Final Fantasy VII Remake Guaranteed to Disappoint Millions
It Actually Happened
In Sony's 2015 E3 presentation, and again in Square Enix's presentation, a full blown, remaster of the very popular PlayStation hit Final Fantasy VII was announced with a short trailer detailing the game's initial setting - the downtrodden megalopolis of Midgar and a quick look at the game's first two party members: ex-SHINRA Cloud Strife holding his massive Buster Sword and Avalanche leader Barret Wallace with his signature gun-arm.
The announcement and accompanying trailer was met was mass jubilation. After years of rumors and speculation, its finally going to happen. Hype for this game immediately surpassed that of Final Fantasy XV, the long-awaiting next installment of its series. Truly, Final Fantasy VII is still a big, fond memory in many peoples' hearts, which may actually be cause for concern for Square Enix. They can go one of two ways with this remake: either simply rebuild the game's scenarios and mechanics with a shiny new graphics engine, or refit the game to modern gaming conventions. Neither situation is ideal for Square Enix, but given their track record they'll be more apt to do the latter and, if they do so, there may very well be a large portion of people who will decry this release, warranted or not.
Final Fantasy VII Was Quirkier Than Most Remember
There are two prevalent perceptions of the atmosphere and tone of Final Fantasy VII.
The first is that the the game, its world, its characters, and its scenarios are dark, gritty, and serious. Several pieces of media related to Final Fantasy VII since its release, such as the movie sequel Advent Children and games such as Crisis Core and Dirge of Cerberus, solidify that perception. Generally, those who haven't played Final Fantasy VII in a long time, or not at all, fall into this category.
The other is that Final Fantasy VII is one of the more lighthearted entries in the series. While there are some parts of the game which are serious, and rightfully so, for much of the game Cloud and friends get into relatively light hijinks and adventures that do not exhibit a sense of gloom or doom. The group of people in this camp are people who have played the original game several times, making note of how lighthearted the game is, or they've played it recently via one of the recent digital releases and the lighter moments are still fresh in their mind.
There are a good chunk of people who think of "Final Fantasy VII" and think only of "Cloud vs Sephiroth, Aerith and Tifa, meteor and holy", and not much in regards to the smaller stuff. Others quickly recall moments like the Honeybee Inn segment, the Gold Saucer, Yuffie's sidequest, "Let's mosey", and think nothing of the game's more serious elements.
Can Square Enix successfully make a world, a batch of characters that would be able to satisfy both of these camps? Indeed, it is possible, and some characters such as Yuffie and the stuffed toy ontop a giant moogle Cait Sith basically force the game to be lighthearted at times. However, releases like Advent Children, like Dirge of Cerberus shows that its very possible Square could go ultra-serious with the game's setting, which could turn off quite a few people.
If You Don't Think You'll Be Disappointed, Then...
The Battle System Crisis
The original Final Fantasy VII utilized the Active Time Battle system. The system - in place for Final Fantasies IV through IX, as well as Final Fantasy X-2 and Chrono Trigger - combines turn-based battles with an active time bar where characters actively gain actions/turns after a set amount of time based on their speed. For its time, the ATB system was a nice change of pace from some of the other, more turn-based systems of other RPGs.
However, since then, the dynamics of RPGs, specifically Japanese RPGs, have changed. Many JRPGs nowadays do not have random encounters. Many JRPGs have battle systems that force the player to be more active in battles, rather than just choose options from a menu. Of course, you still have games like Bravely Default which use turn-based combat systems but even these have quirks or gimmicks to them to keep things fresh.
For Square, they probably believe that the ATB system Final Fantasy VII used has become outdated; that having characters stand there and attack in turns doesn't look so good with the graphical presentations capable from the PlayStation 4 or the PC. Trying to wow people with minutes-long summon animations won't work nowadays. To that end, Square will very likely revamp Final Fantasy VII's combat system. The question is, to what?
