Final Fantasy VII remake should be a cause for cautious excitement - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Final Fantasy VII remake should be a cause for cautious excitement

Square Enix hit it big at E3 this year. Rise of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 3, new Deus Ex, new Final Fantasy XV info, new Kingdom Hearts III trailer, and honestly I wasn’t paying attention to any of it.

Because.

Final. Fantasy. VII.

Remake.

If you weren’t gaming in the late ’90s/early ’00s, you probably don’t understand just how big Final Fantasy VII was. That JRPG boom in Western markets? That was because of Final Fantasy VII. The sudden prevalence of movie-style FMV cutscenes? Final Fantasy VII. Video game plots that start off fine and then you keep playing and suddenly you’re going back in time and also through dimensions and the lizard people who were subjugated by humans want revenge and your girlfriend is a clone whose original is part of an apocalypse Y2K monster and your father is a cat person except he switches bodies with you and then you’re your father as a cat person for a while and then you give birth to yourself or something…

Um, yeah. Chrono Cross was weird. The point is, it’s all Final Fantasy VII‘s fault. And Square Enix should probably tone down the drugs.

It influenced me, too. It was the first video game I had ever played that gave me a sense of what games could really do in terms of storytelling, visuals, and atmosphere. I was eleven years old and the deepest video game plot I had experienced before then was becoming a Pokemon master. Understandably, FFVII blew my little mind.

I usually don’t like saying stuff like this, rating my favorite games quantitatively and all, but this time I have to.

Final Fantasy VII is my favorite game. Ever.

Not the worst of the mistranslations, but certainly the most memed.

Not the worst of the mistranslations, but certainly the most memed.

Even though the character models look like Playmobil figures. Even though it’s so slathered with the ’90s you can almost taste it. Even though the slapdash translation makes the already overly complex plot virtually incomprehensible.

So I mean, you understand that I might be a little excited about this whole remake thing.

But let’s not just foam at the mouth and collapse into a puddle of nostalgia until next year, because there’s some changes being made.

Video games have evolved, and JRPGs especially are different from where they were in 1997. And there’s no way the remake is gonna update the graphics and call it a day. In fact, there’s an HD port of the original game coming out this winter for people who just want to play the original. No, this game is going to be different. Especially with Tetsuya Nomura at its head.

As Nomura explains in an interview with Gamestop, “We’ve announced an HD port version on the PlayStation 4, and then we have the remake coming to PS4 […] You’ll have this extremely, very, very pretty FFVII existing on the same plane. We feel that if that happens, it’s like, why have the same exact game?”

The gameplay is definitely going to change; there’s no getting around that. “I can’t share details,” Nomura told Famitsu magazine, “but we’re changing [the battle system] to a more realistic system.”

Totally understandable. Compared to RPGs like Skyrim, or even the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, FFVII feels… let’s just say… slow. The Active Time Battle system, a Final Fantasy staple until around 2001, is simply not compatible with newer games. Like, imagine this with ultra-HD graphics:

More Nomura, this time from Wired: “My goal with the remake is to make it apply to the current era, the current generation of players that are going to be coming into contact with or playing Final Fantasy 7 for the first time through this remake. […]  I don’t want to change it so much that it’s unrecognisable, but make sure that it’s something fresh and new [but still] recognisable as Final Fantasy 7.”

Nomura’s decision is right, of course. That’s not what’s bothering me.

"My gloomy pop culture persona is a direct result of this movie." (ign.com)

“My gloomy pop culture persona is a direct result of this movie. Seriously, I’m not like this in the game at all.” (ign.com)

Back when Final Fantasy VII was first released, Nomura was naught but a lowly character designer. Now, as a key figure of Square Enix, the remake’s success rests upon his shoulders. This gives me some cause for concern, considering his major prior contribution to the Final Fantasy VII canon was Advent Children, a movie consisting of pretty fight scenes strung together with a whole lot of horrible character development.

Character. That’s what every person I’ve talked to is looking forward to in the remake. Don’t screw up the characters. Especially Cloud there on the left. You wouldn’t believe his original version had a sense of humor, with how he turned out in Advent Children.

So yeah, I’m a bit on edge. But honestly? I think Nomura can do it, as long as he looks less toward Advent Children (and the rest of the expanded universe) and more toward Kingdom Hearts.

If you want to see Nomura’s work in its purest form, play some Kingdom Hearts. That should give you an idea of what the remake’s direction will be like, and how he’ll handle the characters.

Just how weird is Kingdom Hearts? These are all the same person. (Disney Wikia)

Just how weird is Kingdom Hearts, you ask? Well, these are all the same person. (Disney Wikia)

I have a love-hate relationship with Kingdom Hearts. It’s a series that somehow manages to claw its way out of every hole it’s dug itself into, and made me appreciate its complexity (some would say insanity) through sheer persistence. But it does have some really good character development if you stick with it.

So, Nomura… tone down the symbolism and callbacks, and try not to make the plot any more ridiculous than it actually is, okay? The end result might be a game worth playing.

On an unrelated note, I am a hopelessly naive optimist.

Here’s hoping I won’t eat my words when more information about the game becomes available.

Oh, right, because the rumors have started again: Guys, they’re not bringing you-know-who back to life. Come on. It doesn’t even make sense thematically, because– no, wait, this is not an analysis. Let’s save that for the comments.


About the author

Lynn Bachman

Lynn Bachman was born and raised in Baltimore. After reading Lord of the Rings at a young age, she has had a perpetual fondness for fantasy worlds, epic quests and magical horses. When you can tear her away from her role-playing games, she enjoys such things as drawing, horseback riding, and of course, writing. Lynn received her B.A. in Writing and Literature from Juniata College in 2013. Don't talk to her about sports or politics. Do ask to see her video game collection. [Steam: peacefulcascade; Playstation Network: pcascade; 3DS Friend Code: 2122-6206-0737] Contact the author.
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