At E3 Square Enix announced that it will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Final Fantasy VII by remaking it from the ground up on current generation consoles. VII remains one of the most beloved entries in the franchise and is largely credited with evolving RPGs in general forward. While I’m over here quietly seething that we still can’t get updated versions of VI and Chrono Trigger on the 3DS, I’m still waiting on the edge of my seat for this. In the meantime, here’s a few things besides new graphics I’m crossing my fingers for.
A Top-Notch Voice Cast
Though it was actually the first Final Fantasy to have any voice work in it all the dialogue from the game was mostly heard in our heads. We’re finally going to hear Cloud and the rest of Avalanche speak in their main adventure and it better be good. With any luck Mena Suvari will reprise her take on Aeris from Advent Children, but if not maybe we can get Jenna Coleman simply because she was amazing in Xenoblade Chronicles. The one I worry the most about is Barret. Though he is the first black Final Fantasy character to join the main party his dialogue was a little stereotypical and probably won’t translate well into voice work without tinkering. I bet Terry Crews would do a really bang up job. For a bit of local color I nominate Greg Ayres for Cait Sith.
I am a fervent worshipper of Inconsequencia, the goddess of sidequests. A lack of good sidequests is one of VII’s few failings. Most of what they had was minigames instead, with stuff like your trip to the Sunken Gelnika being rare. I don’t care if it’s the basic “kill me these 10 bandersnatches and I’ll give you gold” variety or all new dungeons with storylines, just up the world-building with a few more divergent paths. Excepting the visit to Wutai, VII is really, really linear and that’s something of a faux pas in modern RPGs.
A New Battle System
This is going to be the most dicey addition. I highly doubt that Square Enix will be keeping the traditional turn-based battle system. It could go a lot of ways. Implementing a full MMORPG-style system probably isn’t in the cards. The remake is destined for the PlayStation 4 and I can tell you from personal experience that controls designed for keyboards, not controllers do not make it a fun experience. In the name of Holy I hope they don’t look to Lightning for inspiration, but something closer to XII or even Xenoblade with a cool-off system would be keen. Regardless, I imagine the fighting is about to get a whole lot more intense. The WEAPON battles alone should be epic.
Vincent and Yuffie as Full Characters
Technically Vincent and Yuffie were optional characters in that you could beat the game without recruiting them. I say technically because in all the years since the game came out I’ve never met anyone that didn’t recruit them except maybe out of a desire of novelty. Number one, they were long-range fighters in a game with there was only one other consistent option for that. Having them meant essential having characters that could do full damage from the back row and take only half damage in return. You’d be crazy not to have them,
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More than that they were just cool. Yuffie is a teenage ninja and Vincent was basically a vampire. Both of them had great dialogue options (Yuffie’s reaction to Aeris’s death is still my favorite), and compelling backstories if you went exploring. However, since they were optional they were missing in the game’s cutscenes and ending. This time will hopefully rectify that.
Speaking of Aeris’s death…
Do NOT Revive Aeris
There has probably never been any rumor in video gaming more prevalent than a way to revive Aeris. Once there was a rumor that if you mated two golden chocobos at the right time in the right way they would hatch a special phoenix that would restore her to life. It wasn’t because she was needed or particularly helpful in battle. Most players never even see her most powerful skills since they require rigorous grinding to get before she dies. It’s just because damnit we loved her and we didnt want her to go.
I imagine the temptation to find a way for Aeris to return to life would be very, very tempting to Square Enix. A whole lot of long-broken hearts would be made whole, but don’t do it, please. Aeris’s death remains one of the most iconic scenes in the art of the video game for a reason. It means something, so no unlockables, no cheating. It would be letting go something that made the game special in the first place.