Final Fantasy 7 is one of the most beloved games ever made, and one of the weirdest. From comical mis-translations to offbeat mini-games, and plot-points you’d sooner expect in an Adam Sandler film, the J-RPG is sometimes memorable for all the wrong (or right?) reasons. As we prepare to return to Midgar for the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, here’s 21 of the strangest parts of the original, in the slideshow or article below.
The Weirdest Things That Happened in the Original Final Fantasy 7
Riding a Dolphin to Junon
The nineties were a little obsessed with dolphins. Between the Flipper reboot, Ecco, and Jones the hacker from 1995’s Johnny Mnemonic, we had our fair share of heroic bottlenoses. Final Fantasy 7’s contribution to this trend involves a young Junon resident Priscilla and her pal, Mr. Dolphin. Needing a way to ascend former fishing town Junon to the Shinra base above, Priscilla and her aqua mammal comrade offer to take Cloud and the gang on Mr. Dolphin’s back. Heeding the call of Priscilla’s trusty whistle, Mr. Dolphin gives you a massive head start on the base of the Shinra tower, making the rest of the infiltration a cinch.
Getting Threatened For Angering a TV Producer
While visiting the Shinra presence in Junon, you inadvertently arrive during a military parade. As the city is crawling with soldiers and officials, the best way to avoid detection is to blend in, forcing Cloud to steal a Shinra uniform and march as part of the fanfare. This is all well and good, except the game frames this as part of a live TV broadcast, complete with a ratings meter to measure your score.
The aftermath can go one of two ways: either you do a great job and ratings sky-rocket, leading the producer to give you a hefty bonus, or you screw it up and the network executive orders someone to mail you a letter bomb. Not only a bit of an overreaction but also a stark reflection of a time when offhand references to terrorism didn’t carry the same heft.
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The Date With Barrett
A drug trip of what a cyberpunk amusement park might look like, your time at the Golden Saucer is one of the highlights of Final Fantasy VII. Among all the various mini-games and character moments, there’s a dating sequence where, depending on the choices made, Cloud can end up having a romantic evening with Aerith, Tifa, Yuffie, or if you’re very lucky, Barrett.
Each date has its own set unique dialogue, and for the most part, there’s a sense of genuine connection. Aerith expresses a longing to meet the “real” Cloud, Tifa talks about wanting to tell Cloud she has feelings for him, while Yuffie plants one on his cheek. Barrett tries to get him to admit which of the women in your party he actually likes, before suggesting Marlene – who is 4-years-old – could be the object of Cloud’s affections. A tongue-in-cheek joke likely made worse by poor translation, it makes an odd situation all the more bizarre.
Battling Palmer the First Time
Cid’s backstory that unfolds when you visit Rocket Town is somber, yet it’s capped off by pure slapstick comedy. After Shera tells her and Cid’s heartbreaking story you find Palmer trying to steal Cid’s plane, the Tiny Bronco. Palmer’s the head of Shinra’s Space Development Division, and he and Cid have no love for each other.
The ensuing battle is a relatively normal second-tier boss fight, until Palmer makes the wise choice to retreat instead of facing death, and promptly gets hit by a truck. The scuffle happens on a country road so it makes sense there’s traffic, but the timing is more than a little at odds with the bittersweet story you just heard.
Helping Tifa Win a Slap-Off
Tifa Lockheart is a gaming icon. One of Cloud’s oldest friends, and a ride-or-die companion, she’s synonymous with the lineage of Final Fantasy 7 and the franchise as a whole. It’s not the RPG’s greatest moment, then, when Tifa becomes involved in a slap fight against Shrina brass Scarlet.
As Tifa and Barrett make their desperate escape from Shinra captivity, Tifa comes face-to-face with Scarlet atop the Mako Cannon in what should be a tense one-on-one battle. Instead, we’re given a tactless brawl of insults and slaps before Tifa’s eventually hauled out of there. It’s very much a credit to Tifa’s character otherwise that this incident was largely swept under the carpet of history.
