The Games that Made Us: FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH Director Naoki Hamaguchi

The Director of FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH has made a truly exceptional experience, but what were the games that made him the creator he is today?
By Duncan Heaney

FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH is quite an achievement.

It’s the result of years of hard work by an immensely talented development team, including Director Naoki Hamaguchi. Along with his colleagues, Hamaguchi-san has produced an RPG of incredible quality.

In short, he’s made a pretty special game. But what were the special games that made him? We asked him to find out:

What was the first game you ever played?

I was in first grade or so, but my father bought the first generation Famicom along with the Super Mario Bros. game. And I vaguely remember playing together with my family.

Super Mario Bros. is a game played by tons of people, with simple operations,and it made people who have never played a game before like those in my parents' generation, participate while taking turns.

When you think of entertainment that could be enjoyed by the whole family, there were things like cards, but this was something that took its place and felt extremely new.

It’s not like I saw a future in games from it as a child, but it was very stimulating. I clearly remember thinking that this was a new gaming and entertainment experience.

What was the first Square Enix game you ever played?

I think FINAL FANTASY IV was the first, but at that time, my older brother was playing it and I was mostly watching.

I recall playing on my own from around FINAL FANTASY V.

At that time in Japan, you'd experience a specific worldview, and a continuous story in something like Weekly Shonen Jump, in which you can experience many different stories, but this was something that replaced that.

Instead of reading, to play on my own and be immersed in the story, characters, and worldview was very stimulating.

It was Squaresoft at the time, but I still believe that Squaresoft games were very unique.

Above: FINAL FANTASY V Pixel Remaster

Other than FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH, what game could you not live without?

As a creator of these kinds of games, the title I respect the most is The Witcher series. Especially The Witcher 3, it's already a title from 10 years ago or so but I truly believe this is an extremely well made title that stands the test of time.

For The Witcher series as well, especially The Witcher 3, the detailed construction of the world and the gameplay immersion is truly wonderful.

So, in that way, yes, for me there may be no other gameplay experience like it.

If you could only listen to one Square Enix soundtrack, what would it be?

FINAL FANTASY VI and VII happened right around the time of my adolescence, so around middle school or high school, I bought the FINAL FANTASY VII soundtrack and listened to it all the time.

I had a part time job at a video rental store back then, and have fond memories of playing the VII soundtrack in the store and such.

When I listen to the music, it brings to mind the gameplay experience and the emotions that I felt at the time. In that sense, the FINAL FANTASY VII soundtrack was special to me, even as a child.

Especially the music at the beginning of the game when you enter Midgar. Even when I was making FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, I listened to that song a lot. There’s a nostalgia and brings back a rush of memories from those days.

What game do you think the whole world should play?

Of course, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and REBIRTH are titles I'd love for people to play.

There's also The Witcher series I mentioned earlier, and I’d like people to try playing The Witcher 3 especially.

But there’s one Japanese title called Zero, it's a horror game. I think it’s released overseas as Fatal Frame. It deals with real Japanese ghosts and isn't something with zombies that North American and European users tend to like, so culturally, it might not appeal to everyone.

The game is not so much about zombie attacks and shooting them; it's more about taking pictures of the ghosts and getting rid of them.

It has a very Japanese style to it, which I like so much that I play it every time a new title comes out.

It's a bit niche, but I really hope it will spread to the rest of the world as a Japanese horror game.

What’s your favorite Square Enix game?

Well, I think my #1 will have to be FINAL FANTASY VI.

I was probably in middle school when I played FINAL FANTASY VI, and it was such an entertaining experience for me as a child.

I was so impressed how it could move players' hearts as a work of art.

I truly felt this at the time, and then I had a vague thought that: "it would be nice if I could become an adult who creates games like this in the future."

That was really the title that was the catalyst that led to my present, so it was a very memorable experience for me.

Above: FINAL FANTASY VI Pixel Remaster

What’s the saddest moment you’ve experienced in a game?

The saddest…

I think it was Aerith's fate from FINAL FANTASY VII that made the biggest impact on me.

It was when I was in high school or so, and I'm sure there were experiences like that back then in movies and such, but no game existed at the time that posed such a dramatic development to the users.

I'm sure it left an impression not only on me, but also to many other people. It certainly made a strong impression on me.

What does the original FINAL FANTASY VII mean to you?

I played this when I was at high school, and I think it is the game that served as a catalyst towards me becoming a game creator in this industry, so I respect it very much.

I am now in the position of directing a remake of the game, and (Yoshinori) Kitase and (Tetsuya) Nomura are the people who made the game back then. From my perspective, I enjoyed the game as a user back then, and now I am involved in the creation of the game.

By approaching the work from our various perspectives, I believe we were able to maintain a balanced creation process for both this title and the last.

What three things are you most proud of in FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH?

Firstly, the FINAL FANTASY remake project is worked on as a trilogy and naturally I think there is high anticipation from the users as to how the second instalment will be after the first one.

So, I create each title noting the reaction of the customers, and try to incorporate the expressions suitable for that era into it. In that way, this will be a different game experience from the previous one.

Delivering a game into customers' hands after having properly evolved it, is probably one of the most important points.

As for the other two points, regarding the battle system...

In the previous instalment, the battle system was a fusion of actions and commands. It was a new form that was created and delivered to the users and I believe it received very positive feedback.

With that, we developed a new system that expresses the bond between the characters, called Synergy attacks.

The new game has a slightly different feel from the previous one, and the game strategy has increased in its depth. This is one of the appeals of this title.

Another is the world map. People are very much looking forward to seeing how the world map will be made. There are people who think we can't recreate everything if we attempt it, but there are also those who want us to make it right.

To wonder how we would then respond to these expectations, I am sure is on the minds of all users waiting for REBIRTH.

We have kept the feeling of the original FINAL FANTASY VII world map intact and reincarnated it in a form that is best expressed in this day and age.

This is what I'd like players to look forward to most.

FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH is available now for PS5.

Want to read more about the game? Check out our other interviews with the team and cast:

To stay up to date with news and information about the game, be sure to follow us on social media:

The heroes and villains of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE… as action figures?

From Cloud Strife to Rufus Shinra, we showcase ten of our favorite action figures based on the characters from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE!
By Duncan Heaney

The world of FINAL FANTASY VII is full of heroes and villains. From the stoic skills of Cloud Strife and powerful passion of Barret Wallace to the sinister machinations of Shinra', the games present a thrilling mix of good and evil that makes for incredible storytelling.

It also, as it turns out, makes for equally incredible action figures. The Play Arts Kai series in particular offers some pretty spectacular versions of these iconic characters, so today we thought we’d celebrate 10 of our favorite heroes and villains from the series… in their action figure forms!

The Heroes

First, let’s take a look at some of the main players of FINAL FANTASY VII. All of these characters featured prominently in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and will return in FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH too!


This guy needs no introduction, surely? It’s Cloud Strife himself - and this limited edition action figure captures him in astonishing detail. It’s all there - his confident expression, his glistening earring, his iconic turtleneck and, of course, those Mako eyes.

This figure also comes with Hardedge - an awesome weapon with 一刀両断 emblazoned on the blade. That means ‘cutting into two with one stroke’… or in other words, stay out of Cloud’s way!


Martial artist, brilliant bartender and pull-up pro, Tifa has a lot of aces up her sleeves (or gloves?). Now she can add ‘awesome action figure’ to the list. This Play Arts Kai action figure was a big hit, and due to popular demand, it’s getting a reprint.

It’s easy to see why - it’s an incredibly faithful figure of the iconic heroine, with everything from her costume to her hair recreated from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. With multiple points of articulation and interchangeable head and hand pieces, it’s almost like she’s right there in the room with you, albeit shrunk down to action figure size.

She still can’t mix you up a Cosmo Canyon cocktail though. Action figure technology has only come so far.


Everyone’s favorite local florist makes for a beautifully detailed figure. Everything from her pink dress / red jacket combo to her flowing hair has been painstakingly brought over into this new form, with a frankly insane attention to detail.

Even the texture of her skin, clothes, accessories et Cetra has been modelled from the game itself in order to perfectly capture the sense of her character. She’s perfectly posable too, with multiple joints, swappable hands and head, and a range of accessories for her to hold, including her basket of flowers, and materia-socketed staff.


The leader of the anti-Shinra group Avalanche has broad shoulders, which he uses to metaphorically carry his team through the toughest situation. And literally carry his daughter Marlene.

All of that strength and resolve is on full display in this Play Arts Kai action figure, which features swappable pieces, translucent sunglasses, and multiple points of articulation so you can portray Barret in a wide range of actions.


It’s not just bipedal heroes who get a Play Arts Action Figure - Red XIII is more than worthy of one too.

And what a figure he makes - his crimson fur is vibrant, textured and with a realistic gradient, his feathers are supremely detailed. He also has multiple points of articulation, including his eyes, jaw and flaming tail, so you can put him in lots of different positions.

It’s a stunning piece - and who wouldn’t want a fierce lab rat dog in their home?


The star of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s DLC, FF7R EPISODE INTERmission, joins the party in FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH - but she can join yours right now with this wonderful action figure.

She’s dressed in her ‘inconspicuous’ Moogle cape, which is just as attractive in miniaturized form as it is in the game. You can even remove the hood to better show Yuffie’s face.

Lots of points of articulation mean you can pose her in different ways, making it easy to capture the youthful energy she brings to proceedings. Her love of materia is also shown through one of her replaceable hands, which holds one of the green variety. Best not ask where she got it from.

Villains / antagonists

There’s an old saying that you can judge the worth of a person by the quality of their enemies. If that is the case, then the aforementioned heroes are great indeed. The forces standing against the crew are many and varied, but each one is a deeply compelling character… and an equally compelling action figure.


Cold, ambitious and utterly ruthless, Rufus Shinra cuts a fine figure here. The son of President Shinra features his look from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, with his long, flowing coat and dual guns. Also, you can change his head to one with his smug little smile - very in keeping with the character.

The weapons are particularly cool - the set includes two guns individually and a third, with his weapons assembled into their combined form. If you’ve ever had the urge to replicate a certain rooftop boss battle in your own home, this figure makes it easy!


When Shinra wants something done, and with a little finesse, they call in the Turks. Reno is the most extrovert of the group, with his red hair, unbuttoned suit and powerful baton.

Rest assured that all this is captured faithfully in this action figure, which also features different heads that capture the different sides of his personality - goofy, quirky, professional and determined.

