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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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21 Comments

  1. Zana

    Interesting. But I think you miss the most important point: making new games should be their priority. Focusing big resources on remaking something that already exists, what a waste of time. Sure, recent FF titles are not so popular. But they are all trying new things.

    When I see people screaming a very little changes in FFX HD, I can’t help but think this FFVII remake they are so much yearning for would be met with a wave of criticism anyway.

    So off with this stupid idea and let’s move on.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. KAP

    Good read.

    I’m on the side of, if this is treated as a reboot/remaster. Then great I’m in.
    But as it is today, its aged, quite bad too.

    If it had a similar redesign to a Bravely Default with a more modern day clean up then I’m up for it.
    The issue is today is Gamers don’t quite know the difference between: Remake, Reboot and Remaster.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Blackened Halo

    Final Fantasy VII doesnt need to be remade! :(( the game is best as it is :(

    ..well Dave, what did you say? ““The game wasn’t perfect in 1997….”? what the ? I hope you are kidding :)

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Obernox

    “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?”

    Fuck ‘em. A graphical update that leaves the core gameplay intact would be pleasing. Anyway, good read.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. fihar

    @Obernox
    The thing is, I disliked 7 & 8 not because the battle system is slow. It’s because every single action in battle takes a century to complete.
    9 has enough charm for me to overlook those flaws but 7 & 8 don’t have that kind of luxury.

    Anyway, I’m against this on the simple basis that 7 is available on the PS Store and Steam. I’m stoked for the X/X-2 HDs because I don’t have a PS2 anymore and I hate having to emulate but this is totally unnecessary.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Rikki

    Well it is a terrible idea, why remake a bad game?

    #6 1 year ago
  7. salarta

    Before I comment, I’d like to say I enjoyed the article. I believe it touches on a lot of good points.

    I’ve said elsewhere that my original thought was that Squeenix intended to save an FF7 remake as a last ditch effort to avoid going under, before I eventually realized they’re hesitant because they know screwing up an FF7 remake would pull the rose-tinted glasses off the eyes of a lot of the people. Many of the people that bought games like the FF13 stuff and 3rd Birthday did so because they think Squeenix is still as great as Squaresoft was, and they haven’t shaken those assumptions to see the company for how it really is. A bad FF7 remake would force those people to rethink everything they’ve played or will play in the future.

    There are definitely a lot of things that can go wrong with an FF7 remake, too, and I firmly think there’s a reason Squeenix decided to outsource the FF3 and FF4 DS remakes and put them only on a portable console, rather than giving them full-fledged console releases (FF4DS even had a PS3-worthy trailer and Theme of Love got its own singles release, but it was still only for portables).

    If you change too much, you anger the people that enjoyed and respect the charm of the original. If you change too little, other people will feel ripped off for playing the same game but with a graphical update and a few additions.

    This is even more of a problem if major plot points are altered. I recall many years back, reading that an exec thought any FF7 remake would “require” either removing or heavily changing the whole minigame element of Cloud acquiring stuff to crossdress to get into Don Corneo’s place. That’s just one problem. Another: do you make it possible to revive Aeris as a bonus to fans, or leave her death intact to preserve the integrity of the original? Do you leave Cloud the same way, or drastically alter his whole personality to fit what some fans that never really played the original game expect due to Advent Children? Do you add new playable characters, e.g. maybe a Turk, or leave the party roster as-is?

    That’s just story concerns. As Dave pointed out, voice acting might not fit what anyone expects of the character (TEEDUS, SESSIL, MY NAME ITH AERITH, etc), and the graphics provide their own impressions and charm. That’s important, at least for people that played the original. I always say FF4 on SNES or Super Famicom is the best version to play because it gets the full feel of what the game was like on release. People expect more action-focused gameplay in RPGs these days for some reason, but the original’s menu-based system involved some strategy.

    Personally, I don’t think Squeenix can handle a remake. The only games I’ve seen come out of Squeenix that are any good since 2003 are FF4DS, FF12, and Nier. FF4DS and Nier were outsourced, and FF12 was headed most of the way by a guy that no longer works at Squeenix. Remakes work fine when outsourced because from how things look, the outsourced company tries really hard in Japan to stay true to the source material and build upon it positively. But Squeenix themselves, as demonstrated with games like FF13 and 3rd Birthday, will twist everything around into a mangled mess because the people they have on board these days care more about their presumed “genius” than being respectful to the source material.

    If nothing else, they’d put Toriyama in charge like they put him in charge of FFX-2, FF13 and the unwanted sequels to FF13. That alone would screw it all up. Chances are very, very good that Toriyama would add and expand on the Honeybee Inn ideas he had that were cut out for going way, way too far. Unless, of course, someone at Squeenix reined him in, but let’s be honest. That won’t happen. The company wanted to bring back Parasite Eve as a full-fledged franchise, but they still had absolutely no problem with letting Toriyama go to town on the characters until they were so utterly demolished that he effectively killed all future franchise plans. And they still let him have Lightning Returns, and join some “quality committee” for Final Fantasy. If they’re willing to let him destroy a whole franchise to the point the company can’t be assed to fix the damage he did, and then reward him for it, then you can bet he’d get to do anything he wanted with FF7 no matter how bad it is.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. TheWulf

    For what it’s worth? I agree.

