Game Information | Final Fantasy VII Demo Versions
There are at least four official playable demos for Final Fantasy VII in English—two for the PlayStation, and two for the PC.
- Tobal No. 1 Bonus Sampler CD
- PlayStation Underground #2 Demo Disk
- Tomb Raider III Demo Disk
- Battle Square Demo
1. Tobal No. 1 Bonus Sampler CD (1996)
The first, and arguably the most famous, publicly-released demo for Final Fantasy VII was the one that was included with the Squaresoft fighting game Tobal No. 1. Bundled with the Japanese and American versions of this game, the Final Fantasy VII Sampler CD demo is in many ways radically different from the game it would eventually become. What follows is a description of the FFVII portion of this demo disk, which also included previews for the then-upcoming Final Fantasy Tactics, Bushido Blade, and SaGa Frontier.
The entire demo plays out the opening movie and first reactor bombing mission. The opening FMV is the same, save for some words which fade in on top of the "star field". They read: "Shinra Company"---A large conglomerate that posesses all of the world's energy and controls its politics. Outraged by the Shinra, the inhabitants formed the rebel group 'Avalanche' to resist them. After coming into contact with Avalanche in a bar, Cloud joins their demolition mission in return for a large reward. Their target is the Shinra power plant Makoro.
From there on, the demo plays. Cloud interacts with Barret, Biggs, Wedge, and Jesse (yes, that's how her name was spelled in this demo) and fights various enemies alongside Barret and Aeris. Some of the abilities that are available to the group are Fire, Fire 2, Ice, Ice 2, Bolt, Bolt 2, Demi, and all three Cure spells; and the summon monster Leviathan. The demo ends with the FMV of the reactor exploding, the words "MISSION COMPLETE" and "FINAL FANTASY VII", with a release date of December 1996 (the game didn't actually come out in Japan until late January 1997).
Now, as for those differences I've talked about, here's a list of the most significant ones, along with some screenshots. Not included in this list are technical changes, which have to do with this demo being just a demo and not the full game (three playable characters from the start, higher-level abilities and spells, no renaming, no menu, no save point, etc.):
- As stated above, the star field in the opening FMV contains explanatory text.
- The dead guards at the train station don't carry Potions.
- The font used in the field is slightly different from that used in the finished game.
- The translation of the script is completely different. For instance, "SOLDIER" and "AVALANCHE" are spelled in full or partial lowercase, and the Mako power plants are referred to as "Makoro".
- Jessie's name is spelled "Jesse".
- Cloud doesn't have to talk to Biggs and Jessie to get them to open the reactor's doors.
- There's no treasure chests, bottles, or materia in the field whatsoever.
- The "Attack" command is simply called "Fight".
- Choosing an item with the "All" arrow designated (as with Cloud's Bolt) brings up a submenu with the selections "Regular" and "All", plus however many "Alls" are left. Also, it seems that All doesn't necessarily affect all spells in the same class. For example, Cloud's Bolt had an All arrow next to it, but not his Bolt 2.
- Among the monsters that can be fought are Hedgehog Pies (which, like the Grunts, slightly differ in color from those in the finished game) and Deenglows, neither of which appear during this particular mission in FFVII.
- Limit Breaks are called "Specials".
- The Level 1 Special that Barret uses is called "Heavy Shot" as opposed to "Big Shot".
- Cloud's menu portrait on the Exp. screen (after winning a battle) is different.
- Gil is called "GP".
- No button presses are necessary to jump or grab onto ladders.
- Cloud doesn't have a mini-flashback ("Watch out! This isn't just a reactor!!") before setting up the bomb.
- The boss monster is not Guard Scorpion, but a giant Sweeper.
- There's only three minutes until the reactor blows up. Also, there's no countdown timer—instead, a small window showing how many minutes remain appears once Cloud enters a new area.
- Jessie's leg still gets stuck, but in a different location in the same part of the reactor.
- Biggs has to be rescued as well—Cloud can find him fallen in the next area.
2. PlayStation Underground #2 Demo Disk (1997)
Our second demo disk was initially available to subscribers of the PlayStation Underground CD magazine, and later released by Square as a separate promotional item. Like the Tobal No. 1 demo, this demo covers the entire beginning of the game, up until the explosion of Reactor No. 1. Unlike the earlier demo, the PlayStation Underground one is far more refined and closer to the finished game; however, there are still some notable differences. For one thing, instead of Aeris, Tifa is with the party the entire time, starting from Cloud's very first battle once disembarking from the train. Also, a variety of high-level magic is available (such as Bolt 3 and Cure 3, both linked with All), as are the summons Ifrit and Titan (carried by Barret) and Neo-Bahamut (carried by Tifa). Just imagine casting Neo-Bahamut on Guard Scorpion!
The PlayStation Underground demo also contains the same technical changes as the Tobal No. 1 disk: the lack of a save point within the reactor, no options to change characters' names, and absolutely no access to the menu.
One final thing that may be worth noting about this disk, which also includes a playable demo of Bushido Blade and previews of Final Fantasy Tactics and SaGa Frontier, is the menu: it's nothing special to look at, but the FFVII tune "Descendant of Shinobi" plays as the background music.
3. Tomb Raider III Demo Disk (1998)
Our third demo, and the first one showcasing the PC version of FFVII, came on a disk bundled with Tomb Raider III. As with the Tobal No. 1 demo, the three playable characters are Cloud, Barret, and Aeris—however, this time, they're exploring the North Corel area.
As with the other demos, an assortment of magic is available, including Cure, Life, Bolt, Fire, Ice, and the summons Choco-Mog, Ifrit, and Bahamut. Yet what's most unusual about this demo is the fact that the menu can be accessed and at least one save point can be seen. Of course, both PHS and Save are disabled in the menu, which essentially renders the save point useless.
Like the finished game, the demo runs best under Windows 95 or 98. To get this demo working in later versions of Windows, you will need to run it in Windows 95 compatibility mode (right-click ff7demo.exe and select "Properties", then the "Compatibility" tab); however, it can still be a bit flaky and prone to crashing.
Update (March 2009): Todd notes that the same demo can be found on the bonus disk with Tomb Raider Gold.
4. Battle Square Demo (1998) | download (outside link)
This demo, which was also included on the Tomb Raider III bonus disk, is completely different from all the others on this list in that it focuses only on battles and the battle system, and contains no story whatsover. Naturally, it takes place entirely within the Gold Saucer's Battle Arena, with Cloud as the playable character. Among the abilities available are 2x-Cut, the summons Shiva and Hades, and the limit breaks Blade Beam and Climhazzard.
As with the previous demo, Windows 95 or 98 is recommended, but the appropriate compatibility mode can be used in later versions of Windows.
Written by Reeve, February 2006; updated March 2006. Special thanks to John S., regarding the Tomb Raider III Demo Disk, and Marcelo X for additional PlayStation demo disk info.