Final Fantasy VII's PS4 and iOS port has a feature all classic JRPG re-releases should copy
I've just tidied up grabbing a Platinum in Final Fantasy VII for PS4. I'm not much one to chase achievements or trophies generally - it has to be a particularly special game to me (true for FF7) and it also has to have some reasonable achievements (also true), and the last RPG to really grab me in that way was the Mass Effect trilogy, which I grabbed every achievement on over on the 360 across all three games.
It has to be said, however, that the feat of doing it with FF7, in which I beat Emerald and Ruby weapon for only the second time ever, pushed Cloud to level 99 and collected 99,999,999 gil - would not have been something I'd have even remotely considered were it not for one key feature on the port - the 3x speed option.
Many parts of FF7 are archaic by modern standards - and this is true for many of the classic RPGs of yesteryear, especially those that come from the earliest days of 3D.
Unlocking frame rates that were previously locked can wreck havoc on the game's underlying mechanics in myriad ways, and so the solution cooked up by the developers to get around that is ingeniously simple - a simple click in of the left stick on PS4 will speed the game up to three times its native speed.
Given that much of FF7 was designed to run at a choppy-looking sub-20 FPS at the best of times in order to make the most of the limited processing power at the time, it's a great way to use the additional power available now to blitz through sluggish encounters without breaking the underlying code somehow. Smartly the move only impacts the game's visual movement - so the in-game clock remains accurate, and sound continues to run at the same rate.
While perhaps this isn't the most optimum way to experience FF7 for the first time, for those who want to replay and relive some memories - no doubt the primary audience of such a port - this is a godsend. I've seen these random encounters a million times before; why not speed through them?
The same is true for trudging through some of the game's less user-friendly areas, such as the confusing layout of Mount Nibel - speeding through them made the whole thing much more bearable. Even Chocobo Races, which I hated even in 1997, are better when they zip by more quickly.
Other features added for the PS4 version, such as the ability to turn off random encounters and to make characters invincible while still gaining EXP - smack a little more of cheating to me. The 3x speed is not that, however - it's just damn useful.
After playing through FF7 in full on PS4 with this feature, I have to wonder: how many of my replays of classic RPGs have fizzled out due to them simply taking too long when I also have a shameful backlog to get to? The answer, I fear, is too many - and so I have to call this feature out as a must-have for rereleases of classic, more sluggish JRPGs of the turn-based variety. It just makes too much sense. And Square - how about FF8 and especially the even more sluggish FF9 as well? I'd go for it.
The original Final Fantasy VII on PS4 is out now. If you're a fan of the original, it's well worth a look.