This post contains spoilers.
If you love Final Fantasy VII as much as I do (doubtful), then June 15, 2015 was the greatest day in your video-game life since the first time you beat Sephiroth and saved the planet. That, of course, was the day Square Enix announced they would be remaking the 1997 classic.
Since the announcement, just about every video game outlet has weighed in on what should and should not be included in the remake, yet none of those articles appeared to have been written by anyone who had really played or loved the game. All the articles discussed the same ideas, and sure, some things will obviously need to be reimagined, but I wanted to write my own suggestions, as a real fan (seriously,* there was fanfiction**) and since I have just finished replaying the game on iOS the timing seems right.
There are some universally wanted things—expanded chocobo breeding/racing, more games at the Gold Saucer, the ability to skip through summons, e.g.—so I’m not going to bring those up. But there are two commonly discussed topics that I’d like to give my two cents on quickly.
1. Tweak the Battle System
We already know the battle system will be overhauled. If the graphics are going to be updated to make the game more realistic, then the old battle system of taking turns and standing in line to attack—wonderful as it is—just isn’t going to work. Remake director and original character designer Tetsuya Nomura already said the battle system would see “dramatic changes” but that it’s still in the trial-and-error stage.
I’d like to see a modified version of the FF12 or FF15 systems, where creatures exist in the environment and not in random encounters. I suggest finding a way to ensure the player can control each member of the party. Cloud is an awesome guy, but we’re all used to customizing a battle through each character. If there could be a way to switch between characters that wouldn’t cause whiplash, I’d be all for it.
I liked the FF12 gambit system as a way to include the other players, but I’d still like more control. If the materia system could be tied to some kind of gambit system, that would be fine, but I don’t want to spend half an hour equipping materia and giving characters specific tasks before each battle.
Whatever it takes to make the game more realistic I’ll support, but I’m hoping the more whimsical monsters don’t get cut. I still want to fight Hell House (it’s a sentient house!) and Heavy Tank (it’s a triceratops with tank treads!) and watch the characters get turned into frogs.
2. Don’t Bring Aerith Back
I think I’m in the minority here, and I write this with the full disclosure that I am Team Tifa, but I don’t want the story compromised to bring Aerith back. The planet would not have been saved had Aerith (I’m using this version of her name because that’s what other games used and will probably be used in a voice-acted remake) not fused with Lifestream to stop Meteor.
Any attempt to bring her back would either upset the entire story, along with the movie/super-long cell-phone commercial that was “Advent Children,” or cause the player to have to pretend she’s not there in the final moments of the game. It just can’t work.
It could work bring Aerith back as a hard-to-obtain summon materia. Sort of like Phoenix paired with a Final Attack material, Aerith could be a cure-all summon that only activates under specific circumstances, such as everyone’s HP being in the yellow. Her last words in AC were “You see? Everything’s alright.” If she said something similar just before Sephiroth kills her, and then you heard those words when the summon was activated? Oooh, I just got chills.
3. Make the Game Open-World
I want to explore every inch of this world. I want to see the world from the character’s point of view. It seems like a daunting task, but most of the towns in this game are really small. Junon could prove to be a time-consuming task, but the only really big city in the game is Midgar. Granted, it’s absolutely massive, but it’s doable.
Other games have created worlds much larger than Midgar. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall is said to cover more than 60,000 sqare miles, and the city of Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto V stretched 20 square miles. Creating all eight sectors of upper and lower Midgar is possible.
I’m not saying I want to be able to enter every single house just because, but being able to explore and discover secrets in the cities like never before would give hours and hours of extra enjoyment.
4. Don’t Give In to Social-Justice Warriors
Ever since the remake was announced, Internet scolds have been suggesting what “must” be changed in regards to problematic parts of a late ’90s video game. Barrett is a racist stereotype. Cloud dressing as a woman is transphobic. Tifa’s boobs are too big.
Step off mah game! First, Barret’s dialogue is not racist like people are claiming. His look appears to be based off of Mr. T, and that has led to years of people seemingly unfamiliar with the game assigning traits to him. If you read his dialogue (or, you know, play the game) it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary and especially not when compared to the dialogue of Cid Highwind, a white character. Barret’s appearance clouded the impression of people looking for something to disagree with.
Barret calls people “fools”—a popular Mr. T. catchphrase—exactly once in the entire game. “Get in here, fools! We’re startin’ the meetin’!” he says, after Avalanche blows up the first reactor and the team regroups at Tifa’s Seventh Heaven. He says “Hey, fool!” on a voicemail to Cloud in “Advent Children.” These are the only two instances of him calling people that. You know who else calls people fools at some point in the game? Cid, and Shinra executive Scarlet—both white characters.
