With the recent announcement that Final Fantasy X would be getting a high definition facelift, discussion has once again stirred regarding that ever-present topic: when will Final Fantasy VII be remade? It was originally released to massive critical and commercial success and it set the bar high for all large-scale RPGs that followed, including all future Final Fantasy games. There cannot possibly be any reason to not go through with it, right?
To ask me, the answer is definitely “wrong”.
Because my love for Final Fantasy IX tends to overshadow my appreciation for other titles in the series, it is not particularly well-known how much I love Final Fantasy VII. It is the game that introduced me to the series, it is the game that brought me back to my piano, and I believe that it contains some of the greatest moments in gaming.
In fact, it is this love that leads me to believe that a remake is a bad idea. The game would disappoint more than it would satisfy.
Final Fantasy VII was released two console generations ago, and the differences in the hardware and expectations on an end product are huge. For one thing, companies were forced to be creative if they wanted to release a game on a large scale back then. Squaresoft’s solution on this matter was to draw many beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds.
While voice-acting was beginning to make its way into the gaming world, there was not an expectation for it and Final Fantasy‘s reliance on text was barely given a second thought by gamers.
While Nobuo Uematsu had more technology to work with compared to the Super Nintendo for his iconic score, the PlayStation was not able to support a fully orchestrated score, or even a properly simulated one.
A gamer might look at the point that I am setting up and shrug his hunched shoulders. “No matter,” he might say, “it is obvious what the correct solution is.” He will then continue to pine for a remake. However, Final Fantasy VII was such a personal experience for so many people that the “obvious solution” would be so vastly different for so many people.
Should the world be rendered in full 3D? Would it not be great to see Midgar in high definition with a fully rotatable camera? Maybe that would ruin the nooks and crannies that a player imagined in her mind, though. What if it felt so different that it spoiled the things she loved about it in the first place? Fine then, let us stick with re-drawn pre-rendered backgrounds now outfitted with a glorious 16:9 aspect ratio. Still, what a missed opportunity that would be! Why use current generation hardware for a remake if its benefits will just be ignored?
The major design decisions do not end there. A Final Fantasy VII made with today’s technology would surely seem very bizarre without voice acting. However, I cannot imagine a situation in which anybody would be pleased if voice-acting were included. I am not just talking about the already complicated matter of finding voices to match the different voice in every fan’s head, but also the issue of trying to match the tone and delivery of lines that have been read and re-read over the past 14 years.
What about music? Despite its brilliance, PlayStation-quality music would sound strange matched with pristine HD graphics. But a re-mastered score would also be near-blasphemy to many fans.
Luckily, music can potentially be toggled from a menu, but the other issues are not so clear cut. Even toggling off voice acting would not change the fact that cutscenes would still feature characters silently lip-synching to subtitles. Like the choice of how to render the world, there are other decisions that would have to be even more set in stone.
What about the battle system? Should the pacing be changed? Final Fantasy VII has a great battle system, but dumped into a modern game precisely as-is would leave much to be desired. That is just how I feel, however, maybe others would want the battle system practically untouched.
Hopefully it is becoming more evident that every single aspect of a remake would involve a major decision that would leave fans divided.
A counter-argument might point to Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. While it is no masterpiece, I – and many other – fans agree that it is a worthy homage to Final Fantasy VII‘s world, mood, and characters. But Advent Children is a movie and a sequel. Perhaps the character designs and world look fantastic, but gamers are not interacting with it and it is not attempting to recreate an entire iconic experience. A movie sequel is a far cry from a game remake.
The ultimate point is that Final Fantasy VII is a game specifically made for the PlayStation. Very important design decisions were made because of the hardware and those decisions formed the game that RPG enthusiasts hold so dear. I believe it is an experience tied to the time it was created and a remake would not only never live up to expectations, but would take away from the legacy of the original. Let us leave well enough alone and appreciate Final Fantasy VII in all its original glory and leave the HD redesigns to Final Fantasy X and XII which were made in a hardware generation far more similar to our current one.
I know many of you LusiSprites are also Final Fantasy VII fans, so I am very interested in your thoughts. Sound off below.