Do we really want a Final Fantasy VII Remake?

Final Fantasy VII was the defining moment in an important time for gaming. The PlayStation was breaking down barriers and appealing to a far wider audience than previous home consoles, and FF7 was the high profile, AAA title that the platform needed. It’s been credited as the game that sold the PlayStation brand and is widely regarded as one of the most influential titles of all time.

Thirteen years later, and it has never really left us. From its release in 1997, we have seen a movie (Advent Children), tie-ins (Crisis Core, Dirge of Cerberus and Before Crisis), tech demos, cameo appearances (Ehrgeiz, Dissidia and Kingdom Hearts), a PSN re-release and countless toys, merchandise and soundtracks. Square-Enix have repeatedly tapped into the legacy and success of FF7, and understandably so. Furthermore, in the face of apparently overwhelming popular demand, they continue to tease the prospect of a remake, be it an HD polish-up or even a current generation re-imagining.

In the weeks leading up to the release of Final Fantasy XIII, Square-Enix have continued to openly address the possibility of a remake. Badgered by FF7 related questions, FF13 producer Yoshinori Kitase has spoken quite frankly about the promise and unrealistic challenges presented by a current gen rehash. He admitted that it’s something he’d love to do, but that such a project would be so time consuming that he couldn’t envision it. He stopped just short of a “no, impossible”, which was more than enough to get the internet rumour mill churning.

The Compilation of FFVII has been a mixed bag

Clearly there is still wide-spread support for a return to Gaia. But why do we yearn for it so?

Firstly, and most importantly, FF7 was platform and era defining. It clearly marked a shift in popularity and content of RPGs, and to this day fans speak of role-playing games before Square’s opus and those that came after, either lamenting the demise of the classic console RPG or celebrating the birth of a worldwide phenomenon.  It’s a point of reference for a generation of gamers and we are loath to let go of such things. It represents a shared memory from a time when gaming truly exploded onto a larger stage, when publishers finally came to realise that RPGs could be just as popular in the West as in the East.

Thanks to a huge and costly marketing campaign, the public were arguably more aware of FF7 than any title before it, RPG or otherwise. TV commercials wowed the audience with grandiose cut scenes, conveniently omitting the less polished in-game graphics. Breath-taking cut scenes would quickly become a requisite for big name RPG releases, setting the bar for any title with aspirations of mass appeal. These graphical delights necessitated that games be spread over numerous discs, and it became a badge of honour of sorts for big titles. I can recall scoffing at my single disc copy of SaGa Frontier 2, thinking it could only be a third of the game that FF7 was. It changed the way we thought about games, and has retained a grip on our collective interest ever since.

The generic yet memorable characters were easy to embrace, the battle system simple to master and its sprawling narrative struck a chord with gamers worldwide. Even to this day I can still hum the world map tune and recite some of my favourite Barrett quotes. It boasts an undeniable pedigree and no matter what the future holds, its name will remain etched in stone in the gaming pantheon.

As you may have gathered, I adore the Final Fantasy series and hold the seventh instalment in the highest of esteem, yet I have no interest in seeing a remake. Take a look at this recent quote from Yoshinori Kitase, taken from videogamer.com:

“So as the hardware develops there’s so much more that can be done for the game. Visual capabilities are up. The quality is so high right now. So in a sense I’m really interested to see this more complete form of a Final Fantasy VII portrayed more realistically with the voice and animation and all the subtle expressions there.”

For me at least, part of the appeal of FF7 was the disproportionate, anime-like character models, and I shudder to think what they would look like if given the FF13 treatment. At the very least they would lose their considerable charms. Besides, is FF7’s lasting appeal in any way related to its in-game visuals? A jump into the 21st century for technological sake only seems to miss the point entirely. As for voice acting, I’ve only ever been disappointed when muted characters have been voiced in later incarnations, so I’m far from enticed by the prospect of Barret and Red XIII being given the gift of the spoken word.

