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An Open Letter to Final Fantasy VII
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on September 25, 2006   |   Episode 115 (Show Archive)  

   

This could be the single most depressing moment in video game history!
Dear Final Fantasy VII,
You don't know me, but my name is Cyril Lachel and I am one of your biggest fans. I can remember counting down the days until you came out, buying the original Japanese version just so I could have it months ahead of time. I remember how excited I was when I first beat you, how I called all of my friends and told them about it ... even when it was clear that they didn't care. I remember how sad I was when Aerith Gainsborough died at the hands of Sephiroth. I remember standing up with my mouth wide open when I summoned my first magic creature. I remember it all. It was one of those pivotal moments in my gaming life that I will never get over.

I tell you all this because I feel like you are starting to forget what made you so good. It wasn't the Final Fantasy name or the amazing (at that time) cinemas. It wasn't the fact that you were the first 32-bit role-playing

No, this article is not about all Final Fantasy games ... just Final Fantasy VII!
game that really wowed the world. It wasn't because you influenced every other company to make RPGs just like you. No, you were good because you told an epic story that was emotional, a moving story that had love, hate and everything in between. You featured deep characters the like I had never seen before in games. You were an amazing product that is still considered one of the greatest games of all time.

But if you want to continue to be liked, then maybe it's time you just give the Final Fantasy VII name a rest. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against your family members, like Final Fantasy X and the upcoming Final Fantasy XII. My concern is more with you, Final Fantasy VII. Instead of allowing yourself to age gracefully, you seem to want to have it all. You want to keep the glory to

Sony stealing Square from Enix is still considered one of their wisest business decisions!
yourself by offering fans spin-offs and remakes, none of which are a good idea. So I ask you to stop. I'm asking you to take your place in history and stay there. Go ahead and remind us that you are one of the most influential modern role-playing games of all time. Remind us that you were one of the biggest reasons why Sony's PlayStation beat the Nintendo 64. Talk about the good times ... just don't try to relive them. There is nothing sadder than an aging hipster.

It all started in 2003, six years after you first made your mark on the video game industry. It was around the time when Square was deciding whether or not to develop a sequel to their mega-selling adventure/RPG, Kingdom Hearts. After all these years of silence, all of a sudden there were non-stop rumors about possible Final Fantasy VII

This cover is cool, but the movie is simply awful!
sequels and a remake. After the success of Square's first true Final Fantasy sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, the idea of going back and continuing the story of Cloud, Tifa, Barret and Red XIII. It seemed like a perfect plan; combine Square's greatest Final Fantasy game with Sony's powerful PlayStation 2 hardware. What could go wrong?

Apparently everything that could go wrong did go wrong. At first Square denied all of the rumors, suggesting that they were looking ahead and not backwards. But then came word that they were working on a second Final Fantasy movie, one that would center around Cloud Strife and his continuing, um, strife. It was called Advent Children and was going to feature the best computer generation animation ever conceived. It was going to be the Final Fantasy movie that fans of the series had been waiting for, an action film with memorable characters and epic battles.

Square was right about one thing, the movie featured some of the most breathe taking visual effects you will ever see, animation so good that it's a shame it wasn't on the big screen. But the movie just couldn't come together; it was a real

The Dirge of Cerberus sure has cool cinemas for it being such a terrible game!
mess that was almost painful to watch. Sure it had Cloud and Sephiroth and all the other characters we loved from your 1997 outing, but it just wasn't the same. Instead of feeling bigger than life, Advent Children felt small and lacked any emotion at all. But this disappointing movie was just the start of your downfall.

Along with that failed Final Fantasy VII movie, Square also announced a bevy of spin-offs, none of which were particularly interesting or good. Spread out over several systems, Final Fantasy VII's spin-offs were set to infect the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and mobile phones. These games promised to continue the story little by little, filling in what happened with each character one at a time.

