[ Throwback Thursdays ] Final Fantasy VII’s Remake and the Problem With Nostalgia

final fantasy 7 localization

Yeah, so, Final Fantasy VII is a great game. I’m not going to start this by saying the game’s the worst thing ever as it was a wonderful example of what you can do in terrible circumstances of game development. However, as far as Final Fantasy games are concerned, there are better games. In terms of localization, production schedule, and resources, this game feels a little like the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion: tons of potential, tons of hype, tons of things gone right, but it crumbled under the pressure of its own potential success and marketing. Things got even worse for the game when Square-Enix went back and tried to flesh out the world of Final Fantasy VII by creating Compilation of Final Fantasy VII where they created new games, movies, and other media to try and clear up some of the inconsistencies of the plot and its characters. What it ended up doing, though, is muddy things up in a lot of ways, instead of clarifying, and the Compilation felt more like a desperate scramble, at times, to create something that fit their initial vision. This probably says a lot about Square-Enix as a company and their company culture prior to the merger but the point remains that Final Fantasy VII‘s story, characters, and universe, turned into a bloody mess.

final fantasy vii battle

Whether you blame the constantly pressuring development cycle, the constantly changing ideas for the game, or the fact that it simply didn’t get the testing it needed, the result in the base game is a broken mess. It’s a clusterfuck of ideas that got smashed together and the bottom line is that it’s a huge game that needed a lot more care, a longer development cycle, and a lot more effort into fleshing out dialogue and character. What the core game did do well was, however, be one of the first mass marketed JRPGs in the North American market and introduced a huge amount of gamers to RPGs: this meant that, for a lot of people, this game is near and dear to their heart merely by existing and they will continue to thank it strictly for every joy they’ve had in role playing games from that point forward.

A lot of people will beg for Square-Enix to keep it as close to the base game as possible but in order to create a complete and full experience that respects the release of all related content up to now will never be anything like the core game ever was. There has been so many changes to the story, the universe the game takes places in, and its characters, not to mention that the games in the subfranchise have changed gameplay approaches as well, so in order to create something cohesive and complete, you would need to wipe the slate clean and start again. That’s why everyone involved always said the same thing when interviewed about a possible remake; the kinds of resources needed to do all of this would be massive. You couldn’t just copy/paste the game onto newer graphics and call it a day.

final fantasy vii remake cloud

Since I’ve spent a lot of time breaking down a game that I, myself, have even spent a lot of time with, obsessing about, and even loved myself, I have to clarify that a lot of these criticisms are not because I hated the game: it’s just that there’s some areas of the game that are utterly atrocious and it felt, right from step one, that this wasn’t the game the creators wanted to make. That’s why the remake is so goddamned exciting: this is a chance for Square-Enix to give us the Final Fantasy VII they’ve always wanted to give us, creatively, and I embrace the possibility. As someone online said brilliantly: “Go big, or leave it alone. I want to rediscover FFVII, not replay it yet again.” I haven’t really gotten the chance to be excited about anything surrounding Final Fantasy VII in a very long time and this is the first hope I’ve had to have something new and exciting in something I greatly cherish and always held out hope for.

However, we have a primary problem, here: so many people attached feelings to the game that have nothing to do with it being a video game; people have attached emotions that describe people’s first real safe place, a joining of hearts, their first feeling of belonging in a community, that first feeling of playing a successful video game that they were good at. People feel that if the game changes, it, essentially, denies them their past, their good feelings they had once latched onto, that it changes how they need to feel about their goddamned childhood. People are taking this way too personally and, in all honesty, are not having the million ports removed from all existence so I say to those who cherish the original core game as the piece of art that it was and the statement of the industry at the turning point the game was a part of? You can continue to cherish it. You’re free to enjoy it as it was, prior to the remake, even after it is released.

What are your thoughts regarding this? I would like to hear from everyone, honestly, because this remake is going to break some ground when it drops, just on customer feedback alone.

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