Illustration of Final Fantasy VII
This remake of Final Fantasy VII has been met with some criticism of its new style. (Illustration by Francesca Mahaney, Pratt Institute)
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Illustration of Final Fantasy VII

The classic franchise encounters a few changes — including an altered storyline.

Final Fantasy: a sci-fi fantasy, role-playing video game franchise that everyone has heard about along with the famous protagonist, Cloud Strife. Some people, like myself, aren’t fully aware of the storyline itself; you would have to play the first games to understand.

Growing up, I was introduced to the gaming series while playing Kingdom Hearts. Cloud Strife had his own storyline incorporated with Sora, making him an interesting character to follow throughout the game. My mom then got me the movie, “Final Fantasy: Advent Children,” for my PSP in 2005. I was fond of the plot.

However, it never intrigued me enough to start playing. But I knew enough people that played it to get a general understanding as to why it’s an enjoyable game series.

March 2020 saw the newest release in the series — the remake of Final Fantasy VII. Everyone on social media was raving about it. Seeing the gameplay hooked me in completely.

Background of Final Fantasy VII

The first Final Fantasy game was released back in 1987 in Japan for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Games of the series, additionally, don’t follow a linear pattern; each one is treated as a separate volume within the same universe.

For the remake of Final Fantasy VII, it is important to keep in mind that it will be released in multiple parts to go further in depth with the storyline.

Alternate Storyline

Compared to its predecessor, Final Fantasy VII introduces multiple changes to its storyline. Some are viewed as minor while others impose drastic changes, making everyone unaware of what will happen next.

One major change introduced to the series was having one character, Zack Fair, remain alive. Previously, he was shot down by soldiers of Shinra after trying to escape with Cloud. This time, Fair takes down all the soldiers and gets injured but still rescues an unconscious Cloud to Avalanche.

Another change is adding in a new villain: Roche. He is part of Shinra’s SOLDIER division and gets into an altercation with Cloud in Chapter 4. With his incredible speed, Roche is a tough opponent and serves as an early boss stage in the game.

Introducing these types of changes creates an anticipation for future Final Fantasy VII games. Each game will come with questions about what will happen. Where is Fair? Will he reunite with Cloud and the others? What other villains await them?

The only way to answer these questions is to play the rest of the Final Fantasy VII games.

Too Similar to Kingdom Hearts

Altering the gameplay through its remake, Final Fantasy becomes a game that looks more welcoming to new gamers. Having the ability to easily access a moves list makes it more manageable for those starting out; it puts a lot less pressure on memorization and allows the player to ease in while learning combo moves. It also gives players the chance to enjoy the graphics while playing the game.

However, there are criticisms with the new style.

If you haven’t played the game yet, you can see full gameplay on a YouTube video. You might notice that the gameplay style is similar to a different game: Kingdom Hearts.

I grew up playing the Kingdom Hearts games on my PlayStation 2 with my older brother, James. It was exciting to destroy the Heartless with the new keyblade I unlocked for Sora. I remembered watching James mastering the combo moves, to the point that he didn’t even have to look at them anymore. He always beat the levels that were too difficult for me while I watched and tried to learn.

The perspective of the game is following Sora and his friends while navigating various Disney universes to rid them of the Heartless. Bottom left hand corner had the moves list for both physical and mana moves. Bottom right hand corner displayed health and mana for Sora. Having those pushed to the sides allows for the rest of the screen to be taken up by the action happening.

It’s almost identical to Final Fantasy VII Remake. Slight differences, from what I’ve seen, include being able to see the life of all characters in the group and being able to alternate between each one.

When reviewing the game, I’ve read critics that discuss the similarities to Kingdom Hearts games in negative terms. And, while I enjoy the Kingdom Hearts series, I agree with their review about the gaming style similarities.

Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy should be treated as separate games. Being influenced by the game isn’t bad; anything can be influential on someone else. However, it seems too much like Kingdom Hearts and less like a new Final Fantasy game. For future games, creators should think about taking certain aspects rather than copying and pasting Kingdom Hearts into the game.

Waiting for the Arrival of PlayStation 5

A personal criticism I have, regarding Final Fantasy VII, is the future games being released. Or more specifically, the upcoming release of the PlayStation 5.

The remake is an exclusive to the PlayStation 4 console, which generates the assumption that any future games will be played solely on its descendant.

It’s rather counterintuitive to release a remake series of a popular game on an almost outdated console; the release date should’ve been concurrent with the PlayStation 5. The wait would’ve been longer but packaging Final Fantasy and PlayStation 5 together would make it an easy buy for gamers that enjoy the series without having to switch to a new console.

However, introducing the remake is what also sparks inspiration for a gamer to buy the PlayStation 5: to continue and finish the Final Fantasy VII series. Having a new style of gaming, additionally, attracts a larger audience of gamers that are unaware of its mechanics.

Many PlayStation 4 games will be compatible with the PlayStation 5 as well. There isn’t too much to worry about; it just sounds more practical to wait and generate anticipation.

Final Comments on Final Fantasy VII

Throughout the article, I touched upon negative aspects in relation to Final Fantasy VII; there are improvements that could be made for future games. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good game.

I’ve become intrigued by the altered series. I’m not going to buy a PlayStation 4 to play, but I’m certain that Final Fantasy VII will be on the list of compatible games for the PlayStation 5.

If you’re new to serious gaming, Final Fantasy VII is a good place to begin.

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