#09 - Final Fantasy VII (Kudos to Brendude for guessing this)
I had such a weird experience with Final Fantasy VII. Back when I had my PS1 I'd read a lot of magazines for reviews and news, and OPM (Official PlayStation Magazine) which I read could_not_stop gushing about this game. I'd read spreads of reviews and how it's the best game to grace the PS, yada yada. I'd look through the pictures and captions and not have a clue what the game was about. I'd never played an RPG before. It was an alien concept to me.
Fast forward a year, and I finally had a copy. My mum hated me playing it "because [she didn't] understand what was going on". So I had to sneak in a few minutes here and there where I could whenever she was out the house.
And my god, those minutes were magical.
FF VII started a lifelong love of JRPG's for me that continues to this day. This game, on its own, introduced me to a whole genre. I had just never experienced anything like it before. A focus on character development and world-saving plotlines. A 60+ hour epic adventure with multiple different themes; areas; good guys and bad guys etc.
I mean, when you first step out onto the world map after having been in Midgar all that time, I just couldn't believe it. There was a whole world outside Midgar; a place which had pretty much been as big as every single game I'd ever played before. There was more? I couldn't believe it.
Throw in an addictive materia system; great turn based battles; beautiful (for the time) cinematics and a fascinating storyline with more twists and turns than you could shake a stick at... I was in love. And that's not even acknowledging all the crazy other stuff you could do like cross dressing to get into Don Corneo's mansion; fighting a strange rts/tower defence hybrid at Fort Condor; hunting down side characters like Yuffie and Vincent; raising and racing Chocobos; snowboarding; motorbiking; collecting information about the Cetra etc. The game was stuffed. It's a shame they don't include half this much diversity in the newer Final Fantasies.
Oh, and the locations were brilliant as well. Wutai; Cosmo Canyon; Nibelheim; Gold Saucer; Midgar etc. Each location was brought to life by some beautiful and truly memorable art.
The soundtrack, too, one of Uematsu's finest. This one still gives me chills thinking about the scene just when you're about to leave Midgar. I mean, a whole scene just to reflect on what all the characters have gone through so far and what a long adventure they've got ahead of them. Beautiful.