Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 8: Budding Bodyguard

We’re taking a deep dive into the eighth chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake with the wonderful development team who brought the game to life!
By Sunil Godhania

This year is Final Fantasy VII’s 25th Anniversary - and the celebrations have begun!

As part of the ongoing festivities, the development team behind Final Fantasy VII Remake have graciously agreed to dive deeper into the game than ever before.

We've been revisiting their thoughts, memories, and anecdotes from the creation of the game. Check out the first and most recent chapters here:

If you've yet to play Final Fantasy VII Remake, go and play it now, and if you read on...

...please beware of spoilers.

With that warning out of the way, let’s mosey…

The rendition of "Flowers Blooming in the Church" that plays throughout this chapter will have brought many players close to tears. How much work and effort goes into recreating a track from the original FFVII as a fully realised orchestrated piece of music?

When I have done arrangements of game music in the past, I naturally copied the musical notation from them as accurately as I could, but for FFVII REMAKE, the focus was instead on whether players hearing the new versions of the tracks in REMAKE would feel the same as the players of the original FFVII did at the time.

There were numerous limitations on the internally generated sound used when the original FFVII was made (such as the number of sounds that could play simultaneously or the restrictions on the tones you could use) and the resources available were stunningly sparse when compared to modern music production, but it was those very restrictions that created such uniquely dynamic and easy to follow music, with incredibly prominent melodies.

I think that there must have been a lot of players who were entranced by that music, including myself. You could even say that it really was the golden age of internally generated game music!

Accordingly, I did not simply switch everything over to using a rich orchestral sound. With my arrangements, I wanted the fans of the original to enjoy the nostalgia of internally generated sound and also for first time players to experience the unique flavour of it too.

The first thing I did for my arrangement of “Flowers Blooming in the Church” was to think about what the players of the original game felt when they heard this track at the time.

If you keep listening to the looping “mi-fa la, mi-fa la” melody created through the PS sound system, it is not only beautiful but also conjures a feeling of great fragility, as if everything could fall apart at any minute. I felt that this emotional response was what impressed itself on the players at the time when they first listened to “Flowers Blooming in the Church” and so set out to create my arrangement with the goal of communicating a sense of “beauty and fragility”.

I tried to insert the essence of decline and deterioration into the piece in various ways. To give some specific examples of the sounds I used, I avoided the gorgeous and imposing sound of a grand piano for the piano sections, and instead chose an older, worn-down piano where the felt of the hammers touched the strings. In the live performances, I also lightly overlapped some sounds that do not match the same pitch over the top of the strings (I kept it to a degree where you really have to listen out to pick up on these touches though).

In actual fact, “Flowers Blooming in the Church” would have a very weak flavour as a full orchestral arrangement and this is also the reason that I kept down the number of different instruments I used on it.

How the music would be played in conjunction with the gameplay flow was also something that I took particular care on. It was structured in a three-stage progression, starting with the short intro loop then moving on to the main section as the conversation with Aerith goes on and finally having extra strings come in subtly as Aerith looks out over the ruins while telling her tale to Cloud.

I structured it in this way to further amplify the essence of what makes “Flowers Blooming in the Church" great by tying it to the beautiful visuals. On the soundtrack the various sections are just played in order, but the whole arrangement is predicated on being played alongside the game, so I would be delighted if players would go back and play through chapter 8 again to pay attention to the music.

Shotaro Shima (Globe Enterbrainz)

A flower bed in the church in Midgar

At this point in the game, why is Cloud already having flash-forwards of events that take place later in the original FFVII's story?

After meeting Aerith on the Sector 8 streets, Cloud also becomes able to see the Whispers. At this point Cloud can see parts of a certain destined future, possibly due to the influence of the interference with his memories. However, that vision only lasts for a second and he is not seeing it in any detail.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Cloud experiencing a vision of the future

Reno is a very fast boss who attacks with a storm of blows. What were the concepts behind the design for Reno as a boss character and his actions in battle? Please could you also let us know if there were any difficulties in the development?

Reno was designed to contrast with Rude, who has a heavy, rooted stance and solid guard, so we defined him with quick, agile movements and evasions. The character has complex motions and movement routes, so it was a challenge to implement proper control for that.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)


Hiding a piece of materia behind a wall of Whispers was very cheeky. Was the intention that players would think to revisit this area later in the game?

