7 Thoughts on the Final Fantasy 7 Remake

This past Saturday, after 38 hours and 38 minutes I completed the Final Fantasy 7 remake…part one. I was unsure if I was going to jump into the game immediately at launch or not. I was deciding between the remake of Final Fantasy 7 or Resident Evil 3, and I opted to play through the former(first, anyway). Two separate games – Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the FF7 remake have pretty much dominated all video game discussion for the month of April. Normally, I find myself playing a number of different games during a given week(s), likely assisted by the combination of child-like enthusiasm and an attention span to match. However, I was able to complete the “only 40 hour” FF7 in 15 days. I do not feel the game is perfect by any means, but I still really, really enjoyed the updates and modernizations Square Enix brought to the beloved classic. There are aspects of the game that I absolutely loved and others that I felt could have been better. As I’ve been talking about the game a fair amount on here since starting this blog last year, I decided to make a quick write up of things I liked about the game along with things I didn’t.

Note: I only realized I had written down 7 different things about Final Fantasy 7 later, I swear.

Combat

I was cautiously optimistic about the new combat mechanics of the FF7 remake after seeing some of the gamplay from Square Enix’s E3 presentation last year. After trying out the demo in March, it felt like it had taken some of the swordplay elements from Devil May Cry and the stagger mechanic felt vaguely similar to the posture/stamina meters in From Software games. I was pretty satisfied with the combat after playing the demo, but was hoping battles and boss fights later in the game wouldn’t just turn into simple button mashing. Any reservations about the new combat system have been put to rest as I really found myself enjoying the flow of alternating combos of basic attacks, abilities and spells. The combat isn’t perfect, but provides enough depth to be engaging. It was especially enjoyable when your party is able to take down multiple enemies as you seamlessly switch between characters or just give attack orders to fellow party members. I know others have pointed out the combat mechanics in the game makes it feel more like Kingdom Hearts, but I personally enjoy incorporating more real-time combat elements in 3D RPGs. The updated combat also made for some epic boss battles in the game, some of which seemed to take about 15-20 minutes just to take them down. One the most stubborn bosses was Hell House, which felt like it took a half hour to bring down.

Music

The music of Final Fantasy 7 is iconic and generally regarded as one of the greatest of all time. There’s a richness to the classic soundtrack in its lush, fully-orchestrated score. I had goosebumps just seeing the camera zoom out over Midgar as the music begins to swell as the FF7 logo appears on screen. The new renditions of the soundtrack are simply beautiful, not much else to say about it…

Characters

Playing through the 1997 version of Final Fantasy 7 recently, I was a bit surprised just how invested and attached I became to the characters within the game. It was even easier playing through the remake, the characters are given greater personality and depth. The further I progressed in the game, the more attached I felt to Barret, Tifa and Aerith – who seemed almost annoyingly positive concerning everything about her life in the slums, but after a while you begin to see the lingering sadness that dwells within. Avalanche members Biggs, Wedge and Jessie who are seen as lesser, background characters are brought to life with distinctive personalities and quirks. Characters that had always been an afterthought before, I found myself genuinely caring about.

Visuals

I’m a little bit torn on the game’s visuals – in one moment, the character models and environments are the most gorgeous thing I’ve seen on my PS4, only for the graphics to get a serious downgrade when roaming the slums of Midgar. Some of the graphics in Sectors 5 and 7, along with some of the NPCs more closely resemble the PS3 tech demo from years ago. It may not have been as noticeable if it wasn’t in stark contrast to the otherwise stunning visuals in other areas of the game.

Pacing

I’m not one to criticize a game for moving slowly, but a deliberate pace is different from contrasting nonstop action sequences with other sections that seem to serve little other purpose that to extend the length of playtime. Some of the pacing in the FF7 Remake was a little uneven, particularly whenever the story brought Cloud and company back to the lower sectors of Midgar. Nearly every single side quest of the game is contained in Sectors 5,6 and 7. The chapter that finds Cloud escorting Aerith back to her house in Sector 5, upon reaching Sector 5 Aerith comments that there are many in the area that could use Cloud’s help. Most of these side quests wind up being little more than fetch quests, which in itself I don’t despise to the degree other gamers do, but seemed to derail the momentum of the game almost completely. If the side quests would have been spread out a little more evenly throughout the game I don’t think it would have been as detrimental, but similar to the contrast in visuals, hitting the brakes in the over-arching storyline to help round up random children for the Leaf House or finding Wedge’s cats for him made for another Jeckyll & Hyde aspect of the game.

