If playable cat creatures in JRPGs are your thing then Final Fantasy VII Remake is a major bummer. A Square Enix developer interview sheds light on the state of Midgar and gameplay decisions that are raising some fans’ eyebrows, including the reasoning as to why original party member Red XIII is no longer playable in the upcoming remake—at least the first part releasing this year.
The March 23 interview with Producer Yoshinori Kitase and Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi provides a wealth of information about decisions that led to the creation of Final Fantasy VII Remake‘s world of Midgar, why now is the time to return to Final Fantasy VII, and an ethos of “new but familiar.” Kitase says that the time was now because they wanted their best developers on such a big project. “Unfortunately, we haven’t really had a chance to get a team together to work on it during the last 23 years,” said the producer, while also adding that the passage of time and advancement of technology finally put the team in place to create a true updated vision of the beloved JRPG.
Midgar takes center stage in Final Fantasy VII Remake, as the team considered the setting essential to the experience. “Midgar is iconic to Final Fantasy VII Remake, so we had to start the game here and follow the story up to the main party’s escape from the city,” said Kitase. Co-Director Hamaguchi acknowledges how iconic the setting is to the series, but that begged the question as to why former core party member Red XIII is no longer part of the main gameplay experience, being relegated to the status of a guest character.
“We felt that because he only joins the team during the latter stages, having him as a playable ally with full character growth potential would not be a satisfying experience for the player,” said Hamaguchi. “So we decided to have him join for now, as a guest character instead.”
This doesn’t mean the big, red kitty doesn’t make appearances in the story. The developers go on to detail a section of the game in which using Red’s abilities is crucial to navigating the Shinra Building.
Final Fantasy VII Remake releases on April 10, 2020, assuming the ongoing pandemic doesn’t have something to say about that.