When Final Fantasy VII came out in 1997, I'd been gaming since I was a wee lad playing Mike Tyson's Punch-Out and Tecmo Bowl on the NES. It was a hobby I enjoyed, and I dabbled in various genres, but I hadn't played many RPGs. Then, on that fateful Christmas, I received FFVII as a gift. I had asked for it because I thought it looked interesting (and so much hype), but I didn't even play it right away! I spent the first few weeks I owned it knocking out Metal Gear Solid and rocking NBA Live 98 with my brother instead.
Once I loaded it up, however, I simply could not put the thing down. From the action-packed intro, to the events in the Forgotten City, and all the way to the final Omnislash, I was absolutely enthralled and played deep into many sleepless nights. It was the first video game that made me realize that the medium could be more than just twitch responses and slicing/shooting up bad guys. That FFVII evoked such an emotional response in me left a lasting impression that led me to dive head-first into a genre I've come to love so much I write about it. It might sound cheesy, but FFVII most certainly changed how I experienced games and opened up a whole new world for me.
It's impossible to talk about Final Fantasy VII without mentioning just how meaningful it was to my childhood. I remember reading articles in GameFan, pouring over every new screenshot and character design (Dude, there's a guy with a red cape and a gun!), and working an entire summer so I could buy a PlayStation. I talked my friends' ears off about how amazing the game was going to be, how it needed to release on three CDs just to contain all of the awesome, and how the demo blew me away when I saw Leviathan summon a dang waterfall to kill everything on screen. I memorized the combination to Vincent's safe after a friend who had an import version told me the details of the Shinra Mansion. Yes, seriously. Simply put, I don't think my expectations have ever been so out-of-whack for a piece of media. Keep in mind I was 12 in 1997, so cut me some slack.
The most memorable moment for me actually came that first night with the game. I spent hours getting from the opening reactor assault to the Train Graveyard after Don Corneo's creepy sex dungeon (I barely understood what was going on the whole time). I was ready to stop playing for the night, but I was a little nervous about saving to the memory card and didn't want to lose anything. I called my dad up so I would have an extra set of eyes watching, and we somehow thought it was a good idea to press the reset button while turning off the PlayStation. Big mistake, as we lost all of my first night's work. I wasn't angry, however. I remember just turning the console back on and playing all the way back to that section in the very same night. I was hooked on Final Fantasy VII, and I wasn't going to let a little thing like losing hours of progress hold me back.