After a decade of taking the series far too seriously, 2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake saw a return to the zany, fun charm of Square Enix’s iconic JRPG series. As it turns out, working on the remake, and its follow-up Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, helped the company rediscover exactly what fans loved about the franchise in the first place.
Speaking to Japanese outlet Denfaminico Gamer, translated here, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth developers revealed that working on the new games has helped the company realised the strengths of classic FF games. After the failures of Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XV, the team felt the need to recapture the spirit of the franchise’s highlights.
“The FF series between the Famicom and the PlayStation was itself the sort of series with all sorts of zany elements that we put in there just because we wanted to,” said longtime producer Yoshinori Kitase. “As hardware became more advanced, as portrayals got more realistic, it became harder and harder to put in toybox-like ideas like we could long ago.”
However, as the team brings back some of the more cutesy, fun ideas of Final Fantasy VII in its remake trilogy, such as Cloud’s dress-up segment or the Gold Saucer dating scenes, the team realised that they didn’t have to cut the fun out of the series.
“With this remake we’re putting in gimmicks that felt like they belong in the old days and at the same time we’re portraying a realistic world,” Kitase continued. “I think maintaining a balance between this ‘sense of reality’ and ‘toy box’ is how we’re keeping ‘the spirit of FF7’ alive… You could say that if we emphasize ‘only’ realism in this remake, we’d end up throwing out a lot of the silly elements…We’re retaining ‘the zany fun of FF7’.”
At the end of the day, the specialness of Final Fantasy VII hasn’t changed future plans for new installments. For example, the latest entry in the series, Final Fantasy XVI, still brings the series into a serious, more Western mindset compared to the originals.
“As hardware grows more advanced and development time takes longer and longer, I still feel that ‘an FF game is a game with everything and anything’, said creative director Tetsuya Nomura. “We’re creating this remake with the stance of ‘putting in everything’ like we once did in the old days. This is only possible because we have the original FF7 as a base to grow on, I think.”
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth isn’t just a remake of the original game’s story, but the second part in a new take on the narrative. After the ending of the first part, major changes are likely to take place in this second chapter, including the introduction of a playable chapter with Zack Fair.
Square Enix will release Final Fantasy VII Rebirth on February 29, 2024 exclusively on PlayStation 5.