Three Final Fantasy Games They Should Remake Before VI and VII

Now that we’re all on the cusp of buying yet another remake of Final Fantasy IV, I’m settling in for another round of somewhat frustrated jokes to the effect of, “Why FF4, again? Why not FF6 or FF7?” Because let’s face it — those are the ones everyone wants to see remade. We’ve all seen Advent Children, we all know how amazing the world and characters of FF7 can be made to look on modern consoles. And as for FF6? Well, I suppose everyone saw how nice the DS remakes turned out, and want the same thing done for their favoritest game ever.

For my part, though, I don’t feel like I need updates to FF6 or FF7. The former is a fan favorite, and sort of the platonic ideal of the 16-bit RPG. The latter has had so many spin-offs and sequels that the world sort of doesn’t need to be re-imagined.

No, I can think of at least three FF games that need some love first.

Final Fantasy XII

This game is only a few years old, but I’m more than ready for a remake. Not even a remake, even; just a port with a few extra features. Here’s what I want:

1) FF12 on a portable system, with
2) an in-game suspend feature, and
3) the ability to scale and re-play completed hunts.

I think a lot of handheld gamers have a nice, familiar “go-to” game. Everyone’s always playing whatever the hot new release is, of course, but folks also like something old and good to keep in their back pocket and just whip out and play for a few minutes at a time. I think FF12 has great potential to be that game.

When you boil it straight down, FF12 is very grind-y. Playing it is very much like running quests in an MMO; you slaughter monsters, reap the spoils, spend points on character builds, upgrade equipment at arbitrary intervals, and — this is key — you do all of this passively. Once you wrap your head around gambits, FF12 is very much a “fire and forget” game. Your eyes glaze over and roll back, your mind starts drifting, and your thumbs work on autopilot. The whole while, your little in-game guys run around cheerfully hacking a path through swaths of bad guys, rewarding the player with an endless flurry of bells, whistles, and minor rewards.

Does this sound like anyone else to be the perfect game to play for five or six minutes while waiting for a bus? Or sitting in a hotel lobby?

The flip-side of that coin are the hunts, boss fights and Esper battles, which are some of the most demanding experiences I’ve ever had in a JRPG. There is simply no way you can topple Zeromus or Gilgamesh without tapping and exploiting every single thing you know about the game. You must learn which buffs to use, and when. You will care about the properties of different weapon types, which in any other game would be inconsequential. You will painstakingly organize your gambits — and then re-organize them because “HP < 50%" and "HP < 40%" mean different things at different points in the fight. You will sweat. You will frantically swap characters out of the active party so they don't die. And remember: Zeromus and Gilgamesh are at the low end of the game’s long list of epic endgame boss fights.

Once you’ve cleared the game and toppled all the hunts, a button that lets you re-play much harder versions of them would be enough to give die-hard FF12 fans another hundred or so hours of game time. And you know, if they wanted to give us that International Zodiac Dealie while they were at it? I’d call it icing.

Final Fantasy VIII

FF8 has a lot going for it. It has these really deep and amazing game systems that tap into the part of your brain that is willing to experiment for hours just to eke out another +1 on the menu screen… but it was smart enough to have a button you could push to have the game make all those decisions for you. You could play FF8 as a number-cruncher, or you could just kick back and enjoy the ride.

Here’s the problem: the ride was real bumpy.

As a result, a lot of people hated FF8. People who didn’t care much about crunching numbers (i.e.: almost the entire JRPG market in North America in the late 90s) didn’t experience the game’s best attributes… and the game’s plot and characters weren’t enough to placate them. I think answer to many of these issues would be a competent re-write.

First and foremost, FF8 has probably the most unlikeable cast in the series. (By which I mean: I like them, but then I’m a nutbar fanboy apologist.) All six of the PCs are practically charactitures of themselves; Squall is the brooding loner, Zell is the crazy spaz, Selphie is the bubbly schoolgirl, etc. Taking a hot iron to these characters would smooth them out a bit, and make them more relatable. The game already does this to a small degree, but it’s not enough. By the time Squall isn’t a brooding loner anymore, 40 hours have gone by and everyone who hated him had already quit playing.

Second, FF8 tried desperately to sell itself on being a love story. This was stupid, bad and wrong. Squall and Rinoa were fine as colorful RPG characters, but they were not believable enough or mature enough to carry a romance plot all on their own. Anyone who didn’t quite playing early on because they got sick of Squall certainly did when the game tried to jam his sudden devotion to Rinoa own their throats.

