It’s really interesting to see how far strategy guides have come. Before the internet was so readily accessible, I believe Nintendo Power hosted the original concept for strategy guides in their magazine back in the 1980s. Oh the glorious Zelda hints. And weren’t we all thankful for the first two world walkthroughs for Super Mario Bros. 2? Well, those old enough to remember them or even existed were thankful.
So here I am playing Final Fantasy VII and using the guide, both created in 1997. The graphics of the game aren’t the only things outdated, that’s for sure. A guide of this caliber would NEVER make it today. Okay, that was a little harsh. A guide of this caliber would flounder today.
It’s helpful, don’t get me wrong. The dungeon mazes aren’t so obvious (to me) at times, so it’s been very helpful then and for pointing me towards wayward items. Without the guide, I’m more than certain I would never have found the Long Range materia for Cloud.
So what is my beef with it?
Final Fantasy VII, so far, likes to put you in these areas that you just can’t easily walk through. It’s like a maze or an obstacle course or a combination of the two. Things block your path, and you have to go over and under objects that aren’t clear you CAN go over or under them until you try. And while you’re trying to figure out where you can go (Will Cloud jump to that train? Or should I try to see if I can push the train over there and try to climb over it?) there are plenty of random battles to frustrate you.
When these instances come up, the guide only shows you a screenshot of the area and tells you to maneuver through it. There are no hints about where to go. No suggestions of which objects you can move. The screenshot and guidance are utterly useless here. I’m not here to debate about whether this sequence is hard. Obviously it really isn’t too difficult, or I wouldn’t be as far with the game as I am. But the point is, as a GUIDE, it should GUIDE you through these obstacle courses.
Before I close this portion of the FF7 retro review, I will say that the guide contains one item all RPGs should have: an OVERWORLD MAP! Glee!