Final Fantasy 7 art director says there's an "alternate timeline" where the classic JRPG could've been a pixel art game, and I kind of want to live there

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth hero Cloud shown against purple light
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy 7 art director Yusuke Naora has commented on a viral image of an early development screenshot of the 1997 JRPG with pixel art, saying there's an "alternate timeline" where just such a thing could've existed.

I don't think it's particularly controversial to say, despite being one of the most iconic RPGs of all time, Final Fantasy 7 has aged like milk from a visual perspective. I'd even go as far as to say it's one of the most offensive examples of the video game industry's 'teen years', when everyone was switching from 2D to 3D. While there are some key exceptions like Mario 64 and Metal Gear Solid, I generally find fourth generation's pixel art has held up a lot better than 3D games from the more recent N64 and PS1 era.

A screenshot recently surfaced on Twitter showing an early prototype of Final Fantasy 7 in the pixel art style of earlier games in the series, and in my humble opinion, it looks a whole lot prettier than the game that ultimately released. The image caught the attention of the Naora, who took credit for creating the art and said there's another universe out there in which it could've been representative of the full game.

"This is a pixel graphic I created long ago," he said in a tweet translated by Automaton. "It really brings back memories… I was experimenting in preparation for the larger amount of capacity we would have, but I never imagined that after that we would end up making Midgar using the monstrous amount of storage space offered by CD-ROMs (lol). An FF7 like this would have been possible in an alternate timeline."

Coincidentally, earlier this year Final Fantasy 16 producer Naoki Yoshida, AKA Yoshi-P, casually floated two very early ideas for the next mainline game in the series, and one of them was a return-to-roots with turn-based combat and pixel art graphics. I'd be interested to see how Square could match the scale of modern Final Fantasy with a pixel art game, but at least you could be confident that the visuals would age like fine wine.

The father of Final Fantasy recently said it's a "blessing" working with Square Enix and Yoshi-P to rebuild the JRPG he made "thinking it could become my final work".

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.