Remaking Final Fantasy 7 sounds like a terrible idea

Monday, 24 February 2014 10:35 GMT By Dave Cook

Remaking Final Fantasy 7 has been discussed recently by series producer Yoshinori Kitase, and he’s a little nervous about the concept. Franchise mega-fan Dave Cook thinks it’s a terrible idea, despite his curiosity.

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I’m a sad person who makes lists. Final Fantasy 7 is my second-favourite game of all time, flanked by Streets of Rage 2 in first and Resident Evil 4 in third.

“The game wasn’t perfect in 1997, and many feel it hasn’t aged well, but it was a landmark for many of us thanks to the emphasis on story-telling.”

I still remember early coverage of the game back in 1996, when magazines started reporting on Squaresoft’s PlayStation debut. My friends and I had never heard of the series before but we sat around during our high school lunch breaks huddled around images of Cloud Strife in CGI form, marvelling at the super-realistic visuals.

They weren’t realistic of course, and as young, eager gamers we were prone to mass bouts of hyperbole, but few can deny that for 1996, Final Fantasy 7’s cut-scenes were something of a revelation. Then, in 1997, the game launched. I got it for Christmas, and upon watching that first single-shot that went from Aeris looking into the Lifestream, then swooping over Midgar, then back down to Cloud somersaulting off that train, little slivers of my mind fell out of my ears.

We all got it for Christmas in fact, and the race was firmly on to be the first in our group to plough through all three discs and complete it. We’d come in to school each morning, yammering on about where we were in the story, discussing rumours about how to unlock Yuffie before Wutai, and if there was a way to resurrect Aeris. That particular plot twist was a recess atom-bomb; and for months we refused to believe that she was dead. She just couldn’t be, could she?

Final Fantasy 7 is a game I re-play in its entirety every few years. It never gets old – I feel dumb for peddling out a worn metaphor – but it’s like a dear friend you only get to visit every so often. You have some catching up to do, but you still feel comfortable being together once more. That’s how I feel about this game, it’s dear to my heart and it signifies a watershed moment in my life. We were growing up, we were becoming adults, and life was getting hard. Final Fantasy 7 was the constant.

I feel that remaking Final Fantasy 7 is a terrible idea. Perhaps it’s just me being selfish but I don’t want that constant to be changed, not by one iota. Maybe this is what it means to be ‘entitled’. I really don’t want Square Enix to touch it. The game wasn’t perfect in 1997, and many feel it hasn’t aged well, but it was a landmark for many of us thanks to the emphasis on story-telling, the sheer scale of the world, and again, those CGI scenes. It was also the moment many of us decided to stick with the hobby.

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I just fail to see how a remake can improve on the original. It would have better visuals, and I would love to see what a next-gen Midgar looks like, but that’s purely cosmetic. I really like the old-school visuals of the original, and those awkward, blocky avatars that walk around the world like they’re gasping for a shite. I’m also worried that Square Enix wouldn’t do a straight remake, but add a faster combat system or some feature that cheapens or dilutes the experience.

Will there be voice acting? If so; I don’t want it. Final Fantasy 7 was all text. The characters spoke how I thought they spoke, their personalities were based on my assumptions. These were my companions, my comrades-in-arms. This is hands-down my favourite franchise, but I’d be kidding myself if I said the series is as enjoyable as it was back in the PSOne era. I miss the strictly turn-based combat and I fear that would change should a remake happen.

“The game’s legacy is so vast and celebrated that anything other than an outstanding treatment would be deemed unacceptable. Looking at Square’s recent output, I’m not sure this would happen.”

Perhaps my love of turn-based combat and world map exploration is why Lost Odyssey was my favourite RPG of the last generation. It felt like an old-new Final Fantasy game, the kind of game I still wish Square Enix had kept on making. But now we’ve got Lightning Returns, a dress-up sim with a constant time-limit, a dire plot, naff J-pop music, tons of exposition and characters I’d rather punch in the gut than share an epic 80-hour quest with.

I get why Kitase is nervous. We all have our own reasons as to why Final Fantasy 7 is important to us, and no remake can fully-satisfy that criteria across the board. There’s too much riding on this one. The game’s legacy is so vast and celebrated that anything other than an outstanding treatment would be deemed unacceptable. Looking at Square’s recent output, I’m not sure this would happen. The company has moved on; it’s all about fast combat – see Final Fantasy 15 – and new gimmicky mechanics. The world’s moved on, it seems.

The industry and its standards have also changed. A straight-up, turn-based Final Fantasy 7 remake would be welcome, but would it resonate with new players who are all about twitch gameplay, gore and fuck-bombs? Well, Barrett did have a gun-arm and swore every other line, I guess…

Should Final Fantasy 7 be remade? Perhaps I just fear change, or maybe I’m just being selfish wanting my personal memories to remain unspoiled, but no, it absolutely shouldn’t.

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