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Back To The Nostalgia Episode 3-The Great Final Fantasy Vii Remake Debate

First Posted: Dec. 24, 2015, 1:38 p.m. CST
Last Updated: Dec. 24, 2015, 11:02 p.m. CST
Back in my day...Final Fantasy VII was blocky

It was 1996 when I opened a PSN magazine (Playstation Network Magazine). The dates are a little fuzzy for me, but this was when I imagine I got my Playstation or more commonly known as the PSX. I was going through two games known as Vandal Hearts and Krazy Ivan. They were both great games, but I was wary of 3D turned based RPGs because I also had Beyond the Beyond and hated it. Often I would go back and play Final Fantasy III. Little did most Americans know, it was actually the sixth entry in Square's Final Fantasy Timeline. But then one day, I played the demo to FFVII which came with my copy of Tobal No. 1 and I was floored. The game had amazing graphics for it's time and a momentous sound track from Nobuo Uematsu. At the time me and my friends where into Magic the Gathering the card game and knew little about the whole anime trend. It was in Pasadena, Texas which was more known for its nose-burning rancid smell. I partially grew up in a area next to 4 treatment plants, grey skies and constant flooding. I was also in school band and I would try to feel out some of the amazing music that came from video games on my baritone horn. And somehow my environment still actually fit well within the mood of this game. Being a teenager often leads to that period of your life where you are coming to grips with some of life's realities and everything sucks or is just the worst. The perfect depiction of this feeling is on South Park when Stan turns 10, and suddenly everything that he previously enjoyed is no longer fun. Parts of school was like that along with the atmosphere in Pasadena so this game in particular, while not my favorite entry of Final Fantasy ever made was a breath of fresh air as it was art imitating life to an extent. It is still one of my favorite games of all time and I think we often give too much credit to Skyrim and GTA for being “open world sandbox games” when RPGs are simply all about playing different characters and roles in an open world. I don't know where to begin with how much joy I got out of FF VII. First of all, out of all the Final Fantasies, this is probably one of the most well-written entries in Square's franchise. Only Final Fantasy X comes close. People around the world finally got to taste some of that Square magic. This game was a must have for gaming in general. When Squaresoft (America's Square) announced that they will be exclusively making games for Playstation, I delayed getting a Nintendo 64 for the Playstation and I think it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in terms of gaming enjoyment. In that day and age I really didn't know that many people who were into RPGs or video games other than Super Mario Bros. Final Fantasy VII changed all that. There were now people who once hated the turn based RPG were suddenly now fans of it. Final Fantasy VII is akin to Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. because it is that one game where you could say nothing wrong without being chastised on forums. Everything was perfect in the kingdom of Squaresoft until one day they decided to merge with Enix following the abysmal sales of their now defunct studio of Square Cinema and their movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I actually liked the movie for it's out-of-the-box storyline concept, but that's besides the point and for another day. What cost them their sales was not making it with creatures from the Final Fantasy Lore and not marketing well to their core audience. Every kid that I knew who saw it was disappointed with them not having black mages and white mages or chocobos or even Easter Eggs hinting at the previous entires. Now why bring up this movie, is because it is tied with the evolution of Square-Enix (or Squenix if you want to shorten it) as a merger company. Now keep in mind for the most part when there is a Final Fantasy entry, none of the games are sequels unless they share the same Roman numeral. Square probably did this to be different from the competition. Square as single entity were still making good games though. Joining Enix made since because they had an equally dominant library with the Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest games although I prefered their other not as well known entries such as 7th Saga. But together they were able to become even more of a juggernaut. In fact, Squenix was a non-stop highlight reel of hitmakers along with Capcom and Konami. Indirectly though this, anime also began to catch hold in younger audiences due to art styles used in games like Final Fantasy VII, but it wasn't mainstream in America until around early 2000s. Off the top of my head I can think of Brave Fencer Musashi, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy 7,8, and 9, Threads of Fate and the Romancing Saga series among other lesser known entries like Chocobo Dungeon and Chocobo racing from the Squaresoft lineup. And during Playstation 2 is the time when the merger was at it's apex as a merger company, but the entries after X had wavering success. I lost interest in the whole Final Fantasy timeline after XII, because I really like turn based RPGs but this played too simplistic like a stripped down MMO. Final Fantasy XIII is lauded as the worst Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy X-2 was like a Charlie's Angel with vanilla storyline elements, but it at least had an entertaining battle system. Fans' interests in this storyline has been wavering over the years. There are loyal diehard fans who would sacrifice their newborn for a decent Final Fantasy. And this is where the plot thickens so to speak. During this time of events, E3 as a gaming advertising company was taking off. It became the place to showcase games to the world along with other venues like the Tokyo Game Show. To compare the magnitude of E3 to another event, this is like Ozzfest for metal fans or Comicon for comic and media fans. In fact they were one of the beginners of the whole cosplay scene. Tangents aside, this is the Mecca for gaming fans. During each yearly trailer there would be games announced by Squenix for new games coming out that year and those in the know flock to the event itself for playable demos and game trailers. Nowadays you can stream certain the events from your Xbox/Playstation, but as you can imagine, going to these events is a big deal for many gamers as they get to interact with developers