This week we try to get a handle on our feelings about the Final Fantasy VII remake. So far it’s a lot of handwringing and Gackt.
Transcript after the cut!
JAYLEE: Hello and welcome back to the Push to Smart Water Cooler. This week we are tackling arguably the biggest announcement from E3 this year, which is that Square Enix is finally remaking Final Fantasy VII.
STACEY: For real.
JAYLEE: For real for real! Not just a tech demo, but like, actual remake game. (chokes) (laughs)
STACEY: (laughs) I have a lot of thoughts.
JAYLEE: Me too. But they’re like clogging somewhere in the back of my throat.
STACEY: Yeah. To kind of lay everything down… So, I think it was last year they announced Final Fantasy VII was coming to PS4, and everybody held their breath and it was like, “…As a PC port!”
JAYLEE: (laughs) Yeah.
STACEY: And then this year they showed a video that was, like, “No, we are remaking it.” And even said explicitly said “remake” on it.
STACEY: Before that happened, a rumor started flying around… I think SiliconEra.com was the one that really pushed it forward, saying that they had learned there was a remake, and I made fun of them because it was the most dubious claim in the world. It was just, “We have learned…”
JAYLEE: There was no source.
JAYLEE: It was the morning of the press conference.
STACEY: And it was like, “It’s going to be in the style of Advent Children,” which is the most depressing sentence I have ever heard.
STACEY: And lo, there it was.
STACEY: So, I never wanted a remake. Did you want a remake?
JAYLEE: I don’t know. I’ve…
JAYLEE: I feel like the original holds up very well. So, if I want to experience it again, I feel like I can just replay it, or do the PC port that just has slightly smoother block people. But… I don’t know, I’m interested to see what they do with it, but I’m also very cautious because of what they have done to the Final Fantasy VII world since the original game’s release.
JAYLEE: Like, if they try working in everything from Dirge of Cerberus and Crisis Core and Advent Children then, I don’t know, sounds like it’s just going to be a mess.
STACEY: So, Tetsuya Nomura did tell Engadget that this is a remake but will also stand apart from the original, so they are going to diverge a little bit from the original, so I don’t know if this is going to be a way of keeping in all those bizarro retcons from Crisis Core…
STACEY: …While still preserving the original. I will say, I disagree. I love Final Fantasy VII, I’ve played it a bazillion times, but I don’t think it holds up well at all.
STACEY: I think it is severely flawed in a lot of ways but it’s flawed in ways that are interesting.
STACEY: And it’s flawed in ways that are very telling of the time. Like, it was really the first of its kind in a lot of ways, and it shows those growing pains both technically as well as in the script, which in English is awful.
JAYLEE: Yeah. (laughs)
STACEY: Because it was one poor guy in a room basically being told, “Okay, you see this sixty-hour game? Make it work.”
JAYLEE: Yeah. And preface this by saying that you are like the biggest Final Fantasy VII fan I have ever met.
STACEY: I love Final Fantasy VII so much!
STACEY: I do, but it’s like, it’s one of those things where, it has just… When I played it was immediately obvious how much love went into it, and how passionate it was even though in a lot of ways it was broken. It’s one of those things where you’re not only willing to overlook “The sky are sick”…
JAYLEE: (laughs) Yeah.
STACEY: …But it becomes part of the mythos.
STACEY: And the one thing I’m worried about besides—well, not the one thing—but one of the things I’m worried about besides the whole weaving in the awful mythos that was retconned in in the trequels and sequels, which I think we can probably get to in a second, is just… Part of what made Final Fantasy VII what is was it had a very weird tone.
STACEY: On one hand it was very serious, it was very earnest, but then there would be these really bizarre sight gags going on in the background of very serious scenes.
JAYLEE: I loved those!
STACEY: Or like, even not in the background, but like when you sneak aboard the ship right before Jenova and Sephiroth massacre everybody, you know, you have to be in disguise, including Red 13 who is a giant dog who is walking upright in a sailor suit and nobody notices.
STACEY: It’s like, stuff like that I don’t know how they will translate that kind of thing into this HD world.
STACEY: And I don’t know if I want them to.
