I’ve played hundreds of JRPGs and in my opinion none of them have come close to brilliance of Final Fantasy 7, from the well-rounded (albeit arguably stereotypical) characters that you genuinely cared about, to the reams of insanely fun mini-games and side-quests, to the deep Materia system that was so flexible and fun experimenting with it allowed you to create your own unique devastating spells if you combined the right stuff, to the carefully-crafted pre-rendered backgrounds which still stand out as being quite beautiful even by today’s standard, to the epic orchestra like One-Winged-Angel, no JRPG has ever come close to eliciting the same emotion from me than Final Fantasy 7, and to my mind, it’s the best JRPG ever created, and most fans would argue the best Final Fantasy ever made, which is amazing considering it was released in 1997 on the technologically limited PSone. The games since such as Final Fantasy 12 and 13 are visually better but in my opinion they’re inferior in almost every other respect. I hope they make a remake of Final Fantasy 7 for this new generation of consoles, Square Enix has been teasing fans too long. And yes, I am a fanboy. Obvious, no?
FF7 isn't my favorite game, even though it's really good and I loved playing it when it came out on my PS. I personally liked FF games in this order, 6 as my favorite (it's 3 where I'm from), then 7 as a close second (thought the Midgar section was badass), then 8, but that's just my opinion and experience.
The reason why I vote yes for FF7 being the best JRPG is because of the huge boost in popularity the Final Fantasy series got when it was released, and more importantly secured itself a new generation of FF fans. For a long time I heard in the gaming community around where I lived a lot of talk about "cool" Sephiroth was, and how (from the really dorky ones) hot Tifa was, haha.
I like JRPGs as much as the next guy, but I just... Don't like Final Fantasy. To say that it's better than another series to me is "wrong", but this is not something objective and certainly not worth debating. To decide that Final Fantasy 7 is the best JRPG pretty much requires playing literally every single JRPG in existence period, because someone will at some point come along and say "XY game did XY better."
Personally, I think Final Fantasy 9 and 7 were the best of the Final Fantasy games, but that's not saying much. Like all games, they have problems, and I think the more you delve into why you like or dislike a game, the more you'll find that the deciding factors for different people are different things. I prefer games with interesting concepts, character growth, and stories that are captivating. I don't find that in any Final Fantasy game-- which makes it not "the best" to me. Did Final Fantasy 7 revolutionize JRPGs? I would say yes, it did. But I would still rather play Chrono Trigger than Final Fantasy 7.
But I might be biased. By and large, I don't like Square much, if at all, and I vastly prefer Atlus games.
I think it would only be fair to compare Final Fantasy to games in it's own series. It is a contender for one of the best Final Fantasy games, but not the best JRPG.
FF7 is a good game. But not a great game, let alone the best JRPG ever made. There are numerous issues such as a ridiculous storyline and unlikeable characters. Cloud and Sephiroth are two annoying, angst-ridden, whinny characters who moan and complain. The rest of the party is not better and everyone has there angsty moments.
The gameplay is too simple with materia being easy to learn without much room for true character customization. There is very little difficulty and I had no problem breezing through the game.
I'll admit, having recently played FF7 for the first time on a PSP, that the game is pretty fun.
However I think its popularity more or less comes from the nostalgia factor as it came along at the time when many of us current gamers were given a playstation and were old enough to understand and get sucked into the story.
Not to mention that it was probably the first JRPG for many kids.
I never owned a PS1, but I did get a PS2 and thanks to backwards compatibility and cheap used games, Legend of Dragoon was my first JRPG which I love and still play.
And while FF7 is good, I'd rather play Brave Fencer Musashi.