Final Fantasy 7’s Snowboarding Mini-Game Is Still the Pinnacle of Absurd Fun

Shred the pow.

FF7 Snow Game
Square Enix

Role-playing games are expansive things that usually take dozens of hours to complete. Franchises like Final Fantasy fill that time with deep character stories, world-building, and tightly designed combat. Also mini-games. So very many mini-games. Final Fantasy VII stands out as having some of the best in the series, like Chocobo racing. Yet one specific mini-game stood out for its stylish shredding, despite the awkward timing of it all. That’s right, we are talking about Cloud’s snowboarding, which turns 26 or 18 years old, depending on how you look at it. (But more on that later.)

One of the saddest moments in video game history comes at the end of FF7’s first disc. The party races towards the Forgotten City in pursuit of Aerith and Sephiroth. Just when Cloud sees Aerith praying, Sephiroth falls from the sky and runs her through with his massive samurai sword. Aerith is dead. It is heartbreaking to this day, just ask Robert Pattinson.

Everybody grieves in their own way. Cloud’s way is snowboarding.

Square Enix

After this tragedy, the party has an honest discussion about her death and the state of the mission. They need to keep going and defeat Sephiroth. For the planet, and Aerith. So what happens immediately after this? Cloud gets to do some gnarly shredding!

To make their way toward Sephiroth the party has to navigate past the Icicle Inn, which requires Cloud to snowboard down the mountain. This mini-game entails moving Cloud left and right as well as jumping to avoid obstacles. There are also balloons to collect along the course. This mini-game is great despite the dissonance between Aerith’s death and this moment. In fact, the snowboarding mini-game is great because it happens so close to Aerith's death.

One of the hallmarks of Final Fantasy is that it knows when it needs to be serious and when it needs some levity. Despite having some of the darkest stories in gaming, the smaller moments scattered throughout the main narratives are often full of hilarious side-quests or character interaction. These moments of levity make the harshness of the world feel even worse when it needs to emotionally hurt the player.

Mechanically it also acts as a forgiving break from the plot. Exhausted because you just grinded your way to the Forgotten City to watch Aerith die? Well, don’t worry you can just enjoy this cool-as-heck snowboarding minigame! It gives the player time to rest and then prepare to push forward with the main plot.

I want to see Cloud do a backflip in 4K.

Square Enix

Snowboarding also becomes available in the Gold Saucer so you can come back and shred to your heart's content. The Gold Saucer version lets players pick from three different tracks and could be played as long as you want as long as you had the Gil (FF7 money).

Then at the end of March 2005, Square Enix released Final Fantasy VII: Snowboarding, which is the real anniversary we’re celebrating here. Available on mobile phones the game lets players play through all of the Gold Saucer snowboarding tracks as well as the original Icicle Inn mini-game. Cutting out all the fat off FF7 and leaving only the pure diamond of snowboarding. I’m kidding of course, but it was an enjoyable mobile game that let players revisit an iconic mini-game.

Sadly, 5 years ago on March 31, 2018, Square Enix made the mobile game no longer available for download. Yet another timely reason to get nostalgic.

RIP Final Fantasy VII: Snowboarding.

Yet with the Final Fantasy VII Remake series in full swing a glimmer of hope emerges. The second game in the trilogy, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, is set to cover a substantial chunk of the original game. That is likely to include the gold saucer and by extension, snowboarding. Minigames were a huge part of FF7 Remake and received lavish updates. An entire rhythm mini-game was also made for the Honeybee Inn sequence. Hopefully, snowboarding will receive the same treatment. I can only dream of Cloud shredding through the snow in 4K, doing flips and twists like he is straight out of SSX.

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