Anti-Climax Boss: Palmer. By the time you fight him, you already fought some Shinra executives (Rufus, Rude, and Reno) that can dish out powerful attacks. Palmer? All he can do is use a Mako Gun, which has a fire, ice, or lightning effect and can be easily nerfed by casting M Barrier on the party. Other than that, that's all Palmer can do aside from having a lot of HP.
While subsequent games have made it worse, this is the game that shattered the fanbase, largely due to the sudden shift in art style, atmosphere and console. Camps of fans include those who never got into the series until it came out and hate the games that came before, those that loved the games before and consider this one to have killed the series, those that consider this game the best RPG of all time, those that consider it So Okay, It's Average with too much hype, and those that consider it an overrated, unoriginal piece of junk. And then there's fans who love the original game but hate its expanded universe.
Whether or not the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII should have been made and which, if any, portions of it are worthwhile.
Professor Hojo may not be the primary antagonist, but is responsible for nearly everything bad happening in the game. Prior to the game proper, he injects Jenova cells into the womb of his wife, Lucrecia, in order to turn their son Sephiroth into a Super Soldier. He later murders Aerith's father and experiments on both her and her mother, his research leading to the latter's death. Throughout the game he is implied to manipulate most, if not all, of Sephiroth's actions, because he thinks of Sephiroth as research he wants to see blossom. He attempts to mate Aerith with Red XIII to create a half-human hybrid; experiments on the survivors of the Nibelheim massacre; murders Vincent, experimenting on his corpse and turning him into a half-monster; and attempts to help his son destroy the world at the end of the game. Dirge of Cerberus reveals Hojo to have copied his mind into the body of an experimental super soldier and used him to order other experimental super soldiers to commit mass kidnappings and murders, with the ultimate goal of awakening Omega and fusing with it.
Designated Villain: Shinra slips into this during the Huge Materia subplot. Their plan is to gather highly powerful Huge Materia from Mako Reactors, pack it up in their rocket, and launch it at Meteor to blow it up. The party decides to stop them for no reason other than "we can't let Shinra get their hands on the Huge Materia". This trope becomes particularly problematic when the party watches the rocket fail to blow up Meteor and expresses dismay that it doesn't work, prompting the question of why they sabotaged the plan at all.
Die for Our Ship: Aerith's murder is sometimes seen as an invoking of this trope, since it brings the Love Triangle subplot to a decisive conclusion. There used to be fan rumors that, by manipulating the game's romance mechanics, one could get an alternate scene where Tifa would Take The Sword in Aerith's place.
Sephiroth is the poster boy for this. Although once most people realized/were informed that he was in control of Jenova and not vice versa, accusations and complaints of Draco in Leather Pants began to outweigh actual instances of it.
Rufus Shinra is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who uses fear of Sephiroth and AVALANCHE to manipulate the public and tries to arrange a public execution for Tifa. Fans like to de-emphasize his bastardly traits to make him more of an Anti-Hero. By the time of Advent Children he canonically Took a Level in Kindness.
Reno. Okay, admittedly the flattening an entire city district (with the people inside, no less) and pinning it on AVALANCHE wasn't his idea and he had no real pleasure in doing it, but that doesn't change the fact that he's the one who physically did the deed. A lot of people, however, ignore this and act as if he's a perfectly good guy without flaws.
Tseng also gets some of this despite his introduction consisting of him slapping the captive Aerith and laughing at the party's hopelessness before the Sector 7 pillar collapses.
Strangely enough, Hojo has a decent female fanbase both in-universe and out of it.
A lot of fans are pretty irritated that Vincent was an optional character and therefore not important to the storyline. Later on, he had important role in Advent Children and starred in his own game Dirge of Cerberus.
Zack, who was pretty much a One-Scene Wonder in the original game before he became the main character in Crisis Core.
The Turks, but primarily Reno. They take on more important roles in the Compliation, however.
Rufus Shinra. There's a reason he came back for Advent Children.
Kadaj, Yazoo & Loz, who were only filler versions of Sephiroth yet have enormous popularity; Kadaj even got his own Play Arts figurine.
Reeve Tuesti, on account of being the only Shinra executive with a conscience. He's very dynamic for a relatively minor character, starting out as a good person working for an evil corporation and becoming the Big Good of Dirge of Cerberus. And, depending on one's tastes, he's quite good-looking◊.
Hell House is a stronger-than-normal enemy encountered in the Sector 6 slums, but is remembered and beloved by players for its unique and bizarre design: a sentient house that sprouts arms and legs once it takes enough damage.
