Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Mercy Side: Why I Want a Final Fantasy VI Remake

Before I start this article, I thought I’d announce on my site that I’m currently working on another project, which is listing my Top 50 Final Fantasy Characters. That, fingers crossed, should be starting in a week or so if I can get it finalised and put online, we’ll find out in time. I don’t want to talk about it too much; I’m very excited about this project, and hope any Final Fantasy fans out there will like it too. Now onto the article.

Why I Want a Final Fantasy VI Remake

Warning: This article WILL contain many spoilers, as the content I wish to discuss in detail will have plot and character information. If you are interested in Final Fantasy VI AND VII are not familiar with it, just be aware there are spoilers and therefore, I recommend you don’t read it. Let’s move on.

Final Fantasy VI, or in America , Final Fantasy III, was released roughly in 1994, on the Super Nintendo (SNES). It was the final 2D Final Fantasy game and it was the last on the SNES. It’s currently never been remade; however it has been ported on the Playstation and Game Boy Advance. The game was received remarkably well, citing the best points of a great character set list, a grand soundtrack and a magnificent villain in Kefka. 3 years later, Final Fantasy VII was released on the Playstation, and was not only well received, but is considered the best Final Fantasy of all time. By all means Final Fantasy VII trumped everything Final Fantasy VI did, and is seen as an “inferior brother” of sorts.

In 2005, when working on the Playstation 3, a “technical demo” was released for Final Fantasy VII. It showed the introduction of original game, the first FMV, done with the graphics of the Playstation 3. Fans went, to put it nicely, ape shit, and for the past 5 years, and probably going into the future, have done everything in their power to make their thoughts heard on a total remake. Square-Enix have many times in the past 5 years have said that it’s going to be very difficult; all the members who worked on FF7 are on separate projects and like true professionals, they have ruled out a remake until everyone is on board to see a project happen. As a side note, I’d like to praise Square-Enix for their responses, the last thing I personally would like as a huge fan, is a chopped and changed team, or worse, a separate team altogether, working on such a prestigious and wonderful game. However it really bugs me, no one asks for a full Final Fantasy VI remake. Why?

Before I explain further, I’d like to say I actually, believe it or not, prefer Final Fantasy VII to VI. But the main difference between these games, the thing that separates the three years between them, is the graphics. Between the years of 1994 and 1997, the world of gaming changed forever. Everyone wanted the next generation console, everything was going 3D. Squaresoft (at the time, they are now Square-Enix) were actually going to release it in 2D on the SNES, but with Chrono Trigger’s imminent release (another absolute classic), and it being a priority, the game got postponed. When work resumed, it was too late, 3D was THE thing, and in order to keep up with the market, Squaresoft would have to make the game 3D. After a few tests on some Final Fantasy VI characters (see FF6 tech demo), they realised that it would be better on a CD Rom. With Nintendo still wanting to use cartridges, Squaresoft had no choice but to move to the Playstation. Taking all this into consideration, you can easily see the differences between FF6 and FF7. There may be 3 years apart in time, but in those 3 years, EVERYTHING changed.

You see, Final Fantasy VII does need a remake. Because in 1997 the power of the graphics is nothing in comparison to now, it just looks blotchy and buggy, and, well, inferior. However what people forget, is that it was so close to actually being a 2D game. Can you imagine Final Fantasy VII being 2D? All that made FF7 so memorable was in 3D. Aerith’s death, Sephiroth walking through flames, Cloud on his motorbike. None of these FMV’s would be that great in a 2D game, not to look at anyway.

Now think about what COULD be an FMV in Final Fantasy VI, that wasn’t. What about the War of Magi, which was only referenced but never shown? That could be in FMV. Terra apparently destroys 50 soldiers when she was under control by the Empire – you could show her kicking ass. The opera singing scene with Celes, could be blown up in full FMV, it is after all, one of the most iconic scenes in Final Fantasy history. When Terra transforms into a full Esper, which could be done in FMV. How about the poisoning of the waters of Doma? That could be done in FMV. Most importantly, the end of the World of Balance could be done justice to how important it is, in full FMV.