Two ideas spring to mind. Either focus entirely on the sorceress plotline and include the Squall/Rinoa romance as a small footnote, or re-write said romance completely so it isn’t an embarrassment. There is one scene in FF8 where the love story pays off: where Squall storms the government facility where Rinoa is being held to the detriment of the world’s safety because his feelings for her are stronger than his desire to save the world. If they could somehow take the energy of that one scene and spread it across the entirety of Squall’s relationship with Rinoa, you’d have something.

Finally, the battle system needs a tune-up, if only visually. The characters in this game use gun swords, whips and magical boomerangs to attack monsters; they’re too dynamic to just stand in a line and wait for their turn to attack. Even just overlaying the standard ATB interface on top of something like sizzle and glitz of FF13 would do a world of good for the combat.

Final Fantasy II

This one’s the real challenge, isn’t it? This game has already been “remade” several times, and yet its underlying issues have never been addressed. What it needs isn’t a facelift or a series of tweaks; it needs to be overhauled completely. It needs to be gutted down to its component parts and rebuilt into something that works.

FF2 is a game that would have been amazing if it’d come out in 2002.

Literally every part of this game has been done well since its original release. The story about an evil empire and the crushed rebellion that stands against them? That could be expanded upon. The betrayals, setbacks and tragic deaths could actually mean something. The strings of fetch quests could be re-cast as adventures with actual plot relevance. The “use-to-level” advancement systems could be streamlined, diversified and documented. The password system could be extrapolated into branching dialogue and conversation options. The battles could be made quicker. The dungeons could be re-drawn. The monster closets could be surgically removed.

I realize that the resulting game would only superficially resemble the original FF2. But you know, if that’s what it takes, I’m totally up for it. It’d be less Super Mario All-Stars and more Metroid: Zero Mission. There is a lot of life in this game, waiting for someone to tap into it. Hopefully we don’t have long to wait before someone thinks to improve FF2 by doing more than just slapping on a new coat of paint.

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12 comments to Three Final Fantasy Games They Should Remake Before VI and VII

  • Pieemperor

    Woah, this isn’t all by chance from my youtube message is it?

  • Metal Man Master

    A full-on reimagining of Final Fantasy II Metroid Zero Mission style is the game I’ve wanted ever since I played through the GBA coat of paint. There’s a concept for a great game buried in all the crap. It just needs some people to realize that it needs a full-on remodeling instead of just a new coat of paint.

    Call me crazy, but I’d daresay Final Fantasy III could use a remake too, even though it already got one and it’s the only legit English version of the game. And I’m not saying this just because you fight only two or three monsters at a time and all the background components are made of cardboard, either. There’s still much that can be improved upon and rebuilt in the job system and story. I know there were reasons for not doing that (first complete remake/international release), but it deserves better, too.

  • Solitayre

    I’ve always had a soft spot for VIII even though the game is objectively terrible in a lot of ways. I’d love to see that game’s universe get a better shot. Edea, played competently, could be the greatest villain in RPG history.

    However, Final Fantasy XII killed the series for me. I played it for a few hours, realized it was the worst game I’d ever played, shelved it, and was never tempted to even touch it again. In my long and storied RPG career this is the only game I have ever done that with. I pretty much have no faith in SE to ever make a game I would enjoy again. This is not to say they will always make bad games from here on out, I am simply not their target demographic any more. I guess this is what it is like to get old.

  • Olli T

    I can get behind a XII remake, with a few enhancements to the Gambit system. Firstly, you shouldn’t really need to buy the gambits. They’re a convenience feature! There’s nothing you can’t do without them, their only purpose is to make the game smoother to play, and they work great at it. Maybe jack up the price of other stuff a bit to compensate the amount of money you spend on gambits, I dunno. Also, I’d love if you could store at least one gambit combination, possibly several. Tweaking everything back to “grind” mode after beating an opponent that requires special attention is just unnecessarily frustrating.

  • Kadj

    I’m holding out for the inevitable FF8 remake; it was the very first RPG I actually completed, so it has a lot of personal value to me, and back when I was a little kid I thought the entire plot made sense! Then I went to re-play it recently(after one of your comments that it was localized terribly actually – was that the 13 Weeks series?) and… ugh, I couldn’t get past Dollet without retching at how poorly everything was conveyed.

    “Maybe next time I’ll tell you about my ROMANTIC dream!”