Sorry if it was a bit cheeky! (Laughs)

I think that players who played on hard mode will understand this, but the Chakra materia found here is one that comes into its own when MP are limited, so we felt that there should be a certain difficulty to obtaining all three of them in the game. That is why we decided to hide one of them here.

Naoki Hamaguchi (Co-Director(Game Design / Programming))

The Chakra materia hidden in the Sector 5 church

It's a very subtle change, but why did the team decide to move away from Cloud using barrels to distract the guards from harming Aerith (in the original FFVII) to having him cut down a chandelier?

This was an area that was very difficult to plan for.

We did consider having Cloud drop barrels exactly like the original but found it very hard to make that look realistic. We were concerned that using barrels could make it feel too comedic in what was supposed to be a serious scene.

At the time we were working on implementing the overhead ladder for Tifa to climb along in the Shinra Building and were experimenting with having Cloud shot at while he was climbing along to increase the tension. It was then that we hit on the idea of having him cut down a chandelier while hanging from the bars.

Naoki Hamaguchi (Co-Director(Game Design / Programming))

Cloud cutting down a chandelier

The next scene, Cloud and Aerith walking along the rooftops, is perhaps my favourite in the entire game. I've read that Hamaguchi-san has also said the same in the past, why exactly is this your favourite?

I think that this scene really cuts to the essence of what makes a good remake, in that it is something that we were unable to depict in the original game, but that has been made possible by modern technology.

By adding more of a realistic presentation to the section in the original FFVII where Aerith and Cloud simply jump across the rooftops, we were able to show the kind of view that they saw while up there and what they experienced. This allows the player to experience what they would have imagined while playing this section in the original.

I feel that recreating the experiences from the original in this way is the value behind doing a remake and the date with Aerith scene really represents that perfectly, so it is one of my favourites.

Naoki Hamaguchi (Co-Director(Game Design / Programming))

Aerith and Cloud climbing over rooftops

How difficult was it to design the in-game version of Aerith's House? Is this done from scratch based on concept artwork? What special considerations (if any) needed to be made to get it just right?

If we had Aerith's house too cleanly built then it would create a dissonance with how the other residents of the slums live, but we also did not want to break with the design from the original, so we paid special attention to creating the feeling that it is still a corner of the slums while also being a nice house and a pleasant place to live.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director) Mizushi Sugawara (Environment Artwork)

Aerith's house and gardens from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

In this chapter the player has the option of fighting Shiva in a VR Battle thanks to Chadley, why was the decision made for these fights to be included as VR Battles?

How to handle the summons was something that we were very torn about.

In the FFVII setting, summons are actually knowledge that dissolved into the lifestream in ancient times and the background behind them is not widely known in the world that Cloud and his friends inhabit. We did have the option of digging deeper into that background, but we felt that having that mystery to them worked to keep the summons appealing.

Because of that, we decided that rather than incorporate the summons into the setting in a bigger way, we would instead use them as a gameplay element by allowing the player to engage with them in frenetic battles via Chadley's VR machine as the story progressed.

Naoki Hamaguchi (Co-Director(Game Design / Programming))

Shiva from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE in the VR Battle Simulator

The real fun in Whack-a-Box comes from working out the optimal route to get the best prizes. Where did the ideal for this mini-game come from?

There are lots of fans of the original FFVII who feel that having lots of mini games made FFVII what it is, so we set out to have an equivalent number in the remake too.

We decided to create a mini game for the Sector 5 Slum from the start and came up with all kinds of ideas at the planning stage. We also alighted on the concept that it should be something that the children of the slums would play and ran with that.

The idea for Whack-a-Box came from this concept, as something that the energetic slum children would do for fun. There were plenty of other ideas we came up with too, such as one that used the flower cart from Crisis Core, where the player had to navigate it around unstable slum roads without the flowers falling off.

Whack-a-Box was also evolved even further in Intergrade and if we have the opportunity to take it even further in the sequels then I would definitely like to think about doing that too.

Naoki Hamaguchi (Co-Director(Game Design / Programming))

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited and are looking forward to learning more from behind the scenes of the game over the coming months.

Make sure you share this article with your friends on social media and we hope you’re looking forward to Chapter 9 next week!

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is available on PS5, Steam and Epic Games Store while Final Fantasy VII Remake is available on PS4.

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