STACEY: But at the same time that is so much of what makes Final Fantasy VII what it is, is that really bizarre kind of tension between the kind of ultra-serious, earnest story and these bizarre sight gags. Or even, like, there’s a puzzle… The one that’s been going around Twitter is there’s a puzzle where you have to hit a certain number of buttons in the right order in order to launch Cloud off of a dolphin.
JAYLEE: Yeah. (laughs)
STACEY: Or like, the whole honeybee end sequence, where it’s like, that could be translated to be very gay-panicky…
STACEY: …It could be…
JAYLEE: “Could be”? (laughs)
STACEY: …Or it is.
STACEY: Or it could be completely cut. Or it could be improved upon. I don’t know… Is it worth them touching that? (laughs)
STACEY: Like, I’m worried. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah, I know. One of the big things that’s been going around is, “What if they don’t have the big Don Corneo cross-dressing scene?”
JAYLEE: And of course now you have articles being like, “Tetsuya Nomura says ‘Look forward to the HD cross-dressing scene.’”
JAYLEE: And it’s so bizarre!
STACEY: I know, it’s like… I feel like the core they need to keep in mind is that Cloud is really good at hitting things and friendship and nothing else.
STACEY: And so it’s like, his idea in that scene was like, “Oh no, my friend is going on this really dangerous honeypot mission. I don’t want her to do that, so I will stage my own competing one and try to seduce him instead.”
STACEY: It’s like, if they remember that and how absurd that is, I think they’ll get through it. But if it just becomes all about, “Oh, we have to hit the beat of him getting in a dress because, ha ha, the dress is funny,” then we’re gonna have issues. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah, that stuff kind of makes me nervous.
STACEY: It’s the kind of thing that could only happen then.
STACEY: Like, in the ‘90s. It’s a very of-the-‘90s thing. Same with like, Barrett. Or any of the other characters. (laughs)
STACEY: Also just the fact that all this really bad script is going to be voice-acted now. I just… It’s problem, problem, problem, adding up in my brain. And it’s like, I don’t know if I want to even deal with this.
JAYLEE: Yeah. I… No, I completely understand that, because… I was at a barbeque over the weekend and me and some other people were just talking about video games and how things may or may not have aged.
JAYLEE: We were talking about Final Fantasy X in particular, and we were like, oh yeah, when it came out we loved it, and then replaying it, it was like, the script is so bad! The voice acting is so bad! (laughs)
STACEY: But I think part of the reason I have a lot of trouble with Final Fantasy X but I will revisit Final Fantasy VII even though I acknowledge it has not aged well is because it’s not voice acted.
STACEY: So I can kind of insert corrections, whereas X it’s like in your face this is bad. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah, exactly. There’s no escaping it.
STACEY: Yeah. And I feel like Square Enix is very hit-or-miss with its localizing and voice acting.
STACEY: Final Fantasy XII was amazing. It had a fantastic script for a Final Fantasy game, it had a really good voice cast. The Final Fantasy VII compilations have been very hit-or-miss within themselves…
STACEY: So I… It’s just all these little nitpicks. And I understand it’s not for me. Like, I grew up with the original and it’s been almost twenty years now. This is going to be more for new people and I feel like one of those guys who’s always complaining about their childhood being ruined by Transformers movies.
JAYLEE: Yeah. (laughs)
STACEY: But I acknowledge this is not for me. But I’m still worried because it’s my baby! (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah. I know. It had so much character.
STACEY: It did. That’s a good way to put it.
JAYLEE: And it did kind of go from these moments of just very dark and grim, but then also very playful and lighthearted and loving. And I just don’t want that to get lost.
STACEY: Yeah, I don’t know if… I know they’ll never hit that. Because this other one has had twenty years…
STACEY: …For us to look back at and pick apart and fall in love with. And so nothing they do will ever measure up to it.
STACEY: But I’m just so worried that it’s going to get so lost in hitting very specific beats instead of kind of getting that feel of what this game is.
JAYLEE: I really don’t know. Part of me is like, just update the graphics and leave out voice acting and just do that.
STACEY: Update the script a bit.
STACEY: Get those Beacause project guys in. (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) And then the other half of me is like, just go wild!