    I was able to understand basic instructions on what to do, and when I was a kid, I guess that was all I needed. Every other thing people said was just fancy adult speak for “X is in trouble, let’s save X by doing Y!”

    I still like the setting though, mostly. Feels kind of hacked together in some areas(especially Esthar or whatever that one continent is, where the hell did that even come from), but the cities are mostly pretty cool and all carry their own charm I guess.

    If they were to rewrite the plot and elaborate on the sorceress thing, I would want the Time Compression plot element to be redone… The last disc was dreadfully boring considering your entire selection of places to visit is narrowed down to “every dungeon that wasn’t modern, and Ultimecia’s Castle.” Give us Ultimecia’s future, complete with new/reimagined cities at least! And the option to go back! None of this retarded unexplained purple barrier crap, or throwing a combined ultimate merchant+guy-who-has-every-missing-card in your airship that you better damn well have completed the chocobo sidequest earlier in order to re-obtain.

    Ah, whatever.

  • I am actually surprised that with all the times that SE has ported and remade FF2, they never touched what the core issue with it is. I would totally get behind a FF2 remake that rebuilt the battle and leveling system from the ground up; I actually really like the kind of leveling system where you advance by doing (See: Hybrid Heaven), but FF2’s was just poor in that regard.

  • Lys

    I wrote up some of the things I adore about FF8 this week, so it’s fresh in my mind and I agree that a remake could only improve it. Imagine a rewrite where it’s not a third disk surprise that Esthar had been ruled by an evil sorceress, or that the Centra continent had been destroyed by a Lunar Cry eighty years ago? We might actually care about the story if we knew anything about it more than five minutes in advance. I don’t have as many problems with the Squall/Rinoa romance – making it a smoother transition from ‘Whatever’ to ‘I’ll be your knight’ will go a long way to fixing that one.

    Every time you write about FF12 it makes me want to play the game that *you* played, instead of the one I did, where no one ever seemed to have the Licenses or Gambits they needed to do anything effectively, where the characters spent what seemed like forever trekking through huge environments with little to no story development, and where my game finally came to an end because I got a status ailment two hours into a dungeon that continually lowered my maximum HP with no way of curing it. The game I played just wasn’t very fun. I’d play yours in a heartbeat if I knew how!

    • MCBanjoMike

      I was going to explain how your proposed changes to XII didn’t fix the problems that I had with that game, but Lys went ahead and did it for me. The endless running through vast fields wouldn’t really make for a good 5-minute-burst game, and the lack of good gambits early in the game prevents you from actually using the systems in place for a good 25 hours or so. Come to think of it, the lack of faith in the player displayed by FF XII went on to become the biggest problem with FF XIII, as well. Squeenix needs to have a bit more confidence in the people playing their games, rather than forcing us to spend the entire first half in a sort of tutorial.

  • Darken

    “However, Final Fantasy XII killed the series for me. I played it for a few hours, realized it was the worst game I’d ever played, shelved it, and was never tempted to even touch it again.”
    From Soli

    lol I gave it a few tries once in awhile I tried my hardest to like it. Then finally I got 1 shotted by a monster I was never warned about (just like the ninja t-rex in the first map) and just went to the game store to trade it in on the same day. I ended up rebuying VIII because I realized I didn’t have a copy at the time, I had fun replaying FFVIII more than FFXII (probably out of nostalgia, but still).

  • ShifterChaos

    “For my part, though, I don’t feel like I need updates to FF6 or FF7.”

    One thing needs either be remade, or recreated: The opera scene from FF6.

  • Sanagi

    The DS remakes of Dragon Quest games and SaGa 2 in particular prove that it’s possible for Square-Enix(or their pawns/mercenaries) to lovingly preserve classic gameplay while upgrading everything that could benefit from improvement. I still have all kinds of doubts, but it makes me more open-minded to the possibility of remaking a game I once would’ve thought untouchable like FF6. For the games that are already in 3D, I think speeding up load times and cutscenes is the only improvement worth talking about.

    FF8 is a good example. Apart from the story, it’s a brilliant game. A “Skip Scene” button is all it needs.

    If a remake of FF12 came with the zodiac job system I’d be all over that. I loved FF12 but the lack of customization options that actually mattered kept me from playing through it a second time.

    Chrono Cross could stand to come back, too. While some of its problems are too big to fix, it would still be a great game if it ran at a tolerable speed. Compare FF1 to Dawn of Souls and you’ll see the kind of speed upgrade I’m talking about. (Hmm… I just made myself want to play Dawn of Souls again.)

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