommend seeing Distant Worlds if you are a FF fan, or even just a fan of great orchestral music.  They are visiting lots of cities all across the US and around the world.  And next year will be the 25th anniversary tour, as well.