This epic scene could be so amazing in 3D.
Final Fantasy VII in my opinion was before it’s time, but Final Fantasy VI was WAY before it’s time. The story and the events need a complete overhaul. What really annoys me is that some stubborn modern FF fans won’t even contemplate looking at FF6 because of the graphics. They are missing out on a lot, because of this. At least FF7 has been played by millions and millions of fans, now AND in ’97. Only the hardcore fans really have bought the ports of pre FF7 games. Final Fantasy VI is head and shoulders above the previous 5 games, and even in 2D, holds its head above water amongst the modern games. This is why Final Fantasy VI, in my opinion, should be a priory remake over Final Fantasy VII.

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What I Want in a Final Fantasy VI Remake

If there is one job I envy in the world, it’s the people who create video games. I’d love to be a video game designer, but my problem is that I have an imagination, but no contacts, and no physical ability. My imagination is a strong point, but you need more than that to make a video game, you need to be multi talented. But I will give my thoughts to what I personally think a Final Fantasy VI remake should include, or in some cases, should not.

The first thing I’d recommend Square-Enix do is to cut some of the characters out of the game, not completely, but out of the main cast. There are 14 main characters in the game, some very important to the plot, some have very little if anything. Final Fantasy VI has the most main characters in a Final Fantasy game ever. They “boast” about this achievement, but I don’t think it’s a boast-worthy feat. The reason why no game since has had this many characters is because it’s too many characters to balance. Since FF6, there usually are two, three or maybe four core characters to the plot, and then maybe around four or five more characters that make a circle around those people. That’s the best way to build an RPG if you ask me, and it’s worked for Square-Enix since then.

So what do you have with FF6’s characters? Well there are three major characters, that’s for sure. There’s Terra, Locke and Celes, who all in turns take the player through the game. The great thing about these three characters is the debate that fans make about who actually is the main character. Most would agree it’s Terra, but all three can make a claim. I say further this debate, by emphasising and concentrating on all three characters individually throughout the game. Terra and Locke are primarily playing baton in the World of Balance, and Celes is the clear baton holder in the World of Ruin, however I think that you should mix the three throughout both games. That’s obviously difficult due to the plot on the World of Ruin and that’s fine, however when (or if, of course) Terra and Locke join the party, maybe you could have cut scenes made which switches the game’s baton holder on purpose. I don’t need to make an example of what, it could be trivial, or something else that may add extra layers to the plot. But I think that it should be further emphatic that this is a game with not one, but three main characters and I think further fan debate would add to the game.

This scene is still considered a very memorable moment in FF history. It can be worked on in a remake.
I slightly touched on it before, but in the original you have a choice whether or not to recruit the Scooby Gang for the finale against Kefka. You have to have Celes, Sabin and Edgar with you; everyone else is up for grabs. I say cut this out completely, and force the player to find all the characters. It’s fun and required in the original anyway, so remove the choice and force the extra chapters onto the player, giving you more opportunities to do the above paragraph.

Now that the debate is over with regards to the three main characters, I want to talk about the other eleven. I said I want to cut some of them out, so who should be cut out? My answer is to cut out Gao, Mog, Umaro, Gogo and possibly Strago. Why? Well who out of those characters have a huge say in the plot of the game? Possibly Strago, but barely. Gao gives you a diving helmet in the Veldt, Mog and the other moogles help Terra and Locke out in the start of the game. That’s it. These characters, and some I actually quite like, need to be cut out of the main cast, so we can concentrate and prioritise the other characters. I’m not saying get rid of them, just let them be characters in the game, like everyone else. Gao can still give you the diving helmet, hell; you can include the scene where he meets his father, just don’t make it mandatory, and don’t make them into main characters. The same applies with Mog, in fact, I’d think a Mognet would be awesome in this game, and maybe Mog can be a moogle to help you save on the world map, both taken from Final Fantasy IX. It would make Mog useful in another way, and Mognet could add letters similar to the ones in FF9. The others barely have a thing to do in the plot, apart from Strago.

