Pixels’ Past: Leaving Midgar

Amidst the city’s impenetrable and perpetual aura of darkness, it was impossible to imagine a world inhabited by vast green plains and snow-tipped mountain peaks. But unbeknown to me and my eclectic band of adventurers, Final Fantasy VII’s Midgar was merely the prologue to an immense and immersive drama; the fairy tale of a generation.

It was also the moment that video games revealed themselves to be far more than ‘mindless’ entertainment – they could be tools of imaginative exploration and vast reservoirs of story-telling potential.

And if imagining anything other than Midgar’s dark and dank pre-rendered reality was difficult enough, imagining any kind of experience beyond the crumbling concrete of Shinra’s Mako-powered metropolis lay at a point beyond impossible. At the unwitting age of seven years old, Cloud and crew’s bike escape – a scenario often exploited for the purpose of conveniently book-ending a video game narrative – wasn’t only the end of the literal road, it was also the end of a soldier’s story. Or, so I thought.

What was this ‘World Map’? What was I supposed to do, exactly? Where would Squaresoft’s creative minds take me? It was these questions, or my inability to answer them, that made this crude collection of green polygons – and daylight, of course – particularly exciting. At such a young age, never before had I experienced such a sense of freedom or independence – even if it was just an illusion, a construct in my mind. As such, Final Fantasy VII’s ‘break-out’ moment, and the awe and curiosity it inspired, will forever remain at the forefront of my favourite moments of the medium.

What are your favourite memories of Final Fantasy VII? What situation or scenario is your ‘goto’ for reminiscing?

Let us know below.

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