and their favorite artists and ask them questions. I'm just speculating a little bit here, but what might have started this talk of remakes probably was the whole remastering of certain video popular video games. The most famous ones that come to mind are Bully by Rockstar Games and God of War by Sony Entertainment. Those copies were upscaled in terms of graphics and added some additional gameplay. Every year, the fans started asking for remakes. One year, Square showed off the remake of the scene with Cloud Strife getting of the train in 2009 and then in 2012 we finally got a remake! Nope... not a remake, but an upscale of Final Fantasy VII for the Computer with 36 achievements because gamers really like to feel “accomplished.” Then in 2013, the former CEO said “we will not remake Final Fantasy VII until another Final Fantasy breaks its record.” During that time the company tied us over with PSP and cellphone games Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core and Before Crisis games but enough was enough. The fans anger increased as they brandished their torches and pitchforks until one day: we were finally told we will get a Final Fantasy VII. All was restored in the fair land of Squenix, or so it seems. And then...the reveals happen. Seriously being a Squenix fan is a bit bittersweet. On one hand, you have this illustrious old library filled with awesome entries. There were many titles that I have replayed for the sake of doing it even though I know their story-line verbatim. But when I look at the newer titles I grimace a little bit at the thought of Squenix of remaking Final Fantasy VII. So let's go through and see why or why not this might be a good idea starting with the plot without giving too much away for the newer fans. You start out as a former SOLIDER soldier known as Cloud Strife (just go with the awkward employment title for a second). You worked for an evil mega-conglomerate known as Shin-Ra. Shin-Ra's magnitude is comparable to Wal-mart times 100 in terms of size because they are everywhere on the planet and have many divisions such as SOLDIER, R and D and of course the Turks (who are not Turkish). Everyone knows who they are and in terms of rich and poor the ones who work for Shin-Ra are more often than not, well off. Cloud get recruited by his childhood classmate Tifa to join an ecological terrorist organization known as Avalanche. During his employment he goes and commit acts of terror mainly out of self interest at first. He doesn't care about the message of Avalanche, only money. In fact the majority of the 1st disc of the Playstation 1 entry is escaping Midgar and the Shin-Ra headquarters with executives living on top of the plates of the infrastructure, and everyone else living in sectioned off-ghettos. So think of these people as the 1%. With Tifa and Barret, he eventually decides to stay with them when they come across a war-comrade Sephiroth, by reputation, who had committed heinous acts against Shin-Ra. Avalanche doesn't like Shin-Ra, but Cloud seeing that this person is a bigger problem than Shin-Ra themselves and witnessing the events from his troubled past they go along with him while dealing with Shin-Ra as a company. Remakes are not that hard to do in theory, but you have that group of old school gamers that you have to appease while bringing in new audiences. And this game, would probably be done in a grandiose style. The setting for Final Fantasy VII is very gothic and very cyberpunk. While there is magic system and chocobos like all the other entries, Final Fantasy VII takes a departure from the traditional class system. In the previous entries there was a class system, but this kind of gets nixed for a materia system which doubles as the magic system. Playing the game in an action setting might also appeal more to the younger generations and to people that don't like turn-based RPGs. It looks beautiful and the graphics are definately getting a major face-lift. Gone are the Lego block head characters and their clunky movements. Everything looks fluid and smooth. Squenix is planning to make the lore of the background more developed and this may lead to multiple entries on the list or multiple Final Fantasy 7s. The expected game time should double if not triple because the original game's pace is going to be slowed down with the addition of multiple sidequests. Vicks and Wedge's storyline (not to be confused with Star Wars) is expected to be elaborated upon. More areas within the game itself are said to be explored and are also said to be used including areas that were originally cut from the game. There will be additional cut scenes and scenes added to the game that Square is being tight-lipped about at the moment. Regardless, expect to see something old and something new. All of the dialog is expected to be voice acted, though it is not confirmed as to how many languages this will be in. I personally often prefer the Japanese voice actors because it is usually high energy and well done, but it is hard to say if they will follow in Capcom's steed. This is great for people who know a different language or are studying a different language. The original creator will have input into its creation while directing 2 development camps. Tetsuya Nomura has come out and talked about the game, but it has been confirmed that Nobuo Uematsu isn't working on the music score, but the music in the trailer still sounds amazing. The Final Fantasy VII remake team is working closely with the Kingdom Hearts Team. So if you like both games, having a battle system that is the mix of both might be a stellar system for you. Finally the game itself will be episodic. Those who might want to play in this format finally can. Telltale games released the Walking Dead game in this fashion and has had success with the series. With this format there can be more detail added to it with less constraining deadlines. Capcom had some success with Resident Evil Revelations and releasing it that way and they have noticed the success coming from it. This could allow for better production and easier deadlines to get things done in a stressful game production environment. There are countless tales about a product getting rushed and it being an incomplete game and hopefully this episodic release can alleviate some of that. If you want it to be a pure nostalgia trip, I don't see that happening. For one, the battle system is getting overhauled. This means that we will not be getting a turned based battle system, but rather a fluid action based system comparable to either Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy X-2. This might actually be a turn