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I’m Very Happy for the Final Fantasy VII Remake…

By Russ | June 21, 2015 at 1:46 am

…you are about to receive.

You may have noticed there’s no “we”  in the opening sentence. There’s a few good reasons for that – the least of which is the lack of a PS4 and the means for the foreseeable future to fund such a purchase. Final Fantasy VII was not my first RPG, so I do not have a nostalgic or emotional attachment to it. The only emotion I felt when Aeris/th died was the rage of a person who loses their dedicated healer in a dungeon; I would have to keep using Red XIII as my field medic. The game was really good for its time, but every Final Fantasy since then has surpassed the title in several ways.

If you are still reading this; thank you. There is a point beyond generic old guy ramblings here. Square Enix is making a good financial decision to release this remake because it both pleases fans and is expected to generate a ton of revenue. And as the titles states, I am very happy fans are receiving this remake, because maybe it will shut some of you up about how ‘good’ the game is. Maybe some of you will have the ‘Final Fantasy VII‘ you’ve always dreamed of, with it’s lifelike graphics on par with Advent Children; instead of those ‘silly child-like designs’ Final Fantasy IX had.

Mom mom mom momma momma momma mommy mommy mommy mother mother mother

Because Final Fantasy VII didn’t have those graphics.

These ramblings are valid concerns. Much of FF7‘s plot is Cloud chasing Sephiroth for revenge. When the reveals happen: Cloud is actually a regular dude pretending to be a super soldier due to hilarious psychotic mixup; he follows Sephiroth due to a latent connection made during said hilarious psychotic mixup; and um… markets for Xenogears?

That's Xenogears for the uninitiated.

I see Cloud works for Sony’s Wild Arms 2 Translation team.

Let’s sum up FF7‘s plot: A loser chases a momma’s boy.

There’s more to it than that, of course. FF7 did a wonderful job of making the story interesting and had other themes such as environmental care and great boss fights. It also marked the first entry where stuff was added to the North American version – those Weapon boss battles for instance – and set a goal for cinematic storytelling. However, the game’s environmental themes were handled better in Sony’s Wild Arms title (which features a planet dying due to its ley lines, or lifestream; becoming damaged). Jenova is a less interesting Lavos – hell, Jenova is a less interesting version of Mother from the aforementioned Wild Arms – all of which are world ending entities who sole function in life is to end worlds over and over again. Sephiroth’s characterization is lacking compared to FF4‘s Golbez or FF6‘s Kefka.

Finally, FF7 embraced a system where everyone can have the same skillset with no class variation. FF9 would buck this trend, and FF11 and FF14 at least use a version of the job system (though arguably FF13 does as well); but the lack of specialization classes gives can make characters seem less unique and more interchangeable. FF6 started the trend with its magic system, but FF7 takes it a step further, as every character can now become like every other character barring limit breaks.

Granted, it all depends on which direction Square-Enix takes this remake in. The game could have the ATB system of the original FF7, but it could very well feature in Crisis Core‘s battle system. Which is not a bad thing.

See, now those are old man ramblings. But here’s the actual point. The fanbase is getting the remake they’ve always wanted, and while I am happy for the fanbase; I will warn you FF7 may not be what you remember. A fantastic example are Transformers. Here is a picture of the original Optimus Prime toy:

I'm a kid's toy.

I’m a kid’s toy.

And here is a picture of 20th Anniversary Masterpiece Optimus Prime:

I am an expensive paperweight.

I am an expensive paperweight.

These are vastly different toys of the same character. One is simplistic and defined the 80’s. It can also take some punishment, because it was meant to be played with by a young audience. The other is a remake meant for an older audience with more cash. Oh, and you can’t really play with the Masterpiece Prime. It won’t survive play time too well, as Masterpiece Op is less a toy and more a collectible.

When presented with the Masterpiece version, did you know a lot of people would hold the updated Optimus Prime in their hands and swear to their deities this was the exact same toy they had as a child? Even when told the Masterpiece version was released 20 years after the original; even after showing these people the original version; they still swore the Masterpiece Optimus Prime was what they owned as a child.

This is because the last time they held the original Optimus Prime toy they were a child, and the world was much bigger. As an adult, with a much smaller world around them, the enlarged Masterpiece figure fits the same way in their hands the original figure did. It’s big and impressive, and brings back memories as they are remembered and not the reality which was experienced. This is part of nostalgia, and it is what drives grand remakes like Final Fantasy VII. If FF7 remains a visual remake, then criticisms of plot and characterization which were present in the original will continue to both be present and likely more apparent in the remake.

I may have distilled the plot to its simplest form, but the reality is that Cloud and company were not the best protagonists. We literally live (or almost do) in a different generation from when FF7 was released. What we let pass through our filters then will not be the same thing we accept now. Yet heavens forfend if something about the plot is different. That in itself is a whole other can of worms the internet will open and throw messily about the place like a toddler.

I want this remake to succeed so Square-Enix rakes in cash and makes some new IPs. I understand remakes pander to a fanbase and earn coin for businesses. This is the entire idea of a remake or re-release – an ideally low-cost way to invite a new generation to spend cash on product. But this isn’t low-cost, is it? This is a big-budget graphical overhaul. It wasn’t long ago Square-Enix was hurting for cash. It may even be kind of a gamble. We’ll see.

The fanbase got what it wished for at last, but humanity is often told to be wary of wishes. I’m happy for those of you who wanted this, but honestly? These written words are about as far as my caring can go. I hope you get what you wished for, but we live in another time and it may not be what you actually wanted. A lot of us have handled our original Optimus Prime toys and know the Masterpiece version makes for a great addition to the shelf.

You just can’t play with the Masterpiece version, or you’ll see it doesn’t hold up well to being handled.

-Russell Ritchey, with thanks to: 16bitsirens.com, The Lifestream.net, and Seibertron.com for the pictures.

Topics: Editorials