'Final Fantasy VII Remake' directors say 'Intermission' points directly to the sequel
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By Gene Park
Elements of "Intermission," the additional chapter in the PlayStation 5 version of "Final Fantasy VII Remake," will likely be used in the highly-anticipated, and likely far-off, sequel, according to the game's makers.
More specifically, the team-up moves that "Intermission" stars Yuffie and Sonon can do will likely return in Part 2 of "Final Fantasy VII Remake," or whatever the sequel to the remake may be called. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Naoki Hamaguchi, co-director of "Remake," said that last year's battle system was an evolution of the "Active Time Battle" from the original 1997 release.
"From that perspective, I am rather satisfied with this final form, in which the strategic element of the command-based battle from the original co-exists with the real-time, action-oriented battle," said Hamaguchi, who as a young man wanted to work for the "Final Fantasy" series ever since the sixth installment. "Additionally, with 'Intermission,' there's another element introduced: combo movies where Yuffie and Sonon team up . . . which makes for a different feel in battle strategy. I would like to leverage these, including other elements we tried out in 'Intermission,' in our next story."
"Final Fantasy VII Remake" released last year April to critical acclaim and became one of the year's most celebrated games. Moreover, the twists and story changes excited fans for the inevitable sequel, particularly since the first story ends right when the party finally leaves the crowded, polluted first city of Midgar and begins to travel the open world.
Longtime, attentive players may have noticed callbacks to several other pieces of "Final Fantasy VII" media, including the film "Advent Children" and the spinoff titles. "Intermission" leans into this further, introducing the characters Weiss and Nero, who only appeared in the PlayStation 2 shooter "Dirge of Cerberus." That game focused on an optional character from the original game, Vincent. This was no accident, said Motomu Toriyama, another co-director of "Remake" and a scenario director for the original 1997 game.
"The world of 'Final Fantasy VII' was vastly expanded through multiple works that followed after the original game," Toriyama said. "We do want to make it a culmination of all the 'Final Fantasy VII'-related works created up to this point. There are characters that, I too, do not know, but that is the same with Cloud and company as well."
Toriyama said that any time a new character from outside the original 1997 release is introduced into the new story, the writers will always frame it as a first encounter with Cloud, the protagonist and audience surrogate.
"For unfamiliar enemies like Weiss or Nero, I think being able to convey that they have a kind of deep darkness about them is plenty," Toriyama said. "At the same time, those who are familiar with them can make a stronger connection to the overarching 'Final Fantasy VII' world by having them appear in the narrative as they are in their respective source material."
Yuffie was a perfect star for the additional chapter "Intermission" because she was also an optional character in the original game, but her backstory wasn't as solidified as Vincent. Toriyama said reintroducing the gem thief as an integral part of the story wouldn't be as jarring.
"If this were Vincent, another optional character, he would have been sleeping in a coffin in the Shinra mansion, so we wouldn't be able to move him around," Toriyama said. "But Yuffie was traveling the world as a materia hunter in the original. By having Yuffie infiltrate Midgar as part of her travels, she can experience the same incidents Cloud and company were experiencing, depicting the same incidents from a different perspective."
Toriyama is referencing a pivotal, tragic moment in the original 1997 story that was given more dramatic weight in the "Remake." The emphasis on the horror of the incident is only magnified through Yuffie's cheerful eyes.
"Yuffie is a cheerful and energetic young lady and she will make an appearance after getting over the tragic experience in 'Intermission,'" Toriyama said. "So I believe her encounter with Cloud and his allies will be that much more appealing. Also, Wutai [Yuffie's home nation] was placed in a more important position . . . as the opposing force against Shinra. By having groups that oppose Shinra, not just Avalanche, take a more prominent role, I believe we can create an even more suspenseful story."
Despite all these changes, the pair of directors say they are not losing sight of respecting the original game. They both say they are heartened by the love showered upon "Remake," and were very satisfied with player response to the many changes in the gameplay and the story.
"It goes without saying that we strived for this with 'Intergrade,' but I am reminded that for the next installment, it's of utmost importance not to damage the memories from the source material, but to reimagine it so it surpasses people's expectations," Hamaguchi said.
The Washington Post