Games are not built for touchscreen based play rarely play well on iOS, namely because the developer is forced to make a decision. Either they go back to the drawing board, and build the game from the ground up specifically designed for taps and swipes, or they compromise and lay over a controller based set up across the screen to keep the original controls in tact. Unfortunately, in the case of Final Fantasy 7, here rolling out on iOS almost twenty years after its debut on the original PlayStation Square Enix has opted for the latter, and its a decision that haunts the game throughout.
Final Fantasy 7 manages to be as impressive as it is dated. Even a cursory browse of Wikipedia will highlight the importance of the game in the Final Fantasy series, credited by many as being the JRPG that brought both the then Square-Soft’s flagship IP and JRPGs as a whole to the west in a big way.
This iOS version of Final Fantasy VII gives you the ability to turn off the random battles, which make up the bulk of your encounters, a move presumably designed to fit wary newcomers, but one that actually hampers your ability to level up and progress at a reasonable pace.
This is Final Fantasy 7 as its original creators intended. That, nonetheless, is part of the problem. Save points are spaced out far too widely and, indeed, the mere notion of needing a ‘save point’ in the first place went out with the ark long ago and are a confusing mess when you do encounter them, making this an adventure not suited at all for the short bursts most people take on mobile games in.
For the gaming players this Final Fantasy VII will actually appeal to, this is somewhat surplus to requirements, given they’ll have likely downloaded it the second it came out. It is that very certainty that perhaps explains just why this is the very definition of a half-hearted port, true Final Fantasy fans will likely buy it anyway.
Final Fantasy VII unashamedly looks like the near 20 year old game it is, and it is owing to Square Enix’s decision not to remake it in the iPhone’s image that leads to many of its faults, with save points and virtual button based controls undermining what is otherwise one of the genre’s classics.