When it comes to Japanese RPGs, Final Fantasy 7 is one of the most well-known and popular options out there. FFVII debuted on the original PlayStation back in 1997, and even though it's the seventh main installment of the Final Fantasy franchise, it's pretty much the title that made the series known in North America.
I'll be honest here: while I love the character designs in FFVII, I never actually beat the game (but I am familiar with the story through FFVII: Advent Children and the likes of the Internet). I've borrowed the original PlayStation game from friends, I even bought the game on the PlayStation 3 many years ago, but I never got around to playing it enough to beat, because the lack of portability is an issue for me. Yes, I could have gotten the iOS version from a few years ago, but I'm not huge on mobile ports of games because I still prefer physical buttons.
But now FFVII is finally on the Nintendo Switch, making it the perfect way for me to play the game and actually beat it. How does FFVII hold up over 20 years later?
Price: $16Bottom line: Final Fantasy VII is a classic JRPG that still holds up well on the Nintendo Switch in this day and age. The Switch version comes with some enhancements that make the game more accessible, even for newcomers, and the story is still solid. Having it available on-the-go with the Switch means having the full experience without having to make any sacrifices.
- Engaging story holds up well
- Gameplay modifiers make it more accessible
- Fast load times
- Stable performance
- Combat and Materia system is easy to learn
- Graphics appear a bit dated
- It's letterboxed
- Doesn't have the Max Stats modifier
- Nothing new for those who have played FFVII before
As someone who is somewhat familiar with the story and characters of the FFVII universe but never actually beat the game, I'm loving the fact that it's now playable on Nintendo Switch. This also means that this huge classic is now so much more accessible to a new generation of fans.
A classic tale as old as time itself
Final Fantasy VII on Nintendo Switch: Features
The story of FFVII is one of the best for a Final Fantasy game, and honestly, it still holds up well to this day, even if you've never played it before.
You take on the role of Cloud Strife, a mercenary and ex-SOLDIER who is working with the eco-terrorist group, AVALANCHE. At the beginning of the game, you're on a mission to bomb a power plant that is owned by Shinra, which is the huge megacorporation that controls Midgar. Shinra has monopolized the planet's life force as Mako energy. Eventually, you'll learn about Sephiroth, who's a superhuman experiment created by Shinra and a foil to Cloud Strife, and his plans to destroy the entire world. The only ones who can stop him? Cloud and his band of allies, of course.
The combat system in FFVII uses Active Time Battle (ATB), so all characters in your team, as well as the enemies, have a timer gauge. Once it's full, you can input a command to take, whether it's Attack, Magic, Summon, Limit Break, or Item. While you make your decision on what each character should do, though, enemies are still able to attack you, so you need to be careful.
There is an option in the game menu where you can change the ATB style between Active, Recommended, and Wait. By default, it's on Recommended, which stops time during battle animations. Wait will pause time when you're in the Magic, Item, or Summon menus. Active only stops time during Summons and nothing else. A good tip is to have it on Wait because during tougher boss battles, you'll want to make sure you're choosing the right action to take down the boss without dying.
The Switch version has some gameplay modifiers that make your life easier, as well as speeding things up a lot. You can press down on both analog sticks to turn off random encounters, which is great if you don't want to deal with grinding or if you've been grinding too much and need to reach an inn or save point to rest up.
Another enhancement is the 3X speed modifier, which triples the animation speed during exploration and combat. This can be toggled on and off just by clicking the left analog stick. It makes it much faster and easier to explore Midgar, and battles go by much faster. However, be careful to turn it off when you need to, like during tough battles that require more thought and precision. Otherwise, you'll probably end up making mistakes.
There also aren't bad loading times in the Switch version of FFVII. This is especially welcome when compared to the other remakes of classic games that Square Enix has done. Plus, the visuals in this version stay true to the original, with just a slight bump in the resolution of the character models.
More accessible than ever
Final Fantasy VII on Nintendo Switch: What I Like
These days, I like to get out of my house as much as possible, so I prefer to have my games available on-the-go without having to use a small iPhone screen and resorting to touch screen buttons. That's why I love that FFVII is now available on the Switch because there's literally no more reasons to prevent me from playing this classic JRPG that essentially put Final Fantasy on the map in the U.S.
As much as I love JRPGs, sometimes the whole random encounter thing does bother me because I'm just trying to get to my next destination and advance the story. I love that I can easily turn off random encounters at-will with a push of the joysticks, and turn them back on when I feel like grinding for levels. The 3X speed thing is also nice, since it makes exploring Midgar a brisk task, compared to the normal walking/running speed.
I don't remember the original game's loading times, but it's been a seamless experience going into each area so far, so I'm not complaining.
Just another port of FFVII
Final Fantasy VII on Nintendo Switch: What I Don't Like
Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch version of FFVII still has the letterboxing issue that is also present in other versions of the game, such as on PS4. Letterboxing means that there are black bars on the left and right sides of the screen because of the difference in aspect ratio from the original PS1 release and what games use now. It doesn't affect gameplay, but it's a shame that the entire Switch screen isn't being used to the fullest.
Since FFVII is a game that's over 20 years old, the graphics on the Switch version look a bit dated. Aside from the higher resolution character models that appear full of life, the backdrops and environments appear fuzzy, and even out of focus at times when your sharp and crisp Cloud Strife is against them in the foreground.
I'm also a bit disappointed that the Switch version does not have the max stats feature that the mobile versions seemingly had. I was looking forward to checking that out and just obliterating my way through the story quickly, but I guess it's just going to have to be the old-fashioned way!
If you've played FFVII numerous times before on all of the different platforms it's been ported to, then there isn't anything truly special or new about this version. For those who have had their fill of FFVII for the past 20 years, then there's no real reason to pick up the Switch version since it doesn't even have any unique Switch features.
A great classic makes its way to Switch
Final Fantasy VII on Nintendo Switch: The Bottom Line
Overall, for less than $20, you can now experience a true legend of a game on your Nintendo Switch. As someone who hasn't played the game fully before, having it on the highly popular Switch handheld console means it's more accessible than ever, especially for newcomers, and you don't have to sacrifice anything for it, such as physical buttons.
This should definitely hold you off for now until the Final Fantasy VII HD remake, whenever that's coming out.
Defeat Sephiroth and save Midgard on your Switch!
Final Fantasy VII on the Nintendo Switch is a good port of a legendary classic JRPG. Gameplay modifiers like turning off random encounters and 3X animation speed make the game more accessible than ever before.
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.