Microsoft and Sony have done their share of trash-talking in recent years. However, this Final Fantasy 7 ad from 1997 demonstrates that console makers were even less civil toward each other in the past.
The full-page FF7 ad, dug up by a Reddit user, has some harsh words for the Nintendo 64 and its cartridge-based games: "Someone please get the guys who make cartridge games a cigarette and a blindfold."
Sony's bravado continues with the bottom text of the ad: "Possibly the greatest game ever made is available only on PlayStation. Good thing. If it were available on cartridge, it'd retail for around $1,200."
The cartridge jokes make more sense if you understand the historical context. Squaresoft (the company that eventually became Square Enix) was a key developer for the NES and SNES. Of the various games that they created for the system, the Final Fantasy series was the largest.
It came as a shock, then, when Squaresoft announced they would be developing Final Fantasy 7 for Sony's PlayStation but not Nintendo 64. The reason for that Squaresoft chose PSOne over N64 came down to the format of the games. The former used CDs while the latter used cartridges. Although cartridges had shorter loading times than CDs, they also had only a tenth of their storage capacity. If you wanted to fit Final Fantasy 7 fit on cartridges, you'd need a huge number of cartridges, hence the joke in the ad about an N64 version costing $1,200.
The small storage space was a severe problem for Squaresoft, who wanted to make Final Fantasy 7 the first 3D entry in the series.
"As a result of using a lot of motion data and CG effects and in still images, it turned out to be a mega capacity game, and therefore we had to choose CD-ROM as our media," Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi explained in an interview. "In other words, we became too aggressive, and got ourselves into trouble."
Squaresoft's decision to partner with Sony over Nintendo turned out to be a major coup for PlayStation. The upstart console received not only Final Fantasy 7 but also numerous other chapters in the series. The PSOne was also the exclusive home to other classics like Bushido Blade, Xenogears and Parasite Eve - all because Nintendo decided to go with cartridges.
Sony didn't know about all those later games when they made this ad, of course. Nonetheless, their attack was forceful and brutal: Nintendo 64 doesn't have Final Fantasy 7 but couldn't even run it. If you want big games like this, you're going to need a PSOne.
This ad makes all the sniping about console prices or exclusives today seem awfully tame. As snarky as Microsoft and Sony might get, neither of them have suggested that the other get marched in front of a firing squad.