Final Fantasy VII – To Change, or not to change?

I was recently browsing various gaming websites when I came across this little piece over on Eurogamer.

Recent Final Fantasy games producer Yoshinori Kitase was quoted in an interview with Official Xbox Magazine saying that…

It’d be an issue of repetition and not as much fun to make such a game. So I’d be really interested in rearranging games or reshaping games into something slightly different even though it’s supposed to be the same game. But if we did that, the fans might be disappointed or ‘this is not what I was expecting’ so in that sense maybe some might say that it’s better to let memory be memory

These comments were made in regards to re-releasing Final Fantasy VII, one of the most requested videogame remakes to date.

Simply put, if he were in charge of said project he’d be more than tempted to fiddly about with the games mechanics in an effort to freshen the game up and argues that a straight forward remake wouldn’t cut the mustard in today’s gaming world.

As a massive Final Fantasy VII fan, I’d welcome the chance to play the game again (as I did when it appeared on the Playstation Network). But would I welcome any changes? Time to break down the big PSone classic:


The Graphics

It goes without saying, the biggest job would be giving the game a graphics overhaul, which would of course involve quite literally re-making the game. Advent Children, the film based on the events following the game, was crafted initially in CGI, and the results were spectacular. Any form of remake that looked in anyway as good as the film would be a fantastic achievement.

Even if the team didn’t have the resources to re-create the game in a similar style to Advent Children, they’d at least have to update the look of the game so that it would be on par with what gamers expect from games of today. While FFVIII would of course be welcomed by veterans of the series they’ll also want to open the game to a series of new fans. If your going to re-make a game like VIII, you’ve got to do it right!

The Battle System

While early Final Fantasies were strictly turn based affairs when it came to combat, the more recent versions have tried to break away from the traditional format and offer more of a free-flowing, almost real-time experience. Kitase has admitted he liked the Paradigm battle system which was introduced to XIII and will also appear in its sequel, XIII-2.

Would I want to see that system, or in fact any other form of battle system replace the one that’s already featured in VII? No…I don’t think I would.

While giving the graphics a complete overhaul would be pretty much required, I feel in order to keep the game true to its long term fans, changing some of the major gameplay elements would un-settle the games flow, and if done incorrectly…could ruin the entire experiance.

While the combat in todays standards maybe defined as ‘slow’, it certainley isn’t dull and coupled with updated visuals I personally feel it could still have a place in the new generation of gamers of today.

Materia

I miss Materia. It’s far better than the Crystarium system from FFXIII. Do Not Remove.

It wasn’t that the Crystarium system was bad, I just miss how you could find secret materia, how you had to work to find certain ones…such as events at Golden Saucer and the like. You could also equip materia to weapons in different ways to get other effects.
Besides, they couldn’t change this as it plays a major part in the storyline, especially involving Aeris. So there.

The Story

Don’t be stupid. People would kill people if the story was tampered with.

You may have guessed by now that apart from the graphics, I don’t really want them to change anything else, but what if they released DLC which did change some of the mechanics in the game?

While we have seen plenty of downloadable costumes, extra characters/maps…we’ve yet to see a form of DLC which actually changes the game. While they could have both the ‘original’ remake and the ‘updated with different bits’ on the same disc, having it instead as DLC would gain extra sales and mean that fans of the series who don’t appreciate change can purchase a (in theory) slightly cheaper boxed copy of the game, while people who are inquisitive can download the DLC too and play about with that version of the game. Ether way, perhaps the ultimate answer?

Now hold on, that’s me trying to sit on the fence about the issue. Answering my question set at the beginning of this post, apart from the graphics…no…I don’t think the game should be changed, and that the mechanics should be kept as it is. I like Final Fantasy VII as it is, and even if gamers of today don’t like it, I’m sure theirs enough original fans who’ll buy it again.

We discussed remakes on this weeks podcast (Podcast #5: FAIL) and it’s pretty apparent that nether myself, Tom or Ben could come to a definitive answer in regards to if remakes are good/bad, needed/un-needed in a industry full of big IPs…and struggling newer IPs who can’t make it amongst the bigger names.

Whether or not remakes are good or bad, a case I made during the podcast is that at the moment too many games are getting the ‘remake’ treatment. Even games that aren’t bad to look at from the last generation of consoles are getting the HD treatments, such as Splinter Cell and Jak & Daxter. While I can understand older, more classic/underplayed games that are getting the HD magic.

I doubt any other game has had such an ongoing ‘will it won’t it’ approach to the idea of a remake. While I would jump at the chance to re-play the game with more update visuals, at the same time, I’d quite happily sit down and play a brand new game, from a new developer.

However, if you do remake it Square Enix, don’t ruin it.

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