The reveal of a Final Fantasy VII remake at Sony’s E3 press conference in 2015 was one of the most shocking reveals in the history of the show. Easily ranking amongst the greatest moments E3 has ever produced, taking its place alongside such incredible moments as the 1995 announcement that Sega Saturn was available “right now”, Playstation’s $299 price, Nintendo’s entire 2004 press conference, Final Fantasy coming to Xbox in 2008 (ironically enough), and more.
I’ll fully admit that my mind was blown in the early hours of the morning. I gladly climbed aboard the hype train – how could I not? They were remaking one of my absolute favourite video games of all time. They could fix it up and make it less horrible to play (because, let’s face it, Final Fantasy VII is a game that hasn’t aged very well). I was excited and, while I still remain interested enough to follow along and anticipate its release, it’s not something I’m actively looking forward to with great fervour anymore.
Heck it’s not something I even particularly want.
We’re more than a year removed from the initial announcement, with very little additional information than we had when we first found out that the game even existed in the first place. The information we do have, however, hasn’t really inspired much good will.
Rather than list each piece of information chronologically as it was revealed and talk about why it has shaken my confidence in the remake, I’m just going to cut right to the chase. The decision to remake Final Fantasy VII as an action RPG, akin to the upcoming Final Fantasy XV (and about 500 other action RPG’s), is probably my biggest sticking point.
Yes I have a problem with that. I’ve been told over and over again since the gameplay reveal at PSX last December that this change was necessary. There’s no way Square Enix could remake Final Fantasy VII as anything but an action RPG, because fans don’t want those kind of RPG’s anymore and they don’t make games like that anymore anyway.
In short – yes they do. And yes they do.
The “people don’t want games like that these days” argument is the same reasoning publishers have used to ensure we don’t get games like Mega Man, Castlevania, third-person platformers, Metroid and countless other beloved franchises and genres.
Which is why Mighty No. 9 raked in $4 million of Kickstarter money. However that game eventually turned out, its initial crowdfunding campaign proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that fans of Mega Man were hungry for more. It’s why Koji Igarashi was able to take Kickstarter by storm with his spiritual successor to Castlevania, Bloodstained and why a group of ex-Rare developers were able to secure massive funding for Yooka-Laylee.
And let’s not forget the massive backlash to the announcement of Metroid Prime: Federation Force at last years E3. Fans want these games. The argument that they don’t is incredibly disingenuous.
As for not making games like Final Fantasy VII anymore – Square Enix literally just made a game like Final Fantasy VII. I Am Setsuna recalls games like FFVII so much you’d be forgiven for wondering if it was a sequel, going so far as to even use the same battle system. They also made Bravely Default and Bravely Second, games which reach even further back in Final Fantasy history for inspiration.
Games like Final Fantasy VII (and older Squaresoft titles) are being made. They are generally well regarded and they sell well.
I have nothing against action RPG’s. In fact I like them quite a bit. Final Fantasy XV is one of my most anticipated games of the year. Final Fantasy VII, however, is not an action RPG. And I’ll be honest I don’t really want it to be one.
Square Enix literally have a development studio wholly dedicated to creating the exact experience I am looking for from a Final Fantasy VII remake. It couldn’t have taken much for Square to team up Tokyo RPG Factory with some of the key FFVII talent to produce a game updated for the modern era. They probably could have had it out in time for the 20th anniversary next year too.
Look, I’m not saying that Final Fantasy VII will automatically be bad just because it’s going to be an action RPG. Quite the contrary. I expect it’ll be great. Taking the story and characters of FFVII and updating it with PS4-era graphics is a no-brainer.
I just can’t look at the remake and see it as Final Fantasy VII. It’s a completely different game. One of the reasons that the Resident Evil remake on Gamecube was such a well received success was precisely because it was the best possible version of the original Playstation release. Capcom didn’t reinvent the game to the point that it was unrecognisable – that’s what they had Resident Evil 4 for.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Final Fantasy VII – the idea that it’s “too big” to be one game is patently absurd and incredibly insulting. Final Fantasy VII may have been released on three discs back in the 90’s, and it was an absolute behemoth in its day, but by modern standards it’s quite a small RPG.
If you’re going to try and argue that The Witcher 3 can be one game but Final Fantasy VII somehow can’t, as if video games can only be a certain size and no bigger, I can only assume you think me a fool and will react accordingly. If you want to make FFVII episodic that’s your decision – but don’t try and belittle my intelligence by expecting me to swallow whatever half baked lie you’ve concocted to try and make me believe that you had no choice but to split it into chunks.
And trying to claim that each episode will be “the length of a full game” is one of the most redundant statements in the history of PR. I’ve played games that have lasted 100+ hours and games that have lasted mere minutes, and everything in between. Games don’t have set lengths. Final Fantasy VII Remake will be a full game when all of its episodes are released – by definition.
My feelings on the way Square Enix have been handling this remake can be summed up quite nicely by the following anecdote:
Almost immediately following the announcement, we learned that game director Tetsuya Nomura only found out about his involvement in the remake when his name was splashed on the screen during the teaser trailer.
The director of the game, the man who is supposed to be responsible for guiding the vision of the game, had no idea he was working on the game at all. That probably should have been a warning sign that this is nothing more than a cash grab.
Once again I’d just like to reiterate that I don’t think that the Final Fantasy VII remake is automatically going to be “bad” because of these misgivings. It just won’t be Final Fantasy VII in any recognisable form.
At least we’ll get the entire soundtrack orchestrated for the remake.