He’s a flashy foe and a fearsome force for Shinra in the game, and he’s equally impressive here.


In contrast to his partner above, Rude is quiet, calm and almost always professional. He is, however, equally deadly thanks to his impressive martial arts skills.

Not only is his physicality captured, so are his intimidating looks. From his earring to the texture of his gloves, the figure has been designed with an impressive level of faithfulness to his appearance in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

And before you ask… yes, his sunglasses are removable. And yes, you’ll probably put them right back on - it just feels right.


The above figures are good and all, but want to really push it past the redline? Take a look at Roche here.

The speed-loving SOLDIER operative looks like he’s leapt straight from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, with his distinctive hairstyle and rebellious attitude written all over his face. Or at least one of them - you can swap out multiple heads, hands and even equip a weapon on his back or hand.

Of course, what would Roche be without his bike? It’s included in this set and it’s supremely detailed around the exhaust and engine. You can even use the stand to recreate his unforgettable wheelie pose from the game!

It’s available to Pre-order now:

That was just 10 of these awesome figures, but of course, there are many more available too. Want Jessie on a bike, Sonon, or even Sephiroth himself? Or to celebrate the lowly Shinra Security soldier? Or to recreate Wall Market with Cloud, Tifa and Aeirth in their finest frocks?

Head over the Square Enix Store to see the full range now!

For news and updates about FINAL FANTASY VII, including the upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH, be sure to follow the team on social media:


Learn about new characters, regions of the world, combat and more in this new preview. Plus watch a recap of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and the story so far!
By Duncan Heaney

FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH launches in just a few short months on February 29, 2024 and we’re excited to be able to show you more about what to expect.

But, before we look at where we’re going, what about where we’ve been? We’ve just released a ‘Story So Far’ recap video, which will also be viewable from the game’s main menu.

Narrated by none other than Red XIII, it retells the events of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - perfect if you want a refresher ahead of the new game, or plan to dive right into the series with FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH.

Take a look:

Next up, let’s look at some of the things you’ll see in FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH, including some regions of the world, new characters, combat and more.

Regions of the world

The world is comprised of multiple regions, each boasting unique environments for you to explore and experience on your adventure.

Let's take a look at a couple:


A halcyon hamlet kept safe from the outside world by a sturdy stone wall. Though it lacks a reactor of its own, it thrives thanks to a steady supply of mako piped in from the metropolis of Midgar, which is visible from atop the town’s famous clock tower.

Mythril Mine

A once-bustling mine that connects the grasslands with Junon. Though once prized for its rich mythril deposits, the quarry fell into disuse after Shinra developed a superior mineral of their own, and the miners that once worked its tunnels have been replaced with monsters.

New characters

Next up, we'll introduce a couple of new characters you'll meet on your journey!


  • Voice Actor: Mick Lauer

Owner and operator of the Inn at Kalm. He bears a grudge against Shinra, and offers to help Cloud and friends escape their would-be corporate captors. His gaunt appearance may be due to his recent bout with an unknown illness.


  • Voice Actor: G.K. Bowes

Mayor and sheriff of Under Junon. Her home, once a prosperous fishing village, fell into decline after Shinra constructed a military fortress overhead and a deep-sea mako reactor offshore. Despite Cloud and friends’ status as alleged terrorists, Rhonda still allows them to pass through her town.


  • Voice Actor: Reese Warren

A cheerful young girl who lives in Under Junon, often seen swimming with the dolphin she trains. The offshore mako reactor has contaminated the surrounding waters, and Priscilla fears for the safety of her dolphin friend and other aquatic creatures.


  • Voice Actor: Paul Castro Jr.

Grandson of Bill, owner of a chocobo ranch in the grasslands. Having lost his parents at a young age, he and his sister were raised by their grandfather. This young ranch hand kindly offers to teach Cloud and company the ropes of chocobo wrangling - on the condition that they patronize his sister’s shop.


  • Voice Actor: Trinity Bliss

Billy’s younger sister, she runs a shop on the ranch where she sells crafting materials and other curios. Warm and kindhearted, she engages politely with Cloud and company and is grateful for their patronage. At the same time, she is worried about her brother’s fixation on making money.

Combat: Red XIII and Aerith

Next up, we'll look at some of the combat abilities for Red XIII and Aerith.

Red XIII: Basic attacks

Red XIII slashes at foes with his sharp claws. Hold down the button to unleash a wide-range attack that helps build ATB quickly.

Red XIII: Abilities

Red XIII boasts a vast array of skills, from lightning-fast physical strikes to ranged magical attacks. Stardust Ray conjures an exploding orb of light that scorches all foes caught in the blast.

Red XIII: Vengeance Mode (Unique Ability)

Block incoming attacks to fill the vengeance gauge, and unleash that energy to enter vengeance mode, enhancing his physical attacks and his evasive prowess. Siphon Fang delivers a powerful blow while absorbing some of the enemy's HP - all without expending ATB.

Aerith: Ward Shift (Unique Ability)

Aerith can instantaneously warp to any sigils she has created, allowing her to move about the field with ease and maximize the impact of her magic.

Combat: Synergy Abilities

Synergy abilities are powerful attacks in which two characters team up to turn the tide of battle. More abilities will unlock as you increase the party level - a numerical expression of how closely-knit your team is, and deepen the affinity between party members.

Fill the synergy gauge by using abilities, then unleash a synchronized assault! Here are some more examples:

Cloud/Tifa: Relentless Rush

Cloud launches Tifa toward an enemy to attack in tandem.

Barret/Red XIII: Overfang

Barret sends Red XIII flying toward an enemy at high velocity.

Combat: Synergy Skills

Two party members can team up to activate useful abilities without consuming ATB. These commands can be executed while blocking, and provide a wide array of beneficial effects. Each pair has their own unique set of abilities; some deal damage, while others offer support.

Here are some examples:

Cloud/Aerith: Spell Blade

Gather strength, then team up to unleash a charged magical attack.

Barret/Cloud: Mad Dash

Team up to charge forward while guarding against incoming attacks. Activate in sequence to trigger a three-hit combo.

Combat: Summons

Setting summoning materia will grant access to the power of the gods. A conjured deity will follow the player's lead and fight enemies automatically, but you can also instruct them to use special abilities.

Before they depart the battlefield, summons will unleash one final attack that will wreak immense havoc.


A bovine deity that charges around the battlefield wielding the power of fire, ice, and lightning. It throws foes with its enormous horns and unleashes magical attacks that strike even distant enemies’ weaknesses.

Kujata bounds towards foes with reckless abandon and manipulates its elemental affinities to deliver magical attacks. Blazing Horn launches a concentrated burst of fiery energy at an enemy, blasting them back.

Kujata unleashes Tri-Disaster just before leaving the battlefield, a powerful wide-range attack imbued with the powers of fire, ice, and lightning--sure to hit many foes right where it hurts and potentially wipe them out.

World Intel

Chadley enlists your help with deepening his understanding of the world. As you explore the various regions, you will uncover new areas rich with treasures and natural wonders. Data points accumulated in your travels can then be spent to develop useful new materia.


Protorelics are artifacts of unknown origin that emit a unique energy signal. These elusive antiquities are hidden throughout the world─but with the aid of activated remnawave towers, Chadley should be able to point you in their direction. Be warned, however: they seem to alter space-time, and are known to cause strange phenomena.

Materia Development

Assisting Chadley with his world-spanning research will allow you to accrue data points, which can then be spent to develop new materia. Some offer access to spells of multiple affinities, while others grant the use of unique abilities - all of which are sure to prove useful against even the most formidable foes.

World: Chocoboutiques

Chocobo ranches are also home to chocoboutiques, stalls at which you can freely customize and recolor your bird’s equipment from head to talon. Gear will impact its performance in chocobo races, so find an ensemble that suits your style and go for the gold!

Combat Styles / Difficulty Levels

FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH offers multiple combat styles and difficulty levels for players of all persuasions.

  • “Active” mode offers players total control over their characters’ every move, allowing them to execute advanced strategies.

  • “Classic” mode automates characters’ basic actions, giving players time to focus on specific command selection.

Easy” difficulty allows people to focus on the story rather than battles, while “Normal” provides a reasonable challenge for most players. In the newly added “Dynamic” difficulty, enemies grow stronger as your characters do - perfect for players who crave constant challenge.

We have one final treat - pease enjoy this stunning new art featuring Aerith and the Highwind airship:


We hope you’re excited to experience all this for yourselves when FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH launches for PS5 on February 29, 2024.

The game is available to preorder now.

Preorder any digital edition of the game to get the following bonus item:

  • Moogle Trio Summoning Materia (in game item)

What’s more, if you have a save file from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE or FF7R EPISODE INTERmission, you will be able to claim the following items in FINAL FANTASY REBIRTH:


  • Summon Materia: Leviathan


  • Summon Materia: Ramuh

Please note that save data must be saved on the PS5 system.

Standard Edition (physical and digital)

Available both digitally and physically. The physical version comes across two discs and includes a reversible cover.

This edition includes:

  • The full game

It’s available to preorder now:

A Digital Deluxe Edition Upgrade will also be available to purchase for the digital Standard Edition, which adds Digital Deluxe Edition content. This cannot be preordered and will become available when the game launches.

Deluxe Edition (physical only)

The physical Deluxe Edition also includes the below:

  • The full game
  • Steelbook® case
  • A mini soundtrack CD (in jewel case)
  • Physical artbook

It's available to preorder now:

Digital Deluxe Edition (digital only)

Available to preorder from the PlayStation Store, this edition includes:

  • The full game
  • Digital mini soundtrack
  • Digital artbook
  • Magic Pot Summoning Materia (in-game item)
  • Accessory: Reclaimant Choker (in-game item)
  • Armor: Orchid Bracelet (in-game item)

It’s available to preorder now:

Collector’s Edition

Available from the Square Enix Store, this edition is a real treat for fans. It includes:

  • The full game (across two discs)
  • FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH STATIC ARTS - SEPHIROTH - a large, highly detailed statue of Sephiroth
  • Steelbook® case
  • A mini soundtrack CD
  • Physical artbook features stunning illustrations and concept art from the game
  • Moogle Trio Summoning Materia (in-game item)
  • Magic Pot Summoning Materia (in-game item)
  • Accessory: Reclaimant Choker (in-game item)
  • Armor: Orchid Bracelet (in-game item)

It’s available to preorder now:

Twin Pack (digital only)

This terrific twin pack gives you access to both FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE and the upcoming game FANTASY VII REBIRTH.

