Whether we like it or not, the Final Fantasy VII Remake is coming, but what classic elements might not make the cut?
There has been much speculation over what’s going to change in a more modern interpretation of the J-RPG classic. While the characters and wider story are probably going to remain unchanged, it’s a fair assumption that pretty much everything else will be up for grabs for Tetsura Nomura and the team; here’s our predictions for 7 things that may be cut from the Final Fantasy VII Remake:
1. The shonky translations
The translation of Final Fantasy VII is an interesting thing. Ted Woolsey, who produced the largely stellar translation for Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy III in the US) was unavailable for the project, so to save time and money the translation for the seventh installation was performed in-house by the development team. This famously led to some mixed results, like this sick fellow in the Midgar slums:
Or this convoluted split sentence from an early boss battle, which in full should actually read “Attack while its tail’s up… and it’ll counter-attack with its laser!” Rather understandably most players pile in after reading the first line in isolation, and get their asses handed to them as a reward for their enthusiasm:
Some of it isn’t even poorly translated per se, but it just makes for strange reading, which in turn gives players an experience full of character and unique charms. Try to imagine the likes of Troy Baker or Nolan North reading this one out loud:
And yeah, this:
We’ll be coming back to this later.
2. Barret’s dialogue
Barret’s dialogue in Final Fantasy VII is legendary, full of inspirational speeches (“There ain’t no gettin’ offa this train we’re on!”) and confusing imagery (“To me it looks like a golden shiny wire of hope!”). But it’s also full of foul language, which gives the impression of Mr T on a very bad day:
Maybe if they got someone like Terry Crews to do the voice acting:
Actually, Ice Cube is probably more on point for Barret’s expletive-laden script:
And then there’s Cid, for that matter; Cid’s language is probably even worse than Barret’s. “Shut up! Sit your ass down in that chair and drink your goddamn TEA!” has become something of an internet meme, and someone even made a video montage of his greatest hits:
3. 65 flights of stairs
It sounds really strange, but climbing up all those stairs was actually one of my absolute favourite moments in Final Fantasy VII. Sure, it’s not as grandiose as the battle to save the planet, or filled with the drama or sadness of other parts of the game, but as a purely human experience? You just can’t beat it:
It isn’t technically the best way to approach the situation from a purely video game perspective either. Sneaking up the back stairs of the Shinra tower actually deprives you of extra experience that would be gained battling up the building’s central elevator system, but it’s probably the path we would all choose if the situation presented itself in real life. Not only that, but it gives us some rare and precious plot advancement downtime with three of the core heroes, bickering and back-biting (like most of us would) when exhausted and running on empty.
Given the linear, connected-corridor nature of some of Square Enix’s more recent titles, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Shinra HQ steps were the only example of going the long way round to be cut from the Final Fantasy VII Remake. The world map may even be replaced entirely with fast travel, which would be a real shame.
4. Cloud’s dressing up adventure
In order to rescue a friend from the mansion of a lecherous gangster – who is ‘auditioning’ local women to find a bride – muscular (male) hero Cloud must dress as a girl to slip into the party undercover. First he must convince a dress-maker to custom-design a gown suitable for his unique figure:
But the dress alone isn’t convincing enough. He also needs to acquire a wig:
Which is done by way of a minigame (more on those later) competing in a squats competition in a gym, against other gentlemen who also enjoy dressing as ladies. That’s enough to get you into the mansion, but if you collect the right calibre of accessories from around the Wall Market area, including a trip to the notorious Honey Bee Inn…
… which is a brothel, by anybody’s definition, the Don might just choose Cloud as his bride.
While the Honey Bee Inn almost certainly won’t make the cut in the Final Fantasy VII Remake, we can only hope that some element of the dress-up quest is included, as it’s certainly not intended to cause any offence and feels like a key moment of light-hearted fun before the story turns really serious. Unfortunately given the levels of detail in modern game engines (versus the old chibi Gouraud-shaded character models from the original Final Fantasy VII) it may be hard for players to believe that the mobster and his cronies would genuinely mistake Cloud for a woman.
Also don’t also forget Red XIII’s dressing up adventure, walking upright ‘in disguise’ in a human Shinra solider uniform:
Which would require an even greater suspension of disbelief (than characters in-game being fooled into thinking Cloud was a woman) that a four-legged dog-like creature, stuffed in human clothes and propped up on two legs, was actually passable to guards as a human being.
5. Dating mechanics
When you reach the Gold Saucer, Final Fantasy VII’s bizarre approximation of Disney World, Cloud will have the opportunity to go on a date. Now the obvious love interest is Aerith (or Aeris, but let’s not get into that) but depending on how you speak to her and others through the game to that point, will determine who Cloud steps out with. If you’re mean to Aerith but nice to Tifa, for example, this is how the date plays out:
But if you’re also mean to Tifa, and have had the (mis)fortune of meeting Yuffie this early in the game, then you can take her instead:
And if you do everything just right, then you can even take the magic gondola ride with Barret:
And I’m not for a second saying there’s anything wrong with Cloud going on a date with Barret, they can date whomever they like! But I do suspect it will be more important to the progression of the story in a modern Final Fantasy game – complete with voice acting and animated facial expressions – that Cloud specifically goes on the date with Aerith (to help build player attachment to her) than it will be to include an obscure achievement that only a fraction of all players will complete.
6. Mr Dolphin and the epic slap-fight
While the more traditional minigames from Final Fantasy VII will probably be fine – the likes of escaping Midgar by motorbike, or Chocobo racing for freedom – there are a number of odder minigames and quick-time events that probably won’t make the cut in the Final Fantasy VII Remake, like the aforementioned squatting contest:
Or hammering the controller to keep Cloud’s body temperature up while climbing an icy cliff:
But one of the most bizarre sequences first begins with Cloud giving a young girl mouth to mouth resuscitation, after she’s nearly drowned by a monster attacking the coastal town of Junon:
So far, so weird, but it gets stranger. Cloud and friends need to get up to the upper levels of Junon, and as a reward for saving her life, the young girl lends Cloud her dolphin whistle. This allows you to call a dolphin and leap out of the water up to the structure above:
See? Told you it was weird. Though perhaps still not quite as strange as the marching-in-time-in-a-televised-military-parade sequence, or the epic slap fight on top of a giant cannon:
7. The combat system
We all knew this was coming. The thing that (by a very long stretch) is the least likely to make the cut in the Final Fantasy VII Remake was always going to be the combat system. Quasi-turn based 3v3 random encounters, the staple of J-RPGs since their inception in the 1980s, have fallen out of favour with modern audiences – or at least, with what developers and publishers think modern audiences want – in favour of more cinematic, action-driven battles, like the tediously hands-off, may as well not even be playing it, Final Fantasy XIII.
If that’s for better or for worse will be up to the punters to decide. Hopefully at least the Materia system won’t be cut from the Final Fantasy VII Remake, and in turn won’t be replaced by a semi-linear skill tree system in another case of Final Fantasy XIII-esque dumbing down, or we’ll all be very unhappy indeed.
While series purists (myself included) will probably be disappointed to admit it, it’s fair to assume that they won’t just be releasing a shot-for-shot remake with more advanced graphics, but hopefully there will be enough fan service to keep everyone happy.
Square Enix have already announced that the game is actually going to be released in episodes, to account for how much effort and detail will have to go into building a world as large and intricate as Final Fantasy VII’s in a modern, high-definition engine.
Some fans are complaining that this is a way for Square Enix to make more money, but I’m secretly hopeful that it means they’re going to take their time over the Final Fantasy VII Remake, and ultimately get it right.