E3 has come and gone. The collective dust of the different console makers and game developers has settled. I was working from morning until evening every day of the conference, and, as such, I missed the live stream. The chaos that awaited me at my computer screen when I returned seemed like something out of a fervent dream. The Internet was going crazy, and when I watched the trailer, I felt, gleefully, feelings from a younger age in my life began to stir within my depths.
I’ve watched the trailer at least twenty times now, I’ve read through article after article stating how the remake will be different (out of necessity or because of creative choices), and I have witnessed countless grown men and women weep, scream and cheer for this game. It has been a lot for any of us to process, and I know that at this moment, all we have is a trailer, with zero gameplay, to tide us over.
As my excitement diffuses into reserved reflection, there is one question that has been tugging at the depths of my mind: are we ready for this?
I know that it may sound like a pandering, ignorant, and maybe even troll-like question, but I feel it is a legitimate one. The evidence is in everything I have seen so far.
Watch the trailer again (if you haven’t seen it as many times as I have already) and you’ll notice that the narrator laces his monologue with nostalgic moments from the original game, but he also makes it clear that he wishes to prepare us for inevitable changes that will come with the HD remake.
The reunion at hand may bring joy, it may bring fear...
Those words are intended to be both optimistic and, simultaneously, cautionary. Square is trying to ease us into this by letting us know that “Hey, we know that you love this game, we love it too, and we know that you are afraid that we may mess something up along the way. By the way, we are going to have to change some things”
The simple fact of the matter is that Final Fantasy VII is Square Enix’s creation, and they can do with it whatever they bloody-well like (Dirge of Cerberus anyone?). That being said, I think that it would be impossible for them to not realize how close this game rests to gamers’ hearts.
And therein in lies Sqaure Enix’s greatest challenge. The graphics and frame rate of any game are always a concern, but, given their response to Final Fantasy XV’s demo, I am optimistic that they will have it handled. Musical score? I don’t even think that warrants worry. Gameplay? I trust them to figure it out as they have done for decades now. Voice acting? I’m a bit nervous, but I can forgive the occasional moment of cheese or hamminess should it occur.
The true X-factor regarding a remake of this magnitude will ultimately be you and me. Don’t get me wrong, this is going to be the easiest day one purchase I have probably ever made. I’m not even thinking about sales at this point. I’m thinking about how this game will always be compared to the original.
Watch part of the four hour compilation of the reactions to the remake trailer and you will be met with a tsunami of feels. Hostile and agitated sighs of cynicism slowly melt away to squeals of delight as the viewers realize that, f’ing a, the dream has finally been realized!
Watch the reactions closer though and you’ll notice something else. One of the viewers starts to excitedly gush, “Is that my boy Cloud?” Another sees Barret’s arm cannon and exclaims “Oh God that’s Barret!” as though they are old friends meeting for the first time after a decade of estrangement. These characters aren’t just the inhabitants of a fictional world, they are, to us, battle-worn allies who have invited us along on their journey of joys and strifes (I have been on that journey multiple times). We have been there for they achievements, and we have wallowed with them while they waded through their sorrows.
And this is where my greatest concern resides. Look at how people choose to constantly compare a localization or a remake of a movie to the original (I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch Spike Lee’s Oldboy simply because I am fearful that I will do just that). After waiting so long for this game to be made, when our excitement finally cools, and the game finally drops, will our nostalgia, our memories, and our love for these characters allow us to the embrace the creative changes that Square Enix chooses to make?
I love Final Fantasy VII, and I will proceed with great trepidation as we wait for more details to be released. In the meantime, I suppose that I will have to simply trust the narrator when he says:
... but let us embrace whatever it brings, for they are coming back! At last the promise has been made!
I think I can do that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to re-watch the trailer for the twenty-first time.