Once ordered, you can start playing FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE right away and be ready to continue the adventure in FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH on release day.

The set includes:


Purchase this twin set before launch to get a substantial discount - essentially you can get both titles together for the same price as one standard edition! Check the PlayStation Store to see prices in your region:

Digital Deluxe Twin Pack (digital only)

This bumper bundle gives you both FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE and the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Digital Deluxe Edition, and all the awesome content that comes with it.

Once purchased, you can start playing FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE right away:

It includes:

  • FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH Digital Deluxe Edition - full game
  • FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH Digital mini soundtrack
  • Magic Pot Summoning Materia (FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH in-game item)
  • Accessory: Reclaimant Choker (FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH in-game item)
  • Armor: Orchid Bracelet (FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH in-game item)

It’s available to order now. What’s more, purchase before launch for a significant discount on the price of both games!

To stay up to date with news and information about FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH, please follow us on social media:

Interview: Making music with Masashi Hamauzu

The legendary composer who worked on FINAL FANTASY X, FINAL FANTASY XIII and FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE looks back on his career and how to make unforgettable music.
By Square Enix

If you’re a fan of game music, you’ve almost certainly heard of Masashi Hamauzu - or at least listened to his work.

The legendary composer has contributed to some of the greatest soundtracks of all time, including SaGa Frontier 2, FINAL FANTASY X, FINAL FANTASY XIII and FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

Hamauzu-san was recently in Los Angeles to attend the DISTANT WORLDS concert series and kindly agreed to speak to us about his career, the concert and more.

How did you get your start as a professional composer?

I became interested in composing music in my late teens, and I went to college to study vocal music. I liked games a lot as well, so I thought it would be great if I could do that sort of work.

Square Enix - or Squaresoft as it was at the time - was looking for a composer, so I applied and got accepted.

How did you come to work on FINAL FANTASY?

During the development of FINAL FANTASY VII, I was involved as a chorus member. Because I went to college for vocal music and singing, when I joined SQUARE ENIX, I sang in the first recording Sephiroth’s song - One-Winged Angel.

A short time later, I was asked to participate in the development of FINAL FANTASY X as one of the composers - either by the development team or Nobuo Uematsu (Composer, FINAL FANTASY I-XI). I wrote about a third of the music overall.

A few years later, FINAL FANTASY XIII came about, and as development was about to begin, I was asked by the producer, Yoshinori Kitase, if I would be interested in composing the music. So, I took the job.

How would you describe your own process of composition?

For a long time, I did not really know what my style was, but recently I have come to feel that all I have done so far has been a lot of trial and error, which has not been very good.

If I continue to disregard the methods of academics and pioneers and rely only on my passion and the momentum, not only does it take time for trial and error, but it also tends to limit the range of my expression.

I have recently taken up DIY and illustration, and I have found that learning from the ground up allows me to progress very quickly and, more importantly, greatly expands my range of expression. When I applied this perspective to composing music, I now find that my work efficiency has improved dramatically.

So much so that I think it would be faster to learn composition from scratch now as well (laughs).

You’ve also worked on games in the SaGa series. How would you say composing for SaGa differs to FINAL FANTASY?

That was a long time ago - the last title I worked on was more than 20 years ago now (laughs). It's hard to compare because those tracks were made when I was just starting out.

Nowadays it’s possible to record the music, but in the past, the SaGa series had a lot of sounds that were completely confined to the computer.

So, the approach to composing must be fundamentally different now…

Basically, you now have to make something on par with movies or anime.

In the past, sound sources were built into the games, which in today’s terms made it “cheap.” But we had to make do with those limitations.

Fans know your name and admire your work - does this add extra pressure when composing for a project now?

Honestly, no, not so much. Once I start making something, all I can think about is the world of the project on hand, so I don't really think about my surroundings.

You were part of the music team for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and now FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH - did you feel any extra responsibility working on such a beloved game and soundtrack?

No, I didn’t feel any extra responsibility (laughs).

I guess that’s because you’ve been involved since the original.

Well, regardless of that…

You know, I’ve composed music for various media, including anime or movies, but I don’t feel any pressure at all from the fact that a title is well known. It’s all the same. It comes down to whether the work feels fulfilling.

If there is a difference, it would be when the director is more involved in the work. Whether it’s a game or anime, what kind of vision a director has, or how much passion they have for a project will really impact my level of motivation.

So, the mere fact that this is a remake doesn’t necessarily make too much of a difference to me.

We’re talking here at DISTANT WORLDS, and I think “Jessie’s Theme” from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is in today's set list. Hearing this track really elevated Jessie to heroine status in my mind. Did you compose this newly for REMAKE?

Yes, I did. Many composers took part in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, but there was a distinction of roles, such as me being in charge of basically the new characters and themes. It wasn’t an absolute rule, but I was put in charge of the newer parts.

What sort of style or feel did you want “Jessie’s Theme” to convey to the fans?

Actually, when I’m composing a piece, I don’t think about what I want to communicate to fans at all. The priority for me is the scene or how to portray a character, so I think about what kind of song I personally would want to hear if I was a viewer or player.

I feel you really need to pursue that point, otherwise the music won’t come across to players in a good way.

How does it feel to see your work performed live in series like DISTANT WORLDS?

I always get quite nervous! Making music for a game and having it performed by an orchestra in front of an audience are two very different things, so I have mixed feelings about it. I always wonder how it will turn out or what kind of reaction it will receive.

For example, the original game music itself may be for recording purposes only and not necessarily be composed for a stage performance. Such music is arranged for an orchestra, so it’s hard to tell how that would turn out.

So, I may ask someone else to arrange the music, but we’d have to determine whether it’s suitable for the stage - it’s a major consideration.

Which other composers do you admire?

I’m trying to be completely honest these days, so the answer is, there are none.

There’s a simple reason for that: I don’t know. I don’t really listen to much music.

Of course, there are composers I like. I like classical musicians, and I like a composer named Koichi Sakata, who wrote music for Taiga dramas (Japanese historical dramas) and such, though many people today may not be familiar with him.

But I don't actually listen to too much music. I don't know why, but I stopped listening to a lot of music after entering my 20s. I’m easily influenced by anything I hear, so I get overloaded just going through my daily life.

What would you say is your proudest career achievement?

There’s a music group that I established and am a part of called IMERUAT (which means “flash of light” in the Ainu language). It’s an independent project, which is something that I’ve put a lot of effort into.

With games and anime, you add music on top of a pre-existing story or theme, but with my own group, I can come up with the theme or story myself, write my own lyrics, and ultimately write my own songs, so it's always interesting to see how my world expands.

For example, I design my own cover art and make my own music videos, and to do that I studied how to use After Effects, so that sort of thing is fun.

That's great! And you are also a part of this group, Mina-san (Manager)?

Mina (Manager): Yes, I'm the vocalist!

Hamauzu-san: In live shows I play piano and keyboards.

Many thanks to Hamauzu-san for his time! You can listen to this great composer’s works on FINAL FANTASY X, FINAL FANTASY XII, FINAL FANTASY XIII and FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE via the Square Enix Music YouTube channel, or streaming services, including Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify.

You can also play along with many of his tracks in THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE! The rhythm action extravaganza is available now on PS4 and Switch:

Of course, Hamauzu-san’s work also features in the DISTANT WORLDS concert series - check the website for tour dates. A number of soundtracks are also available - the most recent, DISTANT WORLDS VI, which includes an incredible orchestral version of Jessie’s Theme from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, is available to buy or stream now:

Finally, if you’d like to check out IMERUAT (and you should), check out the group’s website. Multiple albums are also available to listen to now on streaming services including Spotify, Amaztron Music, and Apple Music.

So you finished FINAL FANTASY XVI - now what?

Completed the epic story of FANTASY XVI? Start planning your next game with this handy guide.
By Ryan Walsh

The last Eikon’s been dominated, the most dangerous hunt turned in, you’ve completed the satisfying final side quests for Jill, Torgal and the rest of your beloved allies and the final boss isn’t bossing anyone anymore. You’ve completed FINAL FANTASY XVI - congratulations! Now there’s a void, and it demands fulfillment.

Don’t fret over how to satisfy the beast, because we’ve got suggestions for what to play once you’re ready for a new (or old) experience.


The beauty of finishing FINAL FANTASY XVI is that there’s much more to do after the credits roll!

You can replay chapters in Arcade Mode and fight skillfully and stylishly to set a high score or, if you’re up for a challenge, you can take on the Chronolith Trials - intense combat challenges that will test your mastery with a particular Eikon.

And if you’ve done all that (or just want to dive back into the story), there’s FINAL FANTASY mode!

If you haven’t checked this out yet, be sure to do so because it’s a game-changer… literally. It’s a New Game Plus mode that adds elements like enhanced enemies, a higher level cap, new items to craft (like the Ultima Weapon), and of course your gear, items and abilities from your first playthrough carry over.

This opens up wholly different ways to beat down opponents and bosses, and at this higher difficulty, you’re going to need the help!

Play through the epic FINAL FANTASY XIV Online free trial!

If you enjoyed FINAL FANTASY XVI, you’ll almost certainly love FINAL FANTASY XIV Online too, as it’s also developed by Creative Business Unit III.

The good news is that you don’t have to take our word for it, because the current free trial of the game allows players to play up to level 70, through the main storyline AND the first two expansions (Heavensward and Stormblood), with no restrictions on playtime.

This is an incredible offer - something like three full games’ worth of play before you have to put up even one penny.


For more fast-paced FINAL FANTASY fun, you might want to load up FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

This game combines exciting real-time battles with menu-based commands to create a truly satisfying fusion of new and classic FINAL FANTASY. It’s every bit as exciting as FINAL FANTASY XVI, with multiple playable characters exhilarating combat that tests both your reflexes and strategy.

The materia and weapon upgrade systems also let you build characters to suit your playstyle - much like Clive’s Eikonic abilities in FINAL FANTASY XVI!


Now, if want flashy action-based gameplay like FINAL FANTASY XVI, you should definitely try its direct predecessor, FINAL FANTASY XV.

Like Clive, the main character Noctis takes center stage for the combat, and zips through the environment like a blade through paper.