JAYLEE: And try something completely different! And…
STACEY: Exactly! That’s exactly how I feel. It’s like, either do the Silent Hill: Shattered Memories thing where it’s just like new studio, just take the names and do whatever the hell you want, just keep with the main themes, or doing more of what Capcom has been doing in Resident Evil, which is just really streamlining them and just kind of making them look better and capturing what it felt like to get into the mansion for the first time.
JAYLEE: Yeah. But there are also ways that I feel like the game could be improved upon.
STACEY: Oh yeah! (laughs)
JAYLEE: Well, yeah, I mean, that goes without saying. But one thing that I’m very interested to see is improvements to the cast and how they’re portrayed and written, and how they interact with each other, because… I know Final Fantasy XIII gets a really bad rap for a lot of reasons—most of which I think are ridiculous, but that’s another episode—but one of the things it did do is that it separated out the cast. So you had a few characters over here doing their thing going through an area while at the same time you had another small group doing another thing and they kind of weaved into each other. But in that you kind of got to see the relationships between the characters as opposed to how everyone relates to Lightning, who is the main character, arguably.
STACEY: Well, VII did that a little bit.
STACEY: Especially once Aerith dies—spoilers—and…
STACEY: (laughs) …And Cloud kind of goes into that coma.
STACEY: Because then you’re forced to kind of work with these other characters, which was a problem for me when I first played because my main party was Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith, and then like two were incapacitated, and then weapon attacks, and it’s like, ugh.
STACEY: Yeah, I think that would be really good. And IX also does a really good job with that. I felt like, especially in the beginning, as far as establishing characters.
JAYLEE: And also how they had those little sequences that you could cut to.
JAYLEE: Which were really nice.
STACEY: Mhmm. And just like you said, just improving some of the character interactions. And also, like, (laughs), making Barrett less racist.
STACEY: Which, I have a really strong affection for Barrett, but he has a lot of problems.
STACEY: But I don’t have confidence that Square Enix can do that. (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) And, let’s be honest, it’s a Tetsuya Nomura game, so it’s probably going to be a long time before we have to face these things.
JAYLEE: So… I don’t know.
STACEY: Yeah. The first one’s twentieth anniversary is definitely going to be like, 2020. (laughs)
JAYLEE: (laughs) I’m just… I’m very curious. I’m not losing my shit. I’m not upset that they’re doing it. I’m just curious. This is the remake that everybody has been asking for forever—
STACEY: Except Stacey. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah. (laughs)
STACEY: Stacey never asked for this.
JAYLEE: Except for the biggest Final Fantasy VII fan.
JAYLEE: (laughs) But no, it’s like, you could not do a Final Fantasy interview since its release, basically, without somebody asking the question “Final Fantasy VII remake?” And them kind of skirting the issue. So now it’s finally happening.
STACEY: Yeah. I just… (sighs) Everything about it is so weirdly of-the-time too. Like the whole thing with ecoterrorists.
STACEY: That was the hook. That doesn’t resonate in 2015 as much as it did in like, 1997. Though I guess the hook now is, “It’s Final Fantasy VII, guys.”
JAYLEE: I don’t know. I could see the hook “We’re ruining the world and the world is fighting back” in a way.
STACEY: Yeah. I don’t know.
JAYLEE: I don’t know. But I’m just a big bag I-have-no-idea.
STACEY: Yeah. I was just a ball of nerves over all this.
STACEY: And it’s like, I know it doesn’t affect me, but I also know that I’m going to buy whatever overpriced collector’s edition they release with a Cloud statue.
JAYLEE: The $500 one with like, a motorcycle…
STACEY: Yeah. (laughs)
JAYLEE: That has the discs instead of wheels.
STACEY: The Harvey Daytona. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah. (laughs)
STACEY: Yup. That will be me. Okay, I hate everything, give me one please.
STACEY: So let’s talk about the elephant in the room… named Gackt.
JAYLEE: (laughs) You mean “G”?
STACEY: (sarcastically) Uh, “Genesis”?
JAYLEE: Genesis. Capital G.
STACEY: I… I hate everything that that added. (laughs) I hate it! Like, the whole thing with the goddess?
