Will the New Final Fantasy VII Lure Me Back into the Final Fantasy Universe?

Image by Flickr user GogDog (CC)
Image by Flickr user GogDog (CC)

When the Final Fantasy VII remake was officially announced at this past weekend’s PlayStation Experience 2015 conference, I watched in awe and confusion. The gameplay video that was shown was exciting and unexpected. It looked like FFVII, but it also really didn’t. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Cloud’s spiky blond hair and familiar Buster Sword, I probably would have thought it was an entirely new game. But it wasn’t. It was Final Fantasy VII for a whole new generation. And it was Final Fantasy VII for a previous generation to experience anew.

After digesting the fact that this new-old version of FFVII will actually be bestowed upon the masses (no more rumors,  speculation, or HD nonsense), I can’t help but wonder if I’m still part of that generation? That previous generation who may have first been introduced to the FF universe through this particular installment, if not one of the earlier games. FFVII was my first Final Fantasy game, and I had never played anything like it. The sweeping story, the explorable world, the character interactions, the battle system – all of that was completely new to me. I quickly fell head over heels for Cloud and Tifa and Barrett and Cid, and I got fairly sucked into the game for a time. Only then I hit a difficult battle with one of the Jenova bosses near the end of the game, and the love affair ended. Yeah…I never beat the game. That bothered me for a time, but it doesn’t really anymore. And, quite possibly, I’ll now have a chance to fix that, or next year I will, anyway. And that’s pretty awesome, right?

Honestly, I’m not sure.

After aborting things with FFVII, I next played FFX (first playthrough – hated it; second playthrough – liked it), and then, a few years after that, I played the Nintendo DS ports of FFIII and FFIV. The games were fine, or turned out to be, but I didn’t go coo-coo-bananas over any of them in the manner that I had (at least initially) over FFVII. I enjoyed their stories and somewhat-varied-but-mostly-the-same gameplay. I liked exploring in them and taking on all manner of beasts. I had fun spending time with motley assortments of characters, from the humorous to the dour. But that desire to specifically play a Final Fantasy game had quite faded. And I especially knew that when I whimsically downloaded Final Fantasy XIII-2 onto our Xbox 360 earlier this year. It was on sale, I had a little cash to burn, and I thought it was as good a time as any to try to recapture some of that Final Fantasy magic that I remembered so well.

I think I’ve played twenty minutes of FFXIII-2. Maybe thirty. Not more than an hour, for sure.

I know it’s hardly enough to form any sort of opinion on the game itself. I neither like FFXIII-2 nor hate it, but I think I was hoping to be immediately captured by that Final Fantasy spirit, and I wasn’t. (Instead, Xenoblade Chronicles took its place, and amazing though it was, it was no Final Fantasy game.) I understand that the FFXIII series is not without its own quirks, which some like and others despise, but nothing about that very first impression of FFXIII-2 made me want to keep going with it. It’s got quite an odd battle system – maybe that’s what did it. Maybe I wished I had played FFXIII first, or any of the Final Fantasy games between it and FFX. Maybe I just felt too far removed from Final Fantasy itself to see a way back into that universe. And maybe I don’t know if there’s any going back.

From what I’ve see and read at this stage about what’s to come of the Final Fantasy VII remake, it’s absolutely peaked my interest, outside of the issue of “episodic” play, which leaves me somewhat cold. (And this makes me further question the cost of new games, as I discussed last week.) A big part of me believes that I should make an effort with the remake, whether or not it results in any sort of rediscovery of my former “Final Fantasy self,” because it looks like a game I’d enjoy. And if a turn back toward the series comes from that effort, all the better I suppose.


Are there any game series with which you remain distant acquaintances despite playing its multiple titles? Are there any games or game series you’d like to explore further but remain wary of?

15 thoughts on “Will the New Final Fantasy VII Lure Me Back into the Final Fantasy Universe?”

  1. I’m kinda like this with the Assassin’s Creed games. I loved playing through II and Brotherhood, but III left me disappointed and I didn’t even make it through Revelations. I’m still watching the series with interest in the hopes that one of the new games will do something to make me want to play them again, but that hasn’t happened yet.

    The FFVII Remake is going to be a wild card for sure. It’s going to be delivered in pieces rather than as one big release, the reasoning being that a single release would force them to scale back the scope of the game an thus deliver something that wouldn’t be a full remake. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but having waited this long, I don’t think I’d mind waiting until some sort of compilation of all the parts is released until jumping into it. But…I guess we’ll see. Maybe those pieces will be enough fun to justify buying on their own.

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    1. The “episodic” approach leaves me cold, so I’m disinclined to buy the game off the bat. For me, it’ll probably be best to wait until the “whole” game is available even if the pieces are critically acclaimed.

      I’m with you on Assassin’s Creed. Though I’ve only played the first game and a little of the third, I still tune in each time a new game in the series is released. I *want* to like it and play more games from the series, but something else always seems to take precedence. I think I might pick up Black Flag at some point, since that title seems to have done pretty well.

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  2. I would have liked to continue playing a Xenogears game. Although, I understand the creators went off and created a new studio out from under the Square name I remain very hesitant to buy a Wii just to play those games. Economically that would make no sense whatsoever. I wished Square realized they have something special in Xenogears.

