They’re remaking Final Fantasy 7.
They’re actually doing it. I’m sure that if you’re the type, like me, who loved this game, you already know this. If you have never played FF7, you might have heard the squeals of joy from everyone on the internet who has.
FF7 came out in January of 1997, just shy of 20 years ago (that’s crazy). Nearly an entire generation has passed since that game came out. It was originally planned for the N64, but since it was just an ambitious project, both in terms of graphics and in size, they decided to release it on the PS1. I didn’t play it when it came out. Not only was the country I lived in not big into any sort of video games, but my father had a strict “no console” policy, only broken when the PS2 came out, because it could play DVDs. So I only got my mitts on it in 1998, when it came out on PC. I was just getting into the JRPG genre at the time, playing Phantasy Star IV on emulator on my computer. My brother saw me play it and mentioned that a friend was just finished playing this game called “Final Fantasy 7″. I had heard of the series when I was researching JRPGs to play, but thought very little about it. I borrowed it.
It blew my mind.
My computer could barely run the game. I played the entire thing at about 50% of the speed. That was hard, but I fell in love with it pretty quickly. I specifically remember the part where you’re trying to escape from the ShinRa building and a robot blasts the elevator glass so that you can fight. The graphics at the time were astounding, and that part in particular, with little polygons of glass flying everywhere, was just amazing. The more I got into the plot, the more I fell in love with all of it. It was the first game that grabbed me by the heart and pulled me along. At school I’d just want to go home and play, in class I’d just sit there and dream and wonder. The depth of the story, the sacrifices, the character growth… It was like nothing I had ever seen before.
No one around where I lived played video games. No one at school (that I knew) did, and if they did, they hid it because it was a super nerdy thing to do, and you’d get bullied terribly for doing that, back then. So I turned to this newfound thing called “The Internet” and I slowly discovered the world of fandom. Reading my first fanfic was so strange– I had never thought you could “steal” other people’s characters and play with them as your own! Fan art enticed me to draw me own, and the worlds of manga and anime were also unfurled before me. No matter how many years had passed, FF7 was the game I went back to. I had played it a million times, got most of everything (Never could defeat all the WEAPONS), and kept on writing and drawing the characters.
The music and the later games in the series helped me through some pretty tough times in my life. I was an angry and lonely teen. My friends were more often that not made of polygons. Stories of happiness and triumph and joy taught me a lot about myself. The internet provided a much needed social circle of like-minded people.
Is Final Fantasy 7 the best game in the world? No. It’s flawed in my ways. One of those ways was the English localization, which was mediocre to say the least, but gameplay and graphics were not perfect, either. Was it at least the best of all Final Fantasies? I’d argue that as well; Final Fantasy 6’s story and characters are stronger and far darker. But, in the end, it was Final Fantasy 7 that changed my life.
Years after playing it, when school, military and other obligations were done, and it was time for me to decide where to go and what to do, I remembered FF7. You see, telling stories had always been my passion. When I was little I wanted to be an animator, then in high-school I took cinema to learn to be a director. Then, at that crucial moment, I was looking at schools and what they taught and I found out you could actually study to become a game designer. I was sold. But it was as easy as all that. No schools in my country taught that, which meant leaving everything and moving to a different country. My English wasn’t great, but it would do. Limited to English speaking countries, it was a toss-up between the US and Canada. Canada was cheaper. Canada it was to be.
I’ve lived in Canada for just under 12 years now. I had been a level designer, boss designer, production coordinator and producer in games. I had, in some ways, fulfilled that dream. There are real games sitting on real shelves that have my name on them. Why? Because Final Fantasy 7 inspired me to chase a dream. Because It fell in love with the group of characters in AVALANCHE and because the internet taught me that loving something so deeply was ok, and that I wasn’t alone.
So now they’re remaking it. In all honestly I’m equal parts excited to play the game again, as well as get the community back. New fanfiction, fan art and new fans will come from this. New merchandise, which I had never the chance to obtain, where I lived. I’m just as excited for the revival of the community as I am for the game.
I worry that they’ll change it at its heart. I’m worried they’ll bring it closer to Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children, which was moody and gritty. FF7 had as much hilariously absurd moments as it had dark moments. Cloud, in the end of the game, is a cheerful, friendly man. All those worries, however, are small when compared to how excited I am about the remake. Seeing my friends again, hanging out with them through thick and thin… I want to do that again. I’m a far cry now from the moody teenager I was, and far happier than I’ve ever been, but those guys were my friends where I had none. They made me see life in a different way. They inspired me.
To say I’m eager to see what Square Enix does with this opportunity is a massive understatement. I can’t wait, and to tease us so cruelly with so little information this E3 is a delightful torture I will endure.
I just wanted to share the story of how FF7 affected me, and why it was important to me, and why I’m just so fantastically excited for this remake announcement.