Final Fantasy VII is usually regarded as the best Japanese role-playing game ever created, mainly because the title introduced the genre in America and other territories that were not really familiar with it in a really approachable and engaging way. But for the past few years, fans have been craving for a proper remake and even though Square Enix has been hinting that it may happen someday, I don’t think we’ll see it any time soon.
When it does happen though, changes are necessary and not just a graphical update that replaces the funny-looking super-deformed models so characteristic of the title for some ultrarealistic ones. Gameplay needs to be polished, menus need to be improved and some mechanics need to be more accessible to all those people who never played before. At the same time, changes need to be consistent yet subtle, for designers may ruin the chance to capture the attention of all those veteran players who are in part responsible for the game’s success.
Generally speaking, I personally believe that most times remakes fail to capture the inner essence that made the original version a unique title. In the end, there’s always something that is lost in the updated conversion and it’s utterly impossible to make every single fan happy with the new treatment. Take Pokémon Heartgold/Soulsilver for example. Although those updated versions did a great job of incorporating certain refreshingly unique features at the same time they retained some other elements that made Gold and Silver so popular a few years ago, those games suffered from the same problems most of the other titles in the franchise had and in the end, those games felt familiar and formulaic. Bionic Commando on the other hand, incorporated new tweaks on the main mechanics and most other features were updated for current times and even though it’s still a 2D sidescrolling platformer and it offers a great homage to 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System games, the remake loses some of the qualities that made the original what it was.
I know it’s unavoidable to take risks and certain changes and updates are completely necessary as not every classic adapts to modern times in the same way, but in some cases, if you’re risking to lose some of the qualities that made the game such a success in the first place, why would you ever consider remaking it?
The fact that I believe that remakes will never be as transcendental as the original titles doesn’t mean that they have to be, nor that every single developer who makes a remake sets out to do so, but what I mean is that the fond memories most fans have about old titles like Final Fantasy VII wouldn’t work very well today. I agree that the plot of that game in particular will never go out of fashion as it is simply superb, but other elements haven’t aged so gracefully like some aspects of its gameplay or the 3D character models. In conclusion, I think that a remake of Final Fantasy VII will never satisfy the severe scrutiny of millions of players who are eager to once again visit the bleak city of Midgar and ruining that experience could definitely mark a turning point in the story of Japanese role-playing games. Sometimes, nothing measures up to the fond memories players may have about their favorite franchises and even though the project has a lot of potential, I don’t think a remake is really necessary as we won’t be playing the same game we did in 1997.