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So It Begins: Tetsuya Nomura Hints at 'Dramatic Changes' for the Final Fantasy VII Remake

This should be fun.

Analysis by Kat Bailey, .

Not long after the Final Fantasy VII remake was formally announced, Jeremy and I speculated on whether it would bring with it substantial changes to its battle system. If an Official PlayStation Magazine interview is to be believed, that answer is looking more and more like it will be "yes."

In an interview with the magazine, director Tetsuya Nomura said that the team plans to make "dramatic changes" to the game's fights," though he clarified, "We're not going to be changing it into a shooter or something like that. We are going to be bringing dramatic changes, but we want to make sure it’s still recognizable."

Nomura also refered Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the 2005 film that served as a sequel to the original game, saying that the team will be looking at it for "visual references and inspiration," meaning that you can probably look forward to moments like this one. Nomura said they won't be pulling models directly from the film, though, since it's now a decade old (terrifying, right?)

Jeremy has said from the beginning that the Final Fantasy VII remake will be receiving major changes, possibly utilizing something akin to the Crisis Core battle system. I had been hopeful that it would be much the same mechanically while receiving a fresh coat of paint. Nomura's comments would seem to suggest that Jeremy is the one who will end up being right, but don't give up hope on Final Fantasy VII's classic turn-based battles quite yet. As Nomura said, the goal is for it to still be recognizable, and getting too far from the old battle system seems like a recipe for making people really unhappy (including myself, it should be said).

It's possible that Nomura's "dramatic changes" will boil down to an overhauled Materia system (which is needed) and a new system to further differentiate the characters (something else that is needed) with some Advent Children-style visual flair. Certainly, there is room for improvement on the original game, and the best remakes are the ones that make smart changes without compromising the original vision.

It's not even entirely clear how involved Nomura is with the project. There are persistent rumors that he's more a figurehead than anything else, a familiar name meant to further legitimize the project. When the remake was announced, Nomura was reportedly surprised to see that he had been named the director, assuming that Yoshinori Kitase would be reprising the role.

One more thing worth nothing is that it still appears to be early days for the development of the Final Fantasy VII remake. It will be a surprise if it makes it out next year since it appears that the development team is just getting started. A more realistic release window is sometime in 2017, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the original game. A lot can change in that time. The dramatic changes may be spitballing on the part of the team.

That said, if the hand-wringing over these comments prove anything, it's that the Final Fantasy VII remake is Square Enix's Kobayashi Maru scenario. The original's reputation is so overblown at this point that there's no way that the remake can measure up. The best we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride while hoping a good RPG comes out of it.

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Comments 43

  • Avatar for Roto13 #1 Roto13 2 years ago
    The thing about turn-based combat from a menu is that you can do pretty much whatever you want with the animations and it's all fundamentally the same. Unlike something like an action game, there's a disconnect between what you see and what is technically happening. The remake could have crazy Advent Children flashiness without really changing how the battle system works.
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  • Avatar for Damman #2 Damman 2 years ago
    I've been with Jeremy on this. There's no way they would put the production into a full scale visual HD remake of this game and still maintain the same ATB battle system. I would speculate that it will "resemble" that of the original in the same way that Crisis Core does. Equipping and leveling materia, commands like attack/magic/guard/summon, limit breaks, but all wrapped up in a more action oriented shell.

    I guess the question I have for Kat and others is why would you want to see a fully new remake still holding on to an older, somewhat outdated battle system?
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  • Avatar for jihon83 #3 jihon83 2 years ago
    My seventh, yet somehow final, fantasy! Nooooooooooooooooooo!