Strago is a difficult one, because of his connections with Relm. Relm is a character I’d like cut out of the game if I had my way, however she is far too important to the plot, particularly Shadow’s plot, and don’t ever make me think about getting rid of Shadow! However Strago could be cut out, if we change the plot slightly. If we make Relm “want” to join the party, and Strago not let her, similar to the original, only for Relm to run away, it can work. It’s the other way round in the original, Strago joins the party, and then Relm wants to. Cut the scene out where Strago wants to join, and you can add Relm in, when she runs away, and sketches Ultros’ portrait, showing her worth to the rest of the party. Have Strago reluctantly agree to this, and it works. If we get rid of all the above characters, that leaves us with 9 characters, which is still a lot, but it’s much more manageable than 14.

Another use of having less main characters to worry about is one of the major flaws in the original game, which is the balance of the characters. Characters like Locke, Celes and Terra, the main characters, are no where near as useful as players like Sabin, Edgar and Cyan. The latter three have very useful individual techniques that don’t require MP, where as the former three can do minor special techniques and magic. I think they should balance it out a bit, either by expanding the former’s techniques, or make the latter techniques MP based.

Speaking of battles, one thing I really want kept in this game is the ATB battle system. Just including the main series, it’s not been used since Final Fantasy IX, which is now 10 years old. I think adding or changing the battle system might make the game less playable, and it would be nice to include the old school ATB system, it’s still my favourite and cannot be beat in my opinion.

The one thing I don’t want disappearing is the multiple party’s function that appears in three parts of the game. I think that could work, even in a 3D FF6 game, and would be quite interesting. If it works out, then maybe we could add it in a future FF game, it’s a unique feature that FF6 carries that emphasises its individuality.

There’s three characters that I believe deserves an expansion in the game’s plot, and they are Celes, General Leo and Ultros. Celes is accused of being an Empire spy at one point in the game, and leaves the party. I think we should expand on this, by actually having Celes have a dilemma about doing what’s right, and her loyalty to the Empire. When Locke saves her, I think there should be a major hint of reluctance on her part to join him, because despite them torturing her, it’s all she’s known. Make her character more complex this way, because then when Kefka debates if she is an Empire spy, you could raise a further case for her to be one. I think Celes shouldn’t be entirely sure of what side she is on through the entire game up until she stabs Kefka on the Floating Continent and finalises her decision on whose side she’s on. I think it would make a great layer to add to the game.

General Leo is probably towards the top of a hypothetical list of underutilised characters in FF history. The great General Leo is a character sworn to do what’s right, he is a very honourable man and never shows any signs of evil. I think his character should be used much more, and have a very similar role to the game that Beatrix has in FF9. I also think General Leo’s death should be in FMV, showing a grave in the sequence at one point, I think his death is one of the most tragic in FF history. You just want to kick Kefka’s ass there and then when he does it.

And last but not least, I want Ultros to have more moments, and more to do with FF6. I don’t want him directly involved in the plot, he is purely comic relief in the game and want him remain that way. However I think he should be in the game more than he is, I want him to randomly appear out of nowhere to annoy the player, and he’s just brilliant at it. He is one of my favourite unimportant characters in FF history and deserves more recognition for being one of the best at his role in the series.

Ultros deserves a bigger role in this game - he's too comical and great not to.
I’d just like to quickly talk about Kefka. When I’ve ever thought about a FF6 remake, I’ve always been concerned about Kefka in full 3D. His cackle is so legendary, and his voice would always be difficult to do. He also, as a clown, looks very odd and doesn’t look like a major villain, more of a joke villain. However all these thoughts disappeared when I played Dissidia, I must give Square-Enix credit for their reincarnation of Kefka, and his full 3D and vocal debut, they did an absolute splendid job and made me want to see this game remade even more.

