In an interview posted over on their own website, Square-Enix’s Duncan Heaney sat down with Final Fantasy VII Remake Producer Yoshinori Kitase and Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi to pick their brains a bit about the upcoming release. They discussed the decision to remake the iconic seventh Final Fantasy, why the first entry in the remake series is set entirely in Midgar, and even touched on why Red XIII is not a playable character in the game. The interview has some mild spoilers, so I’ll try my best to break down the information below while avoiding them. That said, I still recommend giving the full interview a peek.
A game for new and old fans alike, an expanded story, and why we can’t play Red XIII
The interview opens with Kitase being asked why he felt now was as good a time as any to return to the world of Final Fantasy VII, arguably one of the most iconic video games to ever release. Rather candidly, Kitase-san admits the leaps in technology between the original 1997 release and today has made it difficult to introduce new gamers to the world of Cloud, Sephiroth, and company.
Hamaguchi then goes on to add that the focus has been, “new but familar,” to ensure returning fans are not turned off by the Final Fantasy VII Remake. It’s a large reason this first release for the Final Fantasy VII Remake series is set only in Midgar: the team wanted to expand on the existing story and fill in portions they felt were missing.
As Kitase-san puts it, they could have remade the entire game in a single entry, but it would have been a smaller digest of the original story if they wanted to keep the remake modern. The decision was then made to push the remake in a bold new direction – adding rather than removing, while pushing the visual quality and scope to new heights.
To see this vision through, Hamaguchi-san states three key words were established for the revamped Midgar: Dark, Modern Steampunk, and Eclectic (okay, so really four words if we wanna split hairs). They wanted to capture the original feel and tone of the massive city while making it feel more alive than before. Kitase-san even admits that means some new areas have been added where previous loading screens had masked the transition between zones.
For fans wondering why Red XIII will not be playable in Final Fantasy VII Remake, Hamaguchi-san admitted the decision largely came down to how little time players would spend with Red XIII before the end of the game. For fans familiar with the original Final Fantasy VII, the party meets Red XIII shortly before leaving Midgar, which is when the remake supposedly ends. As Hamaguchi-san puts it, “…we felt that because he only joins the team during the latter stages, having him as a playable ally with full character growth potential would not be a satisfying experience for the player. So we decided to have him join for now, as a guest character instead.”
The interview then concludes with a brief discussion about the updated combat (where they state they prioritized the classic ATB system and layered the action combat on top of it, rather than the other way around), the inclusion of Classic Mode for those returning fans who want a more traditional approach to encounters, how they designed the game to appeal to new players, and finally a statement on how this first entry in the Final Fantasy VII Remake series was designed, “…as if it were a standalone game, and comparable in size to other mainline Final Fantasy games.” I.E. there will be end-game content and secrets for players to find.
You can read the full interview over on Square-Enix’s website. In the meantime, be sure to check out the Dev Diary they shared on YouTube, and keep an eye here for additional Final Fantasy VII Remake update. Final Fantasy VII Remake launches April 10th for the PlayStation 4.