The common complaint is having no time to play the massive time sinks that make up a hell of a lot of triple-A gaming these days. I’m pretty sure I’ve whined about it in a previous Now Playing from Wireframe’s past, when talking about another JRPG, Persona 5 Royal.
The thing is, though, where I wasn’t able to force myself to play much more of Atlus’ school-kid-‘em-up, I have actually been able to find more than two dozen free hours to pump into the Final Fantasy VII remake, cunningly entitled Final Fantasy VII Remake.
When I think about it, it’s been a pretty easy process. I’ve broken the back of this thing – discovered the secret. I now know how to make time appear for you; to make it so there’s enough space in life to sit down with a game that demands dozens – nay, hundreds – of hours of that most precious, ever-dwindling commodity.
And I’m going to share my secret now (doctors hate it, etc). All you have to do, right, is to have got into the original release of a game in such a powerful, all-encompassing way back when you were about 13 years old, yeah, so that when a remake appears a quarter of a century later, you’re overwhelmed with a nostalgic passion that nigh-on forces you to give up on other things in life in order to fit in an hour here or there. Mainly on Saturdays, admittedly.
It’s a simple equation, really: adoration × youth + nostalgia = timefind.
I want to say ‘Helpfully, Final Fantasy VII Remake is brilliant and has been well worth it’, but that’d be a lie. Ignoring the nostalgia, I’m met with a decent game, but nothing great, and honestly the voice acting has made me cringe so hard I think I popped a few vertebrae. It was much better when it was just reading text boxes, and I didn’t have to put up with whatever the hell direction the actor behind Barret was given. ‘Sound angry and be weirdly monotonous and say idiotic sentences’, that’s probably the script notes. But I digress.
The time has been found, though, even though I’m allegedly an adult and don’t have time for these things, and even though the game is very much the good-not-great 79% we gave it in Wireframe #39. Because it gets things right, and the things it does get right are the sorts of things that actually make me either smirk in recognition, or actively hum along. I’m talking about the music, in the most part.
Some of the remixes and do-overs of Final Fantasy VII Remake’s music are fantastic, easily on a par with how my brain remembers the original tunes, and some even doing a better job. A smirk was raised at Barret singing the game’s famous victory fanfare (at least the first time, then it became instantly grating). It looks phenomenal, bar those few dodgy textures the internet is still in a meltdown about. It triggers the nostalgia gland, basically, and does it well.
The other month, I bleated on about Command & Conquer Remastered’s superb run on the nostalgia market, and in issue 42 it was about how STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town hugely missed a (nostalgic) trick for me. So here we complete the trifecta with the game that has a bit of a superb run, but also misses a lot of tricks… it’s in the nostalgia-middle, really.
It’s not enough of the original game to be a (relatively) straightforward do-over like C&C. It is, in fact, an entirely different game, really. But it’s not a clunky mess of boredom like STORY OF SEASONS. Final Fantasy VII Remake is a modern game that has paid attention to other modern games, and so plays like them. And so, it sits in the middle.
I’m going to finish it. I’ve put in too many hours where I could have been doing other things, like comparing light bulb specifications, or tapping skirting boards, or whatever it is 37-year-old home-owners do. I don’t want to waste all this effort, after all. But when I’m done with Final Fantasy VII Remake, I’m not going to go back and do it again – I won’t be challenging myself with the game’s hard mode.
I won’t be talking about it in glowing terms to my friends. We won’t be discussing where to find the best materia, or sharing memory cards to borrow saves and get a leg up. I won’t be using my Xploder cartridge to outright cheat. I won’t get told off in registration for not listening because I wanted to explain to my mate Cookie how to get a gold chocobo.
Because I’m not a teenager, I’m not at school, this isn’t the original Final Fantasy VII, and things are different now. I sincerely hope this new mini-series of Remakes – there’s going to be one or two more to round out the whole of the original game – has as big an impact on younger players as that original did on me.
But, as with all this aimless nostalgia, all it does is leave me feeling a bit empty at the end. And definitely like I should have helped painting the wall a bit, and not just put it off so I could hear what utter nonsense Barret was spouting.