I now want to talk about making an impact with the scenes in the game. To do this however, I’d say make the game aimed slightly more towards adults, that’s not to say I want it an 18+ game or anything close, but borderline 15+, on the 12+ side. I want some graphic detail in the game, particularly in three scenes. Firstly, I think that an FMV of Terra transforming to Esper form is required, and I think that they should do a full motion sequence of the event. Make it very “American Werewolf in London ”-esque, just slightly less graphic obviously due to the age rating. I really want people to see the transformation; after all, when Terra does change, she can’t control her actions; similar to a werewolf is incapable. I think taking advantage of modern visual graphics would really make the scene quite shocking, and very scary, because in the original the scene doesn’t live up to how important and striking it really is.

The other two scenes in the game I’d like done more maturely have to do with Kefka. The first one is the poisoning of the waters in Doma; I think this could be done in FMV form and make it really bad. I’d compare it to maybe the ending of Blade Trinity, where the Daystar (the vampire poison) kills all the vampires, just slightly less graphic. Really make the player feel sorry for the Doma people, and make it Kefka’s first major crime in the game. I think it would straight away cause great impact, which is what I want more of in this game.

The final thing is the most climatic scene in the entire game – Kefka’s Apocalypse. Kefka is the first (and as far as I’m aware, no FF13 spoilers please, only) major villain to achieve Godhood, and he’s the only major villain to completely destroy the main world of a game. This is very important, and also very dramatic. Squaresoft have done the best they could with what little graphics they had in comparison to now, however they can make it even better. I really think that Kefka’s Apocalypse should be a very long FMV, maybe 5 minutes long, really show the player how big a deal it is. Show them the destruction of all the locations that are not in the World of Ruin being destroyed, think of Final Fantasy X where Sin destroys part of Kilika, just much, much worse. Really hit home the idea that this world will never be the same. I also think that when the destruction scenes are finished, turn the screen to pitch darkness for maybe, 20 seconds, just to give the player that horrible urge that it may be game over. I really think this would be one heck of an impact on the person playing the game, especially for the first time. It’s already an iconic moment in Final Fantasy history – but I think in full 3D in modern times, it could be an iconic moment in video game history, seen as possibly more shocking as Aerith’s death in Final Fantasy VII. Square-Enix have an opportunity to do this, and if I were them, I’d grab it with every chance. They could also make Kefka's final battle, all four forms, look even better than it did when it was 2D. In 2D it looked brilliant, but in 3D, it could be even better.

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Conclusion

I want a Final Fantasy VII remake, like a lot of people do. But I want a Final Fantasy VI remake to be prioritised, not because I like the game more, as I said before, I actually don’t. I prefer VII to VI. But at the same time, the three years between these two games were possibly the most important 3 years in video game history. 3D gaming revolutionised the video game history, and that major change in video games made one of these games much more memorable than the other. Final Fantasy VII IS out of date and DOES need a remake. But Final Fantasy VI deserves one before, because it was way before it’s time, and scenes in the game could be much more memorable and effective in a 3D remake. Final Fantasy VII being remade would be nice, but it’s only going to be a crisper version of what it is now. This is a 2D game that deserves a 3D remake. Please Square-Enix, read this article and think about it very carefully.

If you don’t, then in the words of Kefka, “I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate HATE you!”

Date: 7/10/10

9 comments:

  1. i red the whole thing!! really like it mo, very very good :)

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  2. p.s ULTROS RULES!! make him the main character :P

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  3. First, let me address your suggestion of cutting characters.

    The reason there were so many characters WAS because of the divided main cast of Terra, Sabin and Locke and Celes.

    It was done to show each part of this team encountering different people as they travel, fleshing out the world, adding depth and variety of life, not just the usual rag tag group of "chosen" warriors.

