[Thoughts] Final Fantasy VII Remake

There are a lot of people in the world. With that in mind I’m not surprised that most things are divisive. But if I put that aside I do find the discourse over this game to be surprising. For what, two decades almost, people have been pining over Final Fantasy VII. That might be unfair, perhaps it isn’t the best game ever (not that very many people seem to think this, it is a popular stereotype of fans) but I do think it holds a special place for bringing its genre to the front and center. Before that, popularity on a Dragon Quest level in the US for JRPGs just wasn’t happening as far as I could tell. As a kid I don’t remember anyone ever mentioning them before the release of 7.

Over the years there have been murmurs of this game being remade. This excited a lot of people because they wanted to relive the experience but with high fidelity, better audio quality, and all the trappings that come along with it. Technically it should be alright for Remakes to alter the gameplay of a game, pure graphical updates should be called “remasters”. But over the years “remake” has been used to mean “remaster” enough times that now they are two sides of the same language coin. With that in mind (lots of in minds tonight) I see why people would be upset that it looks like the combat has dramatically changed.

It raises concerns because you begin to wonder what else has changed? How much of what makes the game good in the first place will remain? This might not seem like a legitimate concern but personally I think back to Goldeneye Wii. I felt like I was taking crazy pills when reviews hit for it. The game was, to me, pretty much awful. Everything that had made the original fun had been stripped bare in order to maintain a “movie” experience. Even the multiplayer felt wonky.

For me, the true successor to Goldeneye was Perfect Dark on the N64. It’s a shame too because both games were very popular. There is a reason they were popular, and that wasn’t because of dumb luck. These were well crafted games that genuinely stand the test of time. The biggest issues now are visual fidelity and performance which are both hardware constraints. Updating them to be 60 FPS and have an HD pop would be enough to make a large sum of cash both from nostalgic people and from new people. The same, I think, is true of Final Fantasy 7 and most of the rest of Square’s catalog.

Each time they’ve released a mobile port of their older titles it has been inferior to the originals. This sets a really troubling precedent. Then you consider, at least anecdotally, the lack of quality in the 13 trilogy and things become even more uncomfortable. I’m told that FF15 plays and looks really good. And the trailer above looks amazing. So if it ends up playing well too I won’t much mind.

Change for the sake of change should never be celebrated. If these changes end up being actual improvements that make the experience of Final Fantasy better, then sure, I’m happy. But a disturbingly high number of games critics and spokespeople seem to champion that “change is better than no change.” Which I disagree with. A simple, but extreme, example to this point is as follows: You are probably not getting nails driven into your knees right now. I hope not, at least. If someone were to start driving nails into your knees that would be change. However I doubt most people would consider that an improvement over their knees not being perforated.

Currently I’m not excited for the FF7 remake. I don’t expect it to be awful, but equally I don’t have high hopes for it. I’m going to take the easiest path out of the situation and just not think about it until it is released. If it ends up being great I’ll buy the coolest edition I can of it. If it ends up being meh I’ll probably pass it up entirely. Regardless I’m not going to sweat the details. I just think that people who are “pro-changes” for the sake of change are no less unreasonable than folks who they criticize wantonly.

Anywho, we’ll see how this goes. I would really like for it to not be bad. But all it takes is them removing something as simple as experience and levels from this game (something they’ve done twice now) to create a game that is too abstract for most people to follow or easily enjoy. Game design is tough, easier to screw it up than to do it well.

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