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June 22, 2015

Final Fantasy 7: All the Silliest

You know what gamers need?  Some kind of official poll system.

We may all identify under the hobby, but the collective is such a fractured mess that even the most basic classification is rough.  I’m a fan of Destructoid, for example, but there are others who frequent Polygon, others who prefer USGamer, and yes, even those who like IGN.  How do you get them to come together?  To even begin to acknowledge one another’s opinions, gathered in a conclusive format?  A universal poll -- one where all gamers vote on topics and see where their brethren stand on an issue.  It’ll never happen, of course, but it’s nice to think about as a way to offer up some perspective.

I only ask for that poll because I’d like to have proof that gamers aren’t just a massive mob of hypocrites…even if it seems like they kind of are.  “Give us something new and original!” they cry out -- and then Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed still make mad money. “They’re just trying to win us over with brand names and nostalgia!” they rage -- while games built on brand names and nostalgia get funded in hours, if not minutes, via Kickstarter.  “Enough with the remakes and remasters!” they yell to the heavens.

And then everyone loses their minds over a Final Fantasy 7 remake -- which is a dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, silly, silly, dumb idea.  And also dumb.

Full disclosure: as I’ve said, I haven’t played every FF under the sun.  But as it so happens, not only have I played FF7, but it was also my first experience with the FF franchise.  Yes, I think it’s a good game.  Yes, it had an effect on me.  Yes, I have fond memories of it.  I’m glad it exists, I understand why so many people hold it in high esteem, and I’m glad that those who do care about it -- and immensely -- can get so hyped over this remake.

With all that said?  Come on, guys.  Seriously.  I know this sounds strange coming from the self-proclaimed “Eternal Optimist”, but optimism and stupidity don’t (always) have to go hand in hand.  Everyone needs to calm down and think things through.  The news of an FF7 remake is not the earth-shattering, reality-breaking announcement that you think it is.  In fact, it’s very much the opposite; for every reason people have to get hyped, there are three more to make everyone worry.  Maybe even more than that -- to the point where this whole venture risks being a complete disaster.  I’m not saying I want it to be a disaster -- I’d love nothing more than to be proven wrong -- but…have you seen all the evidence?

In fact, let’s start with the trailer.  Notice anything unusual?

I’m going to come back to the obvious exclusion in a minute.  For now, I want to bring the soundtrack your attention.  Does that song sound familiar?  It should; it’s “Beyond the Wasteland” from Advent Children.  You know, Advent Children, the CG movie that was practically AMV fuel, made everything a hundred times more morose, and was so filled with gibberish that Squeenix had to release a second version to explain some of the plot points.  That’s the first thing they want you to remember with this announcement.

Also, do me a favor.  Play the trailer without looking at it.  Listen to what’s being said.  I can’t be the only one that thinks it sounds like a bunch of moon-speak, right?  All that flowery language just to say “they are coming back”, when really, they didn’t need to say a single word.  And the trailer would have been more powerful if they didn’t say a single word; let the visuals speak for themselves and be done with it.  Instead, there’s all this dialogue that goes meta and plays to the fans’ desires for this remake -- that they’ve been hoping for it (what’s being pushed as a second coming) all this time.  Yet even in the trailer, they acknowledge that the remake could completely fall on its ass -- almost as if it was a bad idea.

So let’s get to the obvious issue.  Did you notice it?

This is the last part of the trailer.  This is where some relevant information should be, and apparently what they considered most relevant was “Play it first on PlayStation 4”.  That’s nice and all, but…guys?  When is it coming out?  And, uh, it is in development, right?  Like, it’s a safe bet that it is coming at some point, but didn’t you do this at least once before?  Haven’t you shown off a CG trailer before as an announcement, but had nothing to show for it for ages?  Are you -- are you actually not working on it, and just announced it to say that it’s happening, just not anytime soon?

I don’t want to make any harsh assumptions, but -- didn’t we just go through this with FF15, itself the remains of FFVersus 13?  Squeenix announced the game almost a decade ago, info trickled in at a glacial pace, and the public went months, if not years, without any substantial information.  We’ve only just now gotten a taste of the gameplay for ourselves, and it’s not even the same gameplay that was promised way back when.  It’s not even the same story from way back when.  So basically, there’s no concrete evidence as to what the final game has to offer.

If history repeats itself, then we might be waiting for another decade.  FF15 STILL ISN’T OUT YET.

It didn’t even show up at this year’s E3.  Okay, sure, it’ll be at Gamescom or whatever somewhere down the line, so maybe then it’ll have its release date.  But first of all, we’ve been waiting for a decade.  Second of all, I thought that the order of progression was FF15, then KH3.  So now it’s KH3 that has “now in development” pinned to the end of its trailer, with no release date, and gameplay that could still change immensely from now until its release date…and yet instead of finishing either of those, Squeenix sees fit to announce another huge project?  With no viable information to go on besides “it’s going to happen someday” and “please be excited”?

