So imagine me, long flowing black hair and twelve (yes) rock solid abs, sitting in my swivel chair while pontificating over my growing collection of unplayed games. Struck was I with the responsibility of actually making a decision, of choosing a direction down which I would lead my life into a new future. This frightened me greatly, so in place of committing, I instead decided to crawl back into my cave of blissful, ignorant nostalgia and forget about the big, scary sky of infinite possibilities. I replayed...dramatic ellipses.
Yo, this game is good. Which is to say, it is still good. The graphics are pretty terribad, being from that woeful age of early PSX not3D modeling that has aged like a unmolested corpse. But otherwise, the game holds up. The combat is quick, the materia allows a level of customization that does not devour the rest of the game, and the music is effing incredible. Seriously, check this shit:
So the game part is still great, but the rest falls apart under modern scrutiny. The script is sloppily translated, with grammar gaffs and awkward dialog, and the story itself is often incomprehensible. The characters are either paper thin cardboard cut outs or Cloud and Tifa, with any depth and characterization added to them being forgotten or ignored halfway into the game. Having said that, the plot does have its moments and I was actually impressed by the oddly postmodern dynamic between Zack, Cloud and the player.
Conclusion!: FFVII is still a great game despite its graphical and written short comings. It's fun to play, the music is great to listen to and the plot does have some interesting moments. It deserves to be played by everyone.
What Final Fantasy VII does not deserve is a...
“What?!” say the enraged voice in the back of my skull, “you just finished fellating the damned game!” Well, you see, it's kind of an issue that I have with our demand for remakes: we just want an excuse to replay our favorite games. And it's true. When a game is good, you want more of it. But we also don't want to replay the exact same game, so we ask for a remake that will allow us to justify it to ourselves. I'm the same way. I squee'd like an anime high school girl with over-enlarged tits when Konami announced the MGS HD stuff. But do MGS2-3 need HD remakes? There in lies the rub: those games haven't gone anywhere. FFVII has not gone anywhere. It's in fact very easily acquired through PSN. And the game itself, block men and smurf shoes aside, plays very well today. So there is no reason for it to be remade.
I could go into further details why it shouldn't be remade, such as the game becoming a corridor crawl and Cloud turning into a prick, but I won't. Because I just did. If anything should happen with this game, it ought to be a rerelease on PSP with an updated script. Or, you know what, make the PC version available on Steam. That has both the improved script and HD mods. Square wouldn't even need to put work into it!
Remakes have their place, but it should not be to rehash the games we already love. We should reserve remakes for those games that have great promise but fail for one reason or many. A game that tells a great story but has tedious gameplay. A game that delivers on great characters but falls short on basic mechanics. A game that has a fucking terrible card minigame. A game like...
“...What?” asks the confused voice at the far left side of my skull. Yes, you see, I forgot to mention that I also replayed FFIX, one of the franchise's “black sheep” to many a fan. IX is actually my favorite game in the franchise, but I wanted to see how the game fared when set against the juggernaut.
I'll start by saying that IX does what NintenSevendon't. The characters are amazing, the story is coherent and large in scope, and the writing is many levels above. Themes such as death, humanity and effing genocide are addressed, yet the game doesn't drown in the sea of its own melodrama. And it has a much better villain (suck it Sephiroth, Kuja is both prettier and deadlier. What you kill, a snake? That and he's a man of culture). And it has Vivi, who is my fucking bro. Edit: Final Fantasy IX also has the best chocobos in the series!
That said, the game, the part you play, is not good. FFVII's quick battle transition is replaced with a 5-10 second loading screen. VII's relatively quick encounters are replaced with bloated attack animations and long wait times between command and execution. And it has random encounters, and fuck random encounters.
The worst part is maybe the trance system. Limit Breaks, you may remember, were VII's awesomely broken super attacks. Most characters' limit breaks were capable of one shotting mooks, and Cloud was a physical god with a full bar. Zidane, likewise, has Level 9 Diety powers when in trance, but everyone else's is either useless or just barely make up for the character's shortcomings. You can't control when they are activated, and the trance bar empties if the battles ends while the character is “Tranced.” Which really sucks if that happens right after you make the battle ending attack.
Thievery is a tedious mechanic which is only compounded by being the main character's gimmick. Good items can be had, but the luck based nature of the thing makes it more of a chore than it's worth.
And the card game. Tetra Master was probably made to emulate the success of Final Fantasy VIII's Triple Triad. I could write a whole blog-NO-book about this game, but here's what it comes down to: in Triple Triad, big number beat little number. In Tetra Master, you rely on Hexadecimal values and prayer, hexadecimal values and prayer!
I know that I just eviscerated the poor game, but do not misunderstand me: Final Fantasy IX is still my favorite in the series, despite its faults. Everything else about it works perfectly, it's just the game part that brings it down. If Square were to remake this game and fix the problems, like tighten up the animations, replace the dice rolls for stealing with a minigame or something, cut the random encounters and make a card game that runs on human logic, then Final Fantasy IX could be amazing in every respect.
And I would love to see Vivi rendered in glorious HD