It also makes for a nice contrast, as FINAL FANTASY XV is a vastly different narrative experience from FINAL FANTASY XVI. The game follows Noctis and his friends on an epic road trip, with trouble from the invading Niflheim Empire never far away.

With amazing characters, music and thrilling action-packed combat, it’s a must play.

Play the KINGDOM HEARTS series

If you’re looking for an action-RPG that’s fun for everyone, KINGDOM HEARTS is your next series.

Follow Sora, Donald, and Goofy on their adventures against the Heartless in this action RPG series that features beloved characters from the worlds of Disney and Square Enix.

There are turns and twists aplenty no matter what game you load up, multiple worlds with their own visual style and, in some cases, unique mechanics and naturally, nail-biting real-time combat against the myriad of enemies rallied against you.


The latest entry in the STAR OCEAN saga, THE DIVINE FORCE offers an action combat system that feels distinctly different to FINAL FANTASY XVI but is just as fast-paced and exhilarating.

The story lets you choose between two very different protagonists – spaceship captain Raymond or princess Laeticia and embark on an epic journey that fuses sci-fi space opera with classic fantasy.

It’s an expansive RPG with beautiful visuals, a gripping narrative, amazing freedom of movement, and one of the flashiest combat systems out there.


Now that you’ve finished the latest FINAL FANTASY experience, think about heading back to the origin in this exciting action game inspired by the original FINAL FANTASY.

Follow Jack and his teammates as they travel the world to hunt down the villainous Chaos using an action-oriented combat system and the fresh take on the classic Job system guarantees that you won’t be stuck playing one style for long.

If you like challenging action combat, you’ll find a game that offers that and then some. On the other hand, like FINAL FANTASY XVI, there’s a STORY mode if you’re in it more for the experience than the challenge.

Play Forspoken

If you’re looking for more real-time action that leans heavily on combat magic, Forspoken may be just what you’re looking for.

Frey’s journey follows her from humble beginnings in New York to becoming the savior of a world astonishingly different from her own.

Thanks to a magical bracelet, Frey uses magically-enhanced parkour to make her way through the terrain effectively and stylishly. In combat, she draws on spectacular magical powers, summoning everything from hard hitting rocks and thorny vines to blazing walls of fire.

Between her insane mobility and the variety of attacks she can hurl at opponents, you could easily see Frey and Clive swapping stories over a bowl of Chancer’s Stew.


Lastly, if you miss fighting with Torgal and demand more puppy power in your life, fire up the game with another captivating canine: FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered.

Rinoa keeps her pet Angelo around for emotional and combat support. Right away there are two ways for Angelo to help in a tussle: one by charging an enemy, and another by loading herself onto Rinoa’s launcher and blasting all the enemies in a fight (and it looks as cool as it sounds)!

More of Angelo’s tricks can be unlocked by finding and reading “Pet Pals” magazines - and while she may not match the size of Torgal, Angelo remains a legendary pet.

And that’s that for our suggestions on how to follow up an experience like FINAL FANTASY XVI. Have you played a game that should’ve been on our list? Let us and the world at large know on social media!

7 of the best secondary villains in Square Enix games

Every top villain needs a good henchperson and today we’re celebrating some of favorites from FINAL FANTASY XVI, Neo: The World Ends with You and more!
By Duncan Heaney

Behind almost every good villain is… another good villain.

Many of the greatest villains in gaming history are propped up by a support network of henchpeople, minions and underlings. These secondary antagonists are often just as big a threat as the big bad and add extra drama to the adventure.

And sometimes they’re Gilgamesh.

Today, we wanted to celebrate some of these sinister subordinates and promote them up to center of attention. After all, their games would be worse off without them.

Sleipnir Harbard - FINAL FANTASY XVI

As Lord Commander of the Kingdom of Waloed's armies, Sleipnir reports directly to King Barnabas… and the monarch couldn’t wish for a better right-hand man.

He’s known to many as the Constant Knight, by reason of his icy demeanor and unwavering loyalty to his liege. He appears to have Barnabas’s complete trust - having been gifted full command of the Royal Order of Knights, despite his apparent youth.

His origins and plans are shrouded in mystery, but it’s clear that he’s extremely effective at what he does. And should you be unfortunate enough to face him in combat… well, good luck.

This heady combination of strength, smarts and subtlety make him a near-perfect henchman. It’s like he was made for the job.


When Shinra wants something done, they send in the Turks. Whether it’s scouting for recruits to their SOLDIER program, spying, assassination or… darker tasks, this impeccably dressed team gets the job done.

It’s an eclectic team of very different personalities, but each brings something unique to the table. Whether it’s the martial prowess of Rude, the chaotic style of Reno or the stoic leadership of Tseng, each one represents a clear threat to Cloud and his allies.

The team is expanding too! The upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH introduces a new member of the Turks that fans of the original RPG might remember - Elena. You can see her in action in this trailer:

It’s an impressive unit, and while some of the Turks may not always be happy with their orders, they’ll see them through all the same. After all, they’re consummate professionals.

Gilgamesh - FINAL FANTASY V Pixel Remaster

Not every villain is blessed with top-tier minions. Some get the likes of Greg… sorry, we mean Gilgamesh.

This barely talented try-hard shows up throughout FINAL FANTASY V to hassle the heroes, cause battles on big bridges and generally be a nuisance. The problem is that he’s not very good at it. While he’s capable of putting up a decent fight, he’s relatively easily defeated and has to scarper with his tail between his legs.

He always comes up with some half-baked excuse as to why he has to flee though - the guy has an impressive knack for self-delusion.

It’s amazing that the villain Exdeath tolerates this incompetence for as long as he does, but eventually even his patience runs out, and the useless underling is banished to an Interdimensional Rift.

It's an appropriately undignified end to his career as a henchman. Fortunately, however, it’s not the end of Gilgamesh's story by a long shot…

Susukichi - NEO: The World Ends with You

Kaichi Susuki - nicknamed Susukichi - first appears to Rindo and his allies as a rival player. His size, sharp teeth and aggressive sense of style make him quite an imposing figure - as does his condescending attitude. But there’s far more to him than meets the eye.

He’s surprisingly caring, particularly for his colleagues and is shown to be openly apprehensive about the Reapers’ current direction. He’s also got a sense of fair play that some of the others lack, even taking the time to show the game’s heroes the ropes early on for example.

Of course, he’s also a liar, a sneak and a bit of a brute, as you’ll find out when you’re forced to battle him directly. He’s not all bad, but he’s definitely not a friend either. But it does make him a hugely memorable character in a game full of them.

Seifer - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

Seifer’s main rival may be Squall, but his greatest enemy is himself.

It’s his own arrogance, impatience and ambition that makes him fall under the influence of the Sorceress Edea and betray everything and everyone he trained for.

Edea plays on his worst impulses and convinces the young warrior to stand beside her as her ‘knight’. This once proudly independent hothead willingly accepts a role of subservience and throws himself into it with full commitment.

Over the course of the story, Seifer gains increasing power and influence, even taking command of an army to further the Sorceress’s ends. But as his authority grows, he becomes ever more lost. Even his loyal friends Raijin and Fujin (excellent henchpeople in their own right) begin to doubt he’s in his right mind.

Seifer’s fate drives home just how dangerous the Sorceress truly is. It’s not just the world that needs to be saved.

Kain - FINAL FANTASY IV Pixel Remaster

Some characters are born to be henchmen, while others have henching thrust upon them. Kain sits somewhere in the middle.

Just like the game’s main hero Cecil, this high-jumping dragoon starts the game working for the King of Baron. However, when one of their missions reaches an unexpectedly explosive climax, his fate takes a much darker turn.

Kain finds himself serving the mysterious Golbez, and acts as his right-hand man, helping him carry out his sinister schemes. It’s not entirely through choice mind you - Golbez is controlling his mind.

Fortunately, Kain is eventually to escape from servitude and join the party as his own man once more, but while he’s under Golbez’s influence, he makes for an impressively effective number two. He’s a constant threat to the heroes and uses his intimate knowledge of Cecil and Rosa to attack and manipulate them in ways that a lesser henchman could only dream of.

Kefka - FINAL FANTASY VI Pixel Remaster

What happens when a henchman gets ideas above their station? In the case of Kefka in FINAL FANTASY VI, it’s nothing less than the destruction of the entire world.

This sadistic harlequin’s a cut above your typical underling. For the first half of the game, Kefka helps carry out the will of his boss, Emperor Gestahl, albeit somewhat… overzealously. But at the pivotal moment, just when Gestahl’s plans are about to come to fruition, he does the one thing no boss wants their minion to do. He takes control himself.

An act of betrayal and madness propels Kefka from immoral underling to main antagonist. Yes, it’s a shame that he ruins the world in the process, but you do have to admire the ambition.

No other henchperson on the list has achieved this level of career progression.

Those were just a few of our most awesome underlings, but we’re sure you have plenty of suggestions of your own. Let us know your picks on social media:

7 of the smartest Square Enix characters

Who’s the cleverest character in a Square Enix game? We take a look at just a few of the candidates.
By Duncan Heaney

Sure, Buster Swords and gunblades are awesome, but the greatest weapon of all… is the mind.

The power of intelligence can’t be underestimated - many Square Enix games feature characters who use intellect rather than brute force achieve amazing things.

We wanted to recognize just a few of these brilliant brainboxes - they may not always be on the side of the angels, but you still have to admire the power of their minds.

Grimoire Weiss - NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139...

You’d expect an ancient tome to be full of knowledge, and that is indeed the case for Grimoire Weiss. Unfortunately for everyone else, he knows it.

This sentient book demands respect.

We mean that literally - he’s always telling people to treat him with reverence. What’s more, he’s something of a square - taking him seriously all the time would be exhausting!

But In fairness to the prickly page-turner, he is erudite, and though he’s missing chunks of his memories, he’s still able to guide the protagonist through many dangerous situations. A loudmouth he may be, but you won’t find a better buddy in NieR Replicant’s bleak world.


What do you get if you cross a genius level intellect with a total absence of ethics? You get Hojo… and he’s no joke.

The sinister (and suspiciously greasy) Shinra executive cares about one thing: the advancement of his scientific research. There is no line he won’t cross to achieve those goals - as Aerith and Red XIII discover to their horror.

The original FINAL FANTASY VII gave fans plenty of insight into the horrors that his brilliant brain has wrought, but FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE takes things even further. You get to spend some quality time in the heart of Hojo’s laboratories - and with the mutated monstrosities within.

