Final Fantasy VII: so they're remaking it at last

FF7 and I have a complex relationship. Back in my teens, I adored the game and played it endlessly, unlocking everything I could find, setting myself challenges such as beating Sephiroth without any materia equipped, and even scribbling in my Brady Games strategy guide in an attempt to make it more accurate and complete. Then in my twenties, I became bitter and cynical, and could only focus on all the frustrating and imperfect aspects of the game that made the reality fall short of the rose-tinted memories. Now, in my thirties, I have forgiven FF7 somewhat, because whilst it is far from perfect, it still brought me a lot of fun over the years.

It’s with both excitement and trepidation that I, like many others, await the remake that Square-Enix always claimed they wouldn’t make, even when it was inevitable that one day they would cave in and do just that. Earlier games in the series have benefited from remakes that brought them back into circulation and introduced them to a new generation. And certainly FF7 has always been a bit lacking in some areas, what with its simplistic 3D graphics and error-ridden English translation. But can a remake do the game justice? Will all the parts we love, or at least love to hate, be as we remember them? Can this game really be remade without turning it into a pile of trash not unlike the painfully bad FF13? All of these things remain to be seen, but rather than focussing on the major aspects of the game here, in this article, I’ll be looking at the little things that gave FF7 its distinct personality. They’re random, obscure, and wouldn’t be missed by casual players, but for good or ill, FF7 wouldn’t be the same game without them.

10 bits of random miscellany that must make it into the FF7 remake

  1. Cloud takes a bath: To be fair, the whole Wall Market section is a bit random. With Tifa seemingly trapped in Don Corneo’s mansion, Cloud finds out that the only way he can get in to rescue her is to dress as a woman and get selected as the Don’s “bride” for the night. You can make as much or as little preparation for this as you like, but if you go the whole hog, then in addition to LadyCloud’s wig and dress, you can collect perfume, make-up and even a tiara. Gathering all this stuff requires you to pay a visit to the Honeybee Inn, a burlesque-style establishment where one of the options is to take a bath in a tub packed with muscled men wearing only trunks. Was it progressive for its time? Maybe – but it’s also completely random.
  2. The Don’s bedroom: Once you get into Don Corneo’s mansion, one of two things can happen. If the Don chooses one of Tifa and Aeris, and you get sent to entertain his minions, who then swarm after you until you fight them off. If he chooses Cloud, then you can either try to resist and then play along, up to the point of attempting to kiss him. Don’t worry, the game won’t let you plant a kiss on the Don’s oily lips, but once Cloud, Tifa and Aeris are all gathered together, they manage to extract information from the Don by threatening to do increasingly violent things to his bollocks.
  3. Flushing the toilet at Shinra HQ: When you infilitrate Shinra HQ, you end up climbing on a toilet in a bathroom stall to listen in to the directors’ meeting next door – although unfortunately the scent of the toilet causes Heidegger to remark that “something stinks”. Desperate to make my toilet-based spying as fresh-smelling as possible, I flushed the toilet many times, but to no avail.
  4. Your Costa Del Sol retirement home: Once you get into the endgame, you might find that you have more money than you know what to do with. Well, fear not, because you can spend a chunk of it on acquiring your own holiday home in Costa del Sol. What are the advantages of having this house at your disposal? Well, not only can you rest there for free (if you can be bothered to fly all the way over there instead of paying for an inn or using the Highwind), but you can flush the toilet!
  5. Morphing in the submarine: The downed submarine is one of the most lucrative optional areas in terms of goodies and experience, and also the place to go for serial grinders. By morphing the enemies there, you can obtain ‘Source’ items, which can be used to enhance your base stats. With sufficient time and effort, it is in principle possible to get everyone’s stats up to that fabled value of 255.
  6. Chocobo dance: Talk to the chocobos in the field at the Chocobo Farm, and they’ll do a little dance for you! You’ll also get a materia, so it’s not just an empty gesture.
  7. Gold Saucer dating choices: When your party spends the night at the Gold Saucer, you get to spend the evening with whichever person you’ve built up the best relationship – be that Tifa, Aeris, Yuffie, or even Barret. Yes, Cloud and Barret can go on a ‘date’, although unfortunately they don’t get to be in the play as a couple, and they spend most of the gondola ride talking about girls.
  8. Zeno…gias: After Cloud’s fall into the Lifestream leaves him poisoned and near-catatonic, you have to leave him behind at the clinic in Mideel. Chat to him, though, and he will start spouting random nonsense words, including “zeno…gias”, a thinly-veiled references to Square’s other big game of the time, Xenogears.
  9. Mog’s House: The cutest and most inoffensive game in the Gold Saucer selection, Mog’s House is all about feeding a moogle the right number of Kupo nuts so that he can fly and impress his would-be girlfriend. It’s an extremely simple game that gives out plenty of GP for not much effort, and was my go-to for getting GP on the board the first time I played.
  10. Teioh: Ah, Teioh, my nemesis in the chocobo races. Just the sight of that black chocobo in the number two spot on the lineup was enough to make me pull out all the stops to ensure that my chocobo wasn’t outpaced by him. All the other chocobos on the track are pushovers compared to Teioh, but beat him enough times and you’ll win a raft of goodies.

