“Please Be Excited” – The Final Fantasy VII Remake

I didn’t want a remake of Final Fantasy VII. Oh yeah, I’m one of those people.

It’s my favorite game of all time. Yes, a lot of that has to do with nostalgia, but growing up with that game being one of the first epic tales I’d yet to see in my gaming career still means a lot to me. I still remember things from my first playthrough, like having to grind for hours on end to overpower a boss because my friend’s disc I had borrowed was scratched, and if the boss used a specific attack, it would freeze the game. I remember blowing off homework to breed chocobos, and resetting the system a million times if I got another blue one when I really needed a green one. I loved that game.

I didn’t want Square to ruin it.

Much like a lot of you, actually. Prior to the announcement, I was so sure they would never remake the game. I mean, think about it. Yes, it would make them a ton of money, but really think about it. A game where you play as a band of terrorists, today? A game with often times goofy humor, after the serious tone of every compilation piece we’ve gotten since? Realistic Cloud crossdressing!? Never mind that it essentially says, “We can’t ever top this, so here it is again,” on Square Enix’s part. I never thought it could hold up today. Somehow, seeing that reveal trailer during E3 2015 changed me. It all felt so clearly familiar, yet oddly renewing.

Obviously, we’ve now gotten our first look at the game, and it has completely grabbed my attention. Somehow gone are my concerns about it. I don’t really understand how. I suppose the promise of it actually existing, with Kitase already addressing several of the things I’ve been thinking about, just makes me hopeful about seeing where it all goes. It’s a truly exciting thing.

But then, you have the internet.

“Why isn’t the game turn based?” “Cloud’s arms are too skinny!” “Multiple entries!?

I get it. I used to be one of those people (not about Cloud’s arms though. Seriously, look at the original artwork and stop being dramatic). As soon as the “multiple entries” news was announced, I was skeptical. It was one game before, why should that change? Well, actually, there are a few reasons.

Cost

Games are FAR more expensive and FAR more difficult to develop now than in 1997. And Final Fantasy VII cost a lot to development back then ($45 million for development, $100 million for marketing). With inflation, this has only increased, and that’s merely to make a game on par. Advancing that forward to what we’ve seen already, we may be approaching Grand Theft Auto V levels of cost, or possibly even surpassing that (although differences in development may sway that. It’s not a perfect comparison, but everything they’ve said has the scale of this game sounding huge). Not only does Square need to make money back on this, but they also want this to be a game the consumer wants to buy, and they generally hold no expense in development. Splitting it is a cost effective way to make money to deliver another game for the people who want it (and you’ve all shown that you want it. Maybe not this way, but that’s what we’re addressing).

Scale

Think about how many pre-rendered backgrounds there are total in Final Fantasy VII. According to an estimate in this thread, around 700. Now imagine each of them spliced together, fully rendered as 3D environments, with everything in between, plus additional locations (they’ve gone on record that they want to add more exploration to Midgar and such). Fully realizing this game as it was in 1997 using today’s technology is a much more massive undertaking than anyone’s really realizing. The game was huge, and it’s only going to get bigger. The argument’s been thrown around that the original Final Fantasy VII was so big, it fit on 3 discs for Playstation 1. So why can’t they fit the game onto a Blu Ray disc, or ship with multiple discs? Frankly, that isn’t comparable. We’re in an era where almost every game you purchase comes with a 50 GB install (not all, there are outliers). See above about the discussion for cost to develop the game, add manufacturing for multiple Blu Ray discs, plus the case to hold them all, and then consider how much hard drive space this game in full will take up. If you still have the pack-in HDD for your PS4, this game could potentially fill about 1/3 of your hard drive immediately. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind parsing that out over time.

Time

Final Fantasy Versus XIII, or as it now is, Final Fantasy XV, was announced in 2006. That game remained unspoken of for years, until Square re-revealed it during E3 2013 as we it know today. They knew the game was a bit far off (2016 is what they’re aiming for now), so they appeased fans with a demo packed in with Type-0 HD. They know fans want these things earlier, and they’ve been listening. They certainly don’t want Final Fantasy VII Remake to be a repeat of XV’s development cycle. So, split it into multiple parts, and you get the first part sooner. Once you finish that, the next may not be so far off. We don’t want to be waiting 5+ years for this game, and they know that. Hell, the scenario for the first part is already complete (thanks Gematsu). While this merely means the story planning and whatnot is finished, it’s progress, and a lot of it considering past development times.

Creativity

We have no idea about what to really expect from this game. We’ve seen glimpses of the early scenarios in Final Fantasy VII, as well as some footage of the battle system, but this is all early in what is likely the first title. Who’s to say the second won’t be different somehow? What if they try to offer a brand new experience with every entry? What if one of the entries entirely stars Zack and is essentially Crisis Core? We just don’t know what to expect. As far as the more action-oriented combat goes, you have to consider mainstream audiences in today’s industry. This is a “triple A” title, and the usual “triple A” audience isn’t likely going to buy a game where you have to wait, input a command, wait, input a command, etc. Square has proven they can do action combat in the franchise (the success that Dissidia and Crisis Core had with fans says hello). Let them actually show you what they have in store before you exhale judgment, because while it could be bad, it equally has a chance to be great.

Everyone who is upset with this is jumping the gun. I do get it, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t have concerns. Yes, you should be concerned about how much damage this will do to your wallet. Yes, you should be concerned about the possible length of each individual title. But the fact of the matter is that we don’t entirely know what to expect. We don’t know how many parts there will be, how much each entry will cost, or how long each entry lasts. There are several factors that not many people are seeing and/or considering, and they should be considered. If you don’t like what’s being done, then don’t buy it. Just try to see why it’s being done, and maybe you’ll feel better about it all in the end.

I was vehemently against a remake for years, and now look at me defending it. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do, because I don’t want them to make the same game again, let alone release the same game on the same system. I want to see what they do differently, and I’m reserving any and all judgment until that point. I implore you all to do the same.

About The Author

Mark Sullivan

Mark is a student in Philadelphia currently working towards a B.S. in Information Science & Technology. Starting in 1998 with a hand-me-down PS1 and the demo for Spyro The Dragon (which he played COUNTLESS times), his love of gaming soon elevated when he borrowed Final Fantasy VII from a friend for the first time. Now he's an avid collector, a semi-expert trophy hunter, and an overall lover of video games. Favorite games are Final Fantasy VII (I know, deal with it), Metal Gear Solid 2, Resident Evil 4, Dark Souls, and Psychonauts, to name a few.

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