    Though in all seriousness, this game will be a trainwreck, but as someone who dislikes the fandom around FF7, I'm horribly excited. That said, it will be intriguing to see if this game will inspire a new generation teens to see this game as "the best game ever!" Between Final Fantasy 6 and 7, Kingdom Hearts, and the World Ends with You, Squarenix is relying upon making experiences that can hit you hard if you're a young teen, but the appeal seems to fall away quickly outside of that window. Though I am no longer a fan, I do remember having a more positive response to 7 than to 8, and by the time 9 was coming out, I simply didn't care, even as it could be said the later games, just looking at the systems, were better. Seven hit right at that point when I was most susceptible to its presentation, thanks to being a lonely nerdy teen.
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  • Avatar for benjaminlu86 #4 benjaminlu86 2 years ago
    Good. The combat progression needs some love, sans rose-tinted nostalgia goggles.
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #5 UnskippableCutscene 2 years ago
    Final Fantasy XIII had a three-person battle system, and featured juggling giant monsters into the air and leaping up to hang out, defy gravity, duel and generally behave like you're in the Matrix. The first time I saw Lightning spend 45 seconds hanging out 12' in the air chopping a monster into little bits, I thought "oh, ever since Advent Children and Kingdom Hearts II came out in 2005, antigravity fighting is slowly becoming a Square staple."

    Replace Paradigm Shifts and Crystariums with materias, and I think you're probably about as close to the target as you can get with this little information.Edited 2 times. Last edited July 2015 by UnskippableCutscene
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  • Avatar for IndoorBoy #6 IndoorBoy 2 years ago
    Do people actually like Advent Children!? Really hope the game is nothing like that movie. The look is off, the tone is off and they actually managed to make Sephiroth lame.
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  • Avatar for Mega_Matt #7 Mega_Matt 2 years ago
    @IndoorBoy Agreed. The team looking toward Advent Children for inspiration isn't exactly a positive note for me.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #8 cldmstrsn 2 years ago
    @Damman Its not outdated if you still like turn based RPG's though. I don't see it as an outdated mechanic. I see it as a great way to play a lot of characters that you have control over, that is what was so brilliant about ATB.
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  • Avatar for camchow #9 camchow 2 years ago
    @Damman I don't understand this thought process at all. What is wrong with a ATB or turn based battle system? Works fine for Pokemon, works fine for Dragon Quest. Why are people suddenly hoping for a reworking of FF7's battle system? Dress it up pretty with the new graphics, fix some balancing issues, maybe make it a bit speedier but do we really have to get rid of it? Why?

    I can see wanting to get rid of random encounters for example but ultimately the battle system itself doesn't need to be changed. This is basically the core of the gameplay in FF7, to change it to something else like a Crisis Core action system would be like remaking Doom 1 into third person cover shooter or Mario Kart into a Gran Turismo like simulation. Just doesn't make sense to me.

    Damn, I'm not even a super huge fan of FF7 (personally prefer 6 and 9) but I'll admit that I don't get why we so often see people criticizing old game systems that were great for their time as outdated or something, as if this is somehow representative of how fun the games were.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #10 SatelliteOfLove 2 years ago
    @benjaminlu86

    We could have it play like Tactics.

    Release Ito from his cage, SE!
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #11 Kat.Bailey 2 years ago
    @Damman ATB holds up just fine, and turn-based isn't outdated. Persona 4 proves the latter. I just want them to go deeper with it.
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  • Avatar for victorehunter #12 victorehunter 2 years ago
    I've definitely been in the camp that suspected an overhaul. It's astounding to hear all the complaining going on though. I know it's a tired argument but the original really isn't going anywhere. I'm more than happy to see the game re-imagined. Whether or not Nomura's directing is going to be anyone's cup of tea is a different story but I'm glad it's not just going to be a fresh coat of paint.

    Overall I'm optimistic and that's coming from someone who's first playthrough of FF7 was the NES demake...
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  • Avatar for docexe #13 docexe 2 years ago
    Mmmm... I wonder if I will get bashed into a crater in this place if I say that I actually liked Advent Children in a completely unironic way.