The Golden Saucer Show
Aside from the loose dating sim that leads into seeing Enchantment Night at the Golden Saucer, the actual date itself is a memorable outing, to say the least. The fireworks are good, and the tram looks comfortable, but the live theater leaves something to be desired.
A fantasy show is in residence, involving a wizard, a dragon, and a knight, but the actors don’t do a lot of performing. Instead, it’s up to you, as Cloud, to save your date as the rest twirl around the stage. You’re asked to choose between the dragon, the king or the knight, and given the winner a little kiss, leading to a proclamation that love has triumphed. Shakespeare this is not, and it’s not even two scenes.
Cid’s Abuse of Shera
Learning about the mission that ended Cid’s career as a space captain is a downtrodden affair. Shera was willing to sacrifice herself so Cid’s launch could go off without a hitch, but Cid, unable to let her do that, caused an emergency shut-down, effectively dooming the space program and ending any chance they had of being involved in it.
It’d all make for some heady romance if not for Cid’s complete for Shera’s mental well-being. Over and over, he hurls abuse at his partner and assistant, calling her names and insulting her work. Sure enough, right after she’s finished narrating the flashback, the first thing Cid asks is why she hasn’t yet served tea to their guests. Cid might be one of hell of a pilot, but he’s a lousy husband.
The entire section involving Don Corneo at Wall Market is an oddity. Ever the unwitting hero, Cloud is volunteered to dress in women’s clothing in order to get close to Don. Gathering the necessary items is a seedy fetch quest involving suggestions of nefarious items and a euphemism or two, and if you manage to obtain the ‘best fashion’, you catch Corneo’s eye.
Tifa’s the unlucky object of Don’s affections before you step in, so at least you know he’s just a creep in general. Your reward for doing this perfectly is the line “all right pussycat, come to daddy”, which never gets any less icky no matter how many times we play.
The Original English-Translation is Kind of a Mess
There’s no doubting the kind of resources that went into Final Fantasy 7. This was an expensive, work-intensive project that required everything Square could put into it to ship. That said, the original English translation was hit and miss.
We’re not just talking about the occasional strange line or typo. The tone and meaning of certain scenes are altered by misunderstanding the Japanese intention, and some characters and names are divorced from their roots in other cultures. Cait Sith is supposed to be Scottish, based on the cat sith in Celtic mythology, but you wouldn’t know that from the original localization. Ultimately, though, the odd language has added to the RPG’s charm over the years, making a play-through all the more unique, as well as serving as a reminder that issues of time-constraint aren’t new in game development.
Cloud is Invisible During Cut-Scenes
Final Fantasy 7 was made during a time of high innovation. The jump from 2D to 3D in-home consoles was revolutionary, with Square’s new multi-disc PlayStation RPG right at the fore-front. However, the move into the third dimension was far from seamless, and many tricks were performed to make sure everything functioned – for the most part, at least.
One of the subtlest cheats the masterminds at Square got away with was making Cloud invisible during in-game cut-scenes. Whenever any dialogue is occurring and Cloud is off-screen, he isn’t actually off-screen, his sprites have just been turned off. If you turn the invisibility off using a hacking tool for one of these scenes, you’ll find Cloud just standing still as everyone talks like he isn’t in the room. Nobody’s quite sure why this is, though it’s been speculated it was done for stability purposes. It’s helped speedrunners get the overall record down, in any case.
The cinematics that came with summoning one of Final Fantasy 7’s heroic beasts was the stuff of legend for years post-launch. Indeed, many now, such as Ifrit, Bahamut Zero, or Knights of the Round, are still exhilarating to watch. Perhaps to lower expectations before getting a Shiva or a Leviathan, the first summon players are given is the delightfully unusual Choco/Mog.
