Evidently, my problem in previous playthroughs of Final Fantasy VII was not having Yuffie in my second party member slot. She comments on everything and it's hilarious. I loved how deeply unimpressed she was on first meeting Vincent. I've never understood why people 'ship them; maybe that's part of it? It did make me think they could have quite a fun dynamic, even if I'm still a long way from 'shipping it myself.
One thing Final Fantasy VII does rather well is giving all the characters their own backstories and relevance. It's a particularly strong contrast to VIII, where all the characters' stories are essentially the same. It's quite nice to have these little sidequests - Cosmo Canyon, Wutai - that are centred on getting to know a member of your party better.
That said, the localisation problems continue to make immersion impossible (although I have no criticism of the line in my post title, which is pure gold) and there are some moments of truly atrocious game design, so I haven't entirely embraced VII yet. Despite that amazing scene where Cloud plays a prince in a pantomime and then pirouettes off the stage.
(And yet Cloud is always portrayed as INCREDIBLY SERIOUS, NO FUN ALLOWED in official materials nowadays! It's a shame.)
The worst offence so far, game-design-wise: finding the Keystone. You get the Tiny Bronco and go 'well, we don't really know how to reach the Temple of the Ancients; let's just look for information.' In the absence of specific advice on where to go, anyone who's ever played a game before knows that you need to go to wherever you couldn't get to before, i.e. Bone Village.
BUT NO. All you learn at Bone Village is that you need a Keystone and, quote, 'some rich guy has it'. THANKS, BONE VILLAGE. What you're actually supposed to do is go back to a little house you visited ages ago that had nobody in it, because now the owner is suddenly home (there's no reason for you to know this), and he will tell you which specific rich guy has the stone.
Really, Final Fantasy VII? The White SeeD ship in VIII was bad, but at least they told you which continent you were supposed to be looking on!