[Featurama] Why Do We Need Final Fantasy VII HD?

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There have been a choice group of quotes coming from Square Enix this week that have spurned much talk about Final Fantasy again.  First is the statement CEO Yoichi Wada made to an investor asking about the possibility of a remake to the game that debuted Square to the world stage, Final Fantasy VII.  “We’ll make a Final Fantasy VII remake once we’ve made a Final Fantasy game that exceeds the quality of FFVII,” reported AndriaSang.  Fun quote.

Now, this follows up with Final Fantasy XIII director Motomu Toriyama discussing the trimming of internal development at Square Enix with Gamasutra.  “We have a lot of great creators in Square Enix, but for larger-scale development we will be doing more distributed and outsourced development to reach our targets on time.”

Two quotes that discuss the future of where Square Enix’s mentality is in moving forward with the Final Fantasy franchise. This really got me thinking about whether Square Enix can even make a true remake to Final Fantasy VII.

 

Why would they even try?  Interview after interview from top Square Enix decision makers have made it clear how cost prohibitive working on this project would be.  It is.  At least in what they are wanting Final Fantasy VII HD to be.  What they want Final Fantasy VII to be is the exact same thing you want it to be.  Something akin to the Final Fantasy VII Tech Demo they revealed many E3′s ago.

That’s what we’ve all come to expect Final Fantasy VII to look like these days.  Once again, it’s probably not financially reasonable to expect a world as large as Final Fantasy VII’s to be rendered that way.  That was really the point of the tech demo and every other game in the series that came after Final Fantasy VII. These are all set up as litmus tests to what the company can feasibly do with the game.

It’s not a simple game to create, Square Enix doesn’t have the assets or the will to risk said assets on this game when they can make smaller scale investments like Crisis Core.  Which brings up that quote earlier from Mr. Wada. “We’ll make a Final Fantasy VII remake once we’ve made a Final Fantasy game that exceeds the quality of FFVII.”

Many people around the world are sitting around breaking that statement down.  Yes, there have been better Final Fantasy games in terms of quality.  That’s not the statement he is making.  Wada wants a Final Fantasy that can sell like Final Fantasy VII.  A new title that can sell mobile phone games, movies, drinks, and games on systems of all different kinds.  Final Fantasy VII HD is going to cost this company some serious money, there has to be a revenue stream supporting it.

Cost cutting is a great way to do this by outsourcing and they are already doing this at Square Enix.  That’s what Toriyama is trying to talk about.  However, this doesn’t mean a game as big as Final Fantasy VII HD can go through this for a lot of issues.  Most importantly is because the game will have to change dramatically in the remake and there is no way you can keep that a secret without internal development.

There are a lot of people that think the Tech Demo can be fully realized in the world of Final Fantasy VII.  It can’t.  The focus of Final Fantasy is on a balance of comedy and drama.  Have you seen any real comedy from this franchise in Square Enix’s offshoots?

Reno and Rude were funny in Advent Children.  That’s about it.  The Last Order OVA packed in with it?  Sad Cloud throughout.  That’s a great way to present story and drama, but really, that’s not Final Fantasy VII.

I present you with this one idea to prove my concept.  How do you render the Cloud from Advent Children or the technical demo in a dress and not make it really awkward?  I think this is a legitimate discussion people seem to overlook.

How do we put high definition Cloud Strife in a dress, some makeup, a wig and lingerie so we can offer him up to Don Corneo?

This isn’t the only scene that won’t work.  Most of the Gold Saucer is insane.  The designs, the characters, amd the setting alone prove this.  Cait Sith’s design is absolutely crazy to realize in full and have you even seen the shoes Vincent wears?  They are all ludicrous.  There is one famous scene however in the Gold Saucer that is a personal favorite of mine.

No it’s not the date scene on the train.

It’s the play.  The absolutely ludicrous, random scene of your date and yourself dancing on stage with a king and a dragon.  It’s silly and ridiculous, but it is complete fun.

This worked because the use of super deformed sprites was the norm of Final Fantasy VII.  They used these deformed sprites because using fully realized models like they had in VIII was impractical for them financially at the time.  When the drama ramped up or battle was needed, we saw glimpses of who these characters truly were supposed to be representing.  What happened for the rest of the game could only be expressed through blocky pantomime.  That’s really what Final Fantasy VII made work with it’s top down view and changes in character presentation.  You can hide the more absurd scenes behind the player’s imagination.

A great directorial talent would have to be made to bring this out of the many different actors that live in the game world.  There are hundreds of NPC’s and character reactions that would have to be realized out of what was mostly pantomime with the original game.  Most of Shinra Company is defined by over dramatized  character movements.

It is in the side quests that we get to see a lot of the humor and fun that made Final Fantasy VII a unique experience for the people that played it.  I didn’t even get closure for Vincent my first playthrough.  These quests brought color to the world in the macho bar, the craziness that happened in Yuffie’s home land and the fun that games like snowboarding brought.  If you are expecting something more than HD sprites, you are asking for a lot.

This isn’t a post to say that a Final Fantasy VII remake can’t be done however.  A good director, a talented crew and enough money to make it happen can always turn out something interesting.  I just don’t see why anybody would want to fund this venture.  An HD remaster really is the only plausible way to give the project  any reasonable justice after the tech demo and all of the spinoffs.