Epileptic Trees: A lot of fans used to think that Jenova, not Sephiroth, was the one who was really pulling the strings, and that he was just an Unwitting Pawn. Word of God explaining that he was, in fact, the one in control put this theory mostly to rest, although it still prevails to an extent since not every fan has read the materials in which this explanation appears.
Fandom Rivalry: With Final Fantasy VI for which is the "best" of the series, as well as if Kefka or Sephiroth is the greatest villain. This rivalry is carried over into the critical scene as well; some reviewers and critics declare VII the best Final Fantasy title and one of the greatest video games of all time, others say the same of VI.
Here's another combo: Master Summon-MP Absorb, Master Summon-HP Absorb, W-Summon. Be prepared for the fun of raising Knights of the Round to level 5 six times.
Cover, Long Range, and Counter-Attack makes for a nice Disc-One Nuke, since most of the enemy's attacks will focus on one person taking half-damage, who will be counter-attacking for full damage constantly. Adding Counter->Mime makes the whole thing silly. Pop off a Limit Break and sit back while the character jumps in front of every attack and counters with Omnislash every time.
The Midgar Zolom uses an attack called Beta, which counts as an enemy skill. If you can survive it with said materia intact you can essentially blaze through the first disc and much of the second.
Yuffie's ultimate weapon, the Conformer, increases damage based on how much materia is linked to it. A full set will hit Sephiroth for 9999, every time.
The final boss is not immune to debuff spells. Combine those with Knights of the Round, he'll be defeated in three turns or less.
Genius Bonus: The equations flashed during the animation for Sephiroth's Supernova aren't random; they're equations for calculating the potential attractive forces of the sun, asteroid, and earth, as well as the energy being released by the astroid's impact. Though, some of the equations are still misstated.
Good Bad Bug: Red XIII's Howling Moon Limit Break gives him a major attack bonus, and also adds the Haste and Berserk status. Normally, this forces him to do nothing but attack for the rest of the fight. However, if you have some sort of equipment that blocks the Berserk status, like a Ribbon, Red will still get the attack bonus and Haste status, but you'll still be able to control him.
Harsher in Hindsight: See the WMG about mako energy representing nuclear energy. Now, about that earthquake and the ensuing reactor meltdown...
Hilarious in Hindsight: This archived thread on ToonZone talked about hypothetical voice acting in some the games, including this one. This dates back to all the way in 2002. One of the suggestions for Tifa was Rachael Leigh Cook, who later was indeed the one to voice Tifa.
Hype Backlash: Regardless of your opinion of the game, it's undeniable that some people were turned off by the amount of gushing it's gotten over the years since its release.
Some argue that, with the additional installments to the story, the franchise is starting to plummet. They argue that the fun factor of the game is relinquished for the sake of pleasing the fanboys and fangirls, sacrificing the deep integrated storyline that made the original RPG such an amazing game for the sake of indulging in characters such as Sephiroth, Vincent, and Zack.
The main game itself. Oddly enough, some fans just don't seem to be able to grasp the concept that Final Fantasy VII was popular for two reasons: it was the first RPG to receive major advertising, and it was the first RPG to actively sell itself to the mainstream through said advertisingnote as broken as the base is, some dislike it for just those reasons: that its best virtue is PR. Neither of which makes it a bad game at all, mind you, but don't try to convince someone who hates it of that.
Magnificent Bastard: Consummate businessman Rufus Shinra spent his vice-presidency funding the activities of an early iteration of AVALANCHE to subvert his father in hopes of attaining the position for himself. When Sephiroth murders him and parts of the company in cold blood, a parade is held in the newly inaugurated President Rufus's honor to mark a new era. When the Weapons attack the world to protect the Lifestream, Rufus tries to get rid of them but is caught an explosion. Revealed to have survived, Rufus powers through restrictive circumstances to get his company back on top, including building the city of Edge with a Meteor monument to represent his rise to power and discovering the remains of Jenova to keep for himself. He later implicitly manipulates Cloud to battling Kadaj and the other Remnants of Sephiroth and derives great amusement in easily fooling Kadaj, having kept Jenova's head with him the whole time.
Tifa power bombs a monster. UNDERWATER! ON THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN FLOOR!
Among many fans, Midgar Zolom is regarded in fearful awe for its lethal Beta attack and terrifying appearance as a gigantic snake that towers over the party, and it is considered one of the most dangerous creatures in the entire franchise. Being able to defeat it while picking up Beta as an Enemy Skill is a mark of prideful achievement for some players.
Vincent is not emo. Not until Dirge Of Cerberus, anyway. In the original game, talking with him whenever you get the chance shows that a distinct lack of expressing any feeling is a big characteristic of Vincent, rather than moping or being depressed.