In all fairness, there are some points that keep the remake from being another Versus 13 fiasco.  I’m under the impression that part of what crippled the Fabula Nova Crystallis project was poor directorial vision, underestimation of the work load, starting when they didn’t even know the PS3’s capabilities, and the resultant rush to play catch-up nearly every step of the way.  With a remake, they have -- at a bare minimum -- a story to follow from start to finish, without too much of a need to change things around.

All right, look.  I’m not saying that the original game’s story was an untouchable masterpiece.  It’s probably long since started to show its age, so at the very least it’s not as if they can just import the script wholesale and be done with it.  There need to be edits -- so given that, the best thing the remake can do is take the original’s issues and iron them out.  Make everything that people love even better, so that it reaches that imagined ideal.

But do you really think that Squeenix is going to do that?  This is the company that put millions of dollars behind a nonsensical system of gofers to the gods; they have no idea who the main character of their games is supposed to be; motivations are baffling, and world-building is often left unexplained; huge swaths of nothing happen, and when things do happen, they’re beyond the realm of human comprehension.  This is a company that, without a shred of irony or self-awareness, had a grown-ass woman spout off “Destiny is destiny”.  And sure, all of that is bound to the past half-decade or so of FF games (and let’s not touch the madness of Kingdom Hearts games), but that’s not where it ends.

This isn’t the first time Squeenix has tried to “pay tribute” to FF7.  Or do I need to remind everyone of Dirge of Cerberus?

Dirge of Cerberus, and Advent Children, and (to a lesser extent) Crisis Core all make additions to the canon that didn’t have to be there -- mostly because they were awful.  Is there anyone here begging for more Deepground, or Geostigma, or Genesis?  Does anyone want them inserted into the canon instead of left easily ignored?  Given that the remake’s trailer started with music from AC, it’s clear that Squeenix hasn’t forgotten about it -- and the worst-case scenario, if not a likely one, is that these games will add in all of that stuff to tie it all together.  As if everything was just according to keikaku.

Yes, it’s good that they brought back some of the big names for the original.  Yoshinori Kitase has gone from one of the story guys to producer, and Kazushige Nojima is back and listed as a scenario writer (not sure why or how that’s distinct from the story, but whatever).  And now Tetsuya Nomura has gone from character designer to…director?  What?  So the guy who took the simple and clean KH1 and turned it into an endless cluster of inane plot points is being trusted to show restraint?  On a game I’m not wholly convinced Squeenix even remembers correctly? 

On that note, my biggest fear is that they’re going to remake this game in the image everyone -- Squeenix included -- thinks it has, and not remake it as it was.  And yes, there should be at least some evolution in the characters and world; that game came out a long time ago, so there’s plenty of room for improvement.  But over the past half-decade, and even before that, Squeenix hasn’t demonstrated that it’s willing to offer what the old FF games did.  The old games might have been seminal JRPG entries, but the new ones (Dirge of Cerberus well among them) play out like terrible anime fluff.

And it’s not just that, either.  Like other stories before it, the latest FF entries have tried to be dark and mature without understanding what that means.  It’s not just the addition of violence, cruelty, and bleakness, and it’s not the removal of lightheartedness and fun.  But AC was, save for a couple of scenes, almost entirely that.  Same goes for Dirge of Cerberus, with the scenes that were (intentionally) funny being anything but. 

My biggest fear is that Squeenix is going to remake this game, but it’s a possibility -- if not an inevitability -- that it won’t be the same game so many people fell in love with.  It’ll be a complete misunderstanding of what made the original so precious, with needless exaggerations and simplifications that could have easily been avoided.  That’s what we’re risking, at a bare minimum, with this remake.

It’s a dark future, but it’s one that’s happened before -- and maybe one we’re living in now.

It’s still way too early to think about the story, admittedly (though that last screenshot from the trailer makes me wonder why the character designers are listed before the writers).  But it’s worth noting, again, that what Squeenix showed off was a CG trailer.  Is the final game going to look like that?  Who knows?  What’s more important is that as of this post, we have no idea what the gameplay is going to be like.  Will it revive Active Time Battles?  Go for purely turn-based, like FF10?  Drop all of that and make it an action RPG like Type-0?  Or some unholy creation like FF13’s Paradigm system?

