Final Fantasy VII’s development remembered by those who made it 20 years ago

Final Fantasy VII was first released in Japan on Jan. 31, 1997, and it changed the landscape of video games forever. The JRPG became the driving force of the video game world for a decade, and it proved to be the final hurdle Sony needed to surpass Nintendo’s dominance with the original PlayStation.

20 years later, Polygon has put together a very impressive and extensive look back at the game’s development, marketing, and impact as told by those who worked on it. Iconic figures of the video game industry, everyone from Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and Final Fantasy VII Director and longtime Producer Yoshinori Kitase to then-Character Designer and now Final Fantasy VII Remake Director Tetsuya Nomura, contributed with anecdotes, jokes, and conversations about their memories.

Aeris wasn’t the only character originally killed off… and more!

The most interesting bit comes from an exchange between Nomura and Kitase as they remember the game’s most iconic moment: the death of Aeris. It was ultimately Nomura’s decision to kill off the game’s leading female figure, but he points out he’s not as brutal as his fellow developers.

Originally, Yoshinori Kitase wanted every character outside of the three chosen to raid Midgar to be killed off in an airship crash, a move that would make even George R. R. Martin rage quit in frustration. Since I generally run Yuffie and Red XIII these days, that means Tifa, Barret, Cid, and Vincent would all tragically bite the dust. Cait Sith… meh, who cares?

Luckily, that moment was not included in the game, and the rest of the squad survives the journey, but it just goes to show that no character is safe until the game is officially published. For example, another recently uncovered interview with Hironobu Sakaguchi showed that Final Fantasy VI’s brawler Sabin was nearly killed off as well.

It’s a fascinating read, and anyone with even the slightest interest in Final Fantasy should check it out by hitting the source below. We might never see a more complete and personal compendium of Final Fantasy VII ever again. Special thanks to Polygon for putting this together.

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