A moogle riding a chocobo headlong into whatever enemy they’re aimed at, Choco/Mog does epitomize Final Fantasy’s affection for comedy, cuteness, and not taking itself too seriously. The summon has become something of a running joke to see just what players can manage to defeat using the adorable animal cavalry.
Getting a Golden Chocobo for Knights of the Round
No Final Fantasy is complete without chocobos, and Final Fantasy 7 made the most of the yellow-feathered birds. One of its ongoing side-missions is to race and breed chocobos in order to create the ultimate in choco-evolution – a golden chocobo. These glowing creatures can gallop over any terrain, making them an invaluable asset to any explorer looking for the rarest materia.
As luck would have it, the best summon in Final Fantasy 7, Knights of the Round, requires a golden chocobo. There are four islands dotted around the world map that make use of various colors of chocobo, and the Knights reside in the northeast, in a round island that taunts anyone flying overhead. A glorious steed of gold will get you there, and what makes this odd is the lack of celebration or challenge. The most powerful summon in the game is just yours for the taking, a fitting pay-out for all that choco-breeding.
Skipping the Raid on Midgar
Remember that programming trivia about Cloud being invisible? There’s one major spot where that quirk can actually affect in-game events. During the raid on Midgar, in the cut-scene where Reeves calls Hojo from the conference room, if you hold Down, Right and Run, Cloud will exit the room and the game will skip to the Hojo fight, ostensibly blowing over the entire raid.
Aside from being a neat trick and saving you time if you’re a speedrunner, there’s no real benefit to this. The items and bonuses you’d otherwise receive are gone and you’re missing some good opportunities for grinding pre-Hojo. There have been reports of this happening accidentally, though, so if you’ve ever had this happen, rest assured your game isn’t broken (not in a conventional sense, at least).
The Game Becoming Castlevania-lite to Find Vincent
Given that he’s gotten his own spinoff, it’s safe to say vampiric side-character Vincent Valentine has his fans. The missions to enlist he and Yuffie are both strange, yet Vincent’s is easily the strangest. Essentially, Final Fantasy 7 briefly becomes a Castlevania knock-off as Cloud wanders a dusty old mansion, finding his way down to the basement to kick the lid off the red-dressed goth’s coffin to awaken him from his slumber.
The end of the world is an inconvenience for everyone, even vampires who’d rather be left alone to sleep and be morbid. Vincent joins you to take it to Sephiroth for waking him up, and he hasn’t gotten much shut-eye since, the poor chap.
Cait-Sith and Red XIII
Most of the Final Fantasy 7 cast are fairly normal, but Cait Sith and Red XIII are definite exceptions. A remote-controlled robot cat riding a giant stuffed moogle, Cith Sith’s the most eccentric member of the game’s party. Working as a fortune-teller in the Golden Saucer, Cait Sith steals from Cloud before wanting to switch sides, then kidnaps Marlene to get the party to keep him around. Using Cait Sith in combat is a literal gamble, as he only has two Limit Breaks, Dice and Slots, which can very easily go either way for enemies.
Red XIII’s story is equally strange. Given the numeric title as an experiment by Hojo, he’s discovered by your team after Hojo kidnaps Aerith in the hopes of breeding her and XIII. Once you’ve made sure that doesn’t happen, Red XIII, or Nanaki, as is his birth-name, becomes a firm member of the team. Having a wolf/lion-like animal around doesn’t make espionage easy though, and at one point Red pretends to be a Shinra soldier and gets away with it. He must be a convincing human when on his hind legs.
Borrowing its name from a Chinese mountain famed for its Buddhist monasteries, Wutai is the home of Yuffie and provides a wonderful, if strange, excursion from the main plot. Working without materia, the initial exploration and encounters can be a little tough, especially the boss right, Rapps. But it’s the second part, where Yuffie goes solo, that things get odd.