In doing so, you get an even richer understanding of the sinister scientist’s deepest depravities… and just how dangerous his mind can be.


Hojo may be a horror, but it would be wrong to assume that everyone in Shinra’s Research and Development Division is a monster. Take Chadley, for instance.

This earnest young researcher enlists Cloud and company in his attempts to compromise Shinra from the inside. If the heroes help him with his research, he’s able to provide them with powerful new materia - the kind of stuff you can’t find in a typical store.

He also runs the Shinra Combat Simulator, which offers a place to train and earn valuable rewards. Although considering how brutal some of these fights are, maybe we shouldn’t be thanking him for that.

Cyrus - Octopath Traveler

Intelligence does not always equate to common sense - a fact perfectly demonstrated by Cyrus Albright.

This scholar works as a researcher and lecturer at the Royal Academy in Atlasdam, where he’s something of a hit with his students. Not just because of his enthusiasm for learning, or his impressive magical might, but also because… well, frankly he’s a stone cold fox.

Unfortunately for them, Cyrus cares about books, knowledge and unravelling the world’s mysteries - anything outside of those may as well not exist.

He’s completely oblivious to his love-struck students’ feelings - and this becomes the trigger for an unfortunate incident.

One young woman, aggrieved by his complete lack of interest, secretly reports a groundless rumor to the Headmaster that Cyrus is romantically involved with another student - the Princess no less! This results in Cyrus being chased out of the Academy.

Yet even this blatant attempt to capture his attention doesn’t reach him. Cyrus completely misunderstands the situation, believing that the fault lies with himself for not having noticed the young woman’s passion for her studies.

There’s just no helping some people…


Intelligence comes in many forms: on this list so far, we’ve seen academic and scientific, but the self-proclaimed ‘leading man’ of FINAL FANTASY XII utilizes a brilliant mind in a different way: street smarts.

Balthier’s quick thinking and razor-sharp wit have made him the consummate air pirate. Along with his trusted companion Fran, he sails the skies of Ivalice getting into the kind of trouble that would end a lesser man.

From the moment he takes the stage in FINAL FANTASY XII, it’s clear that he’s a clever guy. But as the story progresses, and the flamboyant layers of his personality are peeled away, you slowly realize that there’s so much more to him than that…


Not to be confused with the evil organization that the afore-mentioned Hojo and Chadley work for (let’s not go down that rabbit hole), this Shinra is a young genius who aids you throughout FINAL FANTASY X-2.

Although still a child, he’s a genuine prodigy whose technological prowess is invaluable to Yuna and her sphere-hunting companions. Not only does he help them decode and view the complex data storage devices called spheres, he’s also able to teach the team how to use the Garment Grid, which lets them switch jobs in combat.

All this and he hasn’t even hit puberty yet! You have to admit, that’s pretty impressive.

Haruka Kagami - The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story

The protagonist of The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story is polite, humble and unassuming… at least until a mystery needs solving.

The acclaimed novelist has an astonishingly keen mind. Once she starts putting all the pieces of mystery and clues together, like a puzzle in cognitive space, she lets nothing - and no-one - stand between her and the truth.

Whether it’s 100-year old murder, or a crime much closer to home, Haruka is able to spot the clues, form hypotheses and follow the path of logic to its conclusion - no matter how shocking it may be.

Thus endeth the lecture. We have presented just a few of the cleverest characters from Square Enix games, but we know there are many more.

So please share this article on social media - knowledge must be shared after all - and let us know who your favorite clever-clogs are.

7 unsung heroes of Square Enix games

The likes of Clive and Cloud may get all the attention, but Square Enix games are full of heroes who contribute in their own way. Let's celebrate them!
By Duncan Heaney

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Typically, we tend to focus on the flashiest - those sword-wielding wonders who make the box art, appear in the trailers, or even join the party to help save the day.

But Square Enix games are full of characters who make an equally big impact on the story but sneak under the radar. It may be because they’re an NPC, or work behind the scenes, but each of them makes a vital contribution. Simply put, you couldn’t save the day without them.

We think it’s time some of these heroes get the adulation they deserve. So read on, and we’ll highlight just a few unsung heroes who deserve their moment in the spotlight.

Cor Leonis - FINAL FANTASY XV Royal Edition

While much of FINAL FANTASY XV focuses on Prince Noctis and his friends, a lot of people are working behind the scenes to make his journey a success - first and foremost among them, Marshal Cor.

When Insomnia falls to the Niflheim Empire, it’s Cor who meets the heroes to guide them on the path to taking it back. He provides vital support in helping them break through an Imperial blockade, working with Noctis directly to help him infiltrate the facility.

Later, in the Episode Gladiolus DLC, he helps Gladiolus undertake a dangerous trial - and thanks to the guidance that Cor imparts, the burliest of the Chocobros learns to become the Shield that the new king needs him to be.

But perhaps the moment that really made us go: “Cor blimey!” can be found in the Royal Edition of the game. Towards the end of the game, things get pretty dark and Daemons overrun the land. When Noctis returns to his home city of Insomnia, he discovers that a brave group of hunters and warriors are holding them at bay as the last line of defense for Insomnia.

Their leader? None other than Cor himself. What can we say… that guy is the best.


Building a gang is no easy task… and keeping it going is even harder. So, let us give some long overdue props to characters like Miss Cecily, DRAGON QUEST TREASURES’ Personnel Manager.

While Erik and Mia run around the world of Draconia, fighting monsters, digging up treasure and uncovering the secrets of the fabled Dragonstones, Miss Cecily is back at base tirelessly managing the admin. She sorts potential gang members, liaises with the different storekeepers and generally makes herself very useful indeed.

She even gives suggestions on how to build your base’s ranks, and important people to recruit - useful guidance that serves to keep Erik and Mia on track!

In short, it’s thanks to Miss Cecily that your gang runs as smoothly as it does. She may not have the most glamorous job in the world, but it’s one of the most important!

Bartholomew Estheim - FINAL FANTASY XIII

Bartholomew Estheim, or ‘Hope’s Dad’ as you may think of him, is a reminder that heroism takes many forms. While he’s not on screen for very long, he makes a big impact on the heroes of FINAL FANTASY XIII.

At great personal risk, he takes in his son and companions, providing them shelter from the Sanctum - despite being an employee of that very organization himself. His unwavering support for Hope and gentle guidance gives the timid young man the strength to push on with his journey.

More tellingly, he also forgives Snow for the death of his wife, Nora. By doing so, and adding some harsh truths about his reckless plans, he provides the incentive for the hero to stop pretending to be a hero and start acting like one.

It just goes to show that even in a world full of incredible technology, powerful magic and literal gods, there’s nothing quite as powerful as good ol’ fashioned human decency.


The world of HARVESTELLA can be surprisingly dangerous, so having a doctor close by can only be a good thing. But Cres goes above and beyond.

You can be slashed into submission by monsters at the bottom of the sea, battered by a boss in an icy cave or simply pass out from exhaustion on your farm, and Cres is there to patch you up. She’ll also charge you for the privilege, but that’s fair enough - her time is valuable after all. Besides, the financial hit is nowhere near as painful as the sharp words you’ll get for your carelessness - bedside manner is not necessarily her strong suit.

But she contributes so much more than a simple healer. She’s also one of the people who orients your amnesiac hero to their new life, comes to check on you at the earliest of hours, and much more besides.

She’s a good friend, and HARVESTELLA just wouldn’t be the same without her.


Politics are a dangerous game at the best of times, but for Marquis Ondore, it’s a particularly tricky situation.

As ruler of Bhujerba, he has a responsibility to keep his city safe… which means obeying the orders of the increasingly tyrannical Archadian Empire and acting as a mediator in its escalating conflicts with other nations. Maintaining this position is of paramount importance, and even a close relationship with Princess Ashe of Dalmasca won’t make him openly risk this neutrality.

But not-so openly? That’s a different story. Ondore secretly funds and leads an anti-Archadian resistance group. And when the time comes, he steps up to take direct action against his oppressors, playing a vital role in the final battle.

Put simply, the heroes of FINAL FANTASY XII would not have won the day without Ondore’s help. He’s a canny politician and a noble leader alike.

Not to mention one heck of a good narrator!


Wedge might not be the smartest member of Avalanche, or the most physically capable. But nobody in the organization - nay, the whole of Midgar - has a bigger heart.

Whatever the situation, Wedge steps up. When the team embarks on a daring raid on a Shinra facility, and Cloud is set upon by guard dogs, he bravely leaps into action as a rear guard for the mercenary. And we mean ‘rear guard’ quite literally.

Later, he ‘persuades’ Shinra’s security forces to let the residents of the Sector 7 slums evacuate the area and escape the danger about to befall them. Plus, he plays a pivotal role in the rescue of Aerith from the Shinra building when he shows up with the rest of Avalanche to pull the team of trouble.

He may doubt his worth, but he shouldn’t - despite Cloud’s dislike of the term, he’s a true bro.


FINAL FANTASY XVI is full of big personalities and bigger moments, from the windy rage of Benedikta to the vengeful traps of Hugo Kupka (who is, in this writer’s humble opinion, responsible for one of the greatest boss fights in series history, hands-down).

But while the Eikons and their Dominants might attract most of the attention in trailers and box art, it’s the everyday characters who really bring this richly detailed world to life. Not least of which is Gav, the chief scout for Cid’s band of outlaws.

Despite being just an ‘ordinary’ man, Gav is incredibly skilled at getting in and out of areas unseen and ferreting out information for his allies. After a few close scrapes, he forms a close friendship with hero Clive Rosfield, and becomes one of his most steadfast allies. His support for the hero is absolute, and dedication to his cause never wavers - despite coming at great personal cost.

Gav’s contribution cannot be understated - he’s a hero through and through. We should all be as lucky to have a friend like him.

Those were just a few of the unsung hero from Square Enix games, but we’re sure you have suggestions of your own. Head over to our social channels to share your picks:

5 of the most shocking moments in Square Enix games

We take a look at some of those amazing twists that left us gasping in surprise. Spoilers… obviously.
By Duncan Heaney

Warning: This article contains spoilers for FINAL FANTASY VI, DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, Life is Strange, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered. Scroll beneath the spoiler-Barret at your own risk.

We expect games to be full of twists and turns, but sometimes a title does something so unexpected that it leaves us literally open-mouthed.