    Every attempt they’ve made to revisit it has been too seriousfaced. Which is weird, because with all of the emotions running around in Final Fantasy VII, you’d think it’s a serious game. But it’s not, it’s balanced, and there are so many parts which are just played up for the laughs. Which I love.

    One of my favourite gaming memories is taking a golden teacup ride with Mr. T (Barrett). I mean, that was hilarious. And then it happened with Red XIII. (Damn it, Square, it’s not my fault I’m not sexually attracted to women, and thus don’t actively court them.)

    It was kind of like the BioWare romance of the time.

    If you were especially nice to someone at the expense of others, they’d end up as your ‘love interest.’ That that love interest was completely unrestricted was, honestly, brill. I never ceased to be amazed by who ended up in that golden cup ride. Even Cid, once. Which was…

    ….

    …something.

    That’s the kind of thing that mainstream games couldn’t ‘get away with’ today, sadly. Only BioWare seems to, and they catch more than enough hate for that, as we’ve all seen. So, yeah, I’m happy with Final Fantasy VII as it is. They’ve shown me time and again that Square just isn’t capable of being silly enough any more to handle something like VII.

    And IX? Fuck off. Square, you’re not touching IX. EVER. :I

    #8 1 year ago
  9. TheWulf

    @4

    If it was just a graphical update, cutting no content at all, then I’d be so up for that! I think they’d need to carefully evaluate their art style, though. Advent Children was awful, and ill-fitting. I’m still trying to erase the Scooby Doo-ish Red XIII from my mind, and all of those emo haircuts.

    So, yes, it would need to be carefully considered.

    @7

    A damned fine post and agreed on all counts.

    One thing I’d add is that I don’t really think that remakes are all that necessary. To the contrary, old games need to be readjusted slightly for contemporary sensibility. For example, I can remake Final Fantasy in the most meaningful way with a simple Action Replay code that gives six times the experience per battle, thus cutting out the grind.

    WayForward’s remake of Duck Tales pretty much taught me this. I loved their remake, but even I had to admit that the constant dialogue broke up the pacing of the game. Since then, I’ve been poking around with some retro gaming and trying out different approaches. Some games are remade according to contemporary standards just by providing infinite lives, or experience boosts.

    Skies of Arcadia, for example, is fixed just by greatly reducing the amount of random battles and boosting the experience you get from a battle. The game itself doesn’t need to be remade, just subtly tweaked.

    And you can overdo a remake.

    You can take away what made it special in the first place by removing its charm and magic. That’s a bad thing. I think that a lot of people are beginning to realise that with remakes and reboots. Some do it well, like Bionic Commando: Rearmed, but others fall flat on their face. It’s a tricky balance to get right. And usually, what you were hoping for from a remake can be found by just grabbing the original game and using some Action Replay codes to tweak it.

    I think maybe most people don’t want remakes or reboots, they just don’t want to have to spend a substantial portion of their life grinding or replaying levels due to limited lives. They have these negative memories, and they think they’ll be fixed with a remake. But you can fix them yourself.

    Grab Final Fantasy VI (or III, if you prefer) and an emulator, pop in a code to reduce the amount of random battles and increase experience, and you have the most fun FF VI ‘remake’ possible.

    And I think that’s what’s desired, at the end of the day.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. fihar

    Eh, the emphasis on story telling was already there on VI (or even IV) to be honest.
    VII is more of a technological achievement than an artistic one, which is why it hasn’t aged nearly as well as VI or IV does.

    Still, I was never a fan of the game or the series as a whole but I just would like to say that the main reason I’m stoked for the X/X-2 HDs is because I no longer have a working PS2 and I dislike having to emulate stuffs on my computer but seeing as VII is still available on the PS Store and Steam, I see no reason why this need to be remade.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. NinjaMidget

    I think you’re right to say leave it alone Dave, although not just for the personal feelings we all might have on it. If SE were to just update the audiovisual aspect of it, it would be completely out of sync with the areas of play.

    I never played the original Half-Life or Ocarina of Time when they came out, and attempting to play them now just hasn’t boded well. They haven’t aged well either. It’d be a shame to leave some of these classics in the dark to be forgotten when this particular generation of players moves on, but remaking them in line with today’s standards might not suit them.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. salarta

    @TheWulf Your observation about FF7′s romance options does a pretty good job, I think, of highlighting how in many ways the medium has seriously slipped in quality and standards over the past decade. We had pretty open romance options, we had strong women headlining games, graphics may have been an obsession but story was becoming more important and a lot of companies were trying to ride the JRPG train but there was still a lot of freedom for new franchises to come out and be their own great thing. Resident Evil didn’t need to be a JRPG, for example.