STACEY: There doesn’t need to be a goddess! The planet was already divine in itself, and that was cool! (laughs)
JAYLEE: Mhmm. And that was the whole point.
JAYLEE: They just kind of… (sighs) When it came to the compilation where they just expanded the universe…
STACEY: I liked a lot of Advent Children, even though it’s a film that does not work.
STACEY: I like the idea of making it more of a melodrama and like the novellas…
STACEY: …Even though there’s some stuff there’s problematic in there. But the whole expansion of the mythos outside of that, I hated everything.
STACEY: Like literally everything. (laughs)
JAYLEE: The problem that I had is that you already have so much to work with, why are you creating all this new bullshit?
JAYLEE: You have the ancients and you have the world, and Mako and the lifestream and… Why are you adding goddesses and Gackt to it? (laughs)
STACEY: Yeah! (laughs) Yeah, that especially just made no sense. Because—and maybe this is a product of the one guy in a closet translating it in 1997, maybe some nuance was missed—but it felt very much like the original game was like, the planet itself was a sentient being almost.
STACEY: And that, when we abused it, it fought back.
STACEY: So, recycle.
JAYLEE: Yeah. (laughs)
STACEY: And to add like a weird second kind of divine being was just bizarre. It’s like, well what are you doing?
JAYLEE: Yeah. And it kind of took away from…
STACEY: Yeah, kind of the mystery of the fact that this planet was alive in way.
STACEY: Just the whole thing with Hojo and Lucrecia…
STACEY: Just, I hated that.
JAYLEE: (laughs) Let me just list off the things I hate…
STACEY: Yeah, ‘cause that’s my reaction to it. I’m like, ugh, a remake! I never wanted this. Okay, whatever. Wait a minute… What about Gackt?
STACEY: (laughs) Oh no!
JAYLEE: What about Hojo? What about Dirge of Cerberus, and…
STACEY: Oh, the less said about that the better. But, I do wonder if… Tetsuya Nomura interviews are—I’m relearning now—are just a pain in the butt. They say nothing.
STACEY: And I’m wondering if this is what he means by the whole, “It’s a remake, but it will stand by itself.” Like, is it just going to incorporate all this bullshit from the compilation?
JAYLEE: That’s the thing I don’t understand! It’s like, is it a remake and it’ll stand by itself because it distances itself from the extra materials?
JAYLEE: Or because it embraces those extra materials?
STACEY: Yeah. I don’t know.
JAYLEE: I don’t know. And based off Kingdom Hearts, I’d say that it’s more likely that they’re embracing them. Because Kingdom Hearts is just one of those series where, like…
STACEY: It just adds stuff.
JAYLEE: It just adds everything! The kitchen sink. And instead of continuing story, they’ll be like, “Okay, we’re doing a prequel game to the next game that sets up the next game.”
STACEY: (laughs) Yeah. That’s kind of what I gave up on Kingdom Hearts.
STACEY: Like, I summarized this to a friend, I’m just tired and don’t want to fight anymore.
JAYLEE: (laughs) I mean, all we’re going off of is a trailer and our worst fears. (laughs)
STACEY: Yeah. And I didn’t even think of the love triangle coming back.
JAYLEE: Oh, yeah.
STACEY: Oh my god…
JAYLEE: The resurgence of the shipping wars.
STACEY: Veteran. I don’t want to do it anymore! (laughs) I’m tired!
JAYLEE: (laughs) I’ve been fighting this fight for twenty years!
STACEY: I know! (laughs) It’s one those things where it’s like, I don’t care, but you’re totally wrong, just so you know.
JAYLEE: (laughs) I’m that way with a lot of things.
STACEY: (laughs) Yeah.
JAYLEE: So that does it for our discussion on Final Fantasy VII the remake. Now we want to know your nebulous, unknown opinions on what this game could be, what you’re afraid it will be… (laughs) Let us know in the comments. I’m sure we’re going to have a great discussion about it.
JAYLEE: And of course don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date with all of our latest episodes and water cooler discussions.
TIFA: Dilly dally shilly shally.
TIFA: Dilly dally shilly shally!