Final Fantasy VII Remake: Interview with Nomura Tetsuya, Kitase Yoshinori

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The 23 April 2020 of Weekly Famitsu features an interview regarding Final Fantasy VII Remake with producer Kitase Yoshinori and director Nomura Tetsuya regarding development of the game.
The two are asked about what lead to the development of a remake of FFVII, and how they feel about the completed game.

Kitase says that on Final Fantasy’s 25th anniversary, he thought of the possibility of an FFVII remake. At first it was a more simple concept, of simply redoing FFVII with Advent Children’s graphics, but in the end, the game design, especially with the hybrid battle system combining commands and action, turned out to be greater than he imagined thanks to the development staff.
Nomura says that the battle system was remade multiple times in development. What they prioritised the most was player immersion through making realtime control possible, and kept this as an absolute must. Next, they wanted to fuse realtime controls with the Active Time Battle system. As the two contradict each other, they went through a lot of trial and error to get it right.
Nomura says that the end result was a product of the staff’s hard work to overcome this difficult problem and achieve the perfect balance. Another thing they wanted was to be able to change the controlled character, and they gave enemies all sorts of attack patterns in order to facilitate this by making situations where characters other than Cloud would be more effective.
Kitase, who was director of the original FFVII, is asked how much input he had on the remake. He says that the overall direction and concept, story and worldbuilding was left to Nomura, while game design and drama scene direction was left to co-directors Hamaguchi and Toriyama. Kitase did not make many direct requests, but did participate as a planner on some locations in the game: He says that the initial level design for the infiltration and escape from Mako Reactor no. 5 was done by him, and hopes players take notice of it.
The interviewer asks if characters from Compilation of Final Fantasy VII appear in VII Remake, and Nomura says that while none appear directly, they do touch on some. Additionally, while not a Compilation work, Kyrie Canaan from the novel The Kids Are Alright: A Turks Side Story by Nojima Kazushige does appear in the game.
The theme song “Hollow” is brought up, with the interviewer asking what the order for it was. Nomura says that he wanted the song to reflect Cloud’s state of mind, which meant a rock song with male vocals. Also, he wanted the Japanese and overseas versions of the game to have the same image, and so only had English vocals for the song (the Japanese release has the song in English with Japanese subtitles). He also wanted the song to have an image of “rain”.

Selecting the vocalist was done alongside Uematsu (Nobuo) and Nojima. When they talked about the lyrics, Nojima said that he wanted to do it, and he wrote the original lyrics in Japanese. The provisional title for the song in Japanese was “Karappo no Sora” (“Empty Sky”), and the official title became “Hollow” when it was translated to English.
Asked about the direction taken with graphics in VII Remake, Nomura says that while they did go for photorealism in general, they did not go for complete realism, due to how the original made great use of symbolic caricature elements. As such, they kept the realism at a level where one can still feel the original.
When asked about which parts of the game were hard to create, Kitase says that scenes that time has made it so that fans’ favourite scenes are beautified in their minds, and thus in a way already remade by them. Thus, their greatest opponent and hurdle was such “mental remakes”. He says that many of the staff working on VII Remake were also players when VII was first released, and as such have great respect for the original game, and that is how they cleared this hurdle.
Finally, the interviewer points out how FFVII Remake being a multi-part work means that this is a new beginning, and asks the two for messages to the fans and what they intend to do next.
Kitase says that he is relieved that they have managed to deliver something that fans have been waiting for for 23 years. He says that while FFVII Remake can be enjoyed fully on its own, the story will still continue. VII Remake shows players the great possibilities while leaving many hints, and he hopes that fans will speculate about what comes next on social media. He says that they too hope that they will grow alongside the project while communicating with fans.
Nomura says that Final Fantasy VII Remake’s release does not overwrite the original Final Fantasy VII. The original is the origin, and VII Remake is only possible because of the original. He hopes that fans of the original will be able to enjoy the new yet nostalgic parts and differences from the original, and play it with the same feelings as those touching FFVII for the first time with Remake. He says that while this is the first of multiple parts, he thinks that it has the volume of one entire game on its own, and hopes that players enjoy it.
Final Fantasy VII Remake was released on the Playstation 4 worldwide on 10th April 2020

 
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