    Second, a five minute FMV? That's a bit much.

    "Since FF6, there usually are two, three or maybe four core characters to the plot, and then maybe around four or five more characters that make a circle around those people. That’s the best way to build an RPG if you ask me, and it’s worked for Square-Enix since then."

    Expanding character depth too much causes disinterest, because characters become too deep for relation, or too complex.

    Remember, mystery plays a core part in storytelling, leaving for speculation, and expansion.

    Cutting any characters would be unreasonable.

    Anyone who helped the party in that plot has done so for good reason, and they got involved in battle against Kefka for their own personal reasons.

    "I’d think a Mognet would be awesome in this game, and maybe Mog can be a moogle to help you save on the world map"

    You are suggesting they turn a playable character into a mobile save point, and include a pointless long, drawn out sidequest?

    In IX you CAN screw up the mognet quest, if you miss even one moogle. Some of which you never EVER see again.
    This causes frustration, and would negatively impact replay value.

    "Characters like Locke, Celes and Terra, the main characters, are no where near as useful as players like Sabin, Edgar and Cyan."

    This made no sense to me. You do realize that this IS why they sought out others to help them, thus giving a reason to seek out the Returners right? And why Terra was brought there to begin with?

    "The latter three have very useful individual techniques that don’t require MP, where as the former three can do minor special techniques and magic. I think they should balance it out a bit, either by expanding the former’s techniques, or make the latter techniques MP based."

    So you suggest the three you call main characters are made the most powerful? I think they are more than capable.

    Terra can cast insane spells at later points as she grows stronger. For example, ultima, meteor, and X zone, but has a lower physical defense and attack.

    Celes was the jack of all trades of the group.

    Capable of healing and attacking both magiclly and physically, she was not a specialist in any field, thus her limited selection of spells, and in fact her attacks were much, much weaker than those that specialized in them. The tradeoff here was versatility.

    This is just personal opinion.It would have nothing to do with the characters, or battle system for a general improvement.

    Another example in regards to giving the latter MP, why would someone with no magic need MP, (Magic/Mana Points) to perform martial arts, a completely physical based skill?

    I think this gave diversity to each character as an individual, showing no two people in the party can be substituted for another on a whim.

    "3D gaming revolutionised the video game history, and that major change in video games made one of these games much more memorable than the other."

    Bull. The reason was a typical reaction for a long running series on any new platform being released.

    This is like saying X and XIII are superior because they look better, completely disregarding the other core components including the plot, music, controls and characters!

    I must say i disagree with your reasoning about 85%.

    Please do rethink your argument before placing a game on a pedestal due to a shell which made it look flashy and pretty.

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  4. "It was done to show each part of this team encountering different people as they travel, fleshing out the world, adding depth and variety of life, not just the usual rag tag group of "chosen" warriors."

    Indeed it was, yet what's the point of having characters spontaneously taking part in the game with virtually no backlog, and no character expansion? I'd rather a smaller set of characters where we see a lot of personality blossom and evolve rather than people who are there just to make numbers.

    "Second, a five minute FMV? That's a bit much."

    It would emphasise how great that scene is. Ending have maybe 20 minutes, half hour of FMV time as it's the final scene in the game. You could really flesh out that scene and make it feel like it might be game over.

    "Expanding character depth too much causes disinterest, because characters become too deep for relation, or too complex."

    Bull. Character expansion creates a bond between player and game. It's called a story. It has a plot. It has people take part in that plot that you want to care about. If you have no interest in character expansion then you're playing the wrong set of games. Final Fantasy games thrive on their characters being fleshed out and interesting.

    "Remember, mystery plays a core part in storytelling, leaving for speculation, and expansion."

    Mystery does play a part in storytelling, but primarily in the beginning of the game, not the end. Leave no more than 10% of the game to interpretation, otherwise it makes the game (or other media) seem full of plot holes.