These magical moments can be tragic, amusing or just plain awesome, but they all have one thing in common: they’re utterly unforgettable.

So without further ado, here are just a few of the times Square Enix games shocked us to our cores.

Kefka’s betrayal - FINAL FANTASY VI

The true genius of Kefka is that you don’t really see him coming. Yes, he commits terrible acts of brutality throughout the story, but in the hierarchy of villains, he appears to sit securely at the ‘henchman’ level.

Until suddenly he doesn’t.

For much of the adventure, Emperor Gestahl’s the big bad. He’s the one who’s out to conquer the world and gain ultimate power - his court mage Kefka’s seemingly just along for the ride. But just when it seems like the Emperor’s plans are about to come to fruition, Kefka kills him and takes the power for himself.

Now Kefka’s essentially a god, which you have to admit is quite the promotion from high-ranking minion.

Not only that, his actions plunge the world into a year of darkness and ruin, sends the heroes into an emotional spiral they can barely recover from… and leaves players in disbelief

A tragic tail - DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a story full of stories.

The grand narrative is supported by lots of smaller scale adventures and quests along the way. One of the most shocking of these is the tale of a love-struck mermaid, Michelle.

The hero and his companions meet Michelle on a small rocky outcropping in the middle of the ocean. They need her help to gain access to the underwater kingdom of Nautica, so she makes them a deal.

She’s waiting for the return of her love, a sailor called Kainoa, and asks the group to find him. The sun’s shining, and like all mermaids in the game, Michelle speaks entirely in charming rhyme. It seems we’re in for a jolly time.

Then we find out the truth. Mermaids live much longer than humans, and Kainoa is long gone. Not only that, mermaids are feared and hated by the populace, figures of superstition, and this has had big implications on his life, and his descendants.

So the heroes are faced with a choice - tell Michelle the painful truth, or lie and leave her waiting for a love that will never come. If you choose the path of honesty, Michelle sets out to verify your story, and when she does… well, let’s just say that it’s a scene you’ll never forget.

Despite our best intentions, we couldn’t help Michelle. So with a very heavy heart, we bade a sad farewell.

Mushroom - Life is Strange 2

Torn from their comfortable life in Seattle into a life on the road, it’s clear that Sean and Daniel Diaz are not going to have an easy time in Life is Strange 2.

True enough, their long journey towards Mexico is fraught with hardship and adversity, but amid all the struggle there are some bright spots. Mushroom for example.

Daniel ‘adopts’ this adorable little puppy in the first episode, and it accompanies them on their long trek across America. At least, she does for a while - very early in the second episode, Mushroom goes missing. The brothers find her lifeless body - gored by a wild cougar.

What makes the moment so shocking is how understated it is. There’s no drama or ceremony to the event - it just… happens. That quiet sense of horror is only emphasized by Daniel’s angry unleashing of his hidden powers - and how far you decide to let him go.

Fun fact: I was so shocked by this moment, I directly confronted the writers about it, essentially wailing: “How could you do this?” at the poor guys.

Michel Koch told me: “We wanted to establish the ground rules for Daniel’s powers, and then present a situation where those rules are tested.

“It’s basically a battle between heart and mind, right? You’re telling Daniel not to use those powers, but then we hit the player with an emotional scene that challenges the very rules they set.”

Well mission accomplished - you can’t deny it’s an effective moment. Still hurts though.

Seifer kills a Guardian Force - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

Guardian Forces - or GFs - are hugely important in FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered. These powerful supernatural beings can be equipped to characters, and summoned into battle to deliver brutal attacks.

Odin is an optional GF that acts a little differently to most. Rather than being manually summoned, he randomly appears at the start of fights to take down all your enemies in one go.

He doesn’t typically show up for climactic boss battles though, so it’s a surprise when he appears to take on Seifer. But what happens next is the real mind-messer: Seifer fights back. He uses his limit break Zantetsuken to turn the tables and cleave Odin in two.

You’re left reeling - what the heck? This isn’t how things are meant to go! GFs appear, do their thing and get out - that’s how it’s always worked. Seifer’s suddenly broken all the rules - anything could happen now.

And the biggest surprise is yet to come…

Shinra pushes the button - FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE starts with a bang. Literally.

The opening bombing mission is an exciting assault on the Shinra Electric Power Company’s Mako Reactor 1 - a power plant that’s sucking the planet of life-giving energy.

Cloud, Barret and the rest of the team battle their way past Shinra security, wall mounted lasers, and a boss with a real sting in its tail, set the bomb and make their escape. As planned, the explosive detonates, damaging the reactor - mission accomplished, right?

And that’s when it happens. It turns out Shinra’s executives have been watching the whole assault play out. With a nod, President Shinra gives authorization for a sinister plan - the Reactor’s army of bots and turrets activate and lay waste to the reactor, causing a massive explosion that takes out the entire complex - and part of the streets outside.

It’s a moment that left many a fan on the back foot - why would Shinra obliterate one of their own reactors? That feeling of deep unease is only increased by an extended tour of the aftermath - with its many burning buildings and ruined lives.

In short, it’s a shocking turn of events acts an early warning of just how far Shinra is willing to go to achieve its goals - and how little it cares about collateral damage.

Those were just a few of the shocking moments that left us flabbergasted - but do you agree? Let us know by following the team on social media:

Which FINAL FANTASY game should I play first?

What’s the best starting point for new players? We help you make the big decision
By Duncan Heaney

“Which FINAL FANTASY game should I start with?”

It’s one of the most common questions we see from people yet to dive into the series, and a hotly debated topic online - ask five fans and you’re likely to get five different answers.

The actual ‘correct’ answer, of course, is… any of them. After all, almost every game in the series acts as a standalone adventure with its own distinct world, characters and even gameplay mechanics. There really isn’t a wrong or right place to start.

But we also realize that’s not particularly helpful for new players, who have a lot of options available - particularly with re-releases and new FINAL FANTASY pixel remaster series.

So to lend a hand, we’ll run through the mainline FINAL FANTASY games that are available and give you a sense of what to expect from each adventure.

Then, you can simply choose the game that most appeals most to you - we’re confident that whichever you pick, you’ll have a good time.

FINAL FANTASY pixel remaster

This is the game that started it all - and it’s better than ever in the pixel remaster edition.

FINAL FANTASY follows the Warriors of Light, who set off on a quest to defeat four fiends and restore their tainted crystals back to their former glory.

It may be the first, but it immediately established many of the elements that would come to define the series - vast, sprawling worlds, deep strategic combat (turn-based in this case), creative character and enemy designs and sublime music.

The pixel remaster edition updates the game with amazing new 2D art, quality of life features, such as auto-battle, and a rearranged soundtrack that’s just… *chef’s kiss.

Play this first if…

  • You want to see where the FINAL FANTASY series began
  • You want to play a traditional Japanese RPG with turn-based battles
  • You also want to play STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN - it directly connects to this game

FINAL FANTASY II pixel remaster

The second FINAL FANTASY game focuses on four war-orphaned heroes: Firion, Maria, Guy and Leon. The group becomes embroiled in a conflict between the hostile Empire of Palamecia and the rebel resistance, with the fate of the whole world hanging in the balance.

Combat is once again turn-based, but even in this early stage, FINAL FANTASY was a series that innovated. Rather than sticking with traditional leveling, FINAL FANTASY II introduced a new proficiency system, in which characters’ skill with weapons and abilities increased the more they used them.

The pixel remaster offers the definitive way to play this classic RPG. As with the other pixel remaster games, it features new 2D art that’s beautiful in HD, a rearranged soundtrack and more!

Play this first if…

  • You’ve played RPGs before and are looking for something unconventional
  • You’re excited to see one of the more experimental games in the series
  • You want to see the origin of Chocobos! The iconic birds make their first appearance in this game.

FINAL FANTASY III pixel remaster

When darkness falls and the land is robbed of light, four young heroes are chosen by the crystals to head off an exciting journey across a vast and hostile land.

This critically acclaimed entry in the series introduced a flexible job system, which lets characters change their roles in combat at any time. It was also the first to introduce powerful summons, including series mainstays Bahamut and Shiva.

The pixel remaster edition is out now, and brings with it a number of improvements to the original game, including new visuals, new music and more.

Play this first if…

  • You want to play an RPG that has a lot of strategic depth
  • You like having a lot of control over your characters and party composition
  • You relish a challenge - FINAL FANTASY III is one of the tougher games in the series

FINAL FANTASY IV pixel remaster

FINAL FANTASY IV innovated once again, with the deepest narrative and most beloved characters in the series so far.

After questioning some troubling orders from his King, the dark knight Cecil is demoted and sent on a simple delivery job with his friend Kain. The shocking events that follow send Cecil and a group of heroes on a dramatic journey of betrayal, love and redemption.

As well as delivering one of the most powerful stories in the series, FINAL FANTASY IV was the first game to feature the Active Time Battle system, which combined turn-based and real-time elements together to create a faster, but equally strategic, battle system.

It was already a true classic, but the pixel remaster makes it even better, thanks to its new visuals, music and gameplay features.

Play this first if…

  • You love games with a strong story
  • You want to meet some of the best characters in the series
  • You enjoy fast, dynamic battles

FINAL FANTASY V pixel remaster

The world of FINAL FANTASY V is reliant on elemental crystals with the power of earth, water, fire and wind. These crystals bring life to and prosperity, but they have lost their power and are on the verge of destruction.

Four characters are driven together by fate: Bartz, Princess Lenna of Castle Tycoon, the pirate captain Faris and the deeply mysterious Galuf. Together, they embark on a journey to save the planet.

As with its predecessor, FINAL FANTASY V features the ATB battle system, but expands the possibilities dramatically with an incredibly deep and flexible new class system that lets you customize your characters with 26 unique jobs.

Play this first if…

  • You enjoy battle systems with a lot of depth
  • You want as many options as possible in how you build your party
  • You like to laugh - FINAL FANTASY V is one of the funniest games in the series

FINAL FANTASY VI pixel remaster

  • Available on: PC, iOS, Android (coming soon)

FINAL FANTASY VI is one of the most popular entries in the FINAL FANTASY series - acclaimed by fans and critics alike.

This game introduced several interesting ideas, including a story with strong characters, but no central protagonist - each member of the party gets their own moment center stage and you can choose who to control for much of the game.

