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The Final Fantasy VII Dilemma

January 31, 2010

The Final Fantasy VII Dilemma
By Louis Bedigian

Should the world’s biggest RPG continue with sequels, spin-offs and a remake … or be allowed to rest in peace?

This is something that has been on my mind since the conclusion of Final Fantasy VII (or rather, my first time playing through it) in the fall of 1997. Should the game continue? Should we get more of an RPG we love so dearly?

Contrary to the series’ beginning, a sequel is not out of the question. Final Fantasy X-2 may have been more of an experiment than anything else, but it showed that Square Enix was willing to reconsider the notion that every Final Fantasy game must feature a self-contained story.

 
Who wouldn’t love to see a PS3 logo strapped to this box?

Immeasurable Cravings

More than a sequel, fans have been begging for a remake. We all know that, realistically, FFVII concluded with Aeris saving the world. But a remake would give Square Enix the chance to jump back in time and recreate every single element. From the story (how about some new flashback scenarios surrounding Cloud, Zack and Sephiroth?) to the music (think about what John Williams did for the Star Wars prequels; Nobuo Uematsu could do the same for FFVII) to the battles and the Materia system (new spells and deeper Materia customization features would rock), Square Enix could accomplish a lot with a new version of this beloved RPG. 

That, of course, doesn’t include the graphical upgrades, which we already know would be breathtaking, thanks to the FFVII tech demo that reinvigorated the remake debate five years ago. The audio would also be overhauled with better music and sound effects recordings. On Blu-ray – or DVD, the developers could pile on the extras: new sub-quests, new mini-games, new CG (or would they all be real-time?) movie sequences.

It would be unreal. It would be the kind of game that would make people form lines outside of GameStop, spend extra $$$ on pre-order “bonuses,” and take off work to spend every single second enveloped in a world they loved deeply and have waited more than a decade to revisit.

Dreams vs. Reality

With so much anticipation for a game that doesn’t even exist, you have to wonder: why, exactly, is Square Enix so against developing a game so many people want? The publisher isn’t against the idea of releasing FFVII-related spin-offs, nor is Square Enix opposed to throwing FFVII characters into several other games. Even Parasite Eve, a series once thought to be dead, is getting new life on PSP. So why haven’t we seen a remake of FFVII? 

The answer might be much simpler than we think. While Square Enix can release any FFVII-related item it wants without tarnishing the original masterpiece, the actual game cannot be touched without risking its very destruction. Right now, millions of gamers have fond memories of playing through FFVII. If the game were to be remade in a way that damaged those memories, the legacy would be lost, and the biggest RPG of all time would only be able to retain its title as the best seller, not as the most popular.

Deep down, we’re all aware of the risks. But are they worth it? Should Square Enix ignore the warning signs and move ahead with a game that would surely become the single most anticipated remake of all time?

 
The pixelated PS3/PSP port is great but it isn’t enough…

Reuniting Old Colleagues and Friends

Before Square Enix could ever green-light a project as important and as massive as an FFVII remake, it would have to get back as many of the original team members as possible. Most significantly, Hironobu Sakaguchi (the game’s producer, who now runs the indie studio Mistwalker), Yoshinori Kitase (director and lead writer), Nobuo Uematsu (composer) and Tetsuya Nomura (character designer) would have to return. Without them, the game wouldn’t look, sound or play the same. Without them, it wouldn’t be FFVII. 

Don’t Burn the Script 

One of the benefits of an FFVII remake would be the opportunity to refine (and when necessary, rewrite) the script. But that’s a process that would take extreme care. All of the cheesy elements – including every bad line of dialogue – must be removed. By that same token, if there are any cheesy moments added, the story will be ruined. When I say “cheesy,” I mean anything that you’d expect to find in turn-based RPGs not titled Final Fantasy, and anything that you might watch on Cartoon Network.

In short, the remake would need to steer clear of what everyone else has been doing for the past 15 years.

You Don’t Need a Voice for Us to Hear You Loud and Clear

Voice-overs are all but guaranteed to accompany an FFVII remake, and they are probably the biggest risk. In theory, Square Enix could enhance the graphics and audio, tweak the gameplay and call it a day and millions of gamers would cheer. It may not be the remake that they wanted, but they’d be happy nonetheless. 

Add voices to our favorite characters, however, and you run the risk of ruining them. This goes back to the fear of cheese – if the voices aren’t absolutely perfect, gamers will have a hard time viewing these characters as the same ones they discovered in 1997. 

But who defines what perfect voices are, anyway? My idea of Cloud Strife is probably very different from yours, and your idea is likely different from your friend’s, and so on.

FFVII had a story that was strong enough to survive the text-only days of gaming. I firmly believe that, regardless of what the latest trends and fads have told the game industry, an FFVII remake could survive – and would likely flourish more easily – without any voices at all.

 

It Can Be Done

This wouldn’t be an easy task. Those who take on a remake of this caliber would be faced with more sleepless nights than they could count. They’d have the weight of the world – maybe even the weight of Meteor – on their shoulders as we, the gaming public, wait impatiently to see if they can pull it off. 

Despite the risks and all the worry, it can be done. FFVII can be remade into the greatest turn-based RPG of this generation.

But if any of the above is asking too much – if cheesy voice-overs are inevitable, if Nobuo Uematsu cannot be rehired, if the graphics are the only thing that will receive a true upgrade – then Square Enix should continue to ignore our requests and let FFVII rest in peace.

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