The Dirge of Cerberus was one of the first examples of these promised spin-offs. Instead of going back and creating another amazing role-playing game, Square opted to turn it into a ... shooter? That's right; Dirge

Even the artwork in Final Fantasy VII was above anything else we had seen!
of Cerberus is a third-person shooter that follows one of your hidden characters, Vincent Valentine, through lots of bleak environments shooting tons of boring enemies. The game was originally intended to be an online shooter, but in Japan the online servers were shut down mere months after the game was released and the U.S. version failed to ship with any online support what so ever. The critics complained about the terrible control, boring level designs and inadequate artificial intelligence. Worse yet, the game had a crummy storyline. When you consider how rich and full of emotion your original game was, it seems almost criminal to release a Final Fantasy VII game with a shallow story.

But the Dirge of Cerberus was far from the only spin-off not living up to your name. Gamers with cell phones had a chance to play Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, an episodic game set six years before the events of your 1997 game. Unlike Dirge of Cerberus, Before Crisis was an action/RPG that was a little closer to the original game's spirit. But despite being similar to your original outing, it still failed to recreate what was so memorable in the first place. The small mobile screen failed to recreate the grandeur that was Final Fantasy VII.

If those two games (and the terrible movie) weren't disappointing enough, then perhaps you should spend some time playing Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding. To be fair, this is really nothing more than a port of a mini-game found in your original game. It's

This picture of Crisis Core sure is exciting, I wonder what the game is like!
not a bad game, so far it's the best "new" Final Fantasy game released in the 21st century. But this is Final Fantasy VII we're talking about, the words "not bad" shouldn't even been in your vocabulary when speaking of this kind of product. Yet the best spin-off we have is a game that was actually found in your 1997 game? Something feels wrong about that, we deserve more than what we're getting.

There are other Final Fantasy VII spin-offs on the way, including the PSP game Crisis Core. But despite being announced in 2004, we have yet to hear any real information about the product. The first trailer for the game was shown off at this year's Tokyo Game Show, held last week. But the only information that provided was character information and a time line, no game play footage or hints at what the game will actually be. Will it be a traditional role-playing game? Will it be a fighting game? It could be a music game for all we know. The one thing it will be, if the other recent Final Fantasy games

Just like there was no good reason to remake Psycho, there is no good reason to remake Final Fantasy VII!
are any indication, is another disappointing game with a shallow story and disappointing game play. It will be yet another Final Fantasy VII game that sullies your name.

But it's not just these terrible spin-offs that trouble me, it's the fact that your creators seem to be going out of their way to hint at a possible remake. At last year's E3 we saw a video clip of the opening of Final Fantasy VII done completely on the PlayStation 3 hardware. Everybody involved denied that this was a remake; instead they suggested that this was just an "example" of what the PS3's hardware was capable of. While that may be true, it seems extremely likely that we will see some kind of Final Fantasy VII remake sooner than later.

But is this something we really need? PlayStation 3 owners will still be able to play Final Fantasy VII, thanks to the system's backwards compatibility. Do we really need talented people wasting millions of

I would rather Square's talented game developers work on Final Fantasy XIII than a remake of Final Fantasy VII!
dollars to make exactly the same thing with better graphics? No one will deny that by today's standards you don't look as good as you could; you could use a facelift, tummy tuck and nose job. But just because those kinds of surgeries are a viable option doesn't mean you should go through with them, there's something to be said about aging gracefully and allowing people to remember you based on how you were. No matter how good the game will look if and when it's released on the PlayStation 3, in ten years it will be outdated again and I'll be forced to write you another letter making all these points once more.

Accept yourself for who you are. The people that love you don't need to see a new and improved Final Fantasy VII. We don't need spin-offs to remind us how great you were. We don't need to be reminded, we love you just the way you are. So stop the insanity. Instead of worrying about how you look and how you will be remembered focus on the good things, realize that without you we would still be playing role-playing games that look like Beyond the Beyond. And besides, worrying only gives you wrinkles, and that's the last thing a healthy RPG needs.

Your friend,
Cyril Lachel
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