This is a big dilemma, and a conversation that many of us thought would never happen.
At this year’s E3, Sony announced quite a hefty assortment of future games, including the long-dormant The Last Guardian, a new Star Ocean, and even the awaited sequel to Shenmue II. Arguably the biggest announcement, though…was the announcement of the Final Fantasy VII remake.
At first, I was very excited for this game, but now I am just anxious and concerned for Square-Enix and the monumental task they’ve set before themselves. One of the main reasons fans have been so adamant that they would never attempt to do a FFVII remake was because it’d be near-impossible to create something fresh, while adhering to the staunch requests of the purists to maintain the same feel of the original. Final Fantasy VII came out almost 20 years ago at this point. A lot has changed about game design since this time.
Take Wolfenstein, or it’s many clones, for instance. At the time, Wolfenstein paved the way for future games in the FPS genre, offering players a new plane of view for taking down bad guys. If they tried to make the same game now, I’m sure purists would love it, but there would be almost no economic viability with the game. The controls to Wolfenstein are stiff and wonky, and you aren’t even able to look up and down. Games have evolved to incorporate more freedom of movement and control, as well as adding extra storytelling capabilities and visual fidelity.
I feel bad for Square Enix. They haven’t been doing terribly well in the sales department, at least where the west is concerned. They also have put themselves into a corner when attempting something as monumental as this. Final Fantasy VII is often argued as one of the greatest RPGs of all time, in spite of many flaws and weird quirks. It just came out at the perfect time to hook young players. Storytelling in games took mammoth leaps around this time, and it showed us that you can have a great game, and also care about the characters in it at the same time.
So, how do they create this game? How does one take a classic, make it fresh, and make it do justice to the original? There are some parts of the game that would just be silly to throw in, like the sequence of the game where Cloud dresses in drag to infiltrate a base. How would that translate to a modern game with new graphics?
People tend to look back on FFVII with rose-colored glasses. You can’t deny that some parts of it were just plain silly or weird, though. Maybe that’s what everyone loved, but that is also the stuff that is most likely to get cut out. The gaming community has grown up in the years since video games first graced our screens. RPG players specifically want a lot more out of their video game experiences. Turn-based combat has long been removed from the standard of RPG combat. So, how do you make FFVII work in the new video game culture?
Personally, I wouldn’t mind if Final Fantasy VII retained it’s original turn-based style combat. Mostly because I’ve played plenty of games that utilize this mechanic. Still, a lot of young kids who are primarily playing consoles anymore will likely get bored or frustrated by not being able to control their characters actively on their own accord. This is a technological hurdle that they have to be mindful of.
According to an interview with engadget, game director Tetsuya Nomura had this to say about potential changes…
Even if we beautified and upgraded the visuals — something that’s bound to happen. If it’s a full remake, then of course, we want to take a different approach. If we actually just upgraded the visuals — there’d be no need for me to direct it.
Well, I can’t honestly say. But things will change.
It’s clear that Nomura and crew intend to take the game in a new direction. It’s likely they will risk angering purist fans, but they have to think economically about the potential fanbase gain that they need. They need to find ways to appeal to modern gamers. To do that, there’s just no way around changing some things.
People were super excited for Silent Hills, Hideo Kojima and Guillermo’s now aborted love child. Despite promises that P.T. was literally just a playable teaser, and not an actual demo, the fanbase went wild at how Kojima and crew were shaking things up. They took the classic and awkward 3rd person controls and changed the perspective to the much more terrifying 1st person. Not many people seemed to complain about this. The public internet consumer base seems really wishy washy.
It’s not really fair to compare Final Fantasy VII to Silent Hill, though. Remaking FFVII is much more akin to remaking Back to the Future, if you’re thinking about it from a movie perspective. I would be very skeptical and overly-critical of a Back to the Future reboot, as the original is damn near perfect and was an instant classic.
Personally, I’m excited for the potential they have with changing the game. I wouldn’t mind an open-world take on the game, with a more robust Midgar experience. We all have our own perceptions of Midgar, and even the characters of the whole story, for that matter. That’s why Advent Children was so polarizing among fans. They didn’t all necessarily agree with the creative direction or the portrayal of these characters. It will only be about 1,000 times more scrutinized when it comes to the game itself. They could truly manage to make it a great experience that can re-invigorate Final Fantasy once again.
Right now, though…I’m more nervous than anything.
What are your thoughts? Should they have gone through with doing a Final Fantasy VII remake, or is this game best left in the nostalgic past, along with my enjoyment of Moon Shoes and Tamagotchi? Sound off in the comments below!