off for turn based RPG purists out there. For those that were hoping for a more retro look, don't expect to find it here. You will probably get your nostalgia moments, but nothing more. Also there might be moments where there is fan service for the sake of it and devaluing your overall gaming experience. Some people are turned off by this and it should be addressed as a possible conundrum. The music will be composed by a different composer. This will definitely hit a nerve if you've fallen in love with Nobuo Uematsu's work and were expecting him back. Sadly he isn't coming back and I have yet to find out who is actually going to compose the game. The game's content will be broken into multiple game entries and will be episodic. Yes, this can also be a bad thing because we don't know the exact amount of hours each episode will be. We also don't know as to what will appear and what will be cut from the game or the overall price. Which brings me to: there may be heavy censorship in an overly politically correct atmosphere. There might be character redesigns and scenes cut from the original game. For example, Cid and Barret cursed a lot and this might be cut to be presented to wider audiences along with the cutting of the Honey Bee brothel where Cloud cross dresses to meet Don Cornero (though they might benefit from cutting the male rape scene between Cloud getting raped by a team of muscular escorts while he has one of his flashbacks involving Sephiroth). The personalities you might like about the original characters might change. The original content for Final Fantasy VII was very adult oriented in nature with a certain level of grittiness to its atmosphere and I believe it was this very formula that drew in wider audiences. Barrett and Cid were hotheads and Aeris was submissive at times and the original concept of Final Fantasy VII was a cyber-punk Rom-Com that followed the story of Cloud, Aeris and Tifa. You had choices which would ultimately lead up to a date at Golden Saucer with one of the characters—even Barret, though this was more of a bromance. With the censorship heavy climate now, these two scenes might be cut for the sake of not offending anyone, or they might lock these events up in DLC. Which brings me to another point: DLCs. Downloadable content are basically mini expansion packs that are locked away from the player. For those that have been mainly playing PC games, these are very costly to console gamers. And originally, we got the game in its entirety, not in little episodic sections. The current landscape of gaming might actually make more of the console gamers mad than anything. Many were expecting simply a remake without changing too much about the game itself. Too much change could be bad for the creative aspect of the game. If too much is changed it might be a turn-off for you. This could also lead to cheesy market derived ideas like being able to revive Aeris when she is killed or being able to play as Zack Faire in a DLC even though his story has been properly concluded. This one goes for older and new gamers alike: spoiling the content between each other might be off-putting. The older generations like me coming into this already know the story-line. We just want it remade because the game itself hasn't aged that well. The characters from Final Fantasy VII look like Legos of stand-in characters to a Gumby episode. But if we were to communicate our joy to newer gamers, we might spoil the game for people just being introduced to it. And there will be changes: for better or for worse. Newer gamers might find something cheesy that older gamers might find cool. There will definitely be a generational gap between these two groups of players. People might long for the old Materia system. It has been confirmed that this was revamped, but we don't know to what extent. Will it be for better or worse? It is one of those things that if it isn't broken it should be left alone. It is confirmed there will be magic and limit breaks, but nothing has been confirmed in regards to the item or materia systems. I am not big on the list of demands. I just want for the original story to be mostly intact and to be able to play as multiple characters and not just Cloud. Also some of the animations on the summon materia should be shortened. I hated using Knights of the Round after getting it due to the duration or FMV time it took to actually cast the spell. I would actually prefer if the Honey Bee cross dressing scene stay in the game with some minor editing with the edited characters being the male escorts having a personality change because I think it was a good scene with the other characters surrounding the Honey Bee Inn such as shop keepers were actually rather supportive of Cloud's venture into cross dressing and his possible homosexuality. I think if done right, it could be seen as a positive way to address explaining that cross dressing and lifestyles are okay and nothing to be ashamed of. Also the Golden Saucer scenes shouldn't be edited at all and we should be able to have cursing/swear words in the game. The original was so successful because it was well-written and those words weren't used for the sake of using them. If the battle system gets changed, I would rather have more of Final Fantasy X-2's battle system than just Kingdom Hearts but this is just out of preferance. I feel its novelty would last a lot longer and it would give me more options of what to do in game. If it is in a pure adventure format, you are somewhat limited by what you can actually do and the supporting characters will eventually fall to the wayside. Cloud is cool and all, but I like Tifa and Vincent Valentine along with Yuffie. I also want to more of the interesting side quests like play more of the Golden Saucer games or uncovering the mystery behind Cait Sith. I don't want a clunky battle system and overpriced DLCs. In fact, I rather pay for a game in its entirety, but that might be a “tall” order for gaming developers. Especially if they are riding that money train. So let me know whether you want or don't want something in Final Fantasy VII. I would love to hear any comments or responses regarding this topic. And once the game actually does come out I will revisit this topic. The next topic will be TBA for now. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. In the mean time, enjoy this FF7 comparison video while wetting your gaming palette! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeTBgDpnEI4

This article was written by Charles Eggleston. Charles lives in Korea. He has a background in...and enjoys...

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