The 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has come to an end after a flurry of exciting announcements and details about upcoming games and hardware from the world's top video game companies. The myriad of games discussed include heavy hitters from established franchises such as Halo, Uncharted, Gears of War, Star Wars Battlefront, Mass Effect, Street Fighter V, Tomb Raider, and of course Bethesda's jaw-dropping reveal that kicked off the show a little earlier than expected: Fallout 4. New IPs like Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, ReCore, No Man's Sky, Dreams and many others proved that new and unique ideas are still a constant within the industry. What has turned into the most talked about aspect of the premier annual gaming convention was the announcement of the remake that has been asked for since almost the day it came out eighteen years ago, Square Enix's Playstation One classic: Final Fantasy 7.
Read that last statement closely, yes, it is true that fans and game journalists alike have been begging the RPG juggernaut for a makeover to the most popular entry of the iconic franchise for many years. Try and visit a website that covers games without seeing a headline, probably multiple, about the game that is seemingly more mythical than a unicorn, the title that became the punchline to jokes surrounding remake possibilities of classic games. It's official, Final Fantasy 7 is coming back to life on the Playstation 4 and likely the Xbox One and PC shortly after. No release date has been revealed, but that has not stopped gamers and journalists from declaring this as one of the most important moments in video game history. An argument can be made that this is the most important remake of all time, but also the most needed. If that came off as a compliment, then it is time for some honesty.
Final Fantasy 7 has aged worse than any other highly regarded, classic video game, period. Sandwiched between the platformer that reinvented the genre, Super Mario 64 in 1996, and the commonly called greatest game of all time in 1998, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy 7 was supposed to be the grand introduction of RPGS in 3D. The first of the already long-running franchise at the time to abandon its top-down sprite graphics in favor of graphics that were revolutionary at the time. Of course, Final Fantasy 7 pushed the Playstation to its limits of visual capability and sheer size of the game world. Out of the three titles listed, FF7 is laughable in comparison to the two Nintendo classics. All three are commonly on best of all-time lists, but in 2015, only two are playable today. The Nintendo classics received subsequent releases/slight remakes, but make no mistake, their original N64 versions are still two of the best games of all time today. Quite literally, in their original forms, Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time are likely still in working condition after a few breaths into the bottom of the cartridge and a couple of failed attempts to get the game to boot, while the likelihood of even one of the three discs that comprise FF7 being intact is as likely as finding one of its monstrous cases that has not fallen apart or cracked across the plastic. Physical durability aside, Final Fantasy 7 is unplayable today so the remake is understandable, but if we were honest in the first place we probably would not be bowing in gratitude to the perceived greatness of Square Enix for bestowing such an incredible gift to us.
Rewind to 1997, Bill Clinton was sworn in for his second term in office, Hanson's "MMMBop" was the number one song in America, Tiger Woods became the youngest person to win The Masters, The Simpsons became the longest running animated TV show, Internet Explorer 4 debuted, Titanic came to theaters, and our subject, Final Fantasy 7 conquered video game charts. Let's reflect: No description is needed for the fact that a song called "MMMBop" was topping charts, Bill Clinton was impeached for his well-known, embarrassing oval office indiscretions, Tiger Woods's own indiscretions, in large numbers, came out and now his body seems to be as frail as his psyche, The Simpsons is somehow still on air and no sane person could give you a good reason for its continued existence, Internet Explorer comes preinstalled on most PCs and its only use is to immediately download a usable browser, and Titanic is just as melodramatic and unbearably long as it was when it was released. The point being that popular things often times show their flaws in time, sometimes staying around longer than they really should. Final Fantasy 7 is not excluded from this logic. All good things must come to an end as they say, but if we are truthful, some things were never good in the first place.
Yes, the beloved darling of the RPG genre has actually been executing an incredibly impressive long con, duping video game journalists and its legions of fans alike. The plot is substandard to say the least, like all of the cliched games in the franchise. There is better Final Fantasy fan fiction in terms of dialogue and pacing than the drivel that the writers came up with for Final Fantasy 7. Now, to be fair, the series has never been about engaging stories, in favor of addictive battle systems, leveling up your party, and exploring the world while grinding from giant boss to an even bigger one. The first 3D entry into the franchise is plagued with incredibly slow battle scenes, coupled with large portions of mundane dialogue between. It was gorgeous for the time though; that was the point, right? I understand that point but it was not comparable in visual beauty to other standout titles of its time. Not even close. That's not fair though because it was such a massive game in scale, come on. Ever heard of the saying bigger does not mean better? Just because a game strives to redefine the way we experience games does not make it revolutionary, or even great, just as the first girl who gives you attention is not the end-all-be-all of girls. The ability to do one thing well should not hinder the rest of the experience. I could get an A+ in Algebra and fail every other course and I would still be repeating the tenth grade despising being the best at math. FF7 suffers from trying to do too much in one area while neglecting the rest of its duties.
In 1997, it was not a great game, and eighteen years later it is still not a good game. Fine wine gets better as it ages, but FF7 is more like the cans of cheap beer that you carried in your backpacks to fraternity parties, failing to notice that the beer is getting warmer, because at that point, who cares. You were drunk already, so who cares how it tastes. They told you FF7 was revolutionary, that it was breathtaking, and the buzz that you had when disc one started to churn, turned into a full fledged drunken escapade. Looking back, people remember the fun nights but fail to remember the persistent hangover. In a way, you cannot blame people for being excited about a remake of the most overrated game of all time since the hangover has been pounding in their heads for almost two decades. The potential, that initial buzz started the love affair that has led to the most needed remake ever, if only to prove to gamers that the original was not anywhere near its alleged greatness. Maybe the potential of Final Fantasy 7 will prevail, but if not, when it is released, the original will likely be near legal drinking age, capable of getting its own buzz to conceal the fact that its devoted following was a sham all along.