Well, that escalated quickly. Everyone’s personal hype gauge for Final Fantasy VII Remake shot from one to 100 after a single trailer… then flatlined the moment it was discussed. Okay, so the game being released in “multiple parts” is unexpected — but is it a bad thing? I don’t think so, and here’s why.
First I’ll drop some background. I didn’t catch the original Final Fantasy VII (FFVII) when it released. The reason is quite simple — I was six years old and still trying to conquer The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time with my tiny, stupid, child brain. The mechanics of a traditional Japanese Role Playing Game like FFVII might’ve spun my oversized head around.
No, I caught it years later as a pre-teen. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the movie which served as a sequel to FFVII, had just caught my attention. All it took was a few screenshots of this super realistic (yet strangely anime-influenced) computer generated film to pique my interest. What the heck was this Final Fantasy series?!
My local Blockbuster Video still had a sealed copy of FFVII for PlayStation. Clutching some crumpled-up birthday money I had left over, I bought the game and took it home. The already outdated graphics were an immediate turn-off, as were the chibi-bodily proportions of protagonist Cloud Strife and his cohorts as they travel their world, known as Gaia. Even so, the game was oddly… compelling. Something about that intro and the ensuing assault on the Mako energy reactors owned by Shinra, the obligatory evil corporation, hooked me instantly.
The rest is history. It quickly became one of my favorite games of all time. Cloud’s story captivated me in a way no other video game had done before. I still consider it one of the most important games ever made, and a must-play for everyone who claims to love the Role Playing Game (RPG) genre.
I know the game, is my point.
Fast-forward to more recent days, where we finally see some gameplay of FFVII Remake. What we saw was NOT the mostly turn-based Active Time Battle (ATB) combat of the original. In fact, it seems to be more in line with another Square Enix franchise — Kingdom Hearts (KH). We knew it would probably go this way (mostly because we were TOLD as much shortly after the initial announcement) and I, for one, was overjoyed by what I saw in this new trailer.
But the internet erupted with displeasure, as it often does.
The Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children movie was full of ridiculously over-the-top action, with the featured characters showing feats of strength that are impossible by normal human standards. More than that, it set the tone and style for every return trip (more on that later) to Gaia, for better or worse. The director of FFVII Remake, Tetsuya Nomura, is looking to finally align the story that started it all with this same tone and style.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Nothing to worry about! Except… shortly after FFVII Remake’s gameplay was shown, another bombshell was dropped on us. The game will be split into multiple “parts” and released over a (presumably lengthy) span of time. Supposedly the story and content for each part will be expanded to better resemble a full game, but the revelation was still jarring. If the internet erupted before, it went NUCLEAR after THIS bit o’ news.
That’s no surprise, of course. Most of us seem to keep a finger hovering above the KABOOM button at all times. Me personally, I was caught off guard like everyone else and nearly suffered a similar knee-jerk reaction. Then I thought about it, and read a few fan theories regarding this decision. How’s about we take a gander at a few of the more intriguing ones?
What could possibly be added to FFVII Remake to justify each part as a full game? At first the answer isn’t clear, but consider it. The most obvious section for an overhaul is the Overworld, a shrunken-down representation of Gaia where a seemingly giant-sized Cloud travels from location to location between plot points. I could easily see this map being rendered to scale in FFVII Remake and populated with new towns and countless enemies, along with fresh sidequests to accompany them. Certain sections, like the opening, could also be expanded to give us more time with the ragtag AVALANCHE team of Wedge, Jessie and Biggs.
More than that, however, the plots of several FFVII spin-offs could be added into this project. Dubbed Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Square Enix launched a new initiative in 2003 to capitalize on FFVII’s popularity. In addition to the aforementioned Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children movie, a PS2 sequel titled Dirge of Cerberus released in 2006, while a PSP prequel to FFVII, called Crisis Core, came in 2008. Further mobile games, anime shorts and books were part of this initiative as well, all of which could potentially be incorporated into FFVII Remake… and I’d buy the hell out of that.
Release Date Woes
Tetsuya Nomura, one of my favorite people in the video game industry, is heading up this remake. That would be FANTASTIC, if not for his habit of spending a decade on each title he works on. Knowing that he is juggling Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV concurrently to FFVII Remake, we would probably be in for the long haul while waiting for this game.
That’s why releasing it in parts is so brilliant. Hell, assuming this isn’t a cash-grab strategy and every part is indeed substantial, I’m THANKFUL! I’ve been waiting ten years for Kingdom Hearts III and a little less for Final Fantasy XV (formerly known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII) now. I don’t want to wait until I’m in my 30’s to play the remake to one of my favorite games.
September 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of FFVII, an important landmark for any franchise. A company like Square Enix would probably like to put out a product to coincide with this, so could that be the true reason for the seemingly episodic nature of FFVII Remake? Assuming it was in development for some time prior to its original June 2015 announcement, I could see part one making it to shelves (or PlayStation Network Store) in late 2017.
To Be Determined
The fact is that we still don’t know very much about FFVII Remake and its various installments. People are assuming they will all be priced at $60 each, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Bearing that in mind, Square Enix is still a company that knows full-well how beloved this game is. It spawned an entire sub-series on its own, after all! But instead of assuming the worst, let’s all take a deep breath and remember that the original Final Fantasy VII will always be around when we want it — now with trophies!
As for me, I’m remaining cautiously optimistic. Nothing we’ve heard has triggered any red flags, although that could change with the next announcement. For now, there are more important questions to ask — like where the hell Barret got those killer shades!
Chris Cobb is an Associate Writer for MONG and wants nothing more than to ride around on the back of a Chocobo. If he isn’t busy lamenting the demise of Blockbuster Video, you can find him on Twitter.