When Square Enix first revealed Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade for PS5 earlier this year, the presence of one character, in particular, caused no end of excitement. Yuffie Kisaragi declared her arrival in Midgar for the new story expansion, Intermission, and the mere sight of the Materia hunter caused Final Fantasy fans everywhere collectively to erupt with joy. As one of the optional characters in the original 1997 release, Intermission looked set to put Yuffie into the spotlight in an entirely new way, with her very own adventure as an elite special forces operative.
For Yuffie's English voice actor Suzie Yeung, the initial fan reaction in the lead-up to release quickly illustrated just how much love there already was for the character. "I was very touched," says Yeung. "I was actually surprised because I didn't know to what degree Yuffie was loved and looked forward to, honestly, by the fan community. So, I actually watched some reaction videos to some of them. And it was so wholesome because you can really tell how much fans loved her. I was nervous, but also excited for them to meet her."
Yeung's first exposure to the Final Fantasy series was with Final Fantasy 10, which remains a firm favourite, and she became familiar with Yuffie from Final Fantasy 7 in media outside of the core game – such as her appearance in the Kingdom Hearts series, and the animated film Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children. With Final Fantasy 7 Remake very much establishing its own reimagining of the classic JRPG, Yeung approached the role with the same perspective to bring something new and fresh to the character. "I did hear the previous performances and I super respect them," says Yeung. "That's what made me kind of really like Yuffie in the first place, because of how peppy they made her and everything. But because I know that the Remake was its own iteration, I kind of wanted to bring something fresh and unique to Yuffie."
In Intermission, we follow Yuffie on an adventure in Midgar as she sets out to try and steal the ultimate materia from the Shinra Electric Power company. Joined by Wutai soldier Sonon and some other new faces, we get to see Yuffie in a whole new light. We're able to see how she handles and reacts to different situations, and get better acquainted with the character than we ever were able to in the 1997 original. Yuffie is a richer character now because of the Intermission Episode, and being able to give voice to the young Wutai ninja's personality was a part of the experience Yeung relished working on.
"Especially in this version, she is so multi dimensional now," Yeung says. "In the original game, I think they painted her as this sort of like a bratty kid who just steals your materia and there wasn't too much to sort of extrapolate from her character. But in Intermission, you got to see so many sides of her, which I love. You know, she's proud, but also, she has a good heart behind her. I love how sassy she is, as well. She tends to be the comedic relief, which I really appreciate."
"Because this is the first time you get to see Yuffie in this extended capacity, I just think to be able to bring the new sides of her to life that people have never seen before is just a mind blowing experience," Yeung continues. "I feel so lucky to be able to be that person who can sort of tell Yuffie's story for the first time in detail to everybody who's fans of the series."
Yeung expresses that it's an honor to get the chance to be a part of the legacy of Yuffie and the Final Fantasy series; especially as Final Fantasy 7 is one of the most well-known of the franchise. When Yeung describes the moment she found out she'd gotten the role, it's clear just how much playing Yuffie means to her on a personal and professional level. As an up-and-coming voice actor, it presented a life-changing opportunity.
"When I got the email [about getting the part], I was kind of in shock," Yeung recalls. "I went upstairs to my room, I started pacing back and forth, like not really understanding what was happening. And then I looked at the email again, and I just slowly sank to the ground. I started crying. I was just so in shock, I never in a million years would have believed that I would get this role, because it had been, I think, a month or two without hearing back. It was unbelievable. I was speechless, I was crying, and I was so emotional. At the time, I had come from just not having too much experience; I didn't really know if I was going to make it here, having recently moved. Just having that news, it changed my life. I'm not even exaggerating, it actually changed my life."
While the voice lines were recorded during COVID, Yeung speaks highly of the safety precautions Square Enix took when she went into her recording sessions. Ensuring she was comfortable with going in, the team maintained a safe distance with the director and engineer in another room. With guidance from the director and localizer, Yeung experienced the story of Intermission right along with Yuffie from moment to moment, which allowed her to draw from her own feelings and put some of herself into the role.
"I experienced her whole story with her. Essentially, I was discovering the whole world and her relationships as Yuffie," Yeung explains, speaking of what was most challenging about playing the part. "I guess it wasn't too difficult to put myself in her, because I was reacting at the same time. So for any shocking or emotional moments, I felt it as well. Maybe the challenging part would be trying to balance her personality with these new dimensions of her that have just never been tapped before. And just making sure that she's still intact as a character, but expanding on her other sides – like her sensitive sides."
With Intergade paving the way for Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2, which is set to follow immediately after, we're sure to see more of the energetic and skilled Wutai ninja. When it comes to playing Yuffie in the future, Yueng tells me she's most excited to get the chance to interact with Cloud and the rest of the main cast: "In Intermission, I was able to experience a lot of different sides of Yuffie already, so I'm just super excited to be able to interact with the main cast, which I think she will inevitably meet in some way or another," Yueng says. "So I'm just really excited for the interactions and to be able to bounce off of those characters that I already know, like Cloud, and Tifa, and Aerith, and Barret."