    Personally I would like to see them adopt a battle system similar to the one in FFXIII, but I’m not surprised if they end eschewing turn based combat for an action oriented one. It’s just the state of the industry honestly, Action RPG are just what is popular right now when it comes to AAA games.
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  • Avatar for jihon83 #14 jihon83 2 years ago
    We are talking about Square, though. The same company that looked at Tomb Raider's two to three million copies sold and said it failed. I imagine a beautiful game with ATB could sell similar or a little better than that, but I wouldn't put it past SE to be aiming for, and spending as if, this game will do GTA numbers. So it makes a lot more sense to turn FF7 into Type Seven, in that pursuit to make the game as appealing to as many people as possible.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #15 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    They should change it. That's how a proper remake is done: look at REmake and Zero Mission. Those games weren't afraid to mess with memory and ended up becoming better games than their originals.
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #16 Kat.Bailey 2 years ago
    @jihon83 You don't make good games by shooting for whatever will sell the most copies. You make a good game by having a strong vision and sticking to it. If Final Fantasy VII does turn-based in a smart and modern way, the word-of-mouth will be positive and the fans will come. With that in mind, a Type-0 style approach would be awful.
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  • Avatar for NateDizzy #17 NateDizzy 2 years ago
    Let the nerd rage begin!!!
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  • Avatar for ChairmanYang #18 ChairmanYang 2 years ago
    It's bizarre seeing the chorus of many JRPG fans clamoring for a more actiony battle system. It's like the phase WRPG/strategy fans went through like a decade ago. After that, turn-based made a comeback in a big way (in both strategy and RPG), and the pendulum swung back.

    Anyone who says turn-based is outdated or obsolete is seriously behind the times.Edited August 2015 by ChairmanYang
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  • Avatar for Mikki-Saturn #19 Mikki-Saturn 2 years ago
    I really like the Materia system! Don't overhaul it too much, I say.

    I'm curious what it is that everybody doesn't like about it? I see all the time people saying it needs to be dramatically changed. To me it is really enjoyable and fun to tinker with.

    Anyway, apart from that I agree with the "sit back and see what happens" mentality. It's out of our hands.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #20 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by Kuni-Nino
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #21 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    Turn-base isn't outdated, but you can certainly make a system where you're not just standing on a battle field waiting for a monster to attack you before you can land a hit on it. It doesn't make sense for our modern sensibilities and turn based battle systems clash with the visual flash every Final Fantasy is beholden to by its fans, at least to a certain degree.

    Toriyama spoke about this awhile back. When players see a character swinging a sword in a cutscene, the player expects to be the one to swing the sword in the game. Asking the player to wade through a menu to just to pick fight to attack, that's essentially a barrier going against the player's expectations. Some people are okay with that and come to terms with it just fine like a lot of the people in this forum I expect. But there are some people who don't do that and avoid turn based games because they can't grasp the idea that you're not in direct control.

    You have to admit, action games where you're in full control of your character and it's done right (ala Mario 64) are pretty special. That tactile feedback is a wonderful thing. Would Dark Souls be a thing if it wasn't for its sublime combat mechanics? A lot of like to be in direct control. We also know that Nomura was a gigantic fan of Mario 64. It's what inspired Kingdom Hearts in a way.

    I don't write to disparage turn based games, but instead to defend action-RPGs. It's easy to see why the FF games have continued to go in that direction. There's a certain level of satisfaction you can reach through action combat and visual splendor you can't achieve by being turn based.

    It's not better. It's simply different and probably more popular.Edited August 2015 by Kuni-Nino
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #22 LBD_Nytetrayn 2 years ago
    Sort of hoping for something akin to the Mario RPGs, with timed hits and blocks. Even I might give it a go then.
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  • Avatar for SanguineSymphony #23 SanguineSymphony 2 years ago
    So SE isn't planning on surpassing Atlus any time soon? Good to know.

    The last FF I even found to be decent in Mechanics was ten. All their experiments afterwards were failures in my eyes.

    The remake piqued my interest in the franchise ever so slightly as I was hoping SE might relearn lessons from previous projects. I should have known SE was incapable of doing so.
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  • Avatar for ChairmanYang #24 ChairmanYang 2 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino The most popular JRPG series are overwhelmingly turn-based, actually. Dragon Quest, Shin Megami Tensei (and the most popular spinoffs like Persona 4), and Pokemon.

    All of these series have had actiony entries, and all of those entries have been less popular. Final Fantasy has had both ATB/turn-based and real-time entries, and the real-time entries have sold worse.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #25 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    @ChairmanYang Dragon Quest is a different beast. There's nothing else like Dragon Quest's popularity and it's damn near baffling to a lot of people. You can copy what DQ does and not even get a fraction of its sales. Don't even try to compare SMT's popularity to DQ's. Atlus is happy selling a few hundred thousand of SMT while SE is always gunning for a few million with mainline DQ's (with DQX being an exception because it was an MMO).

