If it's (not) broken...
Square-Enix's announcement of a Final Fantasy 7 remake at E3 2015 was a shock to the system. What was long regarded as nothing more than a fanboy's fantasy is finally becoming a reality, and we couldn't be more thrilled. Since its release in 1997, Final Fantasy 7 has spawned numerous spin-off games, a couple of movies, and its characters have made cameos across the Square-Enix library. Clearly, the game's popularity hasn't wanned in the almost two decades since its release.
Final Fantasy 7 has also already enjoyed numerous re-releases, so if you're itching to play the game in its original form you have plenty of options. With this remake, Square-Enix has the opportunity to make some tweaks and adjustments to the FF7 formula. They're already giving the game a modern-day facelift - but the possibilities don't end there. At the same time, it's important not to go overboard and lose the oddball stuff that made this JRPG great. Here are our picks for what should - and should not - change in this new Final Fantasy 7.
Fix the mini-games
Even the most ardent Final Fantasy 7 fan will admit to you that the game's controls are janky as hell, and there's nowhere that this is more evident than the mini-games. There are a plethora of mini-games strewn throughout Final Fantasy 7, featuring snowboarding, a motorcycle ride through techno-town, a tower defense game, and the wondrous carnival that is Gold Saucer - and they all handle about as well as you'd expect they would coming from a company whose only 3D game prior to this was Tobal No. 1.
Square-Enix will have to go back to the drawing board on a lot of these things, enhancing controls and perhaps increasing the depth to the games - perhaps make chocobo racing a little more involved than simply holding a button down and letting it go to replenish stamina. Maybe we'll even get few new ones within Gold Saucer like the ones found in Final Fantasy 14. But perhaps the best part of all? HD Mog House.
Keep Cloud's date with Barrett
Everybody had that one character in Final Fantasy 7 that they wanted - no, needed - to take on a date at the Gold Saucer. Each has their upsides, but there's just something special about the date with Barrett, where two grown men who barely tolerate each other take a romantic gondola ride in dead silence.
I worry this date option might be in danger of being cut, because Square's recent iterations of both characters have been cool and macho (with an extra side dish of broody in Cloud's case), with little room for the level of frivolity that such a date requires. But if Square is committed to keeping the bits of rampant goofiness that balance FF7's more serious parts, this scene needs to stay. I mean, if you don't get to watch Barrett and Cloud complain about watching the fireworks together and argue about girls they'd rather be with, is it really FF7?
Fix the typos
Nothing undermines a tense moment between a villain and main character quite like realizing the villain can't spell. That's what happens at the end of the fight against Sephiroth following Aeris' death, where Jenova climactically tells Cloud, "Beacause...you are a puppet." It's enough to get a snicker out or raised eyebrow out of many players at the least appropriate time, and it's definitely something that needs to be fixed for the remake.
It isn't just a spare "beacause" or "This guy are sick" that's the problem either. Final Fantasy 7's American localization is full of slapdash translations that are at best worded poorly, and at worst alter the dialogue in a way that makes the intention of some scenes a lot muddier. It's so widespread that one fan spent five years tuning the script into functional shape. We should expect no less from the remake, especially when it's fully voiced and typos will stand out pretty blatantly against the voice work. Maybe Square can hire that guy as a consultant.
Keep Aeris playing dress-up with Cloud
Putting men in dresses has long been a staple of western comedy, and while it may not be as popular as it once was (followers of Ru Paul know that drag is no funny business), I don't think Aeris dressing Cloud up as a girl should appear in the remake just for a cheap joke. Sure, laughs will probably be involved, since we have a hardened soldier sporting an awful pink dress and pigtails to break into a brothel, but the scene also reveals a great deal of important, early characterization.
More than anywhere else, this is where we see Aeris' unconventional thinking come out, as she decides that the absolute best way to rescue Tifa from a bad situation is to dress Cloud up in hastily arranged drag and send him into the fray. It also shows Cloud's determination and affection for Tifa (whether romantic or friendly, please don't hurt me), because would he ever go through with any of that if he didn't care? The scene gives the leads a lot of extra character they might not otherwise get, and... okay, it will also be funny to see a hyper-realistic Cloud wearing the world's ugliest dress with a straight face. He's a daring man.
Fix Barrett's accent
Mister T was all the rage in the 90's, and while allusions to him might hit all our nostalgia buttons, it's going to feel stale this far into the 21st century. So while old fans will probably still love Barrett's ridiculous and actually-kind-of-racist manner of speaking, new fans drawn to the remake either aren't going to get it, or will find it off-putting. Sometimes it's better to leave the past in the past.
