Final Fantasy VII and Genre Expectations

(Note: this post is adapted from material I wrote on another site)

Recently Final Fantasy VII became available on Steam. Originally released in 1997 for the first Playstation, FFVII is considered by many to be one of the best interactive narratives ever created (although, as with all narratives, it certainly has its vocal detractors). A cinematic followup, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children was released in 2005, and the world and characters continue to be a popular subject for fan creations, reworkings and pastiche. I took the advantage of its new availability in order to play through it again and reexamine a narrative that captivated millions, and is still recalled fondly even now, sixteen years later.  

(Spoilers for Final Fantasy VII follow!)
One of the most striking features of Final Fantasy VII is it’s betrayal of genre expectations. Final Fantasy VII is a JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game), a genre with a problematic definition, but nonetheless describing a family of interactive narratives with recognizable common features in terms of both narrative and interactive mechanics.