    Let me be clear. I'm not bashing turn based combat in any way. I like it a lot, but real time combat is just as popular and probably more appealing to vast portion of gamers. Look at the numbers Skyrim put up. Look at Monster Hunter. Look at Dark Souls. Look at Mass Effect. Look at Youkai Watch. Games that have gone the action route haven't exactly been burned by the market.

    It's completely commercially viable. At the same time, it's something Nomura and the rest of the devs probably want to do. I say let them. If they come up with something special, we all benefit from it.
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  • Avatar for lordvr #26 lordvr 2 years ago
    Honestly, I don't expect this 'remake' will end up being anything like the original. It'll probably just be loosely based on it at best, with completely different gameplay, and maybe somewhat altered storyline.
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  • Avatar for pdubb #27 pdubb 2 years ago
    Turn based is viable only if you go like Kat said and take the P4 route or even FFX route.

    If status magic can't turn the tide of battle or be a viable option to weigh each turn, then the RPG has no reason at all to be turn based.
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  • Avatar for jeffcorry #28 jeffcorry 2 years ago
    I say go nuts! If people want the original system...play the original game!
    I have enjoyed Tetsuya Nomura's flair, personally. Kingdom Hearts II, Birth by Sleep, and Dream Drop Distance all have really fun, flashy fighting styles (once you get the hang of them..)
    I'm not saying Final Fantasy VII should be Kingdom Hearts by any means, but give the guy the freedom to do what he wants. I honestly haven't really ever been disappointed by his work. It definitely has its own "mark" to it, lots of over-styling, but I'm alright with it.
    What I would like to see is the story represented in a little more serious manner. I know that is possibly a kill-joy to some, but again, the original isn't going away any more than the DS version of Final Fantasy IV replaced the SNES version. They are both just different re-tellings of the same story.
    I just want to sit back and watch the process unfold. The original creators are on it. They didn't let us down before. If they let us down again, at least they get to fulfill THEIR creative vision.Edited August 2015 by jeffcorry
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  • Avatar for ChairmanYang #29 ChairmanYang 2 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino My point is, turn-based is as commercially viable (or more) than real-time, despite the arguments of some JRPGs fans who want to legitimize their totally understandable personal preferences as somehow being business-savvy. And virtually every series that's switched to actiony combat has suffered critically and commercially. I cited the examples of SMT, Pokemon, FF, and DQ because all of those games were traditionally turn-based/ATB, had forays into real-time, and had those forays be relatively unsuccessful.

    Your other examples don't show that switching to action combat is a good move; they all started as action from the beginning, not turn-based. In fact, before Skyrim, Fallout 3 and New Vegas actually added turn-based elements to combat (VATS) and managed to sell better than their predecessors (Oblivion and Morrowind).

    Basically, series that switch from TB to RT absolutely get burned by the market. Series that start out as RT can obviously do great. But FF7 is probably going to attempt that switch, and that strikes me as a very unnecessarily risky move. TB is super innovative nowadays (especially in the PC world); it would be better for Square to take inspiration from there.
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #30 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    You know, normally I am okay with change. But not this time.

    Games should always strive for originality, and to stand out from the pack. When there's a vacuum, artists should strive to fill it. In this particular case, keeping FF7's game mechanics close to the original would make it stand out from modern games A LOT, and that's a good thing! We definitely need more big budget turn based adventure games like FF7 was, there's a huge lack of them in today's gaming landscape.
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  • Avatar for boxofficepoison #31 boxofficepoison 2 years ago
    I'd really like to see them take a page from Bravely Default, keep the random encounters but let you set the encounter rate from 0 to 200%
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  • Avatar for Jericho-GM #32 Jericho-GM 2 years ago
    I don't know what your definition of "fun" is, Kat, but mine isn't exactly reading 20-plus comments about turn-based versus real-time RPGs. They're both fine, guys. Jesus Christ.

