So if you didn’t see, IGN posted an article yesterday about the things that they want to see in the Final Fantasy 7 remake. As a long time fan of the FF series there’s a lot in IGN’s article that to me represents the worst aspects of the perspective on this project.
I’m going to go point by point with a response to IGN’s original article, so it’s probably important you familiarize yourself, although I will be quoting and laying it out in some detail.
So let’s start with Thing 1.
Thing 1: New Localization
This is one of the few points I agree with. No matter how enjoyable it’s been in the past to notice translation issues in old FF games, a new translation is always an enjoyable part of the remakes.
Thing 2: Full Voice Cast
I think a full voice cast is obviously going to happen. This is a AAA remake of an old game. There’s just going to be voice acting. However, IGN’s writer expresses an attitude that I disagree with.
“Part of the writing problems would be solved with performances…”
As a guy who watches and reviews films, I can say, with near certainty, that no script problem is outdone by good acting. A great script can save a bad actor, but a great actor can’t save a bad script. FF7 doesn’t even have a bad script, the writing problems are entirely translation related. So I think this point isn’t accurate.
“This is a modern RPG, and there are standards”
Yes, standards that have been set by those fantastic performances in Child of Light, Dark Souls, and many other modern RPGs that primarily tell their stories through text that isn’t voice acted. The “standards” that aren’t explained in any detail have been largely proven wrong by Indie and AAA games that have come to codify the genre. FF7 is one of the masterpiece RPGs, and the number one thing that destroys masterpieces in remake? “Modern standards.”
No, the standards for artwork are not determined from generation to generation. What makes good artwork is consistent across all time. There’s modern standards of Literature too, but no one’s sacrificing Moby Dick, Portrait of a Lady, or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (okay, well, they are sacrificing parts of that, but that’s part of my point).
“Advent Children gave life to…”
I’m not going to rail against the voice acting in Advent Children, but that didn’t exist in a vacuum. There just so happened to be about a novel’s worth of voiceless text that made most of us connected to those characters long before a voice ever got grafted to them.
Maybe it’s because I’m a writer myself, but this idea that voice acting is the means by which text becomes characterized is just a gross misunderstanding of how writing works. I’m not saying voice acting isn’t appreciable, but there’s no piece of writing that absolutely demands a voice to make it good. Instead a voice gives it a new flavor that can be equally appreciated.
So voice acting we’re going to get, but voice acting will not solve any problems in the writing that might still exist, or may be introduced.
Thing 3: Redone Soundtrack
I love the soundtracks of Final Fantasy games. I could be a stickler and say that the limitations of the hardware is something that made the soundtracks of these games great in the first place. Of course, I also think that Blue’s rival music sounded best on game boy.
That isn’t to say I disagree with this point. I think a redone soundtrack is only right when you’re remaking a game. To disagree with updating these aesthetics is to disagree with all the aesthetics. It would be like disagreeing with the point of making the graphics better.
Although we’ve recently had a remake where the music came out worse than the original. Of course I’m discussing the FFX soundtrack. However, that was a remake bringing the PS2 limitations, which were significantly less limited, to a fully symphonic sound that redid some of the balances of Nobuo’s scores.
In short, better sound engineering shouldn’t mean significantly changed balance in the sound engineering. Let the alarm buzzer be as loud as it was, instead of like putting it in the background or something.
Thing 4: Make the Mini-Games Actually Good
Personal Opinion mostly from the IGN writer here. I don’t disagree that FF7s mini-games were half-products… but that’s always the case with an RPG mini-game. They can’t all be Chocobo Hot & Cold, and especially when FF7 had like five or more, it seems a little silly to demand that the mini-games are better.
I just hope the Mini-Games are still in. It’s tempting to remove these asides for like action cutscenes and make more of a movie out of it as opposed to gameplay. This is a “modern demand” that has overtaken a lot of games. How many mini-games have you honestly played in recent history?
Thing 5: Deeper Story
Since the IGN writer completely mis-wrote what she/he is actually talking about, let me correct the Thing.
Thing 5: Incorporating the Expanded FFVII universe
Crisis Core was a huge hit, and for about half a decade they put a lot of work into making the FF7 universe expand. To ask them to come to this remake and do nothing with all of that is just ridiculous. Besides this is a good way for them to bring in extra content, including dungeons, superbosses, equipment, materia, so I’m not opposed.
Thing 6: Let’s Change That Twist
Thing 7: Deeper Battle System
I’ve been saying this already but I think the reality is we won’t have a turn-based ATB system in the remake. The IGN writer keeps from making the same faux pas as saying “Modern Demands” but the reality is that Turn Based RPGs are dead, they exist only in the RPG Maker market. Child of Light was the last example I can think of and it had a primary way of manipulating the turn-based factor. Ditto with the Persona series.
I hope that they go back to turn-based primarily because I like it. We have new FF games and Kingdom Hearts to fill in our Action-RPG hunger. FF7 was fun turn based, and I still want it to be. After all this a remake not a reboot.
For a long time an FF7 remake has been chief among the things that Square Enix could do for a money making option and they just loaded that gun. They are a AAA Publisher now, and the rules of AAA game making is to make it for as many people as possible.
Hopefully this response resonates a little better with everyone than that IGN article. While I think it accurately represents the attitude a publisher is going to go into it with, it feels a little bit like talking about politics by discussing who looks the most attractive to the public—it probably has more pertinent points than anything we could say about actual politics, but it feels like it matters so much less.
But seriously, Thing 6: Let’s Change That Twist
No. And the reason being that the twist captured the feeling the desginers was going for: loss. Aerith’s death is no less impactful nowadays than it was before. It would be like remaking Star Wars and making Darth Vader not Luke’s father. You kill a lot of the point that way.
This would be like if they removed the laughing scene in the FFX remake. There are a lot of people who hate that scene. There’s been parody and exasperation expressed everywhere. But the laughing scene is one of the most important characterizing scenes in FFX. The death scene in FFVII is like that, but bigger, but better, but more important.
The idea that something central to the product must be changed to keep it “fresh” somehow, is precisely the type of idea that kills these products.
I don’t want this remake to be a complete 1:1 build of what FFVII used to be. It could never be that way anyway. I just don’t think completely changing what it meant will be a good move on the publishers part. And probably the most out there idea. This won’t happen. This can’t happen. I don’t think the designers, publishers, or anyone would appreciate it happening.
I hope you all enjoyed this article. Thanks for putting up with my fan-bitching, and let’s hope that remake is everything we dreamed of it being. If not, we’ll always have the old one. And nothing can take that way from us (besides the death of backwards compatability).