There’s more to it than that.  What’s the world going to be like?  The original game used pre-rendered backgrounds and fixed camera angles; is that going to fly in an eighth-gen game with a brand new audience, some of which hasn’t exactly been weaned on JRPGs?  Or will it have a standard perspective and environments so that the player can explore a fully-realized world?  I ask this because taken as-is, the FF7 remake sounds like the Olympus Mons of development challenges -- and people are expecting a company that’s blown it so many times in the past to suddenly make another masterpiece.

The seventh generation of games and consoles brought Squeenix to its knees.  The myriad issues behind FF13 left it as a string of hallways with no sense of cohesion, in the story or out of it.  13-2, the Apology Edition, may have taken players out of the hallway -- but in exchange, it dropped them in bland, reused environments that didn’t even try to make good use of the time travel mechanics.  It was bad enough that that game had a graphical downgrade, but then Lightning Returns downgraded even further, to the point where there were uneven visuals as well as framerate issues. 

Whether they worked alone or partnered up with tri-Ace, there were misses all across the board.  Infinite Undiscovery handled it best, more or less, but it still had its share of problems (like eighteen characters, but only a third of which actually mattered).  Star Ocean: The Last Hope tried and largely managed to bury its good ideas under shameless anime fluff.  And does anybody here even remember The Last Remnant?  I do.  I wouldn’t be surprised by anyone who didn’t -- though I half-expect those that do to remember its technical issues, at least on the original console release.

Making a JRPG in the HD era wasn’t impossible; the guys at Bandai Namco put out five Tales games, plus helped Eternal Sonata make it to those new Xbox 360s (and eventually PS3s) soon enough.  Meanwhile, Mistwalker put out Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon, while Monolith Soft would see plenty of accolades with the Monado-boy and Xenoblade Chronicles.  It’s no easy task to make a JRPG -- or any game, really -- but Squeenix made it much harder than it needed to be, gameplay-wise or story-wise. 

The company behind the KH games should have had it easy with Type-0.  That game had the groundwork for the best action a JRPG had ever seen, but invalidated it again and again with incredibly poor design decisions.  FF15 has the chance to make a stronger showing, but its demo wasn’t nearly as exciting as it could have been.  The Dissidia games feel more like they’re complex for complexity’s sake, and even if there are deeper systems and strategies, everything about it points toward mashing instead of measured thought or combat.  Dirge of Cerberus happened.   So are we supposed to trust in this company’s ability to deliver an action RPG (if it comes to that) when their record is incredibly spotty?

Yes, they could stick with ATB or turn-based combat for the remake.  I’d be okay with that; hopefully it won’t get thrown out just because of assumptions that it’s “not viable anymore”.  But their combat has had needless complications for years, while denying players the options that would make gameplay good.  FF12 created a pseudo-MMO that’s taken its heat over the years, and with good reason.  13 and 13-2 pared virtually everything down to one button under the guise of depth and challenge.  Type-0 (and presumably Lightning Returns) talked a big game about their difficulty, but they clearly confused that with cheapness and weaponized annoyances. 

If Squeenix wants to change FF7, then fine.  They can make updates and changes, but they have to be updates and changes that make sense.  They have to be innovations that enhance the game, and not just their ability to make the player into a non-entity.  Strong systems with good balance are the order of the day here, and my concern is that after all we’ve been through over the past few years -- if not the past decade -- Squeenix either forgot how to make a good system, or it’s completely uninterested in them. 

But that’s all overlooking the big issue: the world.  Stepping out of Midgard and into the fields of Gaia was a big moment in the original game, precisely because the scope of everything increased by a factor of ten.  How are they going to handle that huge world when they haven’t demonstrated an ability to do so in ages?  Sure, Type-0 had a world map, but it also had copypasta towns, the most interesting of which the player couldn’t even see until a good twenty hours in.  Are we just going to be back in the hallway?

Sure, the FF7 remake has the luxury of a map all charted out -- and yes, I’d love to be able to explore a fully-realized Cosmo Canyon.  But here’s the thing: that all hinges on the company behind it being willing and able to realize this world with a level of graphical power they’ve typecast themselves into putting out.  Because Squeenix always puts out games with good graphics, people expect them to put out games with good graphics, always; otherwise, people will zero in on anything less than amazing in an instant.  (See: Lightning Returns.)

And that’s a reality that very few companies, Squeenix or otherwise, can surmount.  Graphical power and the resources demanded have left entire companies (and genres, some would argue) as dust in the wind.  That was in the last generation; in this generation, it’s as if there’s no middle ground between tiny indie productions and lurching AAA behemoths -- the latter of which has to push their big-budget gruel to make more big-budget gruel.  They’re buckling under the strain so hard that a lot of them can’t even be counted on for a release without bugs, glitches, or day-one patches to sort everything out.