    Makes me want to wish that SE actually turns it into a shooter. Give Barrett a more hip-hop look, have him go through Midgar GTA-style (or ride Red XIII like a horse) and have various badass arm upgrades as he fights his own personal war with the evil Shinra Corporation. It ends in a sunset.
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  • Avatar for camchow #33 camchow 2 years ago
    @crow-byte Well it is a comment section, what do you expect? People are going to discuss their opinions. Maybe we should only be allowed to reply to articles with emoticons?
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  • Avatar for Jericho-GM #34 Jericho-GM 2 years ago
    @camchow Didn't say that no one should comment at all but whatever, man. Hope you're having fun at least. Here's an emoticon for you. Peace.

    m-/
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  • Avatar for Megamoppy #35 Megamoppy 2 years ago
    @Roto13 I guess I knew this was gonna happen but still it's irritating. I'm replaying FF7 (still) and the battle system is still really good (I personally think the Materia system is the best magic system so far) so I hope they don't change it to a KH style game, just let KH3 and FF15 do that style, to an extent if I wanted to play a hack and slash game I wouldnt really buy a FF title.

    My other concern is if they shoehorn in all the rubbish expanded story from the Compilation of FF7, please leave it as the funny, awkward endearing game that the original release was but I dont have high hopes... sorry if that rambled a little.

    Sorry Roto13, i'm just curious about your picture of Stalin, I read a biography of young Stalin a little while ago and it was fascinating.
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  • Avatar for Daryoon #36 Daryoon 2 years ago
    If they change to a non-turn-based ARPG, then they will be changing a lot more than just the combat system. How, for example, would things like the WEAPON fights work? Or the bit where you're racing along a train, fighting monsters against a time limit?

    And then there's the large chunk of story where Cloud is in a wheelchair and you control Tifa/Cid. You can't have a Cloud-focused game only to swap out to characters with completely different play styles 3/4s of the way through the game. And if you give the player the chance to control other characters, you run into the problem of how characters like Red XIII and Cait Sith would "work". And the amount of effort required to get an ARPG system working with nine unique characters/play styles would surely cost far too much in terms of time/resources.

    So, either they're going to stay true to the original, or it will end up something entirely different. And I'm not sure the latter is worth the financial gamble.
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  • Avatar for lanmao #37 lanmao 2 years ago
    I want to be able to control my entire party. Action rpgs generally suck at this.Edited August 2015 by lanmao
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #38 brionfoulke91 2 years ago
    @crow-byte Um, they already turned FF7 into a shooter. It was called Dirge of Cerebus, remember?
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  • Avatar for Hoolo #39 Hoolo 2 years ago
    I've got it!
    Bases on other comments here, it sounds like the story and regular action RPG battle mechanics cannot be combined into a Cloud-centric game, so obviously the solution is to make the game like the NDS Estpolis/Lufia remake, Curse of the Sinistrals!

    *crickets chirping*

    Okay, that was actually a joke, but it works, you know. First off, Materia. Curse of the Sinistrals (Lufia continuing in this comment) has a board for every PC where you can put gems with statistical properties. Shake this around, add the board giving magic or support abilities, and you've got your Materia overhaul.

    Then the combat. It's been a while, but I believe the way combat worked in Lufia was just like an action RPG, but you could switch between characters on the fly... I could be talking out of my ass, it's been a while. But this makes action-y combat possible in the Final Fantasy VII remake while still taking the story I to account. The portions of the game where Cid or Tifa is the party leader wouldn't break up the game because you can switch out to the other party members when you want, so you're not forced to suddenly learn a new fighting style because you've had most of the game to check it out.

    Of course this approach wouldn't solve all the problems and I would personally prefer seeing something somewhat closer to the original game, but what I'm actually expecting is something closer to the Gambit system of XII. (Is that XII? I haven't played past VII yet) Maybe one character who is "playable" and two others in your party who are on a DQ/Gambit AI. Only time (or Tetsuya Nomura) will tell.
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  • Avatar for Thad #40 Thad 2 years ago
    I'd like to see them keep the menu-based combat but ditch the unavoidable random encounters. Something like the avoidable random encounters of DQ9 or SMT4 would be nice.

