[ Throwback Thursday ] Final Fantasy VII: Why I’m Excited to Make a Change

I’ve talked a lot about Final Fantasy VII since the remake was announced and even before then and I think I’ve made my point very clear: I used to obsess about the game and since the first time I beat it I’ve become more and more jaded about it as years went on. I have owned multiple versions of the game and I’ve played just about every variation of the main game and have played through every game in the compilation. I feel like I fell in love with a song and then the radio overplayed it, every popular artist in the next ten years covered it, and it’s on every compilation album but changed it ever so slightly. I remember getting into the game and why I became so emotionally attached to it but while I can easily get back into the game and play it like I used to, I can only get about halfway through before I start getting tired of it again. Given, a lot of that is due to the extensive rate at which I played it when I got my first copy but a lot of that is also due to the fact that the game is very clearly unfinished and broken in a lot of places. This is something I knew even when I was playing it but, frankly, I didn’t care because the game’s story and characters were so engrossing that I overlooked all its flaws.

However, we fast forward to a time shortly before the remake was announced and while the game has retained its almost exact state all this time, through all the re-releases and ports, there was this Compilation thing that sought to give a lot of the game’s plot holes and inconsistencies context and expand on the lore presented in the original game. When this is done, usually, it’s to change the plot so that way the original story is more cohesive and understandable but Square Enix saw to it that these entries to the Compilation would only define, clarify, and give context to what was discussed and found in the original game without addressing the fact that there were plot points that were confusing and sometimes quite silly. It felt more like Square Enix was slapping Post-It Notes on an incomplete game and story without making any attempts at doing any fixing; like they were refusing to accept that they may have made the wrong choice in rushing Final Fantasy VII.

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Honestly, this is why I believed everyone in corporate for Square-Enix when they said it was simply too big of an undertaking to take at the times everyone was asking. They have had a lot going on in the last console generation or so and not all of them were the critical hits they were expecting them to be, in spite of the fact that they put everything they had into every entry, trying to make it what everyone expected and wanted. It’s perfectly natural for their confidence to waver and for them to be wary about making a Final Fantasy VII remake: it seems that the gaming public generally isn’t even sure what they want and when they’re indecisive, so are their wallets. You see, in making a remake of this scale and with a game that’s, historically, so important, you have to realize it’s going to be very divisive and it’s going to change the pace of everything, financially, for the company: it will either go extremely well and people will think what they want or people will be reserved to the point of never buying it in droves for the first month of sales, which is super important. Only part of avoiding a remake was arrogance – part of it was trying to give players what they wanted in a way that was financially viable but, for the longest time, it would always seem like they were just avoiding the elephant in the room, so to speak.

To be fair, all I wanted from Final Fantasy VII was what I expected from all Final Fantasy titles: a brilliant story, endearing characters, awesome music, an epic scope, a simple and yet deep combat system, and extreme amounts of presentation to tie it all together. Final Fantasy VI set the bar pretty high to send off the 16-bit era and it seemed to continue right after with Final Fantasy VIII so it felt like Final Fantasy VII was more of an experiment than a polished, effective, and well-made title. It reeked of that from the graphical presentation to the mechanics of the game itself to the translation job; this game could have been a lot better had it just been given the opportunity to succeed and not be the obvious cash grab that it was marketed to be. Speaking of marketing, the way they’re pushing this title on the public seems very similar to the way they’re marketing Final Fantasy XV but that’s a different story for a different day.

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This is also why I’m happy to go along with most or all of the changes Square-Enix decides to make with the remake: the original Final Fantasy VII, while amazing, paled in comparison to other titles in the franchise in a lot of ways and could have been much, much better. I think that the only things that really should remain the same are a lot of the story and character beats: too much change there will turn this game into something it’s not; a good majority of this game’s flaws lie in its presentation and its under the hood stuff. As far as I’m concerned, if a lot of the plot holes get addressed, the combat system is actually fun to play, and the game’s script is actually much better, I wouldn’t mind what they did with the rest of the game, whether they kept it the same or decided to change it. Those were some of my biggest issues with the original and so far, I have a lot of hope for it.

I’m not too bothered by the fact that the game is going to be episodic, either: this game was incredibly ahead of its time and deserved a lot more work put into it than it got and probably should have been part of something similar to Fabula Nova Crystallis, anyway, instead of that crappy little Compilation that everyone got, instead. It sounds like a cop out, if you don’t know me well, but I’ve been hoping it would be remade in a way similar to this for a very, very long time, if it ever did get remade. Now that it’s happening, I’m actually extremely excited: I could be getting what I wanted the game to be this entire time.

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Of course, though, that means a lot of people aren’t going to be very happy with how things go but I am perfectly fine with that as unreasonable complaints and unjustified offense are commonplace in gaming, it seems, nowadays, and I realize that there aren’t many AAA releases that see the light of day that don’t go without controversy. It’s almost a sign of how well your game is doing: if your game is stirring the pot and unsettling a lot of people, it’s almost certain that your game is selling very well, too. I’m not really concerned with that and it would seem that Square Enix isn’t really concerned about it, either: they have responded to gender and racial-based criticism in the past but in the minimalist of ways and it seems they’re doing really well with damage control.

Between Final Fantasy XV and the Final Fantasy VII remake, my confidence for the potential of the franchise has been practically renewed but I am reserving judgment until both titles are released. I have absolutely no doubt that they’ll both succeed and it’s no doubt in my mind that the game will be realized to its fullest potential; the only thing that’s truly left to doubt is whether or not the game will be received well by the general gaming world. I think it will be but only time will tell for sure.

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