And now Squeenix, after saying time and time again in the past that a remake of FF7 remake is virtually impossible -- and justifiably so -- is going ahead with a remake of FF7?  They’re going to build cities, and towns, and fields, and oceans, and vehicles, and monsters, and people, and weapons, and WEAPONs, and crystals, and Materia, and magic, and particle effects, and spiky hair, in full HD, with the graphical horsepower provided -- if not expected -- by the PS4 and Xbone?  And that’s assuming it doesn’t get pushed to the PS5 and Xbox Sexual Euphemism? 

You expect them to make a living, breathing world when at their very best they made a hallway with no meaningful sidequests, no meaningful NPCs, and no meaningful diversions from the endless tube besides grabbing treasure chests slightly out of the way?  You think that the company that had to publicly apologize for their awful MMO and effectively start from scratch is going to make your dreams come true?

…Dear God.  This game is going to burn Squeenix to the ground.

Maybe it won’t be that severe.  But Squeenix has taken some hits to the wallet recently; A Realm Reborn has helped turn things around, I think, but I’d still imagine that this remake is going to have a pretty steep asking price.  Maybe too steep.  So unless Squeenix has figured out a way to make development super-cheap and efficient -- which is, relatively speaking, what happened with The Witcher 3, to great effect -- then the struggle is about to become realer than real.  And bear in mind that this remake will be coming from the company that A) deemed its Tomb Raider reboot a financial failure after selling a good three million copies, and B) only recently started to turn a profit from the game after a slightly-different edition on the new consoles. 

There are about a thousand different ways for this remake to go wrong, and not simply because I’d sooner trust a giraffe to make a competent game than Squeenix.  The game industry is a different beast than what it was in the nineties; what was done back then can’t be done easily now, at least not without some clever hands behind the wheel.  And again, I would love to be proven wrong.  I would love for this remake to be all of the dreams come true.  But the chances of that happening are, realistically speaking, as likely as stuffing the sun into your pocket.  There are going to be at least a few caveats to this remake -- maybe slight, maybe severe.  We’ll see.

But here’s the question that needs to be answered: do we really need a remake of FF7?

This goes right back to what I talked about at the start: for all the scorn remakes and reboots and nostalgia-mining tend to get, the end results either make the dissenters’ opinions not matter, or proves that the dissenters are a bunch of dirty liars.  Just look at Jurassic World; at best, it’s a serviceable movie that most people can watch if they want a few thrills -- the perennial “dinosaurs fight and eat people” film.  It pales in comparison in EVERY way to its ancestor, and I was under the impression that Hollywood decided to give up after two much-maligned sequels…yet here we are with a movie that, despite missing every point of its predecessor from the conceptual phase onward, has broken all sorts of box office records.

This remake doesn’t have the best prospects, and on more levels than one.  But let’s pretend for a second that the game actually came out in a perfect, objectively-flawless form.  Let’s pretend it offered up everything players have been hungry for.  Let’s pretend it gets the sales it needs to justify the price tag.  And then what?  What’s the next step from there?  Is Squeenix going to learn anything from a successful remake besides “bank on nostalgia even harder”?  Maybe, because that’s the message that gamers are threatening to tell them.  As if we need a security blanket.

It’s good to be mindful of the past, but that’s exactly what it is -- the past.  It already happened.  It had its time.  Now we can move on to something new, and better, and different.  But we’re not going to get that if creators all across the board are so dead-set on sprucing up the past (and missing the point on a regular basis).  And worse yet, they’ll have no impetus to move on, because their customers have no impetus to move on.  So all the resources for this financial black hole of a remake -- money that could have gone to a new game which gives us exactly what we never knew we wanted -- is instead going toward something we’ve already gotten, and something people can enjoy right now, with a new coat of paint.

I got dragged into contributing to Jurassic World’s box office records, and I’ll probably get dragged into playing this remake.  But even if that’s true, and even if this game -- if every product that tries to sell us the past -- manages to make mad money, there’s something worth keeping in mind: this isn’t the future we deserve.  More than money, we put our faith in creators so that they can deliver something that takes us to amazing worlds.  Different worlds.  Surprising worlds.  As comforting as it may be to go back to the glory days, we don’t need to constantly revisit them.  And we shouldn’t.  Not when there are an infinite number of days just waiting in the wings.

I can’t tell anyone not to buy the remake, or try to get the thing to stop existing (even though it presumably doesn’t right now save for an announcement trailer).  But I can ask others to do this: don’t be fooled.  There’s too much about the circumstances that tell me this is a desperation move -- that Squeenix doesn’t know what to do next, so instead of moving forward, it’s going to bet all its chips on “the sure thing” and let nostalgia ensure some easy sales.  It’s going to be costly, but there’s enough evidence to suggest that it’ll pay off on at least some level.

