*Warning: Potential SPOILERS for Final Fantasy VII*
I’ve been playing Final Fantasy VII a lot recently, and aside from having a great time, I’m also coming to realize how incredibly awkward this game is. I mean, Cloud’s adventure sinks pretty low with dark science fiction themes like cloning, extinction, human experimentation, and global domination by electrical corporations.
However, tucked in between these important story points… this game is just weird. Final Fantasy VII is a tonal mess with dramatic scenes unraveled by its awkward polygon people, and it’s loaded with jokes that wouldn’t really fly in 2017, characterizations that would make modern day gamers squirm, and just some out of place moments that are more “goofy” than anything else.
Square Enix Producer Yoshinori Kitase famously stated that the development team is going to pack every scene into the upcoming remake in addition to piling on top of what already exists. While I think he might be promising a little too much and is likely to make some major cuts, going by that promise, a lot of these strange moments are not going to translate well into modern day video game standards.
I mean, these scenes might work with a 90s sense of humor and the silly Popeye-people character models…
But with the power of modern day photorealism and voice acting, Final Fantasy VII just might be even stranger than the original release! These are the points in Final Fantasy VII Remake’s story that are going to leave a lot of gamers scratching their heads or feeling uncomfortable on the inside.
This is the story point that inspired this article. I just got to Junon, and I’m thinking “How exactly is Square Enix going to justify this one?” There is stretching the imagination, and then there is… this.
The scene is set up by Cloud having to infiltrate the military fortress at Junon. Shinra owns the whole city and has installed a massive cannon above the old fishing village. Naturally, the everyday citizens are treated like dirt and access to the flourishing city above is cut off. Cloud’s only option is climbing an electrical tower sticking out of the bay, but he won’t be able to get close to it with the surrounding water totally electrified.
Thankfully, he and his friends just rescued a local girl named Priscilla from a giant monster in the previous scene, and she wants to repay them. What’s Priscilla’s suggestion? Simple! She’ll employ her pet Mr. Dolphin to swim below Cloud, toss him 40 feet into the air with the hope that he lands on a narrow pole that will “safely” take him above the shocking death that lies below.
The entirety of Wall Market
Final Fantasy VII’s most infamous mini-quest. “Getting Cloud to wear a dress.” This whole chapter occurs in the slums of Midgar at a bustling marketplace called Wall Market. Now, rendering a modern-day male character in a dress is simple enough, but the steps Cloud must go through to obtain the different items he needs to appear fashionable leads to some of the strangest moments in gaming history.
One, he has to go through the ancient tradition of buying used underwear from a vending machine, a Japanese urban legend that was prevalent in the 90s and 2000s.
Two, Cloud has to undergo a squatting competition with some rock hard bodybuilders. The scene itself is a little weird, but I just want to see how Square Enix reinterprets the QTE that the players have to perform to get Cloud to squat.
And the most infamous of these pit-stops: the Honey Bee Inn. This interpretation of a Japanese gentlemen’s club, or hostess club, dresses up cute women in skimpy bumblebee outfits for a suggestively good time. Cloud enters the inn looking for some fine jewelry, but instead of that, he winds up in a hot tub with a dozen muscle-bound, pornstache men who climb into a hot tub with him and make suggestive remarks about his body.
It’s awkward, and the way it’s handled won’t stand up to scrutiny. And this isn’t even including the climax of the quest when Don Conero selects Cloud, Tifa, or Aerith to come into his bedroom and… you get where I’m going. This whole chapter should just be scrapped.
Tifa and Scarlet’s slap fight
This one is plain old misogynistic. Tifa is a badass. We liked her for different reasons when we were 13-years-old, but as an adult, it’s a bit easier to appreciate her for her martial arts and as the emotional anchor of the group. She keeps everyone around her grounded in reality, keeps Cloud’s lies in check, and knows how to throw down in a fix.
Which is why her slapping contest with Shinra executive Scarlet seems so out of place. At the beginning of the second CD, the Weapons have been released upon the world, and Cloud is missing. Tifa wakes up in the custody at Junon while a battle rages outside between Shinra’s forces and Sapphire weapon. After freeing herself from a gas chamber, her only means of escape is to run towards the end of the Junon cannon and leap to safety aboard the airship.
She almost makes it, but Shinra executive Scarlet follows her, expertly able to balance on the narrow, rounded cannon in her high heels, and challenges Tifa to… a slap fight. Tifa, a martial artist of the highest caliber accepts, and the two share a weird moment where they slap each other in the face to the point of submission.
Yup, this needs to go. In the remake, Tifa should just unload her fists on Scarlet and not be reduced to negative female stereotypes.
Rufus’ “death” scene
Continuity problems abound here. At the end of the second CD, Diamond Weapon launches an assault on the city of Midgar and seeks to take the Shinra Corporation with it. It launches a barrage of energy projectiles at the company’s headquarters, and President Rufus is killed in a massive explosion after they slam into his office.
Of course, Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus, like the lame pieces of fan-service that they are, brought back President Rufus. These claim that he somehow survived the explosion thanks to an escape hatch that happened to be right below his feet. Of course, the real reason is that the writers still need Shinra to exist in any Final Fantasy VII story just as much as they need Sephiroth, so Rufus gets to live to see another day.
Of course, in the original cutscene, Rufus is clearly engulfed in flames and has no chance of surviving. For the sake of continuity and the altered canon, Square Enix will have to remake this cutscene since you can no longer misinterpret the dated CG.
Palmer and the Truck
Rocket Town is the final location Cloud and friends visit on their tour of the two main continents. It is the only place with a private airplane that can take the party to further locations outside of established routes. Wutai, the Northern Continent, the southern swamps of Mideel, these are all inaccessible without the aid of the Tiny Bronco.
Shinra is also seeking this mode of transportation and sends Rufus and Palmer to collect it from its owner Cid. While Rufus distracts the irritable pilot, Palmer sneaks behind the house to lift it right out from under Cid’s nose. Cloud and friends stop him, a boss fight ensues, and then this happens once Palmer realizes he’s been beaten.
Now… Palmer is sort of a joke in Shinra. He’s at the bottom of the executive ladder because he’s charge of space exploration, Shinra’s least profitable branch, and he’s always kissing up to those who hold more power than him. Seeing this balding, aging, brown-noser who dances like a monkey in a fight get hit by a truck is funny while he’s rendered by a pile of indecipherable polygons.
However, Square Enix is really going to have to stretch to make a more realistic Palmer getting tossed by a truck hit the same humor beats.
Cid and Shera
And speaking of Cid, he’s one of the most enduring and popular characters in the game and possibly all of Final Fantasy history. He’s also a horrible human being who verbally and emotionally abuses his assistant, Shera. He calls her names, threatens her, berates her for her failures, and orders her around with expletives.
But, later in the game, we learn that Cid has a soft heart and it was because of Shera that his chances of going to space were ruined, making her totally deserving of such treatment. *eye rolls*
This relationship is already pretty tough to watch nowadays when it’s just blocky character models hurling text blocks at one another. When Square Enix adds voice acting and realistic facial animation to the point where we can see his words cutting into Shera’s mental state, maybe Cid won’t get the free pass he’s gotten for the past 20 years.