Revisiting one hell of a final battle with Final Fantasy VII and Safer Sephiroth
Great Moments in Gaming is a column wherein we look back at some of the great gaming moments that have made a significant impact on our view of this medium and how we have come to understand it. This week we’re celebrating the release of Final Fantasy VII Remake by looking back at the final boss encounter of the original game.
Final Fantasy VII was the turning point for not just the Final Fantasy series but for RPGs as a genre. By successfully bringing JRPGs into the 3D realm, while simultaneously making them cool (for maybe the first time ever), Final Fantasy VII became a trendsetter for the ages.
While there is no shortage of amazing moments in Final Fantasy VII, the ultimate climactic battle comes at the tail end of the game, with an all or nothing challenge against long time antagonist, Sephiroth.
After a lengthy brawl using the whole party, Bizarro Sephiroth sinks into the lifestream for what appears to be the final time as the screen cuts to black. Of course, this being a Final Fantasy game, players ought to know that the big bad won’t go down that easily. As the heavy percussion and malicious violin strikes of “One-Winged Angel” begin to pound their way into the background, the screen lights up in a heavenly battle venue.
Suddenly the camera centers on Sephiroth, in his angelic final form: Safer Sephiroth. This is a mistranslation, one of many in Final Fantasy VII, as his name is actually meant to be Seraph or Sepher, with the former being a reference to an angel of God and the latter being a term used in Jewish mysticism. Either way, his name is Safer Sephiroth for our purposes, and whatever you want to call him, he cuts a striking, intimidating figure.
As ominous Latin chanting begins to enter the background, the orchestra swells and Sephiroth attacks. With a beefy moveset which includes devastating attacks like Shadow Flare and Pale Horse, the player is left floundering for their lives for much of the battle, especially if they haven’t come to this battle with maxed stats and master materia.
Still, none of these attacks compare with the devastating tour de force that is Supernova. An epic, lengthy attack that lasts roughly 2 minutes, Supernova sees Sephiroth call forth a massive meteor from across the reaches of space. As it hurtles toward the Sun, it smashes entire planets to bits along the way before finally diving into our star and obliterating it into a terrifying inferno. As the fires of the Sun reach the Earth, they consume your entire party, causing an insane amount of damage and some troubling side effects to boot.
Of all of the Final Fantasy end bosses throughout the series, Safer Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII remains infamous to this day. With his brutal attack power, epic appearance, and thrilling theme music, his spot as the best and baddest villain of the entire franchise is secured in this moment.
A truly memorable boss battle with one of the greatest villains in the history of any medium, the final encounter with Safer Sephiroth is one of the all-time great battles of wills. It’s a jaw-dropping, skin-prickling, goosebump-inducing encounter that will take everything the player has to come out on top, and for that reason alone, it remains absolutely unforgettable, even over two decades later.