There have been very few times in my life when the video game world has seemingly stopped. When excitement gets so great that time ceases to exist and undying anticipation is released in an overwhelming explosion of excitement. On June 15, this happened once again, when Square Enix announced that it would be remaking Final Fantasy 7…for real this time. Don’t believe me, check out the trailer.
The world has gone all crazy for Final Fantasy VII again. It’s great for the industry to have this level of excitement behind one game. Though throughout all the fanfare it’s hard for me to get excited without being very concerned. After 18 years of waiting, we’re going to finally get a remake that people have been calling for since 2005. While I try my hardest to not be negative I can’t help but think that an FF7 remake may not be a good thing.
The Expectations Are Too High
Do you have an idea of what a Final Fantasy VII remake needs to be? What aspects of the original it needs to have? How it should play, look, feel, and sound? Yes you do, as do I, as do your friends, as does Square Enix. We’ve been mulling over how we could improve Final Fantasy VII for 18 years. We have massively high expectations, expectations so high that it will be nigh impossible for Square to live up to them. People who love this game do not want to give up on the things they love about it, and that leads to my next point…
There Will Most Likely Be MASSIVE Changes
Did you like the combat system in FF7? I did. I also liked the World Map, Materia, and most of the mini-games (Mog house is awful). Many of these gameplay mechanics and mini games are not really transferrable to modern gaming. Modern RPGs are all about real-time combat and heavy button mashing. The turned-based battle has found its home on portable systems, but home consoles have left it in the dust. Even 2010′s Ni No Kuni, which embraced many classic JRPG tropes, had an action-styled combat that felt much more modern than FF7. As stated earlier, fans have an idea of what FF7 needs to play like, but that gaming functionality is very old. Young players will be made bored by FF7s gameplay. While it’s great to get all the old fans to buy it, Square needs to break into younger markets and make younger fans. All we 20 and 30 somethings don’t drive the industry, we facilitate it. One of the biggest changes will be…
The Story and Tone of FF7 Will Have To Change
The Story of Final Fantasy VII is fairly incomprehensible. We know that Sephiroth is trying to destroy the planet, but other than that nothing makes sense. Let’s get this out of the way, you play as a group of Eco-Terrorists destroying modern industry to save the planet from dying. It’s a great concept, but one that’s often forgotten. It’s going to be a hard sell for gamers. We also tend to forget how weird, silly, and creepy FF7 can be. There’s a point in the game when you out-squat a body builder to win a wig, then get molested by a group of mostly-naked dudes to win sexy underwear to cross-dress to save your friend. Now, I’m all about being who you are, but we tend to forget about this little part of FF7. Granted, that’s a very small portion of the game, but the entire experience is laced with this type of sexuality. It worked in 1998 and while I think it’s fine and would be fine to keep, modern gaming has gotten too serious with it’s AAA titles. Strange and weird games are often left in bargain bins as $7 gems only to be found and revived by companies like Nintendo (see Bayonetta).
Are we going to be able to take Cait Sith seriously in this modern climate? I don’t know. The gravity of the situation calls for a character that isn’t a talking cat doll. 1998 was a different time, when Anime-influenced games were king and RPGs were finally making their big splash in the US. It was easy to look past all of FF7′s weirdness because it looked like a cartoon. Now that it will look “real”, I cannot see them keeping all the fun parts of this game. Even the trailer looks entirely too serious. If this was an indie release, it would be able to poke fun at itself, but FF7 will have to take itself entirely too seriously to work for modern gamers.
I really hope that they don’t try to force in some “Revive Aerith” side quest. That will really get under my skin.
It Is Not Original
We can’t go through a year without getting remakes of virtually everything. Both major comic companies are massively rebooting, there are new film reboots each month, and video games get HD remake cash grabs more often that I can comprehend. Square has been a company in trouble for years. Constantly chastised for lacking originality and not being able to make games in the modern era. So the smartest plan of action is remake Final Fantasy 7 because the fans want it? Fans don’t know what they want, we really don’t. We’d play the same three games for centuries if we could. What we need is more creativity in our creative industries. Remaking Final Fantasy 7 hurts the industry, and is complete fan service. The endless repetition engine that spews out remake after annualized sequel after reboot. This feels like a cash grab, something that Square is doing to ensure that it has a good year. It takes resources away from creating new and original content; something Square can very well deliver upon (See Final Fantasy XIV). However, we’ll get another remake, something we think we want, but we don’t need. It’ll prove to the industry that game companies don’t need to be original, and that they can just rehash the same stuff year after year. It feels as though Square can’t think of anything original to give us, so they take out their classic trophy and shine it up a bit? Lame.
I genuinely hope that Final Fantasy VII’s remake is as good as it can possibly be. I don’t enjoy that it’s a remake, and that the culture of our arts society is that everything that’s good needs to be remade. I think that FF7 is easily accessible enough to have the same cultural impact as a 32-bit PSX game as it does now. Remaking it cheapens its impact and is the ultimate fan-service. Financially it’s a brilliant idea, and should have been done years ago. Though there is something about this decision that irks me. Many people are happy about this news, but something about it makes me sick. Go figure.