That isn't to say that Barrett has to speak like a proper gent or become a mute main character, either - he just needs a voice that sounds like it belongs to a real person and not a joke from the A-team. Square-Enix has managed that balance in Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus, giving him more modern appeal without losing his tough-guy charm. They've done it before, and they can do it again - he'll just have a lot more lines this time.
Keep Cid's swearing
Cid's adorably colorful swearing was easy to pull off in the days of text-only dialogue: throw a few &'s and %'s and *'s together in a long string, and you're done! However, voice acting is just about mandatory these days, and if Square-Enix couldn't get away with typing what he was saying, you're damn sure they aren't going to get away with having him say it out loud. The immediate reaction might be that the swearing has to go, but unlike emulating a dated television icon, swearing (and the need to not broadcast it) is ubiquitous across generations. Cid's curses could totally fly, and get a few laughs along the way.
It wouldn't even be that hard to change his dialogue in a way that's suitable for a voice-focused generation. Just go the cable TV route and, whenever Cid says a string of symbols in the original script, use a long audio bleep to drown it out. It's quick, it's clean, it's a technique that the audience is familiar with, and it maintains the spirit of the original. It's a &^$%* good idea, is all I'm saying.
Fix the unskippable cutscenes
Ah, the Knights of the Round - or as I like to call it, the Snack Break summon. The longest summon sequence in all of FF7, it can get even longer when doubled with certain materia, and you have to watch it in its entirety every single time you want to call those magical beasts for aid. Most of you probably have it memorized, you've see that sequence so much. But these days that nonsense won't fly, so its time to kick the unskippable cutscenes for good.
This one is so simple I'll be bowled over if it isn't already in the cards: simply add a 'skip' button to any main cutscene, give players the option to toggle summon animations in the settings, and voil, problem solved. Square-Enix's been implementing both features in their games for years starting with Final Fantasy 12, so blessedly, I'll bet this one's a surefire change. I'll have to come up with a different nickname for the Knights, and I couldn't be happier.
Keep characters optional
It's true that Yuffie and Vincent have firmly embedded themselves in the canon of FF7, to the point that developers at Square-Enix actually wrote a scenario explaining why neither could be found in the original's final cutscene (which acts as the prologue to Dirge of Cerberus, so I get if you missed it). Retrospectively it seems odd for them to be optional, since canonically speaking they were absolutely involved, but this one is worth keeping.
Not just because 'that's how it is in the original', which is often a bad excuse to do anything, but because their status as optional characters is part of what makes them feel special. I know friends who went to great lengths to complete Yuffie and Vincent's sidequests, desperate to invite these mysterious characters onto their team. In the same way BioWare makes some of its biggest characters feel even more interesting because their totally missable, Yuffie and Vincent gain an extra level of intrigue because you have to work to get them on your side. Sure, it might be easier to have them from the get-go, but why rob new fans of that feeling of victory and character connection when they finally call you a teammate?
Make the rumors into reality
Being suckered by outlandish Final Fantasy 7 rumors was all part of the fun back in 1997. There were so many good ones - recruit Sephiroth, find the Holy materia, learn Super Nova - that it was hard not to be convinced at least one of them was true. But after countless hours spent talking to a friend who heard from his cousin that his older brother knew how to fight Turqoise Weapon, we all realized these rumors were just empty promises. Clearly, such outrageous claims were too good to be true, but with the Final Fantasy 7 remake on the horizon, Square-Enix has the chance to rewrite history.
This remake should include an immensely well-hidden, complex sidequest that finally puts to rest the greatest Final Fantasy 7 rumor of all: reviving Aerith. The sidequest would only appear after you finish the game once, and completing it would earn you an alternate ending. It would be a fun way to celebrate FF7's legacy in a way that recognizes that passionate (and imaginative) fan community that sprung up around this game.
To wait or not wait, that is the question
Its a sticky issue. The essence of FF7s core mechanics is in its turn-based combat, but on the other hand those very same mechanics are horribly slow and outdated by modern standards. Its the one change we imagine is giving the developers the biggest headache.
No matter how fondly you remember it through your misty nostalgia glasses, going back to it now its the turn-based combat that is really starting to show its age. Fancypants HD Cloud and Tifa wont be content waiting in a queue to strike. A complete 180 to FF15-style action would feel like a betrayal to those core ideas, but things definitely need a significant update.
Fix Aeris/th's name
For the love of the lifestream, just pick one. Make it official and end the debate once and for all. This argument has gone on two decades too long.