    I think the game needs a lot more changes than that, though. The entire Honeybee Manor/Don Corneo sequence would be really weird with realistic HD characters.

    But yeah the game definitely needs rebalancing.

    Actual rebalancing, not just ridiculous bosses like Ruby and Emerald that test your ability to grind instead of your actual skill.

    (I played through the game again a few years ago and got all the Master Materia. After I was done, I realized that this had been a profound waste of hours of my life; I do not intend to do it again. ...except maybe yellow; I remember Master Yellow not taking as excruciatingly long to earn as Green or Red.)
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  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #41 Nuclear-Vomit 2 years ago
    I want more Mr. T or Barrett in the game. I think he should be the main character not some whiny emo kid that is so messed up he pretends to be his dead best friend. Spoilers! He even watched Aeris take a blade in the back. He did nothing! He could have stopped it. Barrett would have machine gunned Sephiroth and save her life!

    For the record, I did cry when she died. I already knew it was going to happen cause I had the strategy guide, but I was so puzzle and confused at the fact that Cloud watch it happen, that I just lost it. How can you let that happen you bastard!? He was just as responsible for that lost of life than the person that committed the murder.
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  • Avatar for Damman #42 Damman 2 years ago
    @Kat.Bailey@camchow@cldmstrsn I'm not against an ATB style, but I really do think that FF7's battle system would look outdated in a new AAA rpg if they didn't do a fair amount of work to give it some more depth beyond just the visual upgrade. What I consider outdated about it is that there's no real hook. It's a bit mindlessly grind heavy. Nearly all the actions you can commit fall either into "do immediate damage" or "heal". It left things open so that you could take a number of different strategies into character building, but there was never really a necessity to do anything more than keeping your party alive until you can do enough damage to kill the thing. I really liked FFX's turn based style because it required smarter approaches to a lot of the battles: changing up the party for different types of monsters, manipulating the turn order, using status inflicting weapons wisely, etc. Persona 4 is the same way. You can't get through those battles just by dishing out non-descript damage.

    For the reality of the project, though, I'm skeptical that Square Enix would go with a straight forward turn-based system. Just looking at the recent history of their games, the numbered Final Fantasy titles from XII onward have all adopted real-time, more active battle systems. Turn-based battling seems to be treated like a nostalgic throwback to put into smaller handheld games that needn't have as broad of appeal. Dragon Quest is the exception because, well listen to Jeremy and Kat discuss it on the latest Axe of the Blood God.

    I hope what I said wasn't interpreted as "yall are idiots for liking ATB and turn-based systems". I like them too. I just don't see the old split-down-the-middle battle system having the modern day appeal that they want for this game. Also I'd like to see them craft something new. I can always go back and play the old FF7 for some classic ATB.
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  • Avatar for hal9k #43 hal9k 2 years ago
    I agree with Kat, and I hope they stick with an ATB-based battle system. I'm not ready to panic yet, as I think the remake could afford "dramatic changes" and remain turn-based.

    As Kat indicated, one of the most common complaints I've seen about the FF7 battle system (and every FF from 6 on, to an extent) isn't the turn-based battles, it's that the characters are too interchangeable. Their "personalities" in battle depend only on which materia (or equivalent) they have equipped, and not on their personalities in the script or even their character designs. I'm fine with this system, but I realize it might not be ideal.

    In crafting a deeper, more strategic ATB system, that criticism might be a place to start; I think the Persona games are a great example of how to do this better, matching unique characters to their combat roles. I hate to suggest a job system (or dare I say dress spheres?) because I realize it's not a panacea, but something along those lines might be nice. Visible monsters on the world map (again, like Persona) would also be a modest modernization.
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  • Avatar for Monkey-Tamer #44 Monkey-Tamer 2 years ago
    It doesn't matter what they do, we'll all still play it. So quit with the bellyaching. 7 isn't even in my top 3 Final Fantasy games, but I know I'll be playing this. I'm playing the original during my lunch breaks on PSP. It isn't perfect, but it's enjoyable. The craptastic 90s polygons aren't bothering me too much, so anything remotely modern will be a godsend.
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