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‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ Interview Highlights

  • Highlights from an interview with Yoshinori Kitase and Naoki Hamaguchi.
  • “New but familiar” discussed.
  • Red XIII gets a spotlight moment as well!


March has been a double-hitter for gamers with the launch of DOOM Eternal on multiple platforms and Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch, and it’s just a taste of things to come. 2020 may be a bit of a downer so far outside of the world of gaming, but within there are plenty of new releases in the coming months to look forward to and next month is no exception. With both Final Fantasy VII Remake and the remake of Resident Evil 3 releasing over the next few weeks, if you’re stuck inside there’s going to be plenty served up on your plate to sate your gaming cravings.

Final Fantasy VII Remake is the first of several installments building upon the 1997 with the goal of making each installment the equivalent of a full-length Final Fantasy game. That’s a pretty ambitious goal, considering that unless you’re speedrunning even a non-completionist playthrough can take a few dozen hours at least on most entries. With the first installment set entirely in the city of Midgar, which was only a small slice of the original game, there’s a lot of questions to be had if this first installment of the remake will actually deliver on the said promises. 

Midgar is one of several topics discussed in a  recent interview with Yoshinori Kitase, and Naoki Hamaguchi who are instrumental in the remake’s development a producer and co-director respectively. While you can find the full interview at this link, below you’ll find some of the key takeaways the shed more light on the upcoming release.

Why did you make the decision to set this game entirely in the city of Midgar?

Kitase: When we first started the Remake project we had to make a decision on what elements from the original we absolutely had to keep in order for it to still be considered FINAL FANTASY VII.

In other words, what were the essential parts of the original, what were the parts that we knew fans absolutely had to see and therefore we needed to retain?

We quickly decided that there were so many essential parts that fans would be upset if we had to cut out anything from the original.

At the beginning of the project we had two directions we could go. The first was to make the project with the highest possible level of graphics, visual quality and detail, and not remove anything that fans wanted to see. Instead, it would expand upon the original game, to make it something even more immersive.

The other option was to include the entire scope of the original game in a single release. But in order to make that work as a modern game, we wouldn’t be able to go for the highest visual quality and we’d also have to cut back on areas and scenes from the original.

Essentially, to make a single release viable the resulting game would have ended up being a digest of the original story, and we didn’t think that fans would be pleased with that.

Ultimately, we decided the best option for the project was to go for the highest level possible, with an expanded story. Having more than one game in the project allowed us to focus on keeping everything people loved from the original, but go into greater detail and more story depth than before.

Midgar is iconic to FINAL FANTASY VII, so we had to start the game here, and follow the story up to the main party’s escape from the city.

How have you expanded the city? Can fans expect to see new areas of Midgar?

Kitase: In the original game there were a lot of breaks in the game, where the screen went black, and then the game continues in a different location.

In other words, there were a lot of parts in between sections of Midgar that were implied, but never seen. That was something that we wanted to address with remake – to fill in all those gaps, show how the different parts of the city are connected, and make it a continuous experience.

Hamaguchi: We focused on giving each section of Midgar its own feel, complete with its own culture and community. There is a large amount of variety within the city, and you really get a sense who people are and how they live in this place.

Some fans have expressed disappointment that Red XIII is not a playable character. Can you specify the role of Red XIII in the game?

Hamaguchi: I answered a question about Red XIII while we were going around Europe talking to media, but there was a bigger response from fans than I had expected! I got a renewed sense of how much love there is out there for the characters in FINAL FANTASY VII.

To explain more about why we did not make Red XIII a playable character in this game, we felt that because he only joins the team during the latter stages, having him as a playable ally with full character growth potential would not be a satisfying experience for the player. So we decided to have him join for now, as a guest character instead.

However, the development team feel the same way that the fans do when it comes to seeing Red XIII as an important character, and we designed his gameplay in a special way to offset him not being playable in battle.

I won’t reveal exactly what that entails, because I want people to enjoy it when they actually play the game, but I will say that FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE has added a new upper floor to the Shinra Building to present a climax that was not in the original.

The key to navigating this floor lies in using Red XIII’s unique physical abilities to overcome environmental obstacles. Letting the player experience his heroics in this way is something that I’m confident will please the fans.

I hope everyone enjoys seeing Red XIII in action in the build-up to the climax of the story.

That’s just a few of the more interesting parts of the interview, and while it did shed some light on the amount of effort that has gone into Midgar it still feels like we have so little information. Sure, the game is going to be big but is it going to really be Final Fantasy levels of big when it’s all within a singular city? Players will get the chance to find out when the game launches on PlayStation 4 on April 10th. In the meantime, if you haven’t tried the demo yet, you can check out Exclusively Games’ coverage of it here.