The Wutai Pagoda is a Pokémon gym-style gauntlet in which Yuffie must prove herself to earn her Level 4 Limit Break and the Leviathan materia. She faces five bosses, each more difficult and offbeat than the list. First there’s Gorky, who could be an extra on the Gargoyles animated series, then we have Shake, an over-sized penguin, and the freakishly thin Chekhov, who gives way to Staniv, a mace-wielding chunk of flesh who has a menacing red mask lodged in his chest. Finally, there’s Godo, who seems to be a malformed religious statue given life. It’s all the stuff of nightmares, tucked away inside this cheery traditionalist refuge.
Rude From the Turks Freezing Mid-Battle
Recurring enemies Rude and Reno of the Turks have a way of showing up when you least expect it, including on sunken ships like the Gelnika. Upon finding the well-dressed henchmen, the standard face-off occurs, although here odds are more in your favour than usual.
Rude has a number of attacks and spells in his repertoire, yet in Gelnika if he goes beyond his shoulder tackle, he freezes up and won’t attack for the rest of the fight. Not the most intense clash to begin with, it’s easy to finish him off before he has a chance for this to happen, so keep an eye out on your next play-through.
Regen Fully Healing the Party if You Pop the Lid on PS1
One of the side-effects of the first PlayStation having an open-top CD system is that you could accidentally pop the lid while playing, potentially damaging your progress. To combat this, the PlayStation always loaded games in chunks, so just closing the lid would usually resume play as normal. In Final Fantasy 7, you could use this to your advantage if you’re low on healing items and your party’s taken a hammering.
If you use a Regen potion mid-battle and open the lid on your PlayStation, the regen’s healing effect won’t end until your party-members are fully replenished. Then, you can close the top back down, and carry on like nothing happened, your squad back to tip-top shape.
Lucky 7s – Getting 7777 Health Allows You to do a Super Attack
If by chance, one of your characters hits 7777 health in battle, you’ll get the Lucky 7s mini-event, and the party-member will do 63 attacks, inflicting 7777 damage each. It’s not easy to do, but people have developed strategies if you want to see it for yourself.
There’s been no explanation around this from its developers – it might be some sort of reference to the game’s title that went unnoticed because it’s so rare to happen. If you do manage it, get ready to heal after your victory dance, as the character who gets lucky goes down to 1 HP afterward.
The two-and-a-half-decades since Final Fantasy VII have seen all sorts of grasping at straws to prevent Aeris’ death or resurrect her. Some have theorized that because she had ultimate weapons and a level 4 Limit Break means it could be possible she resurrects later on in the experience, but in truth, this is just so these features are uniform across all characters. A popular theory to keep her alive involved being mean to Tifa the entire time, leading to Tifa pushing Aerith out of the way, or leveling up the ‘Cure’ materia to get Restore and bring her back to life. None are true.
There is an opportunity to see her ghost, though. If you go back to Midgar after she’s died, and visit her church, you can see her tending to flowers beside a boy and a girl. Moving up triggers her disappearance, but if you run fast enough, you’ll skip that and she’ll just sit there, gardening.
With new technology at its finger-tips, it’s clear Square had a lot of fun putting together the various challenges of Final Fantasy 7. The mini-games jump from genre-to-genre more-or-less constantly until you start getting towards the end, their range stretching from harmless fun to downright bizarre.
The most outrageous is the snowboarding mini-game, which precedes the first SSX by several years. Although only a snippet of actual extreme sports, it’s a remarkably fluid piece of design that still holds up, and someone at Square knew this would be a selling point as a screenshot of Cloud hitting the slopes was on the back of the box in Europe. In contrast, there’s performing CPR on Priscilla when she’s attacked in Junon. Her grandfather teaches proper technique, and then you’re tasked with measuring Cloud’s breaths to continue. Auspicious for the time, and charming in retrospect, but peculiar nonetheless.
What’s your favorite weird Final Fantasy 7 moment? Shout out in the comments.
Anthony is an Irish freelance writer and heavy metal fan. He loves weird horror, professional wrestling, and hopes to one day beat every Pokémon game using only a Polteageist. Tell him about your favorite RPG on Twitter.