    "Cutting any characters would be unreasonable.

    Anyone who helped the party in that plot has done so for good reason, and they got involved in battle against Kefka for their own personal reasons."

    There are characters in FF6 that play virtually no part of the main storyline, they can be cut from the game in terms of playable characters. I wouldn't want them excluded from the game entirely, that would be unreasonable.

    "(talking of the main characters not being useful)This made no sense to me. You do realize that this IS why they sought out others to help them, thus giving a reason to seek out the Returners right? And why Terra was brought there to begin with?"

    Erm, I was talking about in battle. Not the storyline. Read my article accurately at least.

    "So you suggest the three you call main characters are made the most powerful? I think they are more than capable."

    No, what I want is a balanced battle cast. Like in other FF games. There is no balanced characters in FF6, some have incredibly powerful moves that require no MP. Others don't. It's not balanced.

    "Terra can cast insane spells at later points as she grows stronger. For example, ultima, meteor, and X zone, but has a lower physical defense and attack."

    Yes but it requires a lot of MP, where as Sabin, Edgar and Cyan have very strong attacks from the get go that don't need MP at all. It's not balanced.

    More in the second comment…

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  5. "Celes was the jack of all trades of the group.

    Capable of healing and attacking both magiclly and physically, she was not a specialist in any field, thus her limited selection of spells, and in fact her attacks were much, much weaker than those that specialized in them. The tradeoff here was versatility."

    ...yes, but Runic aside, she had magic attacks that need MP. Other characters have strong attacks that don't need MP. It's unbalanced.

    "Another example in regards to giving the latter MP, why would someone with no magic need MP, (Magic/Mana Points) to perform martial arts, a completely physical based skill?"

    That's purely cosmetic. There are many FF games that don't particularly look like they require magic that need MP.

    "I think this gave diversity to each character as an individual, showing no two people in the party can be substituted for another on a whim."

    Yes too diverse, in power anyway. All the characters have different abilities, that's fine. But they're not balanced.

    "Bull. The reason was a typical reaction for a long running series on any new platform being released.

    This is like saying X and XIII are superior because they look better, completely disregarding the other core components including the plot, music, controls and characters!"

    Contradiction. 3D gaming was competely new between '94 and '97. 3D gaming wasn't new in '00 nor was it in 2009. The move from 2D to 3D, with it's groundbreaking graphics made FF7 on a visual level a complete trump over FF6. Not necessarily a better game, but a better looking game hell yeah. The difference between FF6 and FF7 on a visual level is huge. The difference between FF10 and FF13 is a decent leap, but FF10 still looks good today.

    "I must say i disagree with your reasoning about 85%.

    Please do rethink your argument before placing a game on a pedestal due to a shell which made it look flashy and pretty. "

    I don't need to rethink my argument at all. I hope I've answered all your questions, obviously we both think differently. I'm not going to suggest you rethink your arguement, because I would then come across as rude and uppity. Like you did. Have a nice day.

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  6. FF7 looks better than FF6? Uhh... Maybe at the time because 3D effects were just being utilized, but looking back now FF6 aged like a fine wine with its charming sprites whereas FF7 looks atrocious and ridiculous. I don't know.. I'm biased because FF6 is my favorite rpg of all time NOT followed by 7, but by FF4.

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  7. Exactly, did I dispute that FF7 looks better than FF6 because it was inferior? No, I said because it was released three years earlier, and in those three years 3D gaming was taking over. Calm down!

    For the record, I prefer FF7 to FF6 but love them both an incredible amount! If you prefer FF6 that's absolutely fine! It's an amazing game and worthy of a remake! =)

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  8. Hey, I found your blog through a Google search of Final Fantasy VI - if you're interested, I am writing a graphic/visual PREQUEL story to that game and releasing it on my instagram entitled "Final Fantasy VI: Flashbacks" at http://www.instagram.com/ff6fb

    ReplyDelete