It’s no secret that the opening six or so hours in Midgar is my favorite portion of Final Fantasy VII. The size and scope of the city really blew my mind when I was younger, even if it barely compares to some of the cities of today’s RPGs (stares at Zero no Kiseki’s Crossbell).
Within that turbulent opening, my personal favorite sequence has to go to the Wall Market and its odd mix of adult themes and goofiness. Cloud infiltrates a Soap Land (places for prostitution fairly well known here in Japan), works out with some homoerotic body builders, and ultimately dresses like a girl at the behest of Aerith. One interesting thing I noticed between the English and Japanese versions of the game is how much more direct and forceful Aerith is during this initial sequence.
When the two of them try to bust into the Don’s mansion, Aerith recommends that Cloud dress like a girl as it’s the only way for the plan to work. In the Japanese version however, her tone is much different. She commands Cloud to dress like a girl. It seems like a tiny difference, but it says a lot more about her personality in my opinion.
The whole Midgar sequence is sprinkled with moments like these that give the cast a bit more personality. I was never very fond of the characters of FFVII because their dialogue felt toneless to me much of the time. I’m not getting that impression this time around.
In any case, I made my way of Midgar and hit Kalm, where I’ve been doing some grinding. Tifa seems much more skeptical during Cloud’s flashback story in the Japanese version, which makes sense considering she knows it’s all bullshit he took from somebody else.
Normally this is around the time I start to get bored/worn out, but I’m feeling pretty good about this playthrough currently. Hopefully that holds true till the end credits roll.
I first played Final Fantasy VII back during Christmas of 1997. My folks went big that year, buying me a Playstation, Parasite Eve, Resident Evil 2, and a copy of Final Fantasy VII.
At the time, I was far more impressed by the former 2, maybe because a part of me preferred the sprites of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI over VII’s new 3D style. Yeah, I know how crazy that sounds, but at the time that’s just how I felt.
Eventually I got used to the new look though, and promptly blazed through the entirety of FFVII. There was a time when I was such a big fan of VII that even games like Dirge of Cerberus could do no wrong. Freshmen year of college, I’m pretty sure I convinced a few skeptical folks to go out and buy that piece of trash.
I’m so, so sorry. OTL
As time went by though, I found myself revisiting VII only to discover that many of the fond feelings I had for it had disappeared. I have a lot of issues with this game, many of which have resulted in me rarely making it very far out of Midgar before putting the it down. This is a problem I never had with any of the other FFs I enjoyed and still do today.
Now here I am, bilingual (I guess) and wanting to go through all the PSX FF games in Japanese. I’ve always wanted to check out the original script vs the localization, and what better place to start than VII! Lots of awkwardly written dialogue, things that made no sense, and continuity problems plagued the original English release. Is the Japanese version any better? Will I finally enjoy playing VII again?
I’ll be writing about my experiences and the differences I notice, so let’s get this party started.
Perhaps the first thing that I’ve noticed is how much more fluidly dialogue seems to flow. That’s not to say it isn’t ridden with the same common tropes and cliches we’ve all grown to know and love/hate, but it feels less choppy. Barret’s dialogue in particular makes him feel like a brand new character. As someone of African decent, I’ve always groaned at how his lines made him sound like some black gangster type. The Japanese reads more like a normal tough guy, and I enjoy the distance he puts between him and Cloud by addressing him as “Cloud-san,” even when he’s threatening him.
Tifa has a much more feminine sounding edge to her, befitting of her role as “obligatory childhood friend.” The biggest thing I’ve noticed thus far, outside of the increased readability of everything, is how different Aerith’s speech pattern is compared to everyone else’s. The rhythm to her words is intentionally broken up, reminding me of an innocent child or young girl. For those of you Japanese inclined, this is a paraphrased example: 「花、大好きなの」. There’s a noticeable lack of particles in her lines. It really does make Aerith seem a lot younger and more naive.
One line that made me smile took place in the train on the ride after the first reactor sequence. In the English version, Jessie says that some sketchy people come out when the lights shut off. The Japanese version is of course much more direct; she says something along the lines of “that’s when the perverts show up.” Chikan is the keyword here, hahaha.
Thus far though, I’ve been enjoying my time with FFVII. I’ve always loved the Midgar sequence, but here’s to hoping I’ll actually make it all the way through this time.
Onward to Aerith’s house!