Realistically, it has been 15 years since Final Fantasy VII came out.  It is more reasonable to believe that people are more familiar with gloomy Cloud from Kingdom Hearts, Advent Children and Last Order than the one that came from the actual game.  The Cloud Strife that threatened to do unspeakable damage to Don Corneo’s family jewels is really a memory of the past.

Meanwhile, there are those other games that could do for a fully realized remake.  Final Fantasy VIII is still one of the highest regarded games in the series among fans, yet there has never been any mention of a remake.  The game’s style and world all fit perfectly with it’s fully realized models and let’s be honest, the game needs someone to improve the latter parts of it.

Likewise, the same issue applies to Final Fantasy IX which started brilliantly and fizzled down towards the end.  They were the first Final Fantasies that dropped the super deformed look and both contain some great stories to expand on.

Yet, they aren’t Final Fantasy VII.

Creating the Final Fantasy VII HD Project won’t be profitable for Square Enix.  At least not in the way everybody wants it.  There is a massive back catalog of games from Square and Enix that can be remade for a fraction of what it would cost the company to remodel Final Fantasy VII.  I think we need to really start that discussion up instead of relying on nostalgia.

Or maybe even the genre has moved on.  Tomb Raider seems to be their most interesting title coming down the pipeline.  At least according to marketing.  RPGs and games with limited appeal seem to be a thing for portables from the Japanese manufacturers with the console adoption rate and cheaper development cost allowing for a better return of profits.   Is it even worth recreating a 15 year old RPG for an HD console now?

Square Enix doesn’t think so. Until gamers reward them with a game that leaves a legacy for them to exploit like Final Fantasy VII’s offered, why would they even risk it?  Instead of standing before the CEO of Square Enix and asking him to remake FFVII, let’s see what they can do with X first.  Let’s have them test the waters with a much easier experiment like VIII or IX.  If they can make those a success, then we can look the heads of the companies in the face and say that we will make Final Fantasy VII HD worth the investment.

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About Author

(Senior Writer)

I have been gaming for 20 years and have seen this industry go from one geared towards children, to one that has grown to accept all demographics. I've grown up side by side with video games and I've seen it turn into this phenomenon. Of course I also enjoy entertainment in all mediums whether it be film, book or sports. I'm just a huge nerd that loves writing about his hobbies.

  • Alex Castro

    This is great. I’m not particularly crazy for a remake of VII, but I’d be lying if I said I never wanted one. But you bring up a lot of cool points. Especially in costs and the loss of charm in moving from blocked sprites to fully rendered figures. I never really noticed it before, but having those types of character models really adds to the game. Were VII to be remade in the same character styles and models like we have with XIII, VII would lose a lot of what it was in the first place. I’d guess the game would make its final leap into turning into the game everybody saw FFVII as and not necessarily the game it actually was (by which I mean…look at the FFVII world, everything is ridiculously dramatic: CC, AC, Last Order, so dramatic that I think even I have come to remember FFVII more as more dramatic than it actually was…I think even I forgot all the bursts of comedy in it).

    I still don’t think it’s time for a VII remake, but now I’m wondering whether it’s good to have one at all. Making a remake might end up being forced to change too much for its own good.

  • pgerv12

    Excellent read. I completely agree with the last bit with how X will go. I’m excited and I hope it goes well!

  • http://plasticvideogamecomic.blogspot.com/ Man With No Name

    They will do this game if they are under the risk of going under. They know very well that a FFVII can save their asses if they are in need of money.

  • Zell

    Pft, i’m waiting on my FFX HD release :(

  • Michael Rene

    The number one reason there should NOT be a remake is that “Sad Cloud” is still too alive and well in popular memory. It’s that kind of redundant character archetype that, I think, has killed J-RPGS as a whole.

    90′s FF7 had a cocky, wise-cracking, Han Solo-like main character trudging through a psychological mystery plot in a cyberpunk\fantasy setting. Cool stuff. Thoughtful stuff. Entertaining stuff.

    Japan’s 2000-Present obsession with antisocial, androgynous leading men pretty much ensured them misplacing the poor guy’s testosterone in any further works. Throw in the bulk of female driven fanfic\fanart, and BOOM, your once existentialist, cyberpunk, psychologically complex, and yes – funny – leading man is re-written into an unlikeable, mopey, “Sad Cloud” fop in popular memory (See: Edward Cullen). Time passes, the re-write becomes mimetic, meme becomes truth. Eventually, new gamers wonder why something so incredibly as FF7 was ever important to begin with without ever actually playing it.

    If it’s ever to be done, the best special effect that could EVER do the original justice is to use all the technological and literary witchcraft possible to put Stephanie Meyer’s “Sad Cloud” on a bus, ship him off, and give that tragically maligned character his testosterone and faux action hero one-liners back.

    Let’s mosey.

  • http://twinfinite.net/blog/author/treleus/ Michael Rodriguez

    I completely agree with this article. Solid insights and observations down the line. It probably isn’t the best time for a remake. It’ll likely do no good or more harm to the brand and Squeenix than good. Not to mention it would have to be an exorbitantly expensive and lengthy venture for it to be worth a damn nowadays. The alternative would be to streamline the world of FF7 down into Final Hallway XIII or something, and I’m pretty sure nobody wants that. Nobody who played FF7 anyways.

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  • Juliano Reis

    You need to study video games a little more. It’s true that it is economically inviable to remake FFVII right now, but it isn’t because they wouldn’t be able to do it in HD or “it wouldn’t work because art”.
    It’s just a money thing. Once Square Enix finds a chest filled with gold, FFVII remake would be it’s first concern.

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