I've played the game, and I know exactly about everything you're talking about. I still don't see how any of it is innovative. Gold Saucer just condensed a lot of things in one place, which is a good idea and is very atmospheric, but not innovative. In other final fantasy games these things were found all around the world, and some of them were integral to the story as well. In the case of VI you have the opera scene and colleseum, to name two. Nevertheless, even if it is iconic, this isn't something I'd say is so vastly innovative that it set the game apart from others. Especially in the PS era, when there a plethora of so many more innovative JRPG's to be found.
If you don't find any of these innovative, then I think you're just downplaying the game, or the storyline of FFVII just didn't resonate with you.
- 3D Graphics for a Role Playing Game
- Limit Break
- FMV/CG quality cutscenes
- Identifiable protagonist
- Diverse Party Members
- Death of Party Member
- Use of language
- Weird situations
- Conjuring of emotions within the player
- Gameplay Mechanic with the Materia System
- Mini games/Chocobo Raising/Breeding/Racing/Snowboarding/Submarine
There's an identifiable protagonist in Final Fantasy IV - Cecil. Diverse party members are a Final Fantasy staple lol. The first final fantasy to have a playable character die is Final Fantasy II. Use of language? What does that mean? Weird situations? Foudn in all final fantasy games. Conjuring of emotions within the player. Sorry, but all Final Fantasy games before VII were acclaimed for this, certain ones like IV and VI especially. Material System, yes however each game has its own new addition to the battle system. Mini Games, I'd give you that.
As for 3D (and this applies to Kyuu as well) I only really see it as innovative if it drastically affects gameplay as it did in games like LoZ and Mario. Otherwise, it is just the next step in development. In the case of VII it was primarily a graphical feature, not a gameplay device (the camera is not 3d.)