As alluded to by Kitase, a FF7 remake would require a huge investment of time and resources. Much like FF13 it would take years to complete, which could be to the detriment of other fresher and more innovative projects. Where would it end? Do we really want to see a FF7 remake before FFXV? God forbid, could we actually end up with a FF7-2? I have no interest in seeing Tifa, Cloud the drag queen, and Yuffie performing as an all-girl pop group. Seven years later and FFX-2’s Charlie’s Angels approach to the genre still has pride of place in the darkest recesses of my nightmares.

This is usually the last thing I see before waking-up screaming

For all its serious moments, FF7 was at times a very tongue-in-cheek, one might even say silly game. Some of the moments that made it great would not fit comfortably into current expectations for a big budget RPG. You have Cloud doing squats and cross-dressing, Red XIII being a talking cat, Barret and Cid’s bouts of Tourette’s syndrome, Shinra’s laughable henchmen, Cait Sith just being Cait Sith, and a crazy narrative littered with plot holes. As it stands, FF7 does not lend itself to a faithful current generation port, and if it’s not faithful to the original then why do it? We have already seen recent entries in the FF7 compilation leaning towards dry melodrama, vainly struggling to justify elements of the original that don’t fit with a more mature realizing of the yarn. By taking itself too seriously, it has at times drifted away from the brilliance of the original.

As long as there is popular interest in FF7, and it serves to keep the Final Fantasy brand in the public eye, Square-Enix is unlikely to completely close the door on the possibility of a remake, at least not openly. However, I don’t think we will ever see a full return. After all, why would Square-Enix want a costly and time consuming upgrade when the original is still financially viable, raking in profits from PSN on the back of development costs that have long since paid for themselves. Still, when it comes to Final Fantasy I’ve learnt to never say never.

When Final Fantasy was first developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi in 1987, it was intended to be his last hurrah in the industry, a final farewell from a company facing bankruptcy. The series was an instant hit and has gone from strength to strength, making a mockery of its theme of finality in the process. There has never been anything final about the series, and FF7 stands out as being guiltiest of perpetuating the misnomer of conclusiveness. But I for one hope that the story of Cloud and co. and their battle for the planet will soon be laid to rest, once and for all. It is time for this particular Fantasy to step aside. Finally.

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Written by Matt M

Matt has been a gamer ever since Father Christmas left him a Master System II in the early 90's. Santa was clearly a Sega fan, as a Mega Drive and Saturn would follow in later years. Matt has long since broken free from the shackles of console monotheism and enjoys playing a wide range of games, almost as much as he enjoys meticulously ordering them on his living room shelves.

22 comments

  1. lee mitchell /

    i personally would rather see a ff VIII movie than an ffVII remake

  2. lee mitchell /

    and by movie i mean like advent children not live action

  3. Eorzean /

    I’ve thought the same thing for a long time. Those clamoring for a FFVII remake should really go play the original again and seriously evaluate how the game would translate into today’s graphics.

    It appears the rose-coloured glasses of nostalgia have made this game appear much greater to some than it actually was.

    SquareEnix needs to close the door on the FFVII world and characters and put it’s effort into exploring new frontiers.

  4. SickPuP /

    I think the classic games should remain the way they were and not be remade. They are classic for a reason. I do think that since Square Enix is now on all platforms they should release a compilation disc similar to what Megaman did with their Anniversary edition. It should include all games through 7 or even 8 and 9. This is one thing many companies don’t do but can definately get people who love the originals back into the new ones. I would also love to see this from the Resident Evil team, even though 5 had the worst control system ever and I will never play it because of that.

  5. nate-dog7 /

    first i’m goint to say YES! to the title… now i’m going to read the article

  6. Blu-ray for 360 /

    M$ needs to release that use Xbox 360 gamers need bigger media to store games on either by MUCH cheaper hard drives or a blu-ray add-on. So many games and developers are saying that the 360 has limitations and with no new console for years to come, the 360 will be the come second to the PS3 because of a pathetic ideal of having download only. What a load of crap. M$ should shallow it’s pride and allow a blu-ray add-on for games. They bang on about video downloads but what about the fucking games.
    My brother has both a PS3 and a 360. He purchased FFXII yesterday. Guess which format…….yep, it’s on PS3.
    M$ your a greedy cunt.