Some have theorized that VII will essentially "borrow" the combat system from the always-in-development Final Fantasy XV. Others believe the game will use a similar action-RPG system, perhaps not unlike what you would find in a "Tales of" or Star Ocean game. Not everyone, including many of Final Fantasy VII's fans, would like that, I would imagine.
So, then, what does Square do? Do they cater to the existing fanbase by bringing back an up-to-date version of the ATB? Do they try to bring in a new audience with a battle system those people would be more familiar with? Either way, a large sum of people will not be happy with how the Final Fantasy VII remake will play. Either some people will be upset that the battles are too much like the original, or some people will be upset that the battles are nothing like the original, and if Square really messes it up people will be upset because of both reasons, somehow.
The Art of DLC and Microtransactions
Oh, it'll happen. I guarantee the Final Fantasy VII remake will offer something, probably many things, which people can buy for dollars at a time, on the first day of release too. Knowing Square Enix, there's no way that won't happen.
When it does happen, people are going to be upset again.
The gaming world was much different in 1997. See, back then, at least for consoles, when a game was released, you'd know you'd get the entire content of the game. Any content you can't access right away was simply unlockable with further play, how simple is that?
When consoles started becoming integrated into the internet, mainly with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, that whole concept got blown off its rails. DLC, or downloadable content, was intended once upon a time to be fresh material released months or years after a game's release to give players something new to enjoy. Instead, it has been irredeemably abused, with developers actively developing content of game specifically as DLC before the main game is even released! Content that, once upon a time, would've just been developed into the game itself.
Games now even make heavy use of "microtransactions" - using real money to purchase in-game currency, equipment or similar. Many mobile games are infamous for this model, though many of them are also "free to play". Some console and PC games also utilize microtransactions, even in games that require the initial payment such as Forza Motorsport 5 and many MMOs, including Final Fantasy XIV.
I assume, to start, much of the remake's DLC will simply be alternate costumes for characters, but I wouldn't be surprised if the game starts charging people for DLC-exclusive materia, equipment, or characters (hopefully not previously playable characters like Yuffie).
Be prepared for this remake to have these microtransactions and DLC, but even if you're prepared, many won't be and while many have become "okay" with the practice, depending how badly Square Enix pushes it, there'll be a large amount of people unhappy with such inclusions as well.
"How Can *I* Not be Disappointed by This Remake?"
Simply put, don't put any expectations of any kind into this remake.
Many people expect it to be an HD version of the original game where everything is the same except the graphics. These people are going to be upset when the game is not this.
Many people hope it'll take concepts from the original and use them as building blocks to create a bigger, bolder, much more expansive game than what was in the original. This is actually possible, but unlikely, so the people expecting this will be disappointed.
Quite a few people will expect the game to feature crossdressing Cloud, Tifa's prescription panties, Barret's, hm, dialogue, the dynamic between Cid and Shera, and Cait Sith in general to remain unchanged. Another set of people will likely demand all of these things not come back or change drastically because they'd be offended otherwise. In all likelihood, some will be unchanged, some will not be, so nobody there is going to be happy.
Frankly, I think the best way a person can avoid NOT being disappointed by this remake is if that person has neither a) played the original and b) has avoided much of the hype surrounding either the original or the remake. In that very rare scenario, I think then that person will be able to appreciate the game solely on its own merits and, under the assumption the remake itself plays well, that person will genuinely enjoy the game.
For someone who has played the original to not be disappointed by this game, they would have to separate the two. The original Final Fantasy VII is one game, and the remake is a completely different game. Whatever happens in the remake has no bearing on the original, and it can not change the original no matter what it does. If that person is able to make that distinction, then they can enjoy the remake just fine.
For everyone else, though, I can feel their dreams of what this game should be shattering already.
More by this Author
See the controversial ranking this author gave one otherwise beloved Final Fantasy game!
In honor of the series' 25th anniversary, all 13 current Fire Emblem games - from the original Famicom game to Fire Emblem Awakening - are ranked from bottom to top, including Japanese-only releases.