 

5 Annoying Things that the remake must not leave out for the true FF7 experience

  1. The dolphin jump: When you’re stuck in lower Junon and need to get to upper Junon, help is at hand from an unlikely source. Mr Dolphin, a relatively tame dolphin, will respond to the call of a whistle and bear you on his back as he leaps up to a high beam that will send you on your way. The trick is whistling for him in the exact spot that ensures he’ll jump over the beam and deposit you safely, instead of just carrying you back to down to the beach again. Sometimes it can feel almost impossible to find that spot, leading to much anger and frustration.
  2. Button timing: When Cloud, Tifa and Barret break into a reactor together, one part of the infiltration process involves all three of them hitting their respective computer panels at the same time. Barret and Tifa are controlled by the computer, and so can perform this act in perfect unison, but Cloud is under the control of the human player. It’s all too easy to press too quickly in eagerness, or leave it a fraction of a second too late, and then you have to sit through being told that you’ve failed and will have to try again. And again. And again.
  3. Climbing the plate: Climbing the plate from the Midgar slums is a long process, but undoubtedly the most tedious part is when you have to perfectly time a jump onto a swinging rod in order to progress. Since FF7 lacks the swift reactivity of a platform game, it’s very easy to mistime the swing, fall down and have to work your way back up.
  4. CPR on Priscilla: When you find Priscilla half-drowned on the beach, you do what any humanitarian would, and try to revive her. Unfortunately for the player, this means waiting for Cloud’s lungs to fill up with air (as indicated by an onscreen pair of lungs), and then breathing into Priscilla just as the lungs fill to their maximum. Leave it too late, and the lungs will empty, forcing you to wait even longer. Breathe out too soon, and Priscilla won’t revive, meaning that you have to try again. Still, I guess it’s just as well that she doesn’t die.
  5. Submarine Game: with its 80s wireframe graphics and excruciatingly slow speed, the submarine game is anything but fun – especially as the first time you play it, you must succeed in tracking down the other submarine in order to recover a Huge materia. For the truly masochistic, you can replay the submarine game as many times as you want over at the Gold Saucer. Needless to say, I wasn’t one of those people.

 

5 fondly remembered translation errors

  1. ‘cought by surprise’: If your Pre-Emptive materia triggers, you will get a notification that the character who has it equipped was ‘cought by surprise’. Well, at least they didn’t cough in surprise.
  2. ‘off course’: Want to keep going in the Battle Arena? Off course you do!
  3. ‘this guy are sick’: Perhaps the most famous grammar gaffe, despite the fact that you don’t even have to talk to the sick guy in question.
  4. ‘beacause’: So infamous is this enigmatic explanation of Cloud’s circumstances that one man even named his FF7 retranslation project after it.
  5. ‘gunge lance’: Odin’s mighty weapon Gungir is here mistranslated to sound more like a hideous rod of snot. Ew.