While Final Fantasy IV (II SNES) is solely responsible for my love of RPGs today, it wasn’t until Final Fantasy VII that the genre more or less took over gaming tastes entirely. It released in the US when I was in 6th grade, and I can still remember the all-nighter sessions that came along with it. But only on the weekends, of course. My favorite reading material at the time was the official strategy guide by BradyGames, and I couldn’t wait to trade stories with my friends each day after getting a bit further in the game. Needless to say I, like many of you, are (cautiously) excited about the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, though I can’t help but dread it at the same time. That is simply because it will probably never meet, much less exceed the expectations of the fanbase regardless of how it shapes up. My general optimism for it is somewhat suppressed by a bit of realism in this fact, and possibly fueled by my recent experience with a remake of another coveted RPG: Secret of Mana.
The general consensus is that the Secret of Mana Remake is actually worse than the original, and I would have to agree. And that is not just nostalgia talking either. There are fundamental issues with that game that should have been ironed out or adjusted to cater to a modern, more mature audience (like enemy invulnerability at times and the glaring issue with stunlocking, just like in the first game). To its credit, it is faithful to the original from a mechanical perspective, but perhaps too much so. There’s an obvious balance that needs to be struck with these remakes that lines up somewhere between sticking to roots while allotting room for changes, additions, or quality of life improvements in the process.
You see, I’m very much a “back in my day” kind of JRPG fan, but I can also appreciate innovation in remakes when done properly. That said, the emphasis on the Final Fantasy 7 Remake being an action game (notably void of an RPG mention) in recent job postings are a cause of concern for sure. Not that I think the game will go from RPG to full-on action, but I fear that they might be trying to change too much of how the game plays at its core in order to expand the potential reach of the game. But really, do you need to TRY to reach a larger audience? The original Final Fantasy 7 was one of the best selling games on the PS1. I don’t think that much has to be done to make it successful again.
But that is the key, Square Enix. Don’t over or underdo the remake process and don’t make it complicated. Again, the appropriate balance of both the old and new is key for a truly successful remake. If the tightrope to success was thin for the Secret of Mana Remake, how much higher are the stakes for the Final Fantasy 7 Remake? All I can ask is to please, for the love of all things holy, not disrespect Uematsu’s legendary soundtrack like was the case in the Secret of Mana remake. Of course, none of this matters if the game never comes out in the first place. Get to work, Square Enix, and do it right. Give us fans something that is worth the wait.