What can I say about Final Fantasy VII that everyone else on the Internet hasn’t already said? Twelve years ago, this game is what defined the J-RPG on the PlayStation. It brought an entirely new generation of RPG gamers into the scene and had moments that elements that changed not only the Final Fantasy franchise but the way stories were told in RPGs as we knew them. The step from the Super Nintendo was not only one of graphical change but of story telling and visual design as a whole. And the franchise would never quite be the same as it once was.
Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard these words of praise over it before.
Today it was announced at E3 by Sony that Final Fantasy VII would be released on the PlayStation Network as of today for the PSP and PS3. And hey, why wouldn’t they? This is only one of the many Final Fantasy VII products that Square-Enix has released in order to milk the FF7 cash cow. As the FF7-savvy Internet knows, Final Fantasy VII was Squaresoft’s highest grossing game to date. Surely, they’d be fools NOT to re-release it to a more “modern” audience.
Well, I for one, am quite sick of it.
VII was a good game, yes. Was it Squaresoft/Square-Enix’s best game? That answer is debatable. Personal opinion says to me that it is not the greatest ever created. My personal favorites include IX and VI for their more strict fantasy feel. XI also gets on my list, but is difficult to categorize along with the others considering it’s massively multiplayer online format. So, realize that this is where my opinions are coming from.
I can recall a time just before the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children was announced where I had discussed with a few people just how cool it might be to have a movie based on Final Fantasy VII. Within a single week I had found that there was indeed a Final Fantasy VII movie in the works. However, as I continued to learn more about the project I found myself becoming more and more disillusioned. What I had wanted from a FFVII movie was essentially a retelling of the story, making us more attached to the characters, seeing emotion and development in a way that simply could not have been conveyed on the PlayStation in 1997. Instead, what we received was an incredibly conveluted paper-thin plot that called itself a “sequal” to the game. There were things about it that simply did not make sense when comparing it to its original story. Super fanboys will buy up anything, regardless of how “correct” it is. But I could see every glaring flaw.
Your first biggest concern, if you’re worried about story telling and continuity, was the fact that by this point, director and producer Hironobu Sakaguchi had left Square-Enix. Sakaguchi was the man who originally wrote the story for FFVII and was the executive producer for the game. Many parts of the plot were also influenced by his own life, including the death of Aeris (having been influenced by the death of Sakaguchi’s own mother). The Lifestream was also essentially a “religious” belief on Sakaguchi’s part, the idea that the planet has its own life, that when we die we return to the earth, and life can then be given to something else, and that by using up the planet’s natural resources we slowly kill the planet and any chance for life in the future. The same theory can be found in the Square Pictures movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, as Sakaguchi was the director of this movie (that sadly did less than stellar, causing the colapse of Square Pictures AND Squaresoft, and leading to the eventual merge of Square with Enix). As you can see, Sakaguchi was an incredibly important piece of the FFVII picture.
With him gone, and the rights to the game no longer in his hands, it fell into the hands of Tetsuya Nomura, a man who had previously been little more than a character and monster designer at Square. For a long time I really liked his designs. His monsters were fantastically strange and fairly scary, and were noticably his in Final Fantasy VIII. He designed characters for FFVII, FFVIII, Parasite Eve, The Bouncer, Kingdom Hearts, and more. But I couldn’t really fathom a character designer having a very big hand in the development of a movie like this. But, there he was, taking the front seat on the project. And, honestly, I’m quite disappointed. On the bonus disc that was released with the first release of Advent Children in the US, Nomura was quoted as saying something along the lines of, “I know that people can’t really jump that high, I know that a lot of things don’t really work the way it worked in the game, but I decided I wanted to do it because it looked cool.”
And did Advent Children look cool? Well, yes, I’m not denying how pretty the movie was. However if you can’t even keep with the continuity of how the original game worked then I’m not interested. Sure, it’s fantasy. I expect unrealistic things to happen. However, when in the game did Cloud EVER jump up 40,000 feet? It’s absolutely ridiculous. I also severely disliked that the movie was an incredibly stretched excuse to bring Sephiroth back to life, let alone pit him against Cloud at all. If Jenova’s cells were being held in a box, it should have been JENOVA coming out of that box, NOT Sephiroth. Where the heck is the logic? Also President Rufus. What the hell. He freaking EXPLODED in the game. How is he alive, and even if I suspend my disbelief long enough to actually fall for the fact that they brought him back to life, how is he NOT incredibly scarred beyond belief? He actually ended up even prettier than he was originally designed! And one of the things that bothered me the most was the fact that I truly enjoyed the ambiguous ending to the original game. You could only assume that the world was just fine in the end, that it probably sorted out its own problems, and it left everything else up to your imagination, leaving you to have discussions with your friends, arguing what COULD have happened afterward leading up to the ambiguous ending after the game’s credits. But this just hands it all to you, leaving you guessing very little, not making you think about anything. It’s little more than a flashy FF7 role call. Very pretty, but leaving little food for thought.