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    1. I understand that the Xenogears games have a pretty devoted following, so it’s too bad to hear how things went with the series. There isn’t much sense in buying a system just for a handful of games, no matter how great they are. It’s be a different story of the games were made more widely available.

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  3. I’m looking forward to it. FF7 holds my favorite game place still and curious how the remake will compare to it. Because I want to play it, I’m trying to steer clear of info releases, but peek in from time to time.
    Sad to see you’ve never completed it.
    I was the same way with 13-1, played for like 30 minutes and didn’t get sucked in. I was more confused by what was going on than anything.

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    1. Haha, no spoilers, right? I’m like that too with games I’m really interested in. Given all the wild rumors about the remake that are out now, who knows what to believe.

      Not finishing FFVII was a real thorn in my side for awhile. For some reason, for the longest time I thought that I still had the game, but somewhere along the way must have sold it or given it away or something. Discovering that put an end to my wishes to finish it. I might still someday of I can get my hands on a copy. I still have all its old save data.

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      1. Exactly.
        Best of luck finding a copy. I remember my brother and I got stuck on the boss at Red XIII’s home area and restarted because we felt we were too under-powered. (We ran from fights a lot during that play through) I remember I got mad when I learned we could have used a phoenix down on him to kill him.

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  4. I’m a late comer to Final Fantasy and so I guess I come to it without all of the expectations. People can change as they get older and the same wonder you felt on first playing one won’t be the same now. Quite often it’s just nostalgia talking and many new and better games have been released since. For me it was Tomb raider. It seemed amazing at the time to be able to swim, climb and ride in vehicles, but now it’s a lot more common place and no longer feels so magical. I don’t always like to go back to older games as it can spoil the fond memories that I hold for them. Final Fantasy also seems to be one of those experiences that doesn’t instantly grip you and takes a bit of time to fully appreciate. I didn’t like Final Fantasy at first, but my partner was a huge fan. He helped me to see what was good about them and I’m really glad he managed to change my mind. I’m looking forward to the remake as I think it’ll allow me to appreciate it even more.

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    1. I think first impression with a game can really make or break one’s experiences with it. If there’s even one off-putting thing that happens within the first hour of play, it can sour the rest of the game from then on. It’s not like for me with every game — sometimes I can push past a bad opening, and sometime things turn our great — but it was with FFVII. It was just so different from anything I had played before.Then again, it may have been that I got into at a time when I could really delve into everything that the game offered.

      As someone who often writes about games from the nostalgic point of view, I totally get what you say about older games not living up to those memories. With the Rare Replay, for example, playing Conker’s Bad Fur Day is such a different and less notable experience than it was when I first played it on the N64. Not that it isn’t fun, but it’s testament to the fact that the past is the past, and sometimes it’s better if it stays there.

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      1. I often hear people talking about games as if they’ve gone downhill and we keep putting the same old titles on top of pedestals, but I think there are actually lots of new and better games. Not that there aren’t also some great old games too.

        Yeah, in game development they like to aim to impress you within the first five minutes. I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve completely swung from hating a game, to loving it and then sometimes back to hating it again. I find that I’m mostly patient and persevering with a slow starter, but then I enjoy looking into the design of something even if it’s not for me.

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      2. That’s a great approach. I hate to admit that I sometimes get too bogged down in just going with games I know. And that’s knowing full well that some of the best surprises can be found off the beaten track. It’s a hard habit to break, and it’s mostly due to the fact that I just don’t have time to go looking for those surprises. But the crop of good, new games is pretty astounding. Lots of creativity going into games nowadays, and that’s a very good thing.

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      3. Definitely. Most of the people I know are the same and stick to the games they already know they like, but I worry that I could be missing out on something even better and not realizing it.

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  5. I’ve grown quite bored of Final Fantasy. I love some of the older ones, like 7, 10, and 6, but I can’t get into the newer ones. FFXIII was not really worth it, even if I kind of enjoyed Lightning Returns, so I’d definitely not recommend trying it again. I agree that the new FF games just don’t have that same feel as the old ones, like FFVII. I was really engaged when I played FFVII. I was interested in the story and characters, but, starting with FFXII, I just can’t make myself care about any of this anymore. FFXV looks somewhat interesting, but at the same time, I can’t see myself really caring about it, either.

    I am excited about the remake of FFVII, though that whole episode thing does sound odd. I’m going to wait a while and hope they release the game all in one big chunk someday perhaps. Not sure if they will.

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    1. It does seem that the FF games took a turn somewhere around FFX. It’s just my opinion, but I think that as the games got better graphically, they got a little worse gameplay- and story-wise. Like, things in them became unnecessarily complicated. Not that FFVII was a simple game, but compared to later FF titles, it is. Though the new FFVII certainly looks great, hopefully we’ll see a return to form with the story. i.e. hopefully they won’t mess with the story itself too much, if at all.

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  6. Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    With all the news of the FFXV demo recently dominating my social media feed (haven’t played it myself…yet), I nearly forgot that a FFVII remake is totally still in the works! Final Fantasy and I have grown apart considerably since I completed FFIII and FFIV a number of years back. Despite the fact that I really enjoy the games — FFVII is a favorite — a divide remains. In this post I wrote several months ago for United We Game, I explored the idea that maybe, just maybe, the FFVII remake would somehow lure me back into the world of chocobos and moogles.

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