- Developer: SquareSoft
- Publisher: SquareSoft, SCEA
- Genre: RPG: RPG
- Release Date: Jan 31, 1997 (Japan), Sept. 7, 1997 (NA)
Final Fantasy VII (No Spoilers)
If seven happens to be a lucky number, then this game is proof of that. Though this officially is the seventh Final Fantasy game by Square, it was the fifth game to be released outside of Japan (counting the first game, fourth game, Mystic Quest and a Game Boy game), which would instantly receive critically and lifetime acclaim. The world is in control of Shinra, an evil corporation that pollutes the Earth by using an energy source known as Mako. Shinra tells the world that Mako is meant to help the Earth, but it is a blatant lie. Wanting to expose their charade and save the planet, a freedom fighter named Barrett leads a group of guerrillas called Avalanche in order to stop them. Thankfully, he manages to get Cloud Strife, one of Shinra’s former soldiers, to fight for his cause at a price.
They get their initial job done, but the relationship between Cloud and Barret doesn’t end there, it only begins as they set out on a journey to save the world from Sephiroth, a great evil from Cloud’s past. Thankfully, they are not alone as they encounter and recruit the likes of Aerith, Cid, Cait Sith, Tifa, Red XIII, Vincent, and Yuffie to accomplish their goals.
Cloud Strife Bio
Seiyuu Name: Takahiro Sakurai, Kenyu Horiuchi, Nozomu Sasaki
Born from humble beginnings in the town of Nibelheim, all Cloud wanted to do was become part of SOLDIER, an elite fighting force for Shinra’s private military. Upon coming of age for enlistment, he joins Shinra’s private army but unfortunately does not qualify to make it into SOLDIER. Even when he was unable to make the cut for SOLDIER, he befriends Zack, their second best warrior behind Sephiroth, and takes part in missions with him as support.
After Sephiroth goes rouge (under the assumption and confusions of his own origins), kills Zack, hurts Tifa, and torches Nibelheim, Cloud summons every last strength to confront him and actually injures him. After those events, he becomes a mercenary for hire and finds himself recruited into the services of Avalanche, an organization that wants to end Shinra. After discovering the truth of Shinra’s business practices harming the environment and that Sephiroth is still alive, Cloud decides to fight for the fate of the world.
Cloud Strife Highlights (Spoilers beyond this point)
1. He Is an Excellently Developed Character
Though we will get more into this with his other qualities, but if there is one thing that we can all love about Cloud is that he is a very excellent character who goes through tremendous development by overcoming numerous adversities. He is an individual with numerous complexities and the more players dive into the game, the more we learn the truth about who he is, and how he has to deal with it. In the beginning of the game, we see that he is apathetic and only does it for the money. He cracks jokes and comes across as rather pompous. But after taking account what happens to him throughout the events of FF7 and before the game, players can see that Cloud is truly a tortured soul. But with the help of his friends, he can overcome his tragedies to save the world.
Though he demonstrates great strength in combat to back up his assumed background, as a First Class ranking SOLDIER, is he really who he says he is? Whether that’s true or not, Cloud is still a distinct human being who proves that the truth about his past does not define what he can and does accomplish.
2. He has Defeated Sephiroth Three Times
In the beginning, Cloud may not have been near Sephiroth’s equal in any measure, but he has essentially bested Sephiroth three times! The first time (which takes place 5 years before the start of the game and is re-enacted in Crisis Core) was more in the form of a cheap shot (Cloud stabbed Sephiroth from behind and later threw him down a Mako reactor after being stabbed himself), but anything to survive, right? The second time was at the end of the game, but thankfully, Cloud had his friends. Then the third time, they fight one last time in the sequel movie, Advent Children, which may remind many viewers of Neo and Agent Smith’s final battle in The Matrix Revolutions. Though Sephiroth manages to fight Cloud evenly upon his comeback, Cloud manages to once again emerge victorious thanks to his Omnislash.
