For many — Final Fantasy VII was a groundbreaking game when it was first released back in 1997 creating many legions of fans worldwide and making Squaresoft and Final Fantasy a household name in all major territories. Up until then Japanese RPGs were hard to come by in Europe and I remember begging my parents to import Chrono Trigger for the SNES and the idea that a RPG, not just any RPG, but a Final Fantasy game was coming to Europe was a very big deal for me.
Let’s just say 1997/1998 were not my best years at school.
E3 2005 Square Enix got the fanboys’ speculation nerves running rampant when they released a video which recreated the famous intro to Final Fantasy VII using the then new PlayStation 3 hardware. The Internet was set ablaze with talk that Square Enix would be remaking the most successful game the company have ever produced. The rumours were debunked with Square Enix President Yoichi Wada citing the video was for technological demonstration purposes. Still — Fans held out hope that their beloved game would be remade on a next gen console. If you haven’t seen the technical demo then watch it below:
In January 2011, GameTrailers posted a video of their “Top 10 Games That Need Remakes” — Final Fantasy VII was on that list. While I would love to see this happen, my little baby soul is telling me a remake is not only unnecessary but also completely unwanted. Here’s why.
Out of any game I’ve ever played I have so many memories of playing Final Fantasy VII even to the point where game sessions could last all night. The ridiculous looking polygonal characters didn’t matter. The fact there were no voiceovers just didn’t matter. A lot of what we take for granted in games today simply just wasn’t that important back then. The world of Final Fantasy VII was one you fell into because of its genuinely moving story, a soundtrack that is arguably one of the greatest of all time and the games limitations that let your imagination do the work. When you consider that on the field there are barely any sound effects at all and you are only treated to the glorious soundtrack for hours on end, it makes perfect sense that players would perceive the game their own way and think of the characters voices that are their own. It makes the experience exclusive to one and all who play it, and in years since the games release there have been semi-sequels, a prequel and a movie which have divulged much more story, introduced new characters and given our original characters voices. The game has become less individual and therefore less special to those who played the game and loved it back in 1997.
My argument is this — I personally do not want to see a remake of Final Fantasy VII on the basis that giving the characters and of equal importance, the world, a lick of paint and new effects and voices might spoil the original appeal of the game but most importantly ruin the nostalgic value this game holds by the bucket load for people who spent many a night in Battle Square with a Slash-All – Ultima tactic over and over again to earn enough points to obtain W-Summon materia and Omnislash. Or levelling up all your materia so you stand a VERY slim chance of being able to beat the optional and damn near impossible Ruby and Emerald weapons, just for the items you can’t really do anything with and the bragging rights to say “I did this”. I do fear that the more realistic games become the less imaginative they appear to the player.
To me Final Fantasy VII is the ultimate throwback to my childhood. Only Ocarina of Time or an old Mario game comes close. Every time I come to play it (and I’ve lost count), I think I am about to start my fifteenth time through? It always makes that little baby soul glad that I’m still playing this game 15 years later, and still thinking it’s one of the purest and most enjoyable gaming experiences there has ever been and to be honest, Final Fantasy VII is one of the greatest games ever made, and I think we should just leave it there.
This week heralds the release of Final Fantasy XIII-2 a sequel in which seemed like an obligatory move on Square Enix’s part to say sorry for dividing RPG fans between those who enjoy a compelling story and those who want to be challenged while sticking to a more traditional style of game. Are we seeing a series that is succumbing to the trend of blockbusters needing sequels? An attempt by the company to branch out to a wider audience in the West and therefore forget its heritage it built its name on? Or is it simply an effort of innovation?
We would like to know what you think. Should Final Fantasy VII get a remake? And what are your thoughts on Final Fantasy XIII-2 and the idea of the expanding a Final Fantasy story? Tell us in the comments.