The soundtrack for Final Fantasy VII brought us some of the most memorable pieces by Nobuo Uematsu. From the gentle "Aerith's Theme" to the pounding Latin chorus in Sephiroth's final boss theme "One Winged Angel," which is also the first composition in the Final Fantasy series to use digitalized voices, the soundtrack is an essential album for any fan of Uematsu, of the Final Fantasy series, and of video game music in general.
Bandai's Final Fantasy VII action figures became the first in a long and seemingly endless stream of Final Fantasy related merchandise that has hit the market over the years. In a time prior to the anime boom, Bandai's Final Fantasy VII action figures became some of the first pieces of merchandise ever to be imported directly from Japan and sold in video game stores, such as Babbage’s.
There was something uniquely foreign about those original action figures. They came in blister packs that were not glued like North American figures. The blister packs were simply taped, allowing collectors to remove the figures from the package and still keep the package intact. Bandai soon released their own set of figures for the North American market at a fraction of the price, but several figures were not produced for the US domestic market, such as Red XIII.
Since the release of Final Fantasy VII, every Final Fantasy game or release has been met with some form of coinciding action figures, but it's thanks to the success of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII that there is such a lucrative market for game-related merchandise.
Final Fantasy VII has the distinction of being one of the first console RPGs to achieve worldwide popularity. By 1999, the game had sold more than eight million copies worldwide, and three million copies within the first forty-eight hours of its release. The characters alone have appeared, cameoed or been referenced to in a wide assortment other video games.
Tobal No. 1 pre-dates the release of Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation, but it is a highly sought after collectable, due to the inclusion of the first fully playable English demo of Final Fantasy VII. The sequel Tobal 2 includes a polygon Chocobo as a playable secret character.
Final Fantasy Tactics for the PlayStation is possibly the most well-known game for its hidden Final Fantasy VII references, due to its release in January 1998 coming just months after Final Fantasy VII. Soldier boy himself, Cloud is included as a secret playable character, but he requires a great deal of traveling to obtain and to fully utilize. If you follow the exact chain of events and return to Goug, Cloud will appear, but he will not immediately join your party. You'll have to travel to the Zarghidas Trade City and have an encounter with Aerith/Aeris. She'll be caught by a group of thieves, and Cloud will attempt to rescue her, but he succumbs to one of his breakdowns, requiring you to pull his bacon out of the fire as well. Cloud will join, but he's pretty weak, and further questing is required to obtain his famous Buster Sword.
Ehrgiez is a fighting game that was first released in arcades and found its way onto the PlayStation in April 1999. The home version came loaded with exclusive extras in the form of a quest mode and the inclusion of Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockheart, Yuffie Kisaragi, Vincent Valentine, Sephiroth and Zack as both selectable fighters and unlockable secret characters. Beating the game with Sephiroth also allows for a FMV ending to be shown, featuring story scenes from Final Fantasy VII. Also of note is the final boss Django, who has an alternate outfit that gives the animal a red fur texture similar to Red XIII.
Chocobo Racing for the PlayStation is clearly the logical evolution of the racing game found in the Golden Saucer. Beating the story mode five times unlocks Cloud as a secret character. Squall from Final Fantasy VIII and Aya from Parasite Eve are also included as hidden characters.
The original PlayStation RPG Xenogears, now a series of its own, features a quick cameo by Tifa in the form of a poster hanging on the wall of a house found in the upper-class Solaris community, while Parasite Eve II for the PlayStation finds Aya trying to remove the "Cloud" computer virus with an anti-virus program called "Aeris."
Finally, we have Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special, a Japanese exclusive PlayStation 2 game similar to Mario Party. Released in December of 2004, the game featured the first blending of Final Fantasy elements with the popular video game franchise. Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Sephiroth and the town of Midgar all are included as gameplay elements, along with other characters and summons from all of the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 Final Fantasy games.
