Editorial: An RPG Veteran's FFVII Remake Opinion
Some naysayers and those who simply want to claim elite status by going against the grain will say the only Final Fantasy VII lovers are those who hadn't played an RPG before. You know, they recall the experience with such rose-colored nostalgia that they don't really know what they're talking about; that their inexperience means FFVII isn't anywhere near as good as they say. While I'm certain there are plenty of people out there who fall into the preceding category, I'm not one of them. I was playing RPGs well before FFVII - and have played plenty since - and I still say Square-Enix's first 3D effort is the best RPG I've ever played. And at first, I was firmly set against the idea of a remake.
But over the past couple of years, I've started to come around. If you're wondering, here was my initial standpoint: I really hate the idea of ruining classics by upgrading their cosmetic appeal for a generation that can't appreciate great games unless they're flashy. FFVII is wonderful as it is, and part of the charm of that game centers squarely on those now-comical, blocky characters. It's why I will always prefer the original Super Mario Kart on the SNES; while I know later installments are just as good in terms of mechanics and gameplay, and certainly better in the visual department, I just don't care. I want SMK on the SNES, and I want FFVII on the PS1. I want Cloud to have those square blocks for hands. I want the jaggies all over the place, and I want the blurriness and haziness when approaching the Golden Saucer for the first time. It makes me know I'm playing Final Fantasy VII.
Now, I do maintain a lot of that former philosophy, but in terms of a FFVII remake for the PlayStation 3, I've come around. Perhaps it started with "Advent Children," or maybe it began when I started to realize that, if done correctly, a remake could be downright amazing. After all, if the only thing Square-Enix does is upgrade the graphics, and leaves the rest of the game exactly the same...how can that possibly be worse? How can better graphics, with everything remaining equal, be a lesser experience? This makes no sort of logical sense. Of course, I'm concerned they may want to change other things about the game, which would undoubtedly annoy me, but a remake is a remake. I don't want a prequel or a sequel, I just want to see Cloud and Sephiroth in a dazzling current generation presentation. I want the final ending cinema to carry all the additional weight of a glitzy, glamorous CGI overhaul. I really, really do.
While I'm by no means a graphics whore, I do have to admit one thing that the old-school purists refuse to accept: graphics matter. "A picture is worth a thousand words," and no matter which way you slice it, that heartfelt scene between Tidus and Yuna in the spring in FFX is a hundred times more "impactful" and emotional than a sprite with a little heart over his head. That's undeniable. I know there are some of you out there who refuse to let go of the past and cast aspersions on all cut-scenes and movies, saying they're all just for cosmetic appeal. Well, of course they are. But that doesn't mean they're not important; they're crucial. Granted, gameplay remains the most essential aspect of any video game because, last I checked, this was an interactive entertainment medium. But after Konami's massive accomplishment that was MGS4, we all have to realize just how amazing great visuals can be.
They add the appropriate level of atmosphere and ambiance, and to have that boost in a game like FFVII...well damn, the idea just makes me salivate. And better yet, it's an excellent business decision in my estimation. Square-Enix has long since said it would take a lot of time and money to make this happen, but they'd make up the investment and then some. Not only are they catering to the millions of FFVII fans out there, but because it would feature the flashy graphics that all the current-gen'ers out there seem to require, they just expanded their audience again. Furthermore, the simple name of "Final Fantasy VII" has, like it or not, acquired legendary status in the video game world; almost every avid gamer recognizes the title. And it's not just because it's "Final Fantasy;" that "VII" part certainly plays a major role. If any RPG should be remade, it should be this one, in my humble opinion.
After having played around 75 RPGs over the past 20 years or so, I will fight you if you claim FFVII isn't worthy of all the praise it has received over the years. It has, and a remake - featuring only a visual overhaul - would be fantastic. I just had to factor in the reality of the current situation of gaming, the nigh-on mythical status FFVII has acquired over the years, and the idea that a visual upgrade can only make the game better. Once I did so, it became obvious to me that this remake should happen. It'd be great for the industry the whole way 'round, damnit. Just make...it...happen! Let's hope it's the "big announcement" Square-Enix has planned for next month's private party...
7/11/2008 Ben Dutka