Remaking Final Fantasy VII

Remaking Final Fantasy VII

My thoughts on a remake of the beloved JRPG of 1997.     
 Cloud from FFVII PS3 Tech Demo
  
I remember the first time I saw the PS3 tech demo of Final Fantasy VII, during E3 2005. Embarrassingly I admit, I didn't even see the entire video until later on because I was so excited I was jumping and screaming around the house, until of course I realized it was just a demonstration to show off the power of the PS3.

As excited I was at the prospect a few years ago, now I am not entirely sure I want a remake anymore.   
 

Why do we need a remake?

Many fans wish that Square-Enix would stop focusing on remakes and instead focus on new games. However, it's no surprise to anyone to hear that the popularity of Final Fantasy games has declined over the years. It's difficult to try to keep past fans interested in the franchise and yet garner new customers.

With less fans and the higher cost of producing games compared to ten years ago, it's no wonder that Square-Enix rather make remakes (or spin-offs) that are guaranteed to sell than risk producing new games.

 I've heard many people say they have given up on future games in the Final Fantasy franchise, not liking the direction the franchise has taken. Still, many have been begging for a remake of FFVII for a long time. 

   

How will it be made?

A remake of FFVII can not just be a graphical update, although that in itself would be amazing. Everything needs to be re-hauled: The battle system (I don't think keeping turn-based combat would be considered by Square-Enix), dialogue, and changes to the overall world are just some of the aspects that have to be updated.  
  
 Final Fantasy VII's Materia System.
The big question is how many changes have to be made?  
  • Will the materia system still be in place?  
  • W ill the amount of summons still remain or will there be more focus on making certain summons more powerful and discarding others?  
  • Will character's be customized to suit whichever the need players want or will a job system dictate what area characters emphasis (such as medics)? 

Obviously game developers want to create games that will take the least amount of time to produce while investing enough time to make sure those games will sell (not counting 3D Realm's Duke Nukem Forever and Valve's Half-Life 2: Episode 3). The estimated time to work on a remake that would be the same-quality as Final Fantasy XIII, according to Yoshinori Kitase, "would take as much as three or four times longer than the three and a half years it has taken to put this Final Fantasy together! So it's looking pretty unrealistic to happen!" He went on to say that part of the reason  XIII was more linear than previous games was due to the time it took to produce the graphics (Source: http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3178056).

So this brings up another issue: How linear would it turn out to be? Part of VII's charm was being able to explore different places throughout the game. Square-Enix will want to save time in production and will surely abandon some side-quests.  Important side-quests such as obtaining Yuffie and Vincent could easily become a main part of the game. But what about mini-games? Will the Gold Saucer still retain the amount of features it has? 

 Screenshot of Gold Saucer's Entrance.
Minor Spoiler for FFXIII Ahead:
In Final Fantasy XIII, players have to go through an amusement park during the game, at first I thought maybe there would be some mini-games to play or maybe a ride or two, but it turns out that there was nothing to do except move the story forward by seeing some Chocobos and then leaving and never coming back again. Just imagine this being done to VII's Gold Saucer, where the only feature playable would be the fighting arena because of a story event taking place there. There would be no roller coast ride, no betting on Chocobo races, no feeding Mog to get him a mate, no theater that makes Cloud get on stage and let's players choose to kiss the dragon instead of his date... The list goes on!

At one time, Square-Enix said they did not want to make a remake unless they could get most of the staff from the original game to work on it. Yet, I'm sure they've  been paying attention to the amount of fans who would be interested in a remake and I don't think they'll wait to get original team members back before they go to work on it. If the original staff could all be acquired again, then I would be all for a remake without many doubts if it would be good or not. At this point, I don't think it's a matter of if there will be a remake but when it will be made and how long it'll take to produce.  

