Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What I Want to See in the Final Fantasy VII Remake

Like Duke Nukem Forever and Guns N’Roses’ Chinese Democracy, I did not think that a remake of Square’s wildly popular Final Fantasy VII would ever be remade. The cards were stacked against it in many ways. It would be too expensive to bring the PlayStation classic to current generation graphic fidelity. The game would be changed too much that nostalgia poisoned gamers will pick at the carcass to the bone. Square’s time and money would be better spent on new IP or sequels to current IP. But all of those points don’t seem to be an issue for Square any longer.

To be perfectly honest I am excited for this remake. I was very skeptical of it from the beginning hence why I was pleasantly surprised when it was announced at E3 2015. We’ve been teased first with the cinematic demo on the PS3 and trolled with the original FFVII being released on PlayStation 4. Thousands of fanboys and girls cried in anger, pain, and frustration while holding onto their last shred of lingering faith. Their prayers have been finally answered. Since it’s coming out (probably not for several years) I’ll go ahead and list what I want to see in the remake of Final Fantasy VII.

Eliminate Random Encounters

It’s 2015 and random encounters are a relic of a bygone era of JRPGs. I could understand using random encounters to get around hardware limitations but now there is no real reason for them. Random encounters are, to me anyways, a lazy way to create difficulty in the game and can be a point of frustration. Allow the enemies to be fully visible before engaging them. I felt that worked really well for Final Fantasy XII and the later Persona series and Tales series do a great job of at least showing an enemy before engaging them. It may not be completely representative of who you will fight but at least you can get an idea of what you’re up against. I would honestly like the encounters to be an accurate representation of the enemy but a generic model would work too.

Allow Combat Skipping

There should be a way to skip battles that are too easy or too hard and frustrating. Even if the enemies scale in level with the Player, any fight that would be a complete cakewalk should be an automatic win if the encounter happens. This should be handled in a way that was done in Earthbound. If the Player was sufficiently high in level then the enemy would be automatically beaten and all the experience points, loot, and money will be given to the Player. For story based battles that would prove to be frustrating for a Player there should be the ability to skip it and progress with the story. Maybe add some hints or perks if the Player has attempted a few times and allow a complete skip of the battle if she chooses. In the interest of fairness, I think that some percentage of experience points should be doled out. I really wouldn’t want to spend time to grind up my characters just because a fight is too difficult in a story related encounter. Optional battles shouldn’t have that option.

Keep the Humor

Back in 1997 there was a definite shift in pop culture to make everything “extreme” and with “attitude”. Final Fantasy had avoided that for the most part. Sure, Midgard was dark and brooding as was Vincent Valentine but for the most part FFVII had humor and light heartedness sprinkled throughout the game. I’m sure the deformed character models added to the humor but there were genuine attempts at humor and silliness. Once the spin offs and sequels to FFVII came out, they started taking on a darker tone and just sapped away all of the humor and charm of the original game. Especially now in the era of gritty reboots and gritty superhero movies, everything has to be dark, gritty, realistic, and devoid of humor. The teaser trailer for the remake certainly seemed to lean heavily in that direction. Maybe some of the more obnoxious moments can be removed (e.g. Cloud riding a dolphin) but maybe conversational humor could be thrown in as well. As an example, Witcher 3 is overall dark and brooding but Geralt does have a dry sense of humor. For the Final Fantasy VII remake, I imagine that Cloud could have a dry sense of humor as well. Tifa should be willing to make jokes especially to grab Cloud’s attention. And Barret could be so serious in his intentions that it would come off as humorous. The game can be dark overall but let’s not forget that humor is still a very important part to being human and that often gets us through some of the darkest moments of our lives.

Drop the Stereotypes

This point mainly applies to Barret – it’s been a little long since I last played FFVII so I’m sure I’m missing some stereotypes. Basically his exterior of the token black character should be dropped. There is actually more to him (a father figure to Marlene, dedicated to a cause, etc.) but some of the slang and language can be dropped. It would also be good to see more black characters in the Final Fantasy universe. C’mon Square you made one black guy, you can certainly add several more black characters to sprinkle throughout the world. Other people from various ethnic backgrounds would be fantastic to see as well as long as they’re not just stereotype cardboard characters.

These are just some of the points that I want in the remake and there are still plenty of questions that I have about the game. How will combat be implemented? Will it be real-time or turn-based? Will all the mini-games be present? What side quests will be added and what will be dropped? Will Materia be different in anyway? What story elements will be changed especially in light of the additional games and movies set in the FFVII universe being released? I have a feeling that there will be so much changed in the game that it’ll essentially be a brand new game with characters from Final Fantasy VII. Now that I know a remake is in development maybe that could be a sliver of hope that Necrophagist’s new album is in some state of development as well. Who am I kidding? That album has about as much chance of being released as Half-Life 3 being confirmed!

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