Can they make a good remake?  Maybe.  Should they?  I say no.  Again, anyone who wants to play FF7 can do so right now via several platforms, so it’s not as if the game has been lost to history.  The game is an important part of the gaming canon, but that’s exactly why it doesn’t need any embellishments -- least of all unwelcome ones built on modern-day foibles.  (How much DLC do you suppose there’ll be, especially some that dresses Tifa as *shudder*Lightning?)  Let the past stay in the past, and stay special as a result; there’s absolutely no need to revive it just to cash in.  But that’s what Squeenix is doing, it’s probably going to work, and it’ll perpetuate the cycle of nostalgia bait.  Gamers the world over will help prove, almost conclusively, that “the things in the past are always better than things from the present”.

I can’t speak for anyone else.  But I can say that that’s not the future I want -- because it’s stupid.  And it’s exactly why I believe this remake is a dumb idea.

Look.  I’m not telling anyone legitimately excited or shaken-up by the announcement to stop feeling happy.  I’m just trying to be the voice of reason here; I hope that people who read this understand that I’m not out to play the contrarian.  It would be cool if the remake turned out great, but that’s the thing: I want it to be a quality product, if we’re being forced yet again to chug a great big keg of nostalgia-bait. 

So my hope is that anyone reading this approaches this remake with caution, understanding, and a cool head.  The E3 reveal was a surprise, but only that.  It’s not a promise of anything except that it’ll probably come out.  Even that’s not a 100% guarantee, unless there’s so much money dumped in that they have to ship it.

I was under the impression that Final Fantasy was about iteration.  Even if it is nostalgia incarnate at this point, each entry in the franchise took core concepts -- from the franchise and in the framework of each story -- and used them to craft an entirely different adventure time after time.  That’s the best way to do things; it’s been a proven method by games, movies, TV shows and more. 

That’s the method we should support, if we can’t get an absolutely-new IP on a regular basis.  But apparently, Squeenix has other ideas.  Apparently, they don’t feel like moving forward after FF15.  Instead of starting fresh with FF16, now they just want to spin in place.  And they’re inviting everyone to spin with them, for the sake of something with no promise of being the dream come true.

And when you think about it…well, isn’t that really kind of silly?


  1. I'm going to be honest with you: Saying that FF7 is available on a plethora of platforms doesn't actually amount to much for one rather strong reason. That is, the game has aged quite terribly. As someone who doesn't have nostalgia for it (having never played it way back then), I tried to get into it and just couldn't. Not because of the story or combat, but because of everything else. And complaints later in the game about Knights of the Round taking forever and having unskippable animations didn't exactly instill confidence. If this wasn't a thing, I'd probably never get past the early parts of any version of FF7.

    As for the worries that they'll take forever on this, I honestly doubt that. You seem to be treating Square Enix as if they have only one development team. Very few of the major staff on FF7's remake are also on FF15 or KH3 (though KH3 and the FF7 remake share a director). Also, they've confirmed that development has been ongoing since before they announced the PS4 port of the PC port of FF7 (so over a year now). I would also be very confident that they'd divert quite a few resources to this because of just how much this remake will sell (betting FF15 won't hold a candle in terms of sales figures).

    Finally, in regards to the gamer unified poll you mentioned at the start of your post, no we do not need that. The results would be a blatant lie for the exact reasons you've already stated. It is actually quite difficult for a new IP with a fresh, unusual idea to be successful. While gamers pay lip service to wanting new stuff, historical sales figures have shown that the majority nearly always wants more of the same. This is, among many other reasons, why 2D Mario has always outsold 3D Mario by leaps and bounds despite 3D Mario making quite a few innovations and 2D Mario remaining stagnant.

  2. Meh, I would have preferred it if they remade FFs 5 and 6 first. Nomura seemed to think so too. Honestly, I'm scared. I'm scared that they are going to to put so much more anime bullshit in that it will go right past charming into just plain obnoxious. I'm scared they eschew Clouds more interesting original personality with that unlikable brooding douchebag from the compilation onward. Basically, they made him more like Squall instead of well Cloud. (Dear God, FF Squall is so crappy. KH Squall is much better, but I digress.)

  3. You have every right to be scared, I think. Squeenix has yet to prove that it can recapture the magic of yesteryear -- and while that could technically happen with FF15, that's still a ways away. There's too much up in the air -- barring evidence from The Lightning Saga and Type-0 -- to assume that this will go well.

    Well, maybe at some point Squeenix will go back and do something with FF5 and 6. I guess they pretty much had to go with 7 because of its sheer popularity, but who knows? If they absolutely must keep mining the past, there's nothing stopping them from going even further back after the 7 remake, right?

    Eh. One can only hope, I suppose -- and pray like hell this all pans out.