I surprisingly found the animated short, Final Fantasy VII: Last Order, to be more accurate to what I wanted a Final Fantasy VII movie to be. The music was a bit rough for what I had been expecting, but it was more along the lines of what I had been hoping for: an emotional recreation of pieces of the game. And it was indeed a great recreation. A few scenes here and there could have been done without, but overall for the most part I was pretty satisfied. I didn’t think that this would be the only piece of FFVII recreation that I would end up being able to stomach.
Suddenly Square-Enix started pumping out FF7 product after FF7 product, calling it the “Compelation of Final Fantasy VII”. Before Crisis, a game made exclusively for cell phones in Japan, was only the beginning. I’ve heard that we will soon be getting these games on our consoles over here in the states. But I’m honestly caring less and less. There was a short story written about the young boy, Denzel, who had only been featured in Advent Children. Tell me something. Who the heck honestly cares about Denzel? What was there that was appealing about that kid? Did anyone really want to learn more about him? Was there anything special about him? If I’m reading a Final Fantasy VII story, I want to read more about the characters I spent 70 hours falling in love with, not an hour and a half being bored by. Denzel left no impression on me, and I don’t care a drop about what happens to the kid.
Oh, and then came Dirge of Cerberus (or as I frequently called it, “Cerge of DIRberus”). The featured character of the game is Vincent Valentine, a character who wasn’t even required, and was hardly part of the story line. He was optional, and you could easily have beaten the game without him. Is he a total badass? Sure, no one’s saying Vincent wasn’t kinda cool. But to focus a game around a character that wasn’t even required as part of the story is kind of silly in my mind. Personal opinion there, of course. But then there was the gameplay. You’ve moved from a traditional J-RPG to a First Person Shooter. And the game mechanics I personally thought were really quite terrible. And what’s up with this super secret organization they shoved in there? It’s like Square-Enix didn’t know what to do with it and couldn’t figure out where to put Vincent since he had nothing to do with the original story, so they were like, “Um, yeah, there was totally this super secret organization of people employed by Shinra all these years, and they were totally there the whole time. That’s why you never heard of them before. Yep.” What, did they completely scrap the entire FF7 world or what? I have numerous complaints regarding it, but I have too much else to discuss.
It was somewhere around this point that Square-Enix released a tech demo for the PlayStation 3, showing the intro to Final Fantasy VII if it had been made using the PS3 technology. Obviously, this had fans orgasming left and right, and starting the flurry of rumors for years to come of the re-release of FFVII with new-age graphics. What all the fans failed to realize is that this is not the first time that Square had been known to do this. Back in the day, they had also released a Final Fantasy VI tech demo for the Nintendo 64, showing off what they could do with their graphics given the chance. They’d also tech demo’ed Final Fantasy VIII for the PlayStation 2. People, this is nothing new. Square even said time and time again that there was no need for them to remake FFVII if they could still have a console that was able to play FFVII on it anyway.
But the FFVII rumors and games just kept coming. Crisis Core was later released on the PSP, a prequel told from the perspective of Zach, the man that Cloud THOUGHT he was throughout nearly the entire course of the original FFVII. I had TONS of problems with this game, in not only gameplay, but also in continuity through the FFVII storyline as well. I won’t get into it too much here, but I will go ahead and link you to another extended blog I wrote over at my ScrewAttack blog: http://screwattack.com/node/17910
So, yeah, feel free to read up on my opinions over there. Overall, obviously, my faith in Square and Final Fantasy VII and the whole FF franchise had been beginning to decrease.
And so ultimately, here we are, with Square and Sony getting wise, and re-releasing Final Fantasy VII in their PSOne collections on the PlayStation Network for the PSP and PS3. It’s not the remake that fans were on their hands and knees begging for, but it IS in fact a re-release of the game. Honestly, we should have seen this coming. It had already been released on the Japanese PlayStation Network, so why is anyone surprised? And if everyone and their mother has already played the game and already has, like, seven copies of it that are still playable on either the PS3 or the PC, what’s the use in another digital re-release? I mean, hey, if you’ve never played FF7, okay, go for the digital download. It’s not like it’s a BAD game, just overrated. But, honestly? I forsee people who already own copies of the game making these digital purchases. People who have already played it and beaten it ten times over.
I honestly don’t see the point.
And I honestly don’t care.
But I think I’m the only one. Square-Enix could keep beating the dead horse and milking the cash cow, and the mega-fans will just keep falling for it one by one.
We are hopeless.