Monday, April 25, 2016

Square Soft on PlayStation Collector's Video from 1997!

In 1997, Square Soft released Final Fantasy VII, a supremely popular and influential RPG that still inspires discussion and debate today. It has been a topic of discussion pretty much the entire time since its release almost 19 years ago. It will continue to be in the public eye as its oft-demanded remake releases on the PlayStation 4 in the coming years.

But for this piece we are going to look back at the hype machine generated by Square Soft prior to the release of FF7. For years RPG fans poured over articles and blocky screenshots in magazines and soaked in every detail they could find. Eventually, a VHS tape was released by Square themselves to excite fans further in the final months leading up to launch.

Square Soft on PlayStation Collector's Video not only included clips from Final Fantasy VII, it had interviews with key players in the development process about the game and the creation of it. To make the video even more exciting, it included trailers of a handful of other great-looking Square Soft games coming out in 1998.

All of that stuff is great, and I'll go into some of it, but there is one thing in this video that stood out to me more than anything else;

They spoiled one of the biggest plot twists in the history of video games very casually in pre-release promotional material.

Click through for more!

I'm assuming if you are into retro video games, there is a 0% chance that you don't know the big twist in Final Fantasy VII.

If you don't, then sorry. Aeris dies at the end of disc one at the hands of the dastardly Sephiroth. Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let's continue!

The video begins with a montage of the game's pre-rendered cutscenes and clips from the game's battle system with quotes from the press saying things like "...might be the greatest game ever made" and " graphics and 3D appearance lift this into the stratosphere." Pretty standard hype video stuff, right? Well, in the middle of this clip segment, we see this:


Within a minute of this video starting, Square gives away the fact that one of the game's primary protagonists is lying dead in a body of water and sinking to the bottom of said body of water. I know you don't get any context with stuff such as this, but it is pretty obvious that she is DEAD. And magazines leading up to the release profiled characters and such, so anyone who was "in the know" likely knew Aeris by name at the point this VHS tape made it into their hands.

Once you get past the boneheaded move to spoil a key moment, the interviews that follow are legitimately interesting and worth checking out. They make up most of the run time of the video, as well. The GOAT, Nobuo Uematsu, even answers a few questions on the video!

I won't go into great detail going over the topics covered in the interviews, but I highly suggest you check them out in the video itself (found at the end of this post).

The video itself doesn't end after the interviews, either. We are given some sneak peaks at other upcoming Square Soft games, including SaGa Frontier, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Bushido Blade.

To wrap everything back around to the focus of the video, Final Fantasy VII, the video ends with a couple of advertisements for the game. One of these includes one of my favorite lines in any video game commercial. Referring to Cloud, the narrator says "If he succeeds, you will survive. If he fails, you can always hit the reset button."

But then it happens.


The following commercial says this game is "a story of love" and "a story of friendship." Fair enough. Then it cuts to this:

The narrator continues over this image, saying "A story of a love that can never be."

In one of the damn commercials for the game, a commercial that was likely aired on television, they explicitly give away the single most emotional moment of the game. If you watch this commercial and go into the game, the moment you see Aeris you will say "Oh, there's that dead woman from the commercial."

Thankfully it doesn't seem as if many people caught onto this. Having played this game numerous times over the past two decades, it is easy for me to see this and latch onto it, but for someone who is going into this with fresh eyes in 1997, it is likely that this just slipped past while everyone focused on the whole spectacle of the game itself.

Good one, Square.

Check out the video here. Thanks to Retro Reality for uploading the video!

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