    Sadly, things have changed a lot. Women have been demoted and weakened as characters in games (that the most hyped female characters of 2013 were either support for men or had to be shown vulnerable and weak first before anyone was willing to take them seriously says a lot, when compared to the women of the mid to late 90s that could stand on their own), and franchises like Resident Evil and Call of Duty have sacrificed their roots to fit into the most popular gaming trends.

    I don’t want to blame the industry going mainstream, but I kind of have to. If video games weren’t mainstream, we wouldn’t have CEOs joining companies that make things they don’t care about, demanding changes that they think will make the most money and pushing out the creators of those IPs in the process. As a result, we wouldn’t have characters, stories, gameplay, franchise integrity taking a back seat to the focus on profits. We wouldn’t have to rely on indie games to bring real innovation and depth. Remember Me wouldn’t be near the top of the list for depictions of women, simply somewhere in the middle. Hell, Remember Me probably wouldn’t have even gotten as much attention as it did ten years ago.

    But, we have what we have, and we’re all worse off for it. That doesn’t mean all games suck today or all are worse than ten years ago, but the truly excellent games are now few and far between.

    Back to the remake discussion, I think a lot of people do want remakes. I think there’s a real desire to see those old games that were only sprites before brought to a more modern level. The problem is in stuff like FFX getting HD remakes. There really isn’t too much of a benefit. When a game like FF4 gets an HD remake, you’re going from simple 2D sprites to a fully 3D world, you get to see details that weren’t there before, and you can bring in new forms of gameplay based on a 3D environment that wasn’t possible when the game first came out. When you do the same thing with FFX, you’re just making things look prettier, the bodies and faces all look exactly the same but touched up.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. Michael Ireland

    Ah, nostalgia. It clouds our perspectives so much.

    I don’t think Final Fantasy should get a remake. It has nothing to do with with preserving its memory or fearing change though. It’s simply it isn’t that great of a Final Fantasy game. Both VI and IX would both be far more epic in scope if they were recreated with modern aesthetics and gameplay content.

    Simple remakes are just boring. If FFVII was eventually remade, simply redoing some background and improving the polygon models would be so half assed. I already have the game if I want to replay it that badly.

    I would want fully exploitable 3D locations, cutscenes, voiced dialogue, the whole nine yards. Anything else wouldn’t be worth the effort, and needing to fall bad on the pass successes of the franchise only highlights a company who has no idea what to do with their own property.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. salarta

    @Michael Ireland Whereas changing the game too much reveals a company that also doesn’t know what it’s doing, with little to no respect for its history and source material, desperately clinging to past glory for its sales of what obviously should have been a completely new game.

    It would take a very delicate balance between preserving the old and injecting the new, and Squeenix isn’t capable of finding that balance. Netherrealm could, but Squeenix, nope.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. Michael Ireland

    @salarta I couldn’t care less about “respecting the history and source material” if the end result turns out to be far superior. Unfortunately, I don’t trust Square in their current states to be capable of creating something of such high quality anymore.

    FFVII was never that great of a game to begin with.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. Djoenz

    @Michael Ireland
    Neither was IX.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. BrokenSpline

    @Michael Ireland
    “some background and improving the polygon models would be so half assed.”

    I laughed. You obviously have no idea on how much that would cost to redo the visuals and have to rebuild all the models to todays standards.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. Michael Ireland

    @BrokenSpline I’m fully aware how much it would cost to redo all the assets to modern standards.

    Are you aware that they don’t have access to any of the original assets from the game anymore and would have to start from scratch anyway?

    @Djoenz And like everything else, that’s a difference of opinion. IX is in my top three.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. BrokenSpline

    @Michael Ireland

    “Are you aware that they don’t have access to any of the original assets from the game anymore and would have to start from scratch anyway?”

    Irrelevant. They would have to start from scratch anyways as those models are hundreds of polygons max which by today’s standard they would need to be a few thousand if they want to go the route of the previous remakes and if they want to go the same visuals as FFXIII they would need to go in the tens of thousands. The game would need to be rebuilt from the bottom up.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. the Bridgeburner

    I’m in the “don’t give a damn” camp.

    Final Fantasy is far from my favourite rpg series, but VII was notable for being the first cinematic-like game of the genre, thus changing the gaming landscape, alongside Metal Gear Solid. However, I found the characters dull, aside from Aeris/th and Sephiroth, and the story fairly trite… Though the minigames sprinkled throughout the game were quite enjoyable – bike-racing combat, snowboarding, the Golden Saucer, even little things like using a girls’ dolphin friend to get up on some iron beams.

    Plus, the Materia system is still my favourite of the various ATB modifications. If they kept that in, along with the fun side stuff, I’m down for a remake.

    No game is that sancrosanct.

    But, personally, 1997 will always be remembered as, in rpg terms, the year of Wild Arms and Fallout.

    #20 1 year ago
  21. Michael Ireland

    @BrokenSpline Exactly. Which is why only going half way would be pointless.

    #21 1 year ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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