Metacritic is not a reliable measure of a game’s quality. If you go to that vapid den of aggregation, you might get the impression that Final Fantasy XIII and its sequel Final Fantasy XIII-2 are well loved. They certainly sold well, especially Final Fantasy XIII-2, which Square-Enix credits as one of two retail games released in the past year that returned the publisher to profitability. Actually talk to a human being about these games though, and you’re likely to see peculiar expression cross their mug, some weird cross between wistfulness and nausea. The characters are jerks, the world of Cocoon and Pulse is a garbled mess of sci-fi wankery, and incompetent mythos building obscures the grand melodrama that made the series a staple for years.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 made Square profitable this year, but as of this summer, it’s been 15 years since that game’s most famous ancestor made Final Fantasy a household name the world over.
Final Fantasy VII is 15 years-old now. It can legally work a part time job and get a driver’s permit in most states. To celebrate the milestone, Famitsu sat down with a few of the key minds behind the game that everyone wishes Final Fantasy XIII was. Director Yoshinori Kitase, artist Tetsuya Nomura, and co-writer Kazuhige Nojima reminisced about the game’s development and shed interesting light on what lent that game its particularly memorable flavor.
Just a note for anyone who’s never gotten around to playing it in the last decade and a half: Here be story details.
Believe it or not, marquee characters like Cloud’s mentor Zack and Tifa were never supposed to be a part of the game at all. Aerith, she who caused so many gamers to shed a tear back in the day, was supposed to be the sole female lead, and villain Sephiroth was supposed to be her first love, not Zack. Of course, in a creepy turn, Nomura went on to say that Sephiroth and Aerith were supposed to be brother and sister at another point in development. Gross.
Director Kitase meanwhile noted that horror classic Alone in the Dark was a big influence on the game, which makes a lot of sense really; of all the Final Fantasy games, VII plays the most with horror and suspense.
What of the oft-rumored remake? Nomura put the kibosh once again on fan’s hopes saying that Square’s focus is on making new titles that can best Final Fantasy VII, rather than revisiting old games.
Don’t believe him for a second. That remake will happen, it’s just a matter of when. Nomura’s own team is entering its sixth year of development on Final Fantasy Versus XIII and he’s intimated that their next project is Kingdom Hearts 3. With DLC wrapping up on Final Fantasy XIII-2 though, Kitase’s team is wide open. Square does love money, and its tools for the current generation of hardware are now well in place. They could turn the game around fairly quickly really. Food for thought.