  7. Declan McCabe /

    Hmm well me personaly would love a remake i play Final Fantasy VII every year because its a great game and the same goes for 8, 9 and X and X-2 which was under-rated and still is a great game its better than Final Fantasy XII which is my opinion.

    But for a remake to happen like you said would take time, and money and they would have to keep it low key which wouldnt happen.

    I would love to see a remake or return to the Final Fantasy 7 universe but it will be some time till we see it, maybe never it could be all talk but i have faith.

  8. I’m not in the habit of posting comments to articles I read on sites, but this one could not go without me saying something.
    Dreamed about FFVII since I saw pictures of this Japanese game I had never heard of (there’s already six of them available? – I tough at the time).
    Played the game more than once. Took the time (how many fans out there did the same) to grow a golden chocobo so I could go to the island in the north and get the knights of the round table materia, and finally, have been dreaming about a remake since ever, especially on the PS3. And yes, with graphics like XIII (big heads were funny, but the grown up style didn’t cramp Crisis Core one bit and that game had some of the original characters in the mix).
    FFVII had that unique setting and story and the part where you could revisit everything again was, well, the best part. The open world that has been loosing ground to the linear story of the more recent Final Fantasy games has been a let down and taking something away from the experience Square Enix gave us on the first games (or last, since VII, VIII and IX are the ones I enjoyed the most – and in that order).
    So resuming, I’m a hardcore fan of Final Fantasy (bought every single game that has been released for a Sony system) and am one hundred percent in favor of a remake.
    On the time/resources/budget consuming aspect of a remake, Sony needs a game that makes people want to buy the console so they can play it. And Square Enix needs another groundbreaking game, because, let’s face it, on the last ones they have been relying solely on the “Final Fantasy” being in the title to sell the game, and one of these days (I think some reviews of XIII already started claiming that) people will notice Final Fantasy isn’t what it used to be.
    Some new releases fit the “Only ON Playstation” category, but do not fall on the console selling category, let alone in the “Dream Come True” category.
    God of War 3 is simply divine (and they remade/polished/remastered the first two) and Heavy Rain is a very innovative experience, to name a few, but hey don’t came close to what FFVII brought to the table. People don’t go on and on about a remake because they don’t have something better to do, they do it because they really want it to happen and are going to be first in line to buy the collector’s edition the first day the game is available.
    As for the fact that the game is still profitable on the PSN, if you’re a fan of the game, I’m betting you still – like me – own the original discs and can played them without issues on your PS3. So no need to buy the game again (I’m betting the game sells well because some fans lost the discs or they’re scratched and unplayable)
    To end my point of view with a great comparison: I remembered reading a review far long ago that compared the game to Blade Runner, as both being timeless epics and having a unique setting. Yes they are, but Ridley Scott went back and gave us the Final Cut.
    Seeing it polished/remastered and digitally projected on the cinemas or watching the bluray cannot be compared to watching the vhs copy, even if It’s the same timeless epic movie.
    I think the PS3 has given Square Enix the ability to bring us FINAL FANTASY VII – THE FINAL CUT

    • if SE decided a remake, in my opinion it shouldn’t be on this gen’s consoles, it’s impossible to really because by the time they finish it next-gen consoles will have release dates and titles coming, people’s interests will be divided. it should be an openning title for next gen. beside, current gen became dated you know, such a legend deserves better.

  9. you’re right man and the fact that we’re older now and carried on with our lives, it will never be the same because time can’t go back. as much as i would like to see the exact same thing is HD, considering todays trend and way of life i’m sure they wont make it faithful to the original. so yeah, it’s better where it belongs and let’s just remember and talk about it.