THE KINGDOM HEARTS FRANCHISE
When Kingdom Hearts, an unprecedented collaboration between Disney and Square Enix, was announced in 2001, fans of Final Fantasy VII were on tenterhooks at the prospect of some of the game's most popular characters making cameo appearances.
Despite the fact that the worlds were based on locations from Disney movies, such as Tarzan, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, various characters from Final Fantasy VII made an appearance, including Aerith, Yuffie Kisaragi, Cloud and Sephiroth.
Sora, the game's main protagonist from the Destiny Islands, first comes across Aerith and Yuffie, along with Squall (now going under the name Leon) of Final Fantasy VIII in Traverse Town. It is the three of them who explain about the Keyblade and the Heartless, the main enemies of the game.
One of the most interesting things about Kingdom Hearts was that the Japanese seiyuu for Aerith (Maaya Sakamoto), Cloud (Takahiro Sakurai) and Yuffie (Yumi Kakazu) reprised their roles for Advent Children. It is speculated that the English language cast for the game will do the same, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Fans were more excited by the appearance of Cloud in the Olympus Coliseum, run by Hercules' satyr pal, Philoctetes. Cloud is searching for someone important to him (later revealed to be Aerith), as well as trying to hunt down Sephiroth. He is granted admission to the Coliseum by Hades, but the God of the Underworld wants something in return: the elimination of young Sora. Sora's battle with Cloud -- who is presented in the game with a single demonic wing (to offset Sephiroth's black angel wing) and his Buster Sword swathed in bandages -- is one of the more challenging foes in the arena, but this is nothing when compared to Sephiroth.
Sephiroth, in the form of a one-winged angel, is not present in the original Japanese release; he was one of a number of bonus bosses included in the American and European versions, along with Kurt Zisa and the Phantom. The battle is one that only the most advanced of gamers could attempt, and it involves Sora alone, with no backup from Donald and Goofy. The battle itself takes place in the latter half of the game, but even then, Sephiroth's devastating attacks can kill in seconds.
As if to compensate Japanese gamers, Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix, a Japanese port of the American game, with the English dub and Japanese subtitles and text, includes several extra scenes not included in either the original Japanese release or the English version. One of these was 'Showdown of Fate,' a monumental battle in the Coliseum between Cloud and Sephiroth.
'Showdown of Fate' takes place as a reward for defeating Sephiroth, and it involves a short dialogue between Cloud and his fallen nemesis before the two engage in a climactic battle, the outcome of which is not revealed. However, Cloud appears in the Game Boy Advance sequel Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and he will be returning for Kingdom Hearts 2, due to be released in Japan this December, with a much larger role and his own side-story.
Kingdom Hearts also sees cameos from two of the reoccurring characters in the Final Fantasy franchise: Cid and the Moogles. Cid Highwind was a playable character in Final Fantasy VII who returns in Kingdom Hearts as a straw-chewing shopkeeper in Traverse Town. He is an expert when it comes to Gummi blocks and the ships that can be created from them. He serves to assist Sora and his party by modifying their ship, but for a price. As with Cloud, Cid is also set to make a return in Kingdom Hearts 2.
The Moogles are the unofficial mascots of the series. Small and odd-looking creatures, they have antennae with a red ball jutting out from their head and a habit of ending sentences with the phrase 'kupo,' possibly inspired by their love of kupo nuts. In the world of Kingdom Hearts, the Moogles' world has been destroyed, and refugees have found their way to Traverse Town. Sora meets several Moogles, and he can visit their store, located above Cid's shop, where special items can be synthesized. Moogles play a similar role in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and they are expected to return for Kingdom Hearts 2 as well.
There is also a Kingdom Hearts manga, which includes a cameo by Yuffie. The first volume is available this month in the US from TOKYOPOP.
Kingdom Hearts 2 is set to be even more cameo-intensive than its prequel, with various members of the Final Fantasy family appearing. It has been confirmed that Yuffie, in her Advent Children outfit, will be returning, along with Cloud, who also appears in his updated outfit.