final fantasy 7 is finally getting its infamously demanded remake, and nerds are probably about to be really mad about it no matter what happens. the project has been given pedigree by the fact various key individuals from the original game will be returning for the remake. the purpose of this pedigree is to grant the project authenticity and a guarantee that the sacred text of final fantasy 7 will not be tampered with; more specifically, that the cherished relationship every fan has with this game will be vindicated by this project. there is only vindication, or utter betrayal.
the game that was released in 1997 will bear little resemblance to the game released in 2016. they will be connected by superficial fictional threads, vague PR about authenticity and pedigree, and a distant admiration for its past accomplishments. but the way they look, sound, feel, speak to you will all be entirely different. if they weren’t, it wouldn’t be much of a ‘remake’ at all. the structure of the game will be different, the mechanisms which deliver scenes and dialogue will be too. this requires not a retooling, but a reimagining of the source material.
that certain key individuals return for this reimagining does not guarantee an authenticity to the source material, in fact it is likely the opposite. creators rarely cherish their output in the same way fans enshrine them. their ambition will likely not be to vindicate their fans relationships with the games, but rather, to retell the game consistently with their present ambitions. 20 years have passed since 1997, and it would be absurd if these key creative voices did not have vastly different ideas about how they would do final fantasy 7 again today. to expect the same story again would be inconsistent with how much the franchise has already changed, and how more recently released games have different takes on their characters, universe, and past events. there is no enshrined, essential final fantasy 7: just thousands of fragments thrown into each other from every direction by the original creators, later creators, and fans alike. is Cloud the Cloud from 1997, or the Cloud from 2005’s Advent Children, or the Cloud from 2007’s Crisis Core, or the Cloud fans remember from 1997, or the Cloud as defined by the creators’ ever-changing vision, or the Cloud fans took and have expanded since 1997? Which fans? Which original creators? The original character designer, or the storywriter who wrote that line you cherish? That queer ass fanfic that elevated Cloud’s character into much more than he originally was, and permanently reflected on the way you see Cloud anywhere else?
the marketers and PR engineers and top executives of Square Enix will do everything in their power to lean into the fanbase, curbing the key individuals’ evolved visions of the franchise to align with the anticipated demands of fans, critics, and self-identified gamers. however, none of this clever deception will change the reality that this will not be the game that was released in 1997. that game will never go away, but to some, if the remake does not vindicate the 1997 game they adore, it will be dead. there is no winning in the battle of it being a true remake, or an authentic remake, or the endless debate threads and skittering arguments about cross-examining minutia. there is no such thing as an authentic remake. this final fantasy 7 remake will be a different creature, another fragment tossed into the vague totality of what final fantasy 7 is. for me, final fantasy 7 does not matter in the capacity of an individual’s preconceptions of it, but in the way it creates a community and a language, this big network of dorks having this common focal point for storytelling and shared experiences. what’s exciting to me about the final fantasy 7 remake is not that it will be the same thing but sexier and pandering, but that it will create a new fire to gather around.