It’s set in a world where magic has vanished, and humankind has embraced the power of iron, gunpowder, steam engines and other technologies. But one still does have the power of magic - a young woman named Terra, who is enslaved by the evil Empire.

An encounter with an Esper - an ancient being of incredible power - frees Terra from the Empire’s clutches and sets off a chain of events that touches countless lives, and leads to epic and terrible consequences.

And, of course we should mention that FINAL FANTASY VI features Kefka - regarded by many as one of the greatest villains of all time…

Play this first if…

  • You want to start with one of the most critically acclaimed games in the series
  • You like games with memorable villains
  • You like surprises - this game goes places you may not expect…


FINAL FANTASY VII changed the face of gaming forever.

It’s inspired a legion of fans thanks to its epic story, legendary characters and unsurpassed presentation. It’s gone on to inspire spin-offs, movies and even a full-blown remake.

The story starts in Midgar, a city controlled by Shinra Inc - a less than ethical multi-conglomerate that is absorbing Mako energy and destroying the natural resources of the planet.

Cloud, a former member of Shinra’s elite SOLDIER unit, joins AVALANCHE in a daring mission to bomb one of the city’s reactors, but in the chaos that follows, he makes a discovery that will change his life, and the world, forever.

The game also made waves with its cinematic presentation and innovative Materia system that essentially lets you slot abilities and magic into armor - this allows for an incredible level of flexibility in how you set up the party.

The version available now on current platforms features a number of useful features, including the ability to speed up time, turn off random encounters or even boost your characters to full health.

Play this first if…

  • You want an adventure with unforgettable characters
  • You want an easy-to-understand combat system that has a lot of depth
  • You want to understand what all the hype is about


The most recent game in the series reimagines FINAL FANTASY VII and the iconic city of Midgar for modern platforms.

The story follows the same storyline as the original game up to the party’s escape from the city but the game uses the increased fidelity and scale to deepen the already-beloved characters, add new scenarios and even additional story elements.

The battle system is especially noteworthy, fusing real-time action with menu-based commands to create something that’s exciting, fast-paced and agreeably strategic.

Add in amazing minigames (Motorcycle battles! Dance offs! Competitive squatting!), loads of side quests, battles and challenges to complete, stunning graphics and a truly incredible soundtrack and you have one of the greatest games in the series to date.

Let’s just say there’s a reason it won ‘Best RPG’ in the 2020 Game Awards.

If you have a PS5 or PC, you can get FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE, and the new FF7R EPISODE INTERmission. This new story takes place concurrently with the main tale and follows fan-favorite ninja Yuffie Kisaragi as she embarks on a dangerous mission in Midgar.

(Note: PS4 owners who own a copy of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE can upgrade to the PS5 version for free. FF7R EPISODE INTERmission must be purchased separately.)

Play this first if…

  • You want an exciting story that’s full of very memorable moments and characters
  • You want an amazing combat system that fuses real-time action and command-based strategy
  • You want to see jaw-dropping visuals - this game is beautiful


In FINAL FANTASY VIII, the militarized nation of Galbadia has formed an alliance with the Sorceress Edea and is making a bid for world conquest.

Amid the conflict, Squall Leonhart and a group of fellow students from Balamb Garden’s mercenary force, SeeD, are dispatched into action. But Squall’s universe it turned upside down when he meets the free-spirited Rinoa Heartilly and starts to dream that he is a Galbadian soldier named Laguna Loire…

FINAL FANTASY VIII upped the ante with presentation once again, with more detailed characters models, jaw-dropping cinematics and one of the most adored soundtracks in the series.

It also innovated in terms of gameplay, with more real-time elements like timed button presses to enhance damage in combat, and the strategically deep ‘Junction’ system, which lets you enhance your party’s stats with magic. Also, it featured the card game Triple Triad - one of the best mini-games in the series to date!

FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered is an updated version of the game with enhanced visuals, and useful boosters, such as the ability to speed up time!

Play this first if…

  • You have a soft spot for romance
  • You want to see some of the most impressive cinematics in the series
  • You like card games - Triple Triad is great!


FINAL FANTASY IX is an epic story of love, war and betrayal. The game begins with an elaborate plan by the roguish Zidane and the Tantalus Theater Troupe to kidnap Princess Garnet, the heir of Alexandria.

But to their surprise, the princess wants to be kidnapped, and make her escape from the castle. Before long Garnet, her personal guard Steiner, have joined Zidane and a colorful cast of misfits, including Vivi, Freya and Quina, on an unforgettable journey across a dangerous land.

This game marks a return to the series traditional fantasy roots, after the sci-fi inspired worlds of the prior two games. More than that, it operates as a love letter to the FINAL FANTASY series as a whole. The game contains lots of references that serve to reward series veterans, while introducing many elements of the franchise to newcomers.

Play this first if:

  • You want a charming, light-hearted story and characters
  • You want a gentle introduction to all the iconic elements of the series
  • You prefer fantasy settings over science fiction


FINAL FANTASY X tells the story of Tidus - a talented blitzball player, who journeys with a young summoner named Yuna on a quest to save the world of Spira from an endless cycle of destruction wrought by the colossal menace Sin.

The game features exciting turn-based battles and introduced the sphere grid system of character progression.

Rather than characters levelling up automatically as in prior games, in FINAL FANTASY X, you manually build their stats and abilities by inserting orbs into a massive grid. It’s very simple system to use, but it gives you greater control over how your party develops than many of the older games.

FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster is available now, and updates the game with high-definition visuals, and a remastered soundtrack. The collection also includes the sequel FINAL FANTASY X-2 - a memorable game in its own right - as well bonus material and extras.

Play this first if:

  • You want to play one of the most popular and successful games in the series
  • You want a battle system that’s fast-paced, turn-based and tactical
  • You also want to play its sequel FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 - it’s included in FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster


  • Available on: PC

FINAL FANTASY XI was even more of a departure for the series - rather than an epic single player adventure, the game was a massively multiplayer online RPG (MMORPG). Still pretty epic though.

It’s set in the vast world of Vana'diel, and allows players team up to battle, explore, chat and trade their way through a huge number of quests, full of drama and intrigue.

With the game set to celebrate its 20th anniversary soon, it's clear that this game has staying power!

Play this first if:

  • If you want to play a traditional old-school MMORPG
  • You like having a vast world to explore and lots of things to do
  • You have friends who play the game, and can join you on quests


Available on: Switch / PS4 / Xbox One / PC

The world of Ivalice is at war. The small kingdom of Dalmasca has been conquered by the Archadian Empire, leaving Princess Ashe the one and only heir to the throne. Meanwhile, Vaan, a street urchin and orphan, dreams of flying freely in the skies.

The two will join forces with friends, pirates and warriors to form a resistance, find a way to restore Dalmasca to its former glory, and maybe even save the world.

FINAL FANTASY XII’s biggest innovations were in the critically-acclaimed Gambit system, which allows players to set the behaviors of your party to an incredibly precise degree, enabling them to act automatically in battle.

The ZODIAC AGE edition of the game - available on most platforms - expanded the options further, with even more gambits and the ability to give characters a second job in combat. It also features improved HD visuals, a remastered soundtrack and the ability to speed up time.

Play this first if:

  • You want your fantasy to be full of large scale and full of political intrigue. Also pirates.
  • You’d like to be able to control and experiment with your party’s AI
  • You want a seamless world with no separation between exploration and combat


  • Available on: PC / Xbox One (via backwards compatibility)

A deepening crisis threatens to plunge the floating world of Cocoon into chaos. A powerful and dangerous being called a Fal'Cie has been discovered, and in the aftermath a group of unsuspecting strangers are branded enemies of the state.

With the terrified population baying for their blood, and the military eager to fulfil that request, the group has no choice but to run - but will they be able to escape the destiny that has been thrust upon them?

One of the best things about FINAL FANTASY XIII is the paradigm system - fast paced, strategic battles in which characters must change roles on the fly to suit the constantly changing conditions. It also introduced popular characters like Lightning and spawned two direct sequels.

FINAL FANTASY XIII (and its sequels) can be played on PC and Xbox One via backward compatibility.

Play this first if…

  • You’d prefer a more guided RPG than others in the series
  • You like your games with an ensemble cast of characters
  • You like a combat system that’s strategic and makes you adapt on the fly


Available on: PC / Mac / PS5 / PS4

FINAL FANTASY XIV Online is a massively multiplayer game set in Eorzea - a realm embraced by gods and forged by heroes.

It has everything you could want from a FINAL FANTASY game - an intricate, engaging storyline, fantastic graphics, and a deep job system that lets you change roles as much as you want. It also includes one of the most welcoming MMO communities out there for newcomers. The game eases players in gently to the adventure, and features a mentor system that helps new players find answers and get up to speed quickly through interacting with veterans.

Even better, it’s getting bigger all the time. The most recent expansion, FINAL FANTASY XIV: Endwalker is out now, and it adds loads more content, including two new jobs, new areas, new storylines, and more.

It’s a game with hundreds of hours-worth of quests and content to sink your teeth into - not to mention some of the most compelling stories in the whole FINAL FANTASY series.

Play this first if…

  • You want a FINAL FANTASY game that you can enjoy with others
  • You want a massive world with literally hundreds of hours of content available
  • You want to be part of one of the most supportive communities in gaming - plenty of players would be delighted to help you get started


After years of fighting, the nations of Lucis and Niflheim agree to an armistice.

As a symbol of the peace, Noctis, crown prince of Lucis, plans to wed Lady Lunafreya of Tenebrae. Joined by his friends and bodyguards - Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto - the young prince sets off on a road trip towards his bride to be. But the group is unaware of the many dangers that lie ahead.

FINAL FANTASY XV opens with a statement of intent - “A FINAL FANTASY for Fans and First-Timers”.

It offers up a large world, filled with quests to complete, vicious monsters to hunt and secrets to discover and - for the first time for a numbered FINAL FANTASY game - a spectacular action-oriented battle system.

It’s an unconventional FINAL FANTASY game in that respect, but the core of the series shines through - wonderful characters, a compelling story, exciting battles and incredible presentation.

Play this first if…

  • You want a battle system that’s action-oriented rather than command-based
  • You want a large world full of side quests and monsters to hunt
  • You’re a foodie - the meals in this game are something else!


  • Available on: PS5

The most recent numbered FINAL FANTASY game is set in Valisthea - a land where a select few are able to channel and even become massively powerful and destructive entities called Eikons. These individuals are known as Dominants, and are both revered and feared.