  4. "Now we know, that the actual reason was, because Nomura is apparently the only director Squeenix trusts with anything anymore."

    Well, I was GOING to bring up Toriyama, but you beat me to the punch. Like, I'm sure he's a nice enough and earnest guy, but he's won NO sympathy for this so-called Lightning Saga. Although if Nomura really is the only person Squeenix trusts, that's kind of a problem, isn't it? Setting aside the ability (if not need) to keep multiple projects in the works at once, what if something happens to the guy? Do they have enough talent to replace him if he bows out? I'd assume "yes", but...I can't help but wonder.

    At any rate, I don't have any problems admitting that using 15's assets is OK. It's probably for the best at this point; granted I'm concerned as to how that'll all work out with the final product and the execution therein, but whatever. They want to push this game, then they're allowed to do whatever it takes (within reason, of course). Still...now I feel kind of bad for 15. I'm going to assume it's fine for now, but am I the only one who thinks that the remake's existence -- let alone announcement -- takes the wind out of the sails of a game we've anticipated for almost a decade? Eh, maybe I'm just overthinking things. I do that sometimes.

    I guess the make-or-break factor -- for me, at least -- is going to be the gameplay. I can handle turn-based combat, and I can handle action elements. I just want whatever we get to be done well -- hardly an insurmountable task. I hope that Squeenix has been taking notes from other developers, because pretty much every genre under the sun has seen some changes and evolution. So a remake that capitalizes on the strengths of the game, or the hardware, or even Nomura himself? I can get behind that.

    In the end, I just hope I get the opportunity to. I seriously do.

  5. Yeah, it's pretty much a given that my super-poll was just a pipe dream. But still, I can't help but imagine what it would be like if voting on games had as much pomp and circumstance as voting for a president. Then again, I'm pretty sure that there are tons of people that don't even bother voting, and those polls have their own complications sooooooo...moral of the story, the system is down. Or some such vague reference.

    In any case? Thanks a bunch for making me look like an idiot -- what with your wretched facts and such. Okay, so the game has been in development for a while, they've got a good team/resources on deck, and obviously there's some demand -- if not need -- for the game. I get that. But even so, can you blame me for not being convinced? Yeah, what you've said here inspires more confidence, but...I don't know, I guess I just need something more substantial at this point.

    There's a part of me that wishes that they waited at least a little longer before the big reveal. Yeah, E3 is THE big event and opportunity, but they didn't exactly prove their case for the remake with just a CG trailer. As big-budget games in the past -- like Resident Evil 6 -- have shown us, having hefty dev teams and resources doesn't always lead to a good product, much less a fun one. So even if they're upgrading the game for the better (probably -- which I'm absolutely ready for, in all honesty), I'm concerned that those upgrades, if applicable, aren't for the best. Or worse yet, they'll emphasize the weaknesses of the original game -- the worst sin a remake can...er, make. So yeah, prospects might be a bit better than I thought, but I'm not even close to convinced that this is a good idea. YET. Maybe once we actually get to see the game for real, I'll be set to eat all of the hats.

    Also, if it's any consolation? Knights of the Round is, if what I've heard is right, 100% optional -- which is good, because it requires a lot of legwork and animal husbandry to even reach. I've seen some Materia combos on YouTube that practically make it obsolete. Then again, I'd assume that getting those combos requires huge amounts of effort in turn, sooooo...one wonders if any part of the old system was worth it.

  6. Oh, yeah, of course I'm not taking it for granted that the remake will be good. We'll have to wait and see on that one.

  7. I forgot to mention the artwork comparison was spot on.

  8. It really is hard to believe that the art is not only of the same character, but the art itself is done by the same guy. I mean, sure, art will evolve over the years (if that), but it's just baffling that Nomura would choose to render that character that way. Then again, that brings up the whole debate of how much Cloud is HIS character -- and given his general treatment/revisionist history done by Squeenix? Well, he's at the mercy of the zeitgeist.

    Maybe the best thing this remake can do is remind everyone who the hell Cloud REALLY was -- so we can put all this angst/emo/anime fluff behind us. It could happen, maybe.

  9. Indeed. Then again, I'm sure that won't stop people from preordering en masse (if they haven't already), so I'd bet that a lot of people out there AREN'T willing to wait and see. It's almost as if there's a healthy subsection of gamers that don't care about being well-informed prior to making a purchase...which would explain why my brother rushed out and bought The Bureau: XCOM Declassified...and why I use it as a reminder to always read up on games.

    *sigh* This freakin' industry, man.

  10. Ah, yes, the doubts trickling in. I honestly don't blame you much. Though this time I'm in favor of the remake for selfish and somewhat jerkass reasons.

