Yesterday I talked about some of the things that I think should stay the same in the upcoming remake of Final Fantasy VII. While the game was groundbreaking in 1997, quickly earning a status that is sustained to this day by fans, there are some aspects of the game that have not aged very well at all. On top of that there have been changes to the fiction surrounding Final Fantasy VII, thanks to the ancillary things, like the other games and movie. So simply slapping a new coat of paint on the game and calling it a day is clearly not the answer. What should be hacked out or changed?
First thing that needs to be changed is the writing. The script for Final Fantasy VII was a damn mess. Not that translations for any games were amazing at that time, however, FFVII‘s issues are all the more glaring, probably due to the sheer size of the game. Using the original script as maybe a bad first draft, more passes are needed on the game’s writing, it needs to be improved in a few ways. Everything needs to flow better, errors need to be fixed, and one very uncomfortable character needs to be completely reworked.
Barret Wallace is a character that has more than one meaningful story arc throughout FFVII, and is actually the first person who speaks in the game I believe. However, past that first line, Barret’s script devolves very very fast. Speaking like Mr. T from “The A-Team”, written through the lens of someone who loved the show, but did not speak English as a first language, Barret is a character who sounds pretty dumb pretty much all the time. He also seems to represent a fundamental misunderstanding of people of color, and how they speak (the same as anyone really). While Squaresoft of 1997 was able to get away with this, we live in a much more global society, and this Japanese company needs to make an effort to improve the script of this character. He cannot be some caricature of a black man, not again. Everyone, everywhere deserves better than that from what is otherwise a great character.
Next, the characters from the great PSP game, Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core should be addressed in the remake. Zack as a character was greatly expanded, and should get his due in things other than small flashbacks. Other characters like Angeal, and Genesis were great also, and fit well into the expanded world that these games created. They deserve some time in a spotlight in the remake, if they can be fit in well. That will be difficult however, if the world of the main game isn’t expanded on, made to feel more alive. The characters of Crisis Core felt like they existed as part of the larger Shinra company, which was full of people, with different motivations. Final Fantasy VII however, makes the whole company seem nothing but evil, the company itself seeming more of the entity, the people in it only existing to serve the corporation. Hopefully with a more mature pass at the game, these things can be weaved together to bring a better overall narrative.
The last thing I want to see change in Final Fantasy VII would no doubt be a very controversial change. To put it simply, Aerith should not die. When this moment happened originally, it left an entire generation of fans shocked. If the remake does this as it happened in the original entry, it would not even have a fraction of the shock and impact that our first go-around had. Also Aerith dying robbed the player of the only direct link to the larger metaphysical elements in the world of FFVII. Her death did not actually provide much emotional weight long-term either, in fact Cloud went snowboarding soon after she died. If she stuck around this time, there would be a lot more time in the story to expand her character, and give a better link to things like The Lifestream, Jenova, etc. Plus it’s not great to lose a good character that you may put time into in any game. But the time commitment for a JRPG is typically larger, so giving the player the chance to keep Aerith this time I think would serve many positive purposes.
I am obviously not a game developer, or a professional writer. I am simply a guy who greatly enjoyed Final Fantasy VII, and am excited for this remake. I get it was not a perfect game, but also did a ton well. This remake is a chance to maybe correct some of the failures, while showing the world why Square’s Final Fantasy VII was such a showpiece back in 1997.