When it comes to video games, some come and go, while others leave a mark in the industry and cementing its place in the hearts of gamers around the world. Final Fantasy VII is one of those games, so it was a no-brainer Hip-Hop Wired.com jumped at the opportunity to interview the Final Fantasy VII Remake’s producer Yoshinori Kitase.
It’s been almost 5 years since Square Enix shocked the world and gave us our first glimpse of Final Fantasy VII Remake inducing tears of joy out of fans of the game (including myself). Now we are literally just days away from the game’s release. In our conversation with Kitase, we got the opportunity to ask him about how the idea of a remake came together, why did they decide to make break the game up into multiple parts, if we have to worry about the coronavirus delaying part 2 and more.
Hip-Hop Wired: So when did the great idea of doing a remake of Final Fantasy VII come together?
Yoshinori Kitase: I had been loosely thinking about the idea ever since we were mid-way through the production of the “Compilation of Final Fantasy VII series (from 2005 and on). It became more concrete in my mind afterward, when the Final Fantasy series celebrated its 25th-anniversary milestone in 2012, where we were thinking of how we could take the franchise even further. (Ultimately though, the actual project didn’t even kick off until a few years onward).
HHW: Final Fantasy VII is regarded as one of the greatest games/RPG’s ever made. It also has one of the most loyal fanbases as well, were you worried about remaking a classic? Do you think fans will be pleased with the game?
Kitase: I was slightly worried, but I also believed that if we made sure to take great care of the scenes and gameplay elements that remain strongly in the memories of our fans, then we could meet their expectations. There were many members of the development staff who played and were fans of the original Final Fantasy VII, and they challenged themselves to create something new while paying respect toward it. I’m sure fans will be satisfied.
HHW: Why did you decide to make this a multi-game project instead of releasing it at all at once?
Kitase: It was easy for us to imagine, even from the story planning stages, that remaking the game to the highest visual levels and going for a more realistic approach to the world, using modern-day technology, would result in a huge volume of work and assets. Simply, with the higher visual quality and the size of the world, it was impossible for a single game. As such, we had two options at that point.
One was to fit all the elements into one game by simplifying each of the elements, which basically would have resulted in a very cut-down digest of the original game, where the players would just follow the main storyline but we would have had to cut a lot of content with that approach, and we didn’t think that fans would have accepted that.
The other was to focus on the portion of the story up to the escape from Midgar, allowing us to avoid omitting any important scenes and to expand on the original, by going deeper into the world and characters than before. Effectively it would be a new game with an emphasis on creating a realistic presentation with substance.
We decided that the latter is what the fans are looking for and would enjoy far more.
HHW: You totally reimagined the battle system in Final Fantasy Remake, was that done to give players the feeling that they are playing a brand-new game instead of just relieving the original?
Kitase: The battle system is a more action-oriented evolution of the original ATB (Active Time Battle) system. Players of the original should be familiar with the basics of the system in Final Fantasy VII Remake. This time around, we’ve also introduced elements like moving around, attacking, dodging, and blocking. There are still tactical elements, but the system we’ve created feels very dynamic and helps create a greater sense of immersion.
I believe this hybrid battle system will feel brand-new to both new players and fans of the original.
HHW: It has been revealed that when the first part drops, it will only cover the Midgar section of FF7 and will be a full-length game. Can you tell us exactly how many hours of gameplay players can look forward to?
Kitase: As each player enjoys content at a different pace, I’m afraid I’m unable to make a generalized statement. I would encourage everyone to just play the game to confirm that for themselves. I will say, it’s been designed to be comparable to full-length Final Fantasy titles, so I think it will give players an enjoyable experience.
HHW: The coronavirus is currently ravaging the world and shutting things down all over the globe. Do we have to worry about it affecting the release of the second part?
Kitase: Many companies, not just us, will be putting in various countermeasures such as remote work, etc. Looking at it in the mid- to long-term, I believe it is possible to overcome these difficult times.
Final Fantasy VII Remake launches April 10 only on PlayStation 4.
Photo: Square Enix / Final Fantasy VII Remake