No matter how good a remake of Final Fantasy VII is, the end result will be that some people will hate it, others will love it, and maybe some will just find it to be okay. The main question for fans of the original is if Square-Enix will ruin the world of FFVII? Mixed feelings about Advent Children, Crisis Core and negative reactions to Dirge of Cerberus have already indicated that fans won't be very accepting to the story line of Final Fantasy VII being tampered with.    
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Posted by brukaoru

Remaking Final Fantasy VII

My thoughts on a remake of the beloved JRPG of 1997.     
 Cloud from FFVII PS3 Tech Demo
  
I remember the first time I saw the PS3 tech demo of Final Fantasy VII, during E3 2005. Embarrassingly I admit, I didn't even see the entire video until later on because I was so excited I was jumping and screaming around the house, until of course I realized it was just a demonstration to show off the power of the PS3.

As excited I was at the prospect a few years ago, now I am not entirely sure I want a remake anymore.   
 

Why do we need a remake?

Many fans wish that Square-Enix would stop focusing on remakes and instead focus on new games. However, it's no surprise to anyone to hear that the popularity of Final Fantasy games has declined over the years. It's difficult to try to keep past fans interested in the franchise and yet garner new customers.

With less fans and the higher cost of producing games compared to ten years ago, it's no wonder that Square-Enix rather make remakes (or spin-offs) that are guaranteed to sell than risk producing new games.

 I've heard many people say they have given up on future games in the Final Fantasy franchise, not liking the direction the franchise has taken. Still, many have been begging for a remake of FFVII for a long time. 

   

How will it be made?

A remake of FFVII can not just be a graphical update, although that in itself would be amazing. Everything needs to be re-hauled: The battle system (I don't think keeping turn-based combat would be considered by Square-Enix), dialogue, and changes to the overall world are just some of the aspects that have to be updated.  
  
 Final Fantasy VII's Materia System.
The big question is how many changes have to be made?  
  • Will the materia system still be in place?  
  • W ill the amount of summons still remain or will there be more focus on making certain summons more powerful and discarding others?  
  • Will character's be customized to suit whichever the need players want or will a job system dictate what area characters emphasis (such as medics)? 

Obviously game developers want to create games that will take the least amount of time to produce while investing enough time to make sure those games will sell (not counting 3D Realm's Duke Nukem Forever and Valve's Half-Life 2: Episode 3). The estimated time to work on a remake that would be the same-quality as Final Fantasy XIII, according to Yoshinori Kitase, "would take as much as three or four times longer than the three and a half years it has taken to put this Final Fantasy together! So it's looking pretty unrealistic to happen!" He went on to say that part of the reason  XIII was more linear than previous games was due to the time it took to produce the graphics (Source: http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3178056).

So this brings up another issue: How linear would it turn out to be? Part of VII's charm was being able to explore different places throughout the game. Square-Enix will want to save time in production and will surely abandon some side-quests.  Important side-quests such as obtaining Yuffie and Vincent could easily become a main part of the game. But what about mini-games? Will the Gold Saucer still retain the amount of features it has? 

 Screenshot of Gold Saucer's Entrance.
Minor Spoiler for FFXIII Ahead:
In Final Fantasy XIII, players have to go through an amusement park during the game, at first I thought maybe there would be some mini-games to play or maybe a ride or two, but it turns out that there was nothing to do except move the story forward by seeing some Chocobos and then leaving and never coming back again. Just imagine this being done to VII's Gold Saucer, where the only feature playable would be the fighting arena because of a story event taking place there. There would be no roller coast ride, no betting on Chocobo races, no feeding Mog to get him a mate, no theater that makes Cloud get on stage and let's players choose to kiss the dragon instead of his date... The list goes on!

At one time, Square-Enix said they did not want to make a remake unless they could get most of the staff from the original game to work on it. Yet, I'm sure they've  been paying attention to the amount of fans who would be interested in a remake and I don't think they'll wait to get original team members back before they go to work on it. If the original staff could all be acquired again, then I would be all for a remake without many doubts if it would be good or not. At this point, I don't think it's a matter of if there will be a remake but when it will be made and how long it'll take to produce.  