    As burnpsy wrote in his first paragraph, FF7 has aged so terribly the game is extremely confusing, ugly, and unappealing. I haves watched dozens LPs and despite watching up until the point Cloud and co leave the city before giving up, I had - pardon my French - no fucking clue what was going on. The Materia system made no sense, combat looked sloppy and busy, and the graphics were so inconsistent I felt dizzy. Keep in mind that I've only been groomed to play RPGs three years ago and my gaming years began during the early 2000s (and even then, I mainly stuck with Harry Potter 2 for the PC). As a younger gamer than most who finds Final Fantasy an impossible monster to bother looking at - let alone attempting to confront it, I'm willing to give this remake a try. Something tells me that I will never overcome my dislike for Squeenix, but I'm willing to give them this one last chance along with FF15.

    My heartless, evil reason for the remake? To make the fans shut up after over a decade of crying. Only I realize that because Final Fantasy 7 is such a precious, fragile snowflake, no one will ever shut up about it until the end of time. Heads they win; tails I lose.

    I know my being unfairly mean to Squeenix is as much of a dead horse beating celebration as your breathing fire over FF13, so I'll keep my trap shut on this. The comments here helped me get a sense that both the faithful and the skeptics have valid points. For now I'll watch from a safe distance so I can either cheer for being right all along about Squeenix being a terrible fit for me or crying b/c I'll have to find new excuses to hate them while dodging hate mail from all sides.

  11. "I haves watched dozens LPs and despite watching up until the point Cloud and co leave the city before giving up, I had - pardon my French - no fucking clue what was going on."

    Oh, it's very simple, really. So there's this guy named Hojo -- he's a scientist, see -- and one day he asked himself "Hey, what would happen if a girl with quasi-alien blood mated with a talking lion-dog? I should TOTALLY see what happens!" High points of the story include:

    --pretending to be a soldier and teaching real soldiers how to do Cloud's victory pose
    --a slap fight on top of a giant cannon
    --chasing a fortune-telling cat on a stuffed animal through an amusement park
    --fighting a mutant that pops out of a safe (despite being a good two stories tall)
    --a chance to go on a date with a gun-armed Mr. T knockoff

    Terrorism, snowboarding, identity crises, and the proliferation of biological beings that qualify as crimes against humanity ensue. And that's exactly why it's the BEST GAME EVAR.

    ...You, uh, might have dodged a bullet here.

    Okay, serious time. I've said before that the worst thing a remake can do is make people question the quality of the original (as is the case with Jurassic World), but the best thing it can do is let people who never experienced something the first time around experience an even BETTER version of it. That's cool. So I'm hoping that if it all pans out, you can get your chance to see what the fuss is about. Assuming that they make the proper edits, of course; you can do a lot worse than the Materia system, but I'd bet there are plenty of ways to improve upon it.

    But the idea of "proper edits" is a pretty big "if". I mean, FF7 is an old-ass game, but it's still decidedly huge -- story-wise and gameplay-wise. Can this company take the scale of the old game and make it for an HD, 8th-gen console? Maybe, but at what cost? If the remake just turns into a tech demo or proof of concept -- something to look at more than play through, as is the case with plenty of games -- then there's a part of me that wants to say "don't even try". I'd sure hate for newcomers to play a game that not only misses the point via revisionist history (no guarantee that'll happen, but you know how it is), but makes the game feel smaller. Weaker. Less...meaningful, I suppose is the word.

    It'd be a damn shame if people never got to feel the joy of soaring through the sky in an airship, or sift through the ocean depths...even though you only needed to go underwater for, like, three reasons, but you get the idea.

    Also? Holy crap, I just remembered there's a minigame where you race to do the most squats. TRULY DA GREATEST GAEM.

  12. You've seen my feeling on Final Fantasy before and honestly I can't disagree with you more about potential game play and story changes. FF7 is a great game but it's battle system is abysmally bland compared to the ones around it. Let's go Two games out in both directions.

    FF5 has an extremely open-ended battle system giving you access to countless team builds (But no one has any ‘character identity’)

    In FF6 Each character has a specific command and stat build that makes them better suited for roles. At some point in the game Magic and Summons (Espers) is treated as a generic buffs to complement those skills.

    FF7 All the characters are the exact same except for slight variations in stats (the most extreme of these characters gets killed off). To be fair, their uniqueness gets shoved into Limit Breaks which ended up highlighting how useless the character variation is.

    FF8’s battle system is a hot mess, but at least they TRIED to change things up with Draw and the GF system. Too bad they didn’t learn their lesson by making all the characters the exact same again.

    FF9 brought back character specific commands and unique movesets! Also Four people in the party came back. Limit breaks (Trance) is fleshed out and becomes a real strategic resource.