Performance

The Final Fantasy 7 Remake is an incredibly ambitious game and Square Enix has done an impressive job with it for the most part. There are a few areas where the game had its sights set almost too high, with there being a number of perfomance issues in it. Some of the environmental textures were pretty rugged and there was a significant delay after pressing the triangle button to interact with various characters. Also, when controlling Cloud, you are forced to slowly squeeze through an endless number of tight spaces as if it were a Naughty Dog game, Square Enix clearly decided to utilize the developer trick of using theses tight spaces as a means to seamlessly load the next area. I may have lost track of how much time I spent slowly making my way through debris piles conveniently restricting access, save for a small area to pass through(I also felt this way playing Jedi: Fallen Order). Future installments of the game will most definitely benefit from the extra horsepower of the Playstation 5…

Multiple Parts

I’m not overly excited about the fact the remake of FF7 is being released in installments. Given how the first “episode” of the remake takes place entirely within Midgar, I’m doubtful the game will comprise of any less than 3-4 parts. The thought dawned on me while finishing up part one that we’ll be WELL into the Playstation 5’s life span before we ever get to see the game’s conclusion. Tetsuya Nomura and Square Enix have done a remarkable with this remake so far, but it’s going to be a test of patience from here. To be somewhat optimistic, I only first completed FF7 in its original form 22 years after it was released, so I’m hoping to finish the remake in considerably less time than that…glass half-full and all that, right?

The game isn’t perfect, but it is able to be genuinely fun and heartfelt at the same time. If you’ve played the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, I’ve love to hear what you thought about the game. Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Chrono Trigger 25th Anniversary – #MaybeInMarch

It was on this day – March 11, 1995 that Squaresoft first released Chrono Trigger for the Super Nintendo. A game that proved enormously successful with both critics and fans alike, with the game still being held up as among not only the greatest SNES titles or 16-bit RPGs, but one of the greatest games of all time. In recent months I have written posts about a brief history of a particular game along with my own personal recollections surrounding the game, such as Super Mario Odyssey, Resident Evil 4 or even the Sega Dreamcast. This time however, I am going to create memories rather than share old ones…

A couple months ago I wrote up a list of some of the games I was embarrassed to have never played, with Chrono Trigger being included in the list. For as highly regarded as the game is, I had never played it, though I had known of the game and the adoration many have for it. Chrono Trigger is a game that I had long MEANT to play, but always found a way NOT to. I have even avoided much in the way of game discussion around it, outside of general gameplay and it involving time travel…that’s it. I have never owned the original SNES version of the game, which my local game store sells for $140 cartridge only, but found myself a copy of the Nintendo DS version(along with a free copy of Chrono Cross!) this past January for $95 less than the SNES one. Having recently completed Final Fantasy VII for the very first time as one of my #MaybeInMarch games, I wanted to make a focused effort to not just complete more games, but I want to put an extra focus in completing some of those big intimidating RPGs like Persona 5, Final Fantasy X, and The Witcher 3. Think of it as a little “spring cleaning”….not like there’s much else coming out the next few months, right? So, for my next backlog completion, I AM going to complete Chrono Trigger before the end of March…

First Impressions

I have been playing Chrono Trigger for just under ten hours now and what I appreciate most is it has what may be some of the most supremely satisfying combat and overall gameplay in any RPG I have played, not just 16-bit, but of any gaming generation. I am currently using the Classic gameplay controls versus the newer touch commands introduced for the DS version and using the Active battle setting works just like in FFVII so there is such a fluid and intuitive feeling when engaging in battles with the various enemies across Guardia. As I have played more and more RPGs, I quite often find newer 3D RPGs not to have the same satisfying feeling in battles. There’s something about the older 16-bit games that have such a fine balance of simplicity in simply taking turns attacking each other, but there’s a level of depth to it as well as you have to plan strategize attacks, magic, item use, and equpiment optimization. Speaking of equipment, a seemingly minor feature that I love but don’t seem to ever notice in other games is the ability to directly equip an item while buying and selling from a merchant; I can buy several weapon or armor upgrades for my party, then quickly equip and turn around and sell the lesser equipment without having to jump through as many navigation screens. This is something that even saying out loud sounds insignificant, but generally, the less time spent navigating menus and managing inventory, the better.

As of now, I have just made the journey back the village of Porre after defeating Masa and Mune and collecting the broken Masamune blade. I am already impressed by nearly everything Chrono Trigger has shown thus far; I’m really enjoying the combat, the combat and story are engaging andthe characters are interesting(Crono, Lucca, Marle, Robo and Frog!). The graphics are still wonderful and have held up remarkably well, the fact the game features several shorter animated cutscenes is impressive. The soundtrack is beautiful and has been firmly stuck in my head since beginning the game, particularly the Magus Castle theme. I fully intend to write a couple more posts as I make my way through the game, or at the very least, a single post after completing the game with my final impressions.

I’m really looking forward to spending more time playing Chrono Trigger and sharing my thoughts. If you’ve played Chrono Trigger, what are your thoughts on the game? Let me know. Thanks for reading!

(Here’s a playlist of the entire soundtrack I listened to while writing this…)