Final Fantasy 7 Remake: ‘This is not just for the players of the original’
Cloud Strife and his iconic spiked blonde hair broom emerge through the growing vapor of an overcrowded city.
The main character of Final Fantasy 7 has his distinctive buster sword tied to his back.
This time, however, it is not a pixelated image as seen in the original 1997 PlayStation: it has been completely reproduced in realistic modern graphics.
Five years have passed since then players had a first taste of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, when the first trailer fell.
The remake, which is now available, is a completely rebuilt version of an RPG game that has sold over 12 million copies worldwide.
And fans of the original are thrilled to return to Midgar, the fantasy city where the remake takes place.
One of those who eagerly awaits the release is Youtuber Elz the Witch, who claims to have felt “truly emotional” when he first played the remake.
“When the title screen came up with themed music, it looked exactly like I imagined it 23 years ago, but with a hundred times better graphics,” he tells BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.
“I wasn’t expecting to be emotional, but it’s just that longing for something you’ve longed for – and grown up with – it’s truly remarkable to see it come to fruition.”
“It helped me understand my sexuality”
For official Rob Bowman, it helped him understand his sexuality.
“Cloud is the protagonist and I got very close to him,” he says.
“In the game, he’s trying to figure out who he is, and I was doing the same when I was playing it, even if for different reasons.
“For me, he was understanding my sexuality. In the game Cloud he found out who he was, and consequently made him stronger.
“To date, I feel it has been the same for me. The game has helped me open my eyes.”
Getting the right remake for fans of the original, like Rob and Elz, was important for the development team.
Yoshinori Kitase, one of the game’s producers, told Newsbeat: “You will really get that shot of nostalgia as soon as you start playing.
“There are a lot of little moments to recognize and go, ‘wow, I really remember it’, but it’s nice and exciting to see how it was represented in a more modern style.”
‘This will resonate with new players’
23 years have passed since the release of the original.
That game opened a new path in terms of visual style and storytelling – and fans idolized the story and characters.
But in the two decades following its release, a new generation of players has emerged.
And that’s something the development team was very aware of.
“This isn’t just for the players of the original,” says the remake director Naoki Hamaguchi in Newsbeat.
“It has the same basic elements that are much loved, but shown in more style, which will really help the game resonate with today’s players.”
To do this, the team added plot details that were not explored in the original and designed an entirely new way of organizing the battles.
Yoshinori and Naoki agree that it was important to find the right balance between innovating and staying true to the original.
The first reviews are positive, but it is too early to say how the game arrived with the new players, although Elz is happy with what he has played.
“There will always be high expectations against which the remake will take place,” he says.
“I can only speak for myself and I am really having fun with the development of the gameplay.”
“Final Fantasy was my first thought after surgery”
Rob is still waiting to get his hands on the exit after a mistake with his pre-order. He has struggled with his health in recent years, but believes it is worth the wait.
“About three years ago I had to undergo emergency surgery in my heart, it was very likely that I would die,” he says.
“But I came around and the first thing I thought of, the thing I was most angry about, was the fact that I almost couldn’t play Final Fantasy 7 Remake.”
Expectations are high and the development team knows this.
“We would definitely be lying if we said there is no pressure,” they tell Newsbeat.
“We think perhaps the team’s passion and desire to do something good is perhaps more important.”
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