    So. FF7 could stand to improve on a few key points:

    · Characters get their own commands. Cloud: Magic Sword, Tifa: Blitz, Cid: Jump

    · Four people in the party at one time.

    · Limit breaks balanced to make characters like Cait Sith and Red XIII actually useable.

    · Steal the great things from FFX. Make certain characters good at fighting certain things. Give Barret superior accuracy (like Wakka in FFX), Make Cait Sith a true Black Mage (High spell damage, high evasion / Low HP).

    · Consider doing the real time switching used in FFX (but keep the ATB)

    Go one more game out and you get FF4 which nailed character class identity. FFX nailed this on a character building level. Sure you can make everyone the same EVENTUALLY but for 80-90% of the game you needed Tidus to catch speedy enemies, Auron to crush high defense stuff, Yuna to be a healer, Lulu to blow stuff up with spells, Wakka to swat bugs out of the air, and Rikku to dismantle machines and Kihmari to… ok I got nothing. Fuck Blue Mages. They felt like a team.

    And I wouldn’t worry about the story changing too much. I’m calling it now. This just means Aerith will be able to be on the party at the end of the game and cleaning up some of the convoluted info dumps plaguing the back half of the game.

    Anyone that tries to say FF7 was a perfect game needs to take off their retro glasses. Just like people that say FF6 is a flawless game are often blind to the fact the damn plot dies with the world.

    Honestly it makes sense that they’d do a FF7 remake before 6 (Whoever said they should remake 5 needs to stop smoking crack. It was what it was a brainless one track FF game with a great min-maxxy system. Putting bells and whistles on it would just make it worse. Giving faces and ‘personalities’ to the Pallet Swap Onion Kids in FF3 made it SOOO deep… lol.)

  13. "This just means Aerith will be able to be on the party at the end of the game"

    I've seen the joke on Destructoid that Aerith will be revived -- for those willing to shell out money for DLC. It probably wouldn't come to that, but man, can you imagine?

    In any case? Yeah, I agree with what you've said here. I don't exactly hold FF7 up as some kind of masterpiece -- I once said that I think FF8 is better, so draw from that what you will -- so there could definitely be some improvements, ESPECIALLY if Squeenix is going through with this. Frankly, I'd be fine with the remake if it blatantly copied FF10's system. (Or maybe 10-2's? I've never played it for myself, but I hear its battle system is really good.) I've thought about FF7 since I made this post, and read comments elsewhere, and it made me wonder if the majority of those battles could be won by mashing attack. So sure, it's no holy grail. And sure, there are a lot of ways this thing could go wrong, but it's not impossible for it to go right.

    I'm just gnawing my fingers down to the bone because of who's behind this remake. I'm assuming that I'm being paranoid, or biased, or overreacting, but at this stage? There's a lot of evidence against this whole thing. The Lightning Saga, Type-0, and even the Episode Duscae demo for 15 (to some extent, at least) take good ideas and do their best to cripple them. It shouldn't be this hard for the company that might as well be the patron saint of JRPGs to make a good battle system, right? But here we are anyway. So I hope you'll forgive me for worrying. And/or spewing bile.

    I'll tell you what, though: I do hope they take your suggestion and make the characters more diverse. I wouldn't mind playing as a Red XIII that's better than ever. That goes double for a Red XIII in an action RPG, one which allows plenty of sick lion-dog combos.

    Is it too late for Platinum to help out with development? It is? Awww.


  14. Your mention of FFX-2's battle system burned a permanent dress sphere image into my head.


    Thanks for that. (Cloud's a pretty-pretty princess)

  15. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan. Ever since the remake's announcement, I've seen dozens of comments asking about Cloud's cross-dressing scene (and the Squeenix guys said it's back in). I'd like to think that people remember more stuff in the game than just that, but honestly? If they make Cloud look that beautiful in the final product, then it'll be the final, perfect, ultimate justification -- not only of eighth-gen consoles, but of all technological progress up to this point. Or something like that.

    Also? Pixelate as much as you want, JPEG, but you can't hide Tifa from me. And not just because of the two obvious reasons (her overflowing kindness and quiet resolution); anyone who can summon a dolphin with a single uppercut or unleash an explosive version of a spinning piledriver -- on top of a backdrop that would make Mike Haggar proud -- automatically earns the title of "best girl".

    All Cloud can do is stand there and blush in shame, all too wary that he can never surpass her.

    Also, also? The more I look at that picture, the more if I wonder if it's a purely-genderswapped Cloud, or if it's just everyone's favorite ex-SOLDIER wearing a top-of-the-line pair of synthetic breasts.

    Man, screw the internet for making me even think about this for more than eight seconds.