3. His Wicked Limit Breaks
A good majority of each separate Final Fantasy game has a distinct novelty in context to their combat system. In the case of FF7, the characters have limit breaks, which they can use once their limit break meter is full. So how do players fill up this distinct bar? They just get hit and hit a lot. For Cloud as the main character, he probably has some of the most dramatic and damaging limit breaks in the game, which can be either physical and/or metaphysical. Some are just jumping and slashing, while some others can shoot out laser beams and small meteor showers.
But if players want a technique that is guaranteed to kill the nastiest of bosses (especially the elemental weapons that are introduced in the international releases of the game), you’re going to need the Omnislash, his highest level of limit breaks. While most other limit breaks are earned by simply leveling up, players have to win this move in the combat stadium of the Golden Saucer. For those who have seen Advent Children, a more tactical/realistic version of this technique is portrayed with his fusion swords, a new weapon introduced in the movie.
4. He’s a Great Interpretation of Dissociative Identity Disorder
Many fans like to call Cloud one of the first unreliable narrators in RPGs and there is a very good reason for this claim to fame. In a realistic sense, dissociative identity disorder is very hard to recognize and diagnose in the medical field, but huge majority cases of false/implanted memories are usually the result of tremendous stress and/or trauma in order to block them out. Cloud’s circumstances of what leads him to be the assumed persona in his introduction are distinct examples that run parallel to the realities of the condition. Midway through the game, his condition goes as extreme to the point that he almost loses himself because he assumes he could be a clone of Sephiroth!
As stated earlier, he was unable to qualify as a member of SOLDIER but still becomes friends with one member, Zack. Towards the end of Crisis Core, Zack loses his life and he entrusts Cloud his iconic Buster Sword. Unable to deal with the events of what happened along with the frustrations of his own personal failures, Cloud takes a good majority of Zack’s traits to become the character he is at the beginning of Final Fantasy VII (to the point that he forgot that Zack even existed). But after dealing with the truth of what happened and knowing what is at stake, he assumes his role as the savior of the world and acknowledges his truth self-worth to himself and his comrades.
5. He Learns to Care about People
As an extension of the first quality that we shared at the beginning of this list, if there is one thing that contributes to his development, it is that Cloud learns to be a caring person. In the beginning, Cloud only cares about doing the job, getting paid, kicking some ass, and moving on. But after seeing that the world is in danger, losing Aerith to Sephiroth, and coming to terms with the truth of his past with Shinra, he has to put all of that aside and save the world. This quality goes to a very dark extremity in Advent Children when he is still dealing with the fallout of losing Aerith and Zack, and that he can’t help children infected with the mysterious geostigma virus. However, some critics see it as a counterproductive flaw to his character, and it doesn’t really do anything to contribute to his development. Though he learns to open himself up to only himself, the final step in his journey was that he still needed to open himself up to those around him, which he finally does by the end of Advent Children.
Between his debut in FF7 and his feature in following releases, Cloud continues to be interpreted in many ways. In Advent Children and Kingdom Hearts 2, they portray him as someone who is at a very emotional low, which tends to be received controversially amongst a certain handful of fans. Many liked how he is presented as a fighter, but others don’t like how he can come across as emo. Cloud may have accomplished many things in the first game, but not without great sacrifices. Many fans debate whether or not his despair after the game is a quality that should define Cloud, or if the smart aleck he is introduced as should be the real Cloud fans have come to love. It has become a hot topic to the point that even Nomura, his creator, has his own interpretations for how fans best remember him. Or best yet, be remembered as a character who overcame every adversity thrown at him.
The original game and its spin-offs give fans a heck of an emotional roller coaster ride. It is nice to have characters with complexity and the storytelling qualities of the RPG format are the best mediums to present this in. Cloud, not only has to deal with saving the world, the game also explores his torn romantic feelings between Tifa and Aerith. Even to this day, it is still rather debatable who Cloudy truly loves. Who do you think his true love is? Tifa? Aerith? Or do you think he belongs with Yuffie? If you have any ideas, just leave a comment.