Second, to the complaints about a crossdressing Cloud. This was one of the most light-hearted moments in a dark game where every main character had suffered significant emotional turmoil. Despite being in their early 20s, most of the characters’ parents were already dead due to horrific circumstances. Barret lost his wife. Vincent lost his love. Cid lost his dream. This is a dark game.
In another instance of ascribing a negative component in hindsight, if you played the game and paid attention to the dialogue, Wall Market was a really progressive area. When I played the game again recently, I was actually surprised at how accepting the characters were even in 1997, when much of America would not have been.
The tailor agrees to make the dress because it “might be interesting” and he was getting “bored” of making regular women’s clothes. There’s an entire gym of people who completely accept Cloud in this state. The people at the Honeybee Inn are accepting. Really, no one bats an eye at the suggestion of a man in a dress, yet Internet scolds suggest this is a transphobic moment.
Finally, Tifa’s boobs. Is it just me, or are the people most concerned with the way a female character looks the ones saying we should not be concerned with looks?
More than any other fictional character, Tifa has always been my spirit guide. She loved Cloud, to be sure, and in some respects was a hopeless romantic (just as I was in my younger days), but she was also emotionally and physically strong. In fact, the few times she did seem to fall apart emotionally, Barret was there to tell her how out of character that was.
Final Fantasy 7 had some of the strongest female characters in all of gaming, yet the outrage brigade focuses on looks. Without Aerith, Meteor would have destroyed the planet, and without Tifa, Cloud never would have been able to kill Sephiroth (ignore that he was brought back in “Advent Children”). If not for Tifa pushing Cloud to keep going, especially after he comes down with mako poisoning and loses himself, he would still be in a wheelchair. That’s right, these two are every bit as important to the game as Cloud, if not more so. They’re the ones who truly saved the planet. And SJWs want to focus on one physical characteristic?
Tifa’s boobs aren’t even a plot point. No one focuses on her physical appearance. It astounds me to see others so upset over something only they seem to care about.
5. Include More Backstory
We know a lot about these characters, but there’s a lot we don’t know that I’ve always been curious about. How did Tifa and Barret meet in Midgar? How did Red XIII get captured by Hojo, and why was no one trying to rescue him? When and how did Avalanche come together? I have so many more. But don’t play up the Sephiroth mother story any more than it already has been. Sephiroth is kind of the Darth Vader of video game villains, and the more mother obsession added to him, the less fearsome he becomes.
6. Don’t Skimp on Red XIII
I get it, animating fur is really difficult, but I hope this won’t diminish Red XIII’s appearance in the game. Vincent got his own video game to explain his backstory. So did Cloud, Zack, and Aerith. I want to know more about Red XIII. He’s one of the last of his kind, yet no others are included in FF7. Somehow, 500 years in the future, Red has offspring. Where is the mother?
Red really got the shaft in “Advent Children” and Dirge of Cerberus. His voice actor only had one line in the movie, and he only appeared briefly at the end of DoC. He is an amazing character. I don’t want him to be excluded.
7. Offer More Things to Spend Gil On
Either gil was too easy to come by in FF7 (during my replay I was well off without even having to sell an All Material) or there isn’t enough to spend it on. The big purchases—the Costa del Sol villa (300,000 gil), the Sneak Glove (129,000 gil), and breeding a gold chocobo (360,000+ if you include purchasing stalls and feeding each one 10 Sylkis Greens to raise stats)—only amounts to 789,000 gil. Sell one Mastered All, which you could acquire before coming close to beating the game, and the need to raise money vanishes.
It would be great if there were more to spend money on. Perhaps a house in every town? If not, then maybe the amount of gil earned needs to be adjusted, because right now it’s just too easy to obtain expensive items.
Finally, a personal request.
8. Don’t Take Away My Cloud X Tifa Moment Under the Highwind
The dating mechanics could be expanded upon, but I hope there’s still an option to choose different characters to date. The only date level that mattered beyond the Gold Saucer was Tifa’s, who would share a moment with Cloud under the Highwind toward the end of the game. If the dating mechanics could be expanded beyond the Gold Saucer it could be really interesting.
I’d love to know what you all want to see and not see, so leave comments!
*I told my piano teacher in the sixth grade that my favorite composer was Nobuo Uematsu. The only music I play on the piano any more is from the Final Fantasy series. I have a chocobo, moogle, and tonberry on my dresser (my cactuar is in a box in Maryland somewhere, sadly). I could go on, but I have a word limit.
**No, you can’t read any.