  10. I completely disagree with you MWH, in fact, I think the PS3 is the “holy grail” us fans who want FFVII remade have been waiting for. The bluray has sufficient space for a quality conversion in terms of both audio and graphics and we know the PS3 can deliver. FFXIII looks amazing so I don’t think you’re gonna need next gen to deliver a solid remake. Do it now while there’s still a legion of fans craving for the remake and let the new generation of gamers get dazzled by the story.
    I’m gonna prove my point about the remake and why there should be no hesitance by Square Enix.
    Lucasarts decided to remake the first Monkey Island (a game I played on the amiga, later on the pc and more recently again when the special edtion was released). In fact that special edition proved so successful that the second one is going to be remade as well.
    Two things happened with Monkey Island that need to exist for a FFVII remake to be successful; first, there needs to be a demand for the game (FFVII has way more hardcore fans begging for the remake – I didn’t ask for monkey island to be remade, but when the time came I decided I should show that they had done the right thing and there was a fan base out there that thought these kind of endeavor was an excellent idea – also I new that the second one being remade was dependent on the success of the first and the second one is my favorite); secondly and most importantly, the people behind the remake need to have passion for the original game, and while remaking the game, they need to make sure they are going to give fans and the new generation of gamers a fresh product that respects the legacy. In the making of interviews we could see the passion in the entire team as they felt they were respecting the legacy of the original game and adding to the legend.
    Monkey Island proves my point beyond a reasonable doubt. Lucasarts decided to take a gamble with that remake to see if it would be well received. It was and now we are going to get the second one remade as well. And remember, no one asked Lucasarts to do that. They decided on their own and it paid off.
    Square Enix as a legion of fans asking them to do that.
    Comparing both cases without considering other factors we came to the conclusion that Square Enix lost passion for FFVII, and it’s a pity.

    • Jhenri /

      To nuno you have to remember that when people want something as bad as people want a FFVII remake they set the bar high and it’s hard to decide what would really please them. Either way it is a big gamble especially when a game has the backing that this one has. The remake may not live up to the original or people may not like how they remade it. It can be a double edge sword for SE. Either way they need to tread carefully on this.

      • I know. I would even go as far as to say that the game could be remade the same way the first two monkey island games are being remade (the second as been announced today): keep the traditional style drawing in 2D that the game has but remade them as high definition drawings. I think such remake would please the fans who want the remake and the fans who don’t want the remake. I didn’t see anyone complaint about monkey island being redrawn in high definition, let alone the game featuring full new audio recordings for both music and voices. Square already has casted the voices in advent children and again in crisis core. Would square enix be willing to remake the game that way instead of going full 3D like in XIII? I dunno, but what I know is that this game need some sort of remake, either full 3D, or just a makeover like monkey island. I really think square enix could/should take a page out of lucasarts book when it cames to pleasing fans and taking gambles. The new XIII is more potatoes and less meat. VII was a complete meal in every sense of the word (desert included in the form of that ending after the credits).

  11. valleyshrew /

    Fantastic read and thoroughly agree that a FFVII remake would be missing the point. The series has just gotten worse as the graphical work has replaced any of the quirky gameplay or fun elements that made the series so special. And now with the latest installment society has been near completely deleted from the game replaced with one long melodramatic chase scene with no variety but battles where nearly all you do is spam autobattle. At least gambits required strategy to the autobattling while solving the problem of repetitive and tedious attack spamming battles, but FFXIII practically does the battles for you. Not a single minigame. I will never forget chocobo breeding and racing, the tower defense at mt corel, the snowboarding, blitzball and triple triad which gave purpose to every NPC, and just the abundance of variety in every aspect from characters to locations to gameplay. The series is now a pretty but hollow shell of it’s former self and Sakaguchi has much more quickly made a better linear storybased game on his own with a much smaller budget.

  12. Valleyshrew, you said something that I had thought of but could not express with words (couldn’t think of any besides the meat and potaoes example): the graphical aspect has indeed replaced the amazing gameplay experience and fun elements of the story, which is something that XIII is lacking. Sure, it has top notch graphics for this day and age, but so did VII when it was released. What lacking now is a good, catching story to keep us hooked, so I must again say I’m in favor of the remake, and I’m more inclined for the same treatment monkey island titles are being given. It is working for lucasarts to retain the same 2D structure while revamping the sound and the graphics.
    As for the much respected Mr.Sakaguchi, it is not susprising that he returned to is roots (the first six final fantasy games were for nintendo systems) to produced more hearth felt games.
    Guess I should start thinking about buying a Wii if a plan on enjoying his latest masterpieces – The Last Story.

