I, like millions of others, had my mind extensively blown at E3 2015 when Square-Enix announced that Final Fantasy VII would be getting a remake. (I wasn’t quite as excited as this guy.) Not that my mind was blown because it’s not an awesome and obvious idea, everyone knows it’s a good idea. My mind was blown because Square-Enix pretty much said they would never do it and they have been very good at not doing it despite repeated begging from fans.
My nostalgia for Final Fantasy VII runs deep. It was the Christmas of 1997. I was 12. My older brother and I had successfully convinced my mother to buy a PlayStation. We decided our Christmas gift to each other would be half of the $50.00 cost. (I’m pretty sure he shelled out $40.00 at the time and I promised I’d come up with it later.) At some point during the break, my mom bought it and put it under the tree.
“Shoot.” I thought. “Guess we’ll have to wait.” That’s when my brother tells me – “hey, if we’re going to enjoy this, why wait until school’s about to start? It will be more fun if we can play it during the break.” SOUND LOGIC. So, at midnight every night during the break, we snuck upstairs, unwrapped the PlayStation, connected it to the TV, played until we were falling asleep, then boxed it back up and went to bed. It was a ton of fun. Mom probably wondered why we were so tired.
(In similar fashion we played Final Fantasy VI by climbing a ladder into my freezing house, which was on stilts. Yeah, don’t ask it’s a long story.)
So while I’ve been mulling over how a Final Fantasy VII remake could be awesome for the last decade, I have never put my thoughts to paper because it felt useless.
So what is going to stay the same and what will change? I mean, this is a game that featured gratuitous, super-long, unskippable summons, a freaky encounter in a bath with a bunch of muscle heads in a brothel bathtub, and, let’s face it, that golden saucer music is really annoying (Yes that’s Cloud on a “date” with Barret). I will go over some of my opinions on what will be necessary to make Final Fantasy VII work three console generations later. Feel free to comment with your ideas, why I’m awesome, or why I’m wrong.
E3 Final Fantasy VII Remake Trailer
Six Must-Have Changes for the Final Fantasy VII Remake
1. Add a Moving Camera.
No more long, long walks with 2 millimeter Cloud. I actually feel really nostalgic about those long walks, fighting five different monsters before you move to the next screen. But when the graphics are updated they just won’t work anymore. Maybe they’ll let us set the camera to fixed. Then, after five seconds of trying to find miniature cloud on Mt. Nibelheim, we’ll happily switch it back to moving.
2. Now that the game isn’t an unrealistic pixelation, stuff like the Honey Bee Inn, the Manor, and Tifa’s um, “unrealistic proportions” have to be reworked.
It shouldn’t be that hard to change up, really. This was one of the main reasons people said we’d never get a remake, but I thought it was a silly excuse. It’s not like we’re trying to censor Catcher in the Rye here, FF VII would never have been made this way in the first place if it had modern graphics. Tifa was already changed for advent children, so it can definitely be done.
I’m not so sure now given this comment by Tetsuya Nomura though… but cross-dressing doesn’t mean freaky bath tub scene right?
3. Give us a way to save Aeris/Aerith, even if its non-canonical.
I’m sure there are people who would disagree with me, but hear me out. As far as the canon is concerned, Aeris is dead. Fine. I get that we can learn life lessons when a beloved character dies in a story.
But maybe it’s just that weird fish that blocks the way back to Aeris, but there are more than a few of us that bit into that old farcical way to do it and are still reeling from it not working.
But let’s say you play through the game once. After you beat the game, a “What if?” mode appears on the title screen. The game mode acts as a New Game +, something like the friends are all together telling stories. How could we have saved Aeris? So, yeah sure, it’s not canonical. But there is some completely convoluted and epic way to save the last ancient.
4. Two game modes – Classic and Updated.
Hear me out here. I think there is a general consensus that the old ATB battle system from FF VII is going to have to get the axe in a remake. I agree with this completely. Going back to the old system after playing say, the paradigm system from FF XIII feels really linear and easy. But for many, remaking a game where people have thick rose-colored glasses is going to be hard, and people are going to be disappointed. My solution? Por que no los dos? Divide the game into two. You can sell them as completely different products even. Don’t tell me it can’t be done!
Aside from graphical updates, my points from #2 above and mini-games, the game stays mostly the same. You still fight with the ATB system, still have the same materia system. This game would be very much in the style of other Final Fantasy remakes with a little extra dungeon or, something at the end. The dialogue remains the same from the original Final Fantasy. Aeris is Aeris, not Aerith.
This sounds like a lot of work, but hear me out. First off, the work is already done, the ATB and material systems already exist. Second, if you want to please fanboys, you have to show them that you’ve created something that is vastly superior to the original product. That means being able to see these two games side by side. The goal will be to get ING and PC Gamer to review both games, give a 99/100 to the remake and a 75 to the old game saying “it just doesn’t hold up well to the test of time anymore, go buy updated, you won’t be disappointed.” Plus, I am sure there are people out there who would buy this who wouldn’t touch a changed game, or who will own both just because.
Now, I imagine the HD upgrade is going to take up this slot in Square-Enix’s mind, but to me it’s a huge mistake. An HD upgrade of pixels are just HD pixels. It still pretty much looks terrible. No, they need a true remake in the classic style.
5. A unique reason to play characters other than their weapons and limit break.
Vincent is the coolest final fantasy character that no one plays. Why don’t they play him? Well in Final Fantasy VII, you only have two main reasons to choose characters: 1) their weapons and armor, 2) their limit break choices. So, while for just about all other intents and purposes Vincent was as good as Barrett or Cid, his limit break was terrible and could frequently heal the enemy.
One of the reasons why I’ve always liked Final Fantasy VI more than VII (no lyncherino plz) is the fact that each of the many characters had a unique skill that gave you a reason to play them. Some of them were a little trivial, but it was still a good gesture and they were all useful at certain points in the game.
Final Fantasy VII on the other hand is too customizable. Any character can learn any skill, and none of them have inherent skills. While just adding steal too Tifa or cover to cloud might be a little simplistic, there has to be something done to give us all a reason to play them.
6. More content and secrets throughout the game, not just a lame extra dungeon at the end.
So the trend so far by Square-Enix has been to remake the game with updated sprites and add a bonus dungeon at the end. In general, this has been fine for games that are really just graphics updates. But in the remake, I’m really hoping that they explore the story space and find a significant amount of new content, and not just at the end. Final Fantasy VII, unlike Final Fantasy XIII, succeeded in providing entertaining content throughout the game. Not only was their extensive end-game fun with the weapons, but there was also the Golden Saucer about halfway through the game. I also want to be surprised once or twice with a plot line or twist that isn’t exactly the same as we’ve seen before. We’ve all already played the original game, and if a classic mode exists, they can be more free to reinvent instead of feeling tied down by the original script.
Just my $.02 on what would make a Final Fantasy VII remake great. I’m pretty excited though I’m afraid it’s like expecting a remake of an old classic to be great and getting that terrible The Haunting remake. Let me know what you would do in the remake because hey, Square-Enix is probably reading this and cares a lot what we think.