- Dec 11, 2018
For nearly two decades, the idea of a remake for the beloved video game Final Fantasy VII seemed as outlandish as your neighbor’s son’s best friend’s uncle actually working for Nintendo.
But fans were given a glimmer of hope in 2015, when the Japanese publisher Square Enix announced at the industry trade show E3 that the remake was under development. Raucous applause and internet bedlam followed. Five years later, the simply titled Final Fantasy VII Remake will be released on Friday for the PlayStation 4.
For many fans, the very existence of this remake is surreal. The original game, released in 1997 for the first PlayStation, was the seventh mainline entry in a series of popular role-playing games that crossed traditional Dungeons & Dragons fantasy with robots, magical machines and giant spaceships fashioned to look like whales.
All of the Final Fantasy games have been successful, but few have sold as well as the seventh (more than 11 million copies) or lingered in the cultural consciousness for quite as long. For example, the first six Final Fantasy games inspired 924 pieces of fan fiction on the website FanFiction.net. Final Fantasy VII alone has 2,005.
A large part of the game’s popularity was its storytelling, which was revelatory for the time. Each Final Fantasy game tells a stand-alone story, despite the numbering. Final Fantasy VII stars the mercenary Cloud Strife, with spiky blonde hair and a comically oversize sword, on his quest to hunt down the villain Sephiroth and unravel the mysteries of their shared past.
The original Japanese script became near-incomprehensible in its translation to English because of a compressed localization schedule that filled the game with mangled dialogue — “This guy are sick” was a fan favorite. The story was still gripping enough to resonate with even the most cynical player. The game has spawned animated films and spinoffs and has been rereleased in its original form on every modern gaming platform, including on cellphones.
Yet a remake always remained a dream. The video game industry, like Hollywood, has made a common practice of remastering and remaking old hits — particularly welcome for older games with graphics or controls that have not aged gracefully. Demand for a Final Fantasy VII remake began gaining traction around 2001, when voice acting and full three-dimensional graphics became more widespread. In the subsequent years, fans would beg for Square Enix to revisit the beloved game. A 2014 poll asked over 10,000 Japanese gamers which title they’d most like to see remade. The No. 1 answer was Final Fantasy VII.
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The original, released 23 years ago, sold more than 11 million copies and inspired spinoffs, animated movies and fan fiction. The bar is high for the new game, which will drop Friday.