In the middle of the 1997 role-playing game Final Fantasy VII, a kind, magical, nature-loving woman named Aerith is stabbed through the chest and drops dead. This shocking turn has been a source of sorrow and consternation for players ever since. Legions of Final Fantasy fans still share their experience of Aerith’s death online, to the point that “Did you cry when Aerith died?” has become a standard icebreaker.
It’s one of the most talked-about RPG moments of all time. But Aerith’s dying breaths were surpassed—in emotional impact and in artfulness—by a similar mid-game death in Final Fantasy VII’s 1994 Super NES predecessor, Final Fantasy VI.