Cloud and Tifa were not childhood friends. It was a major plot and character point that, by their own admission, they didn't know each other very well growing up. Cloud was a loner and had a crush on Tifa from afar but was not part of her circle of friends, while Tifa didn't really pay attention to Cloud until he left to join SOLDIER and she began to think about him more often. Despite this, fans and even Square-Enix themselves heavily push the two as being childhood friends that grew up together.
Moe: Tifa, thanks to being incredibly shy around Cloud.
For the players it's usually Sephiroth killing Aerith, but it all truly starts when Sephiroth begins walking out of the Shinra mansion, and states to a bewildered Cloud: "Out of my way. I'm going to see my mother." The nightmare begins with that sentence, complete with the beginning of a trend with Cloud and Sephiroth: Cloud being just a step behind, following a path of dead bodies and sprayed blood.
For Shinra, especially its late President and Heidegger, it's destroying all of Sector 7 just to wipe out AVALANCHE, which has a grand total of six members.
What Scarlet did to Corel and all of its residents, including Barret and Dyne.
Hojo's probably is how he experimented on his unborn child.
Regarding Cloud, out of all Final Fantasy characters who can Never Live It Down, he gets it the worst, pretty much being synonymous with the word "Emo" when he was just serious and didn't angst very much at all in Final Fantasy VII save for during his Mind Rape, but you wouldn't know it from his spin-off appearances.
When it comes to Yuffie, some people just can't let go of that Wutai Theft, even though if you level her up properly, she'll more than make up for it to you in battle.
One True Threesome: Cloud/Tifa/Aerith is one of the archetypical examples in video games. For yaoi fans there's Cloud/Sephiroth/Zack. Crisis Core added in Genesis and Angeal, and can be combined with the latter threesome in pretty much any way you like. Though not as widespread, Cloud/Zack/Tifa or Aerith is out there too.
Padding: The Huge Materia subplot. After the escape from Junon, the main plot detours into Shinra wanting to launch Huge Materia from their reactors at Meteor with their old rocket, and the party sets out to stop them for little reason, then is disappointed when it doesn't work. As a result, several hours of gameplay are spent on a subplot that does little to advance the characters or the story.
Porting Disaster: Not as bad as some games, but the PC version has a truly tragic cut because it made the jump to a 100%-MIDI soundtrack. However, this meant that the choral track of One Winged Angel was lost for some people because it was in a format that not every sound card could play.
Player Punch: Aeris is killed by Sephiroth at the end of disc 1, roughly mid- or one third of the way into the game.
The game created, popularized, or deconstructed many RPG tropes and conventions that see popular use todaynote not nearly as many as some would have you believe, but also not none as others would say, but people who weren't there to experience the game at launch tend to see it as a dated Cliché Storm. Even the deconstructions became tropes in and of themselves.
Of special note: characters with amnesia and/or who appear to be one thing but end up really being something else entirely have been used so often in Square Enix games since that, playing the game now, one wouldn't see anything remotely special or shocking about them.
Sequel Displacement: While obviously nobody thinks that the seventh game in the series is the first, since the wider distribution and promotion of the title compared to previous entries (as well as its status as the first high profile JRPG on the Playstation) means that many, many fans of the series played this game first and define the series by this game. It didn't help in Europe, it was the first mainline Final Fantasy to be released there. Mildly hypocritical It's Popular, Now It Sucks! and apathetic Hype Backlash followed among a minority of fans.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: The game came out in 1997. A decade and a half later, there are still websites, forums, and debates about who Cloud loves between Aerith and Tifa. While the original game gave evidence for both, supplementary creation materials and the expanded universe have established that Cloud ends up with Tifa. The original draft of the game even had an implied sex scene between the two that was toned down because it was too risque.
Squick: Hojo's plan to breed Aerith with Red XIII. Also, whether the headless body with the squid-eyeball-nipple in Shinra HQ had this effect on the player or not, it apparently did on Barret (or it just ticked him off a lot).
Tier-Induced Scrappy: Cait Sith. He statistically has the worst average stats of any party member except for Magic, but most characters can get their Magic high enough to hit the damage cap anyway. He only has two Limit commands, Dice and Slots, which both have random effects.
That One Attack: As with the other games in the series, the Marlboro's Bad Breath Attack.
Midgar Zolom's "Beta" attack. (At least until you learn it.)
Ruby Weapon's Whirlsand attack, which it uses as its first two attacks in every battle. It removes two of your players forcing you to fight it with just one.
Sephiroth's Supernova attack. (Though it looks WAY more powerful than it actually is.)
For first-time players, the very first boss, the Guard Scorpion, thanks to a "Blind Idiot" Translation. When it raises its tail it will counter attacks with a powerful laser blast, so you should not do that. The catch is that the way Cloud's warning is translated, it sounds like he's saying you should attack when it raises its tail to avoid its laser blast. Following his advice as given results in a faceful of laser.