No matter how good a remake of Final Fantasy VII is, the end result will be that some people will hate it, others will love it, and maybe some will just find it to be okay. The main question for fans of the original is if Square-Enix will ruin the world of FFVII? Mixed feelings about Advent Children, Crisis Core and negative reactions to Dirge of Cerberus have already indicated that fans won't be very accepting to the story line of Final Fantasy VII being tampered with.    
Posted by ahoodedfigure

It's easy to say that I want such a remake, but yeah, just doing it over would be a big enough production.  To make it better for modern sensibilities would be a lot of work.  I think, though, that because people emphasize graphics so strongly that they'd be expecting something like the caliber of XIII's graphics, it really is making it difficult to have happen.
 
That's why I'd say if it DID become a real project, they should concentrate more on gameplay and expanding the universe, and give the graphics a BASIC overhaul to make it look modern and detailed, but not make everything hyper-realistic or insanely intricate.   What I have in mind is something like the Phantasy Star RPG remakes they did in Japan.  They made the combat systems a bit more interesting, added cool graphics and a few extra features, but didn't try to make THE game that was the focus of all the output.  They were even budget titles (sad to say they never game out in English, though).
 
If Squeenix decides not to, I guess I understand better why, now.

Posted by Sweep

While so many people seem desperate to revisit final fantasy 7 i'm happy to stick with my fond memories. I don't want to corrupt them after all this time. Every so often I see someone playing FF7, or hear the theme tune as someones ringtone, and it makes me remember all the good times I had playing the game but I think at this point replaying the actual game in any form would just destroy what I remember of the original charm. I don't want them to reinvent it or remake it for the new generation of consoles. I want them to let the damn thing die and move on. If they can't make a decent final fantasy game then maybe they need to hire some new staff and stop making final fantasy games. They are almost as bad as sega with their bullshit sonic games. 
 
Great blog Bru :)

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Posted by dankempster

Nice write-up Bru. 
 
Given how divisive Final Fantasy XIII was, I wouldn't expect a remake of Final Fantasy VII to borrow too heavily from it if it did ever happen. I also don't think that the developers could realistically do away with Materia as a gameplay mechanic, given that it's an established part of the game's lore and pretty important to the game's storyline as a whole (the Black and White Materia and the Huge Materia, for example). Instead, I think we'd be much more likely to see a battle system reminiscent of Final Fantasy X-2's retaining the ATB bars and total party control but still being pretty frenetic. 
 
As for what content would be cut, I'd expect that a lot of the game's mini-games and minor side quests would probably be removed (yeah, I'm thinking the less-important parts of Gold Saucer and Fort Condor, stuff like that). While I agree with you and Sweep that doing so would have a severe impact on the game's charm, I'm sure that a lot of people would also argue that those mini-games are auxiliary and don't really add anything to the game proper. Regardless of that, I'd expect that the game's major side quests (battle square, the secret WEAPONs, and chocobo breeding if not racing) would survive the remake process. Hell, we might even get some new side-quests thrown in (mark-hunting, anybody?). 
 
Like you, there was once a point in time where the announcement of a Final Fantasy VII remake would have excited me greatly, but nowadays I'm not too bothered. I don't know if you're aware or not, but I'm currently embarking on a playthrough of Final Fantasy VII, being as objective as I possibly can be to determine whether or not the original holds up, and even though I'm only ten hours in I think by and large it does so far. There are obvious problems (the blocky graphics, the terrible translation), but they're fairly minor complaints in the context of the whole experience. If those are the kinds of things that render a game unplayable for you then you're going into the game for the wrong reasons, and a shinier version won't fix that. If they made a remake, I'd almost certainly play it, but I wouldn't go into it expecting great things. I suspect attempting to rework Final Fantasy VII would simply result in more damage being done than good.

Posted by RenegadeSaint

Whether a good thing or bad thing, it is an interesting study in reverence.  What makes the game so memorable?  The story? Battle system? Or was it simply that it fell at the right time, bridging old and new?  I don't know how I feel, but I'd probably dip in to a remake.