  13. Oni-Samurai /

    Damn this is one heavy debate.
    I want a remake of FF7 with 12s gameplay and 13s graphics. I never played the ps1 game & don’t fancy downloading it from PSN.

  14. I wish we could make it an even heavier debate so square could take notice of us who want the remake.
    When I said give VII the monkey island treatment was because it would be a quicker way to remake the game, and I wouldn’t mind that look. But yes, XIII graphic quality is the way to go. And without removing any of the story elements like the towns that we can visit after we have been there (I my self went back to the golden saucer numerous times to play ski in the arcade lounge). I don’t know I in the interviews I’ve been reading with the creators of XIII they seem so proud of the linearity of the game. They compare Final Fantasy games to a movie that you play from a to b. WRONG MR. KITASE. Final Fantasy is all about the freedom to explore how choose to. And they talk about XIII-2? I hope not.
    From the interview, and being a westerner myself, I think the current people in front of the Final Fantasy games don’t really know what they should be about. Their called Final Fantasy because, well, their suppose to be the ultimate game.

    In case you want to read the interview:
    http://games.schrijversblok.nl/?p=261

    If you didn’t play the game I can tell you that you missed the ultimate game, but i can totally understand why, because no matter how good the games are, we want them by todays graphic standards. Your comment about not being willing to download the game from psn proves or confirms two things I stated before: the majority of FFVII sales on the psn is coming from fans who have lost or have discs that no longer play and (most importantly) there is a new generation of gamers that want to experience VII for the first time but with todays graphic standards.

  15. You worked on a bunch of Final Fantasy games. Which one would you want to remake the most?
    [Laughs.] That would be Final Fantasy VII!
    If we had the manpower and the time to work on a project, if we were to remake Final Fantasy VII with the quality of Final Fantasy XIII it would become a tremendous project. If we can get the number of people we need by all means that would be the one I would really want to remake.

    The above comes from an interview with FFXIII director. I guess the stars are really aligning for an extraordinary event. LOL

    Full interview at “http://www.siliconera.com/2010/03/18/final-fantasy-xiii-director-answers-your-ffxiii-questions”

  16. I just had this really crazy idea. What if FF Versus XIII is reality the remake of FFVII. I mean, both projects compete against each other as both have the same genre and both are being developed by the same team. So it ended up being a clash between both projects, it ended up being “Final Fantasy Versus Final Fantasy”, more precisely “Final Fantasy VII Versus Final Fantasy XIII. Take FFVII out of that sentence and rearrange the versus and you end up with Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Nobody would think of that. (I’m not crazy, I’m just really looking forward for the remake)

  17. Kairos /

    Personally I would much rather see them explore another aspect of the original story as opposed to a remake. Say, let us explore Sephiroth’s POV of the game events, or the Turks/Rufus, even…that’d be awesome, if not near-impossible, and would be fairly interesting to see as long as it held true to the original story. Or a remake of Before Crisis for something other than a cell phone. (i.e. Sort of what “RE:Chain of Memories” did for the original “Chain of Memories game in the KH series.)

    Although I WOULD love to see a remake, I just don’t think it would work. I’m currently in the process of replaying the original FFVII and I completely understand how parts of it wouldn’t translate to modern graphics and voice acting. Hell, my sister and I sometimes read the scenes aloud (helps with understanding better what’s going on/making sure we don’t misread…plus it’s just a damn good time XD), and it sometimes gets really confusing to translate to speaking (especially when Cloud and Tifa are in Cloud’s subconscious). Not to mention we’d lose Cid’s potty mouth. 🙁

    Plus, I don’t know how much of George Newbern as Sephiroth I could take. Definitely not the length of the game.

  18. I will say, I bought the original release, and I opened it on the way home, thus ruining the collector’s value. Needless to say, my version of the game is well used. I’ve been looking for a new disc 3, as well as a new playstation to put it in. The listings on Ebay are rediculous. My only interest in a remake, are purely out of financial motives. I would actually be satisfied with a re-release, and perhaps a wiiware version.

  19. i think it should be remade becuase i really wantit released to my x-box 360 and i want more of it!

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