When the Final Fantasy VII remake was officially announced at this past weekend’s PlayStation Experience 2015 conference, I watched in awe and confusion. The gameplay video that was shown was exciting and unexpected. It looked like FFVII, but it also really didn’t. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Cloud’s spiky blond hair and familiar Buster Sword, I probably would have thought it was an entirely new game. But it wasn’t. It was Final Fantasy VII for a whole new generation. And it was Final Fantasy VII for a previous generation to experience anew.
After digesting the fact that this new-old version of FFVII will actually be bestowed upon the masses (no more rumors, speculation, or HD nonsense), I can’t help but wonder if I’m still part of that generation? That previous generation who may have first been introduced to the FF universe through this particular installment, if not one of the earlier games. FFVII was my first Final Fantasy game, and I had never played anything like it. The sweeping story, the explorable world, the character interactions, the battle system – all of that was completely new to me. I quickly fell head over heels for Cloud and Tifa and Barrett and Cid, and I got fairly sucked into the game for a time. Only then I hit a difficult battle with one of the Jenova bosses near the end of the game, and the love affair ended. Yeah…I never beat the game. That bothered me for a time, but it doesn’t really anymore. And, quite possibly, I’ll now have a chance to fix that, or next year I will, anyway. And that’s pretty awesome, right?
Honestly, I’m not sure.
After aborting things with FFVII, I next played FFX (first playthrough – hated it; second playthrough – liked it), and then, a few years after that, I played the Nintendo DS ports of FFIII and FFIV. The games were fine, or turned out to be, but I didn’t go coo-coo-bananas over any of them in the manner that I had (at least initially) over FFVII. I enjoyed their stories and somewhat-varied-but-mostly-the-same gameplay. I liked exploring in them and taking on all manner of beasts. I had fun spending time with motley assortments of characters, from the humorous to the dour. But that desire to specifically play a Final Fantasy game had quite faded. And I especially knew that when I whimsically downloaded Final Fantasy XIII-2 onto our Xbox 360 earlier this year. It was on sale, I had a little cash to burn, and I thought it was as good a time as any to try to recapture some of that Final Fantasy magic that I remembered so well.
I think I’ve played twenty minutes of FFXIII-2. Maybe thirty. Not more than an hour, for sure.
I know it’s hardly enough to form any sort of opinion on the game itself. I neither like FFXIII-2 nor hate it, but I think I was hoping to be immediately captured by that Final Fantasy spirit, and I wasn’t. (Instead, Xenoblade Chronicles took its place, and amazing though it was, it was no Final Fantasy game.) I understand that the FFXIII series is not without its own quirks, which some like and others despise, but nothing about that very first impression of FFXIII-2 made me want to keep going with it. It’s got quite an odd battle system – maybe that’s what did it. Maybe I wished I had played FFXIII first, or any of the Final Fantasy games between it and FFX. Maybe I just felt too far removed from Final Fantasy itself to see a way back into that universe. And maybe I don’t know if there’s any going back.
From what I’ve see and read at this stage about what’s to come of the Final Fantasy VII remake, it’s absolutely peaked my interest, outside of the issue of “episodic” play, which leaves me somewhat cold. (And this makes me further question the cost of new games, as I discussed last week.) A big part of me believes that I should make an effort with the remake, whether or not it results in any sort of rediscovery of my former “Final Fantasy self,” because it looks like a game I’d enjoy. And if a turn back toward the series comes from that effort, all the better I suppose.
Are there any game series with which you remain distant acquaintances despite playing its multiple titles? Are there any games or game series you’d like to explore further but remain wary of?