The dust has settled… Okay, it really hasn’t; no one was ready for that announcement, and I think it’s safe to say we’re all still a little drunk on the excitement. For an entire decade there have been endless rumors that were sparked by nothing more than a seemingly innocent tech demo for the PlayStation 3 in 2005; flash forward to 2015, and I really can’t believe I’m typing this: Final Fantasy VII is actually getting remade. Holy fuck.
There’s endless speculation, of course: What’s the battle system going to be like? How are the weirder, quirkier scenes to the classic going to feel with a modern look? But the ultimate question really is: Are we ready to accept that our perspective of Final Fantasy VII is going to be forever changed?
For close to 20 years now, Final Fantasy VII has been a very specific icon for gamers, and is rooted in our minds with PlayStation 1-era graphics and presentation. Sure, there have been some additions to the series, including a fantastic looking movie that was really not so fantastic in the end and a few other games. We have all seen the more modern depictions of the characters, and some aspects of the world, but it’s always been outside of the epic that is the original game that started it all.
Everything else has changed around it, but the core remains: Blocky characters with squares for hands, text dialogue, lo-fi music, turn-based combat, enemies fading away in a reddish-pink silhouette of their former selves, etc. and much more. As soon as we start seeing real gameplay, the original image will begin to slowly fade away—and I don’t know if I’m ready for it.
This leaves me, personally, with all kinds of questions: Should I play the original yet again? Should I experience it as it was once more before the image of this remake takes over? Some of my most memorable gaming experiences are scenes from this very game, and it’s been a part of my life for close to 20 years. Should I just move on, let it be and wait for the remake to board that train to Midgar?
Here’s the ultimate truth: In a best case scenario, Final Fantasy VII Remake will either match the quality of the original and please 90% of the fanbase (because there will always be naysayers no matter how great something is), and it will be the new standard in a pleasant light—it will also be the true introduction to a new generation of gamers who may never choose to go back to the original.
In a worst case-scenario, the remake will make all the wrong choices and will be viewed in the same light as the changes made to the original Star Wars, or Tim Burton’s take on Planet of the Apes. We’ll all hate it (aside from those who probably though Advent Children was a good movie), and we’ll still be left with the thought of how awesome a “proper” remake could’ve been, and may even have certain moments tarnished by whatever poor choices could be in a hypothetical shitty remake.
Though I’m hoping for the first scenario, the game will change in our collective and private minds no matter what. There’s no going back and there ain’t no getting off of this train we’re on. Classic scenes will always be in comparison between the two versions—as will set pieces, character models, the soundtrack and even dialogue.
The original will never stand on its own again; this new version will be impossible to ignore completely—and the expanded universe material might even find its way into the original (might we expect references to Crisis Core, foreshadowing of Advent Children?) No matter the outcome, the remake will either replace the original or blight a beloved world.