For first-time players, the fight with Jenova-BIRTH can be a nasty surprise. It has a lot more HP than the last boss, hits rather hard for that point of the game and can spam its lasers two or three times. Tail Laser is especially dangerous, as it hits all the team, and since Jenova always uses it twice in a row, it will deplete between one third and half of the health of your characters. Unless you level-grind a little in the boat or managed to snag Beta from the Zolom, it's a tough fight. It can also temporarily incapacitate a character with its Stop spell, crippling you considerably while using the previously-mentioned attacks.
Materia Keeper on Mt. Nibel is infuriating to defeat with conventional means - it absorbs Fire (the element of Beta, the most powerful spell that it is possible for you to have access to at that point, and the element of the spells cast by your most recently-recruited character's Berserk Limit Break form), has ridiculous stats, likes to heal itself for thousands of points of damage, and will cast a powerful all-targeting lightning spell when it dies. The game leaves two gimmicky weapons in the area (Tifa's Powersoul and Vincent's Sniper CR) which are major Game Breakers when set up correctly and will make the battle short, but both are non-obvious, advanced-level techniques.
Rapps in Wutai, because of the fact that the party has no access to Materia, thanks to Yuffie stealing them all. In addition, he'll be able to use Aero 3, a One-Hit KO if you're not prepared. The game never says this outright, but you'll have to use your character's limit breaks to defeat him, such as Aeris' extremely helpful Seal Evil which can stop him from moving, or Barret's Mindblow that'll remove all of his MP.
The Demon Wall from the Temple of the Ancients. It has some powerful magic and some nasty status effects, along with staggering magical defense and a mountain of health. This wouldn't be a problem, but you have to bring Aerith along to this dungeon, whose primary role is to use support magic most of the time.
Schizo at Gaea's Cliff. It has two heads that you need to attack separately, and when you kill one, it will unleash a nasty attack that can wipe out your entire party if you're behind with your healing. It gets even worse if you kill both of the heads at the same time.
Carry Armor. Not only is Lapis Laserhorrifyingly powerful (to the extent of taking off half your normally-leveled party's health per cast), but his arms can Grab party members and remove them from combat, smashing them against the floor and only returning them once they're dead. And as you wear Carry Armor down, he uses Lapis Laser more and more, often using Arm Grab to kill off two members and Lapis Laser-ing the last one. In addition, the game counts it as a loss if you have all your living party members Arm Grabbed. This occurs even if you roll Cait Sith's Transform spell on his slots, which causes him to grow giant in return for becoming your sole party member.
That One Sidequest: The Chocobos, both the breeding and the racing. To get four of the best Materia in the game, you need to catch specific Chocobos in specific locations around the world, feed them thousands of gil worth of food, race them over and over to improve their rank, then breed them. Do the same with the offspring, then breed them, then do the same with those offspring yet again to finally get the Gold Chocobo you need. To complicate things further, there's the potential for them to produce the wrong color Chocobo when breeding so try again, the amount of food needed can potentially bankrupt you, racing them will force you to face Joe who is very difficult to beat, and the entire quest is a Guide Dang It! from start to finish.
The game's characters use the word "retard" and variants thereof fairly liberally, usually as a synonym for "dumb" or "stupid," as was commonplace at the time the game was produced. Nowadays, the word is considered an extremely offensive and discriminatory slur, and totally unacceptable for usage in conversation.
The Wall Market subplot centers around Cloud having to dress up as a woman to sneak into Don Corneo's mansion, complete with a make-up, wig, and even appropriate underwear. As part of this Cloud can visit the Honey Bee Inn and have a bath with several muscular men in swimsuits with Porn Staches, and the scene is laden with obvious homoerotic undertones. Coupled with Cloud's embarrassment over everything to do with this scheme (and Aerith being very amused by his embarrassment), it can come off as insensitive and stereotypical towards homosexual and transgender individuals.
Cid's treatment of Shera, where he shouts at her, orders her around, and insults her, and Shera accepts it all because she feels she deserves it, would go over much different these days with society's heightened awareness of domestic abuse and battered women.
The Woobie: Cloud, oh Cloud. The guy saw his childhood hero burn down his hometown and try to kill his best friend and love interest, and then Cloud spent almost five years floating in a test tube while Hojo experimented on him. When Zack broke him out he was catatonic, and came to his senses just in time to have Zack die in his arms after fighting off Shinra's forces. That was all before the events of the game happened, which just keep the Trauma Conga Line going. Little wonder when faced with the reality of everything at the Northern Crater, he finally cracked.