You play as Clive Rosfield - firstborn son to the Archduke of Rosaria, and protector of his younger brother Joshua, who also happens to be the Dominant of the Phoenix. But when tragedy strikes his family, Clive is set on a path of revenge - one that will have profound implications on the world.

FINAL FANTASY XVI is a fast-paced and exciting entry in the series, focusing on action-based combat. Clive is able to call on the power of the Eikons to unleash all kinds of amazing abilities, from immolating enemies with flaming strikes to pounding them into a pulp with fists of stone. He can also issue commands to his faithful hound Torgal, instructing him to attack enemies, heal wounds and more. Torgal’s a very good boy.

Add dodges, counters, parries and more into the mix and you have a wonderfully dynamic and satisfying action combat system that’s a joy from start to finish.

And then there are the Eikon vs Eikon battles. These massive scale brawls between towering creatures are some of the most imaginative and visually spectacular in the series yet. Best of all, you don’t just get to watch these - you get to play them.

In short, it’s an epic in every respect.

Play this first if:

  • You want a mature tale that doesn’t hold back
  • You enjoy action games with combat that’s fast-paced, flashy and ferocious fun.
  • You want to witness some of the most jaw-dropping moments of spectacle in the series… and take control of it!

What about the spin-offs?

FINAL FANTASY has been around for a long time, and has spawned direct sequels, like FINAL FANTASY X-2 and FINAL FANTASY XIII-2, as well as spin-off games like STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN, FINAL FANTASY TACTICS or WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY.

But to be frank, this article is more than long enough already. Maybe we’ll cover them in a future post, but much like the main numbered titles, each is designed to be played standalone, so you can’t really go wrong.

As we said at the start, there’s no right answer to where you should start with the FINAL FANTASY series. As each game is its own unique entity, you really can begin wherever you want. Hopefully the descriptions here will help you make that decision.

Even so, we’re sure that any fans reading have strong views, so why not let us know on social media?

12 of the best action RPGs you should play from Square Enix

In the mood for intense action and satisfying combat? Let’s take a look at some of the best modern action RPGs from Square Enix - how many have you played?
By Duncan Heaney

If you’re looking for a thrill, few games satisfy like an action RPG.

This genre marries amazing storytelling with rewarding real-time action to create incredible experiences for all types of players, from those who manipulate the controller like a virtuoso playing an instrument, to those of us who fumble through with two left thumbs.

Square Enix has an impressive history of creating action RPGs, and we thought now would be a perfect time to celebrate the genre. In the following list, we’ll highlight some of the best currently available, and perhaps showcase a few you may have missed.


  • Available on: PS5

The most recent mainline entry in the FINAL FANTASY series is a gripping action RPG with a powerful story, mature tone and outrageously fun combat.

You play as Clive Rosfield - firstborn son to the Archduke of Rosaria and sworn protector to his brother Joshua, who is a Dominant. In this world, Dominants are a feted few who are able to become incredibly powerful entities known as Eikons.

But when tragedy strikes his family, Clive embarks on a propulsive journey of revenge that will change both him and the world itself.

What follows is a true epic, as Clive clashes with the different nations of this richly drawn fantasy world. Fortunately, he’s more than capable in a fight, able to use the powers of multiple Eikons to do everything from pound enemies to a pulp with his fists to incinerate them in burning flames.

Combined with the seriously satisfying dodge mechanic and spectacular large-scale Eikon battles, it all adds up to an exhilarating RPG that’s perfect for new players and the FINAL FANTASY faithful alike.

What follows is a true epic, as Clive clashes with the different nations of this richly drawn fantasy world. Fortunately, he’s more than capable in a fight, able to use the powers of multiple Eikons to do everything from pound enemies to a pulp with his fists to incinerate them in burning flames.

Combined with the seriously satisfying dodge mechanic and spectacular large-scale Eikon battles, it all adds up to an exhilarating RPG that’s perfect for new players and the FINAL FANTASY faithful alike.


  • Available on: PS5, PS4, Steam, Epic Games Store

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE uses modern technology to revive one of the greatest RPGs of all time.

The game is set entirely in the city of Midgar - a vast metropolis controlled by the corrupt Shinra Electric Power Company. A mercenary named Cloud Strife is hired by anti-Shinra group Avalanche to help disable one of the company’s reactors, which suck the life from the planet.

What follows is a fast-paced adventure that puts Cloud and his allies on a collision course with Shinra and a dark figure from his past: Sephiroth!

Naturally, there’s plenty of opportunity to wield that iconic Buster Sword throughout the game, thanks to the new hybrid combat system that fuses real time combat, dynamic character switching and menu-based battle with actions.

It makes for battles that feel exciting and immediate yet capture the flavor of the original FINAL FANTASY VII. With multiple characters to control, each with their own play styles, combat rewards fast reflexes and strategy in equal measure.

Which is all to say, it’s really good fun and critically acclaimed, so check it out:

The second game in the trilogy, FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH, is set for release in early 2024 on PS5. Find out about that here:


  • Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC via Steam and Microsoft Store

There aren’t many games quite like FINAL FANTASY XV. It’s a true original with incredible characters, a massive world, and - for the first time in a mainline FINAL FANTASY game - action-based combat system.

After years of war, the nations of Lucis and Niflheim agree to an armistice. As a symbol of the peace, Noctis, Prince of Lucis, plans to wed Lady Lunafreya of Tenebrae, and sets off on a journey towards his bride to be.

But when his homeland is attacked and his father killed, the young prince and his bodyguards, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto, must step up and find the strength to reclaim their homeland.

This is one of the most unconventional numbered entries in the FINAL FANTASY series, deftly balancing a relaxed road trip vibe, a vast explorable world full of side quests and secrets to discover, and fun and flashy battles.

In short, it’s an utterly charming adventure centered around brotherhood – and one you’re unlikely to ever forget.


  • Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Epic Games Store, Nintendo Switch via cloud (not available in all regions)

Disney and Square Enix joined forces to create this beloved series of action RPGs.

The saga typically focuses on Sora – a young hero with a big heart – who, along with his friends Donald Duck and Goofy, travels between different Disney and Pixar worlds to take on the sinister Heartless.

There are multiple amazing action RPGs in this sprawling saga, and since the entire saga (so far) is now available on PS4, Xbox One, PC via the Epic Games Store and Nintendo Switch (via the Cloud), it’s difficult to pick just one for this list.

Whether you want to see where it all began with the original KINGDOM HEARTS, dive into the vibrant worlds of KINGDOM HEARTS Dream Drop Distance HD or take on foes in the most recent game in the main storyline, KINGDOM HEARTS III, you can expect fast-paced and satisfying combat that never gets old.


  • Available on: PS5, Steam

Most action RPGs let you leap into battle with a weapon. Be it a sword, axe or even your own fists, it’s so often about getting up close and personal with your foes. Forspoken does things a little differently – it’s all about the magic.

This exhilarating RPG casts you as Frey Holland – a seemingly ordinary New Yorker who is pulled into the ruined world of Athia. Discovering she now has access to magic powers, Frey sets out to discover where she is and find a way home…

…and maybe she’ll even save the world along the way.

With a vast arsenal of spells and magic-enhanced parkour, Frey is a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. She can fling stones at devastating speeds, entrap enemies within a wall of fire, pelt them with homing darts, smother them in churning waters… the list goes on.

It’s an appropriate skillset, because when you’re firing on all cylinders, dancing round the battlefield and taking foes down with ease, the effect is nothing short of spellbinding.


  • Available on: PS5, PS4, Steam

Ragnarök looms and Midgard lies in ruins. Only the twisted souls of those who could not pass on remain – and they need to be purified. And by ‘purified,’ we mean thoroughly thrashed by a skilled Valkyrie.

As said Valkyrie, that’s your main job and fortunately it’s wildly entertaining - easy to get to grips with, but with tons of depth to master.

For example, you have access to multiple weapons, each with its own distinct feel and moveset - and can switch between these armaments at any time to mix up combos or exploit enemy weaknesses. You also have access to an impressive arsenal or magical abilities, which let you set your enemies ablaze, push them around the battlefield, heal your hero and much more.

Then you have the Einherjar - recruitable warriors who will help you in and out of fights. Each has their own element and fighting style and combining their attacks with your own allows for some truly spectacular actions in the heat of battle.

It’s an absurdly robust and satisfying combat system that makes the game a pure power fantasy that’s hard to put down.


  • Available on: Nintendo Switch, Steam

From a first glance, you’d be forgiven for assuming that HARVESTELLA was a simple life simulator. But it’s so much more than that - it’s a fully featured action RPG with superb characters, exciting real-time combat, and a story that…

…well, without giving too much away, let’s just say the story goes places.

But it is also a life simulation RPG, and a darn good one. Tending to your crops, fishing and rearing livestock to make money and cook food is endlessly compelling, while socializing with your friends and neighbors will lead you to discover one of the most delightful casts in an RPG for some time.

When it’s time to head into a dungeon, you’ll find a combat system with a lot of options. You can equip up to three jobs at a time and switch between them seamlessly - for example, you can dish out physical attacks with twin blades as a Shadow Walker, before switching to Mage to finish them from a distance with your powerful magic attacks.

As new characters join, you’ll gain new jobs making combat feel fresh and full of options throughout. Long story short, it’s just an all-round great game that, much like your crops, grows on you the more you play. Highly recommended.


  • Available on: Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam

While most of the games on this list are all about combat, DRAGON QUEST TREASURES primarily sets its sights on a decidedly shinier prize: loot!

This game is all about exploring vast open areas, making use of your skills and those of your monster allies to find valuable treasures… and then get them back to base intact.

Of course, while exploration is key, there is still combat to be found. This world is full of dangerous monsters, so you’ll have to combine your own attacks with those of your allies to take them down. As if that’s not bad enough, you’ll also have to contend with rival gangs, who’d much rather steal your treasure than hunt for their own.

It all adds up to a wonderfully addicting adventure with laid back vibes, a fun story, and that familiar DRAGON QUEST charm. It’s a real gem.


  • Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam

Zack is back!

This lavish remaster brings the classic prequel to FINAL FANTASY VII up to date with impressive visuals, newly arranged soundtrack, full voice acting and greatly refined combat.

You control Zack Fair - a member of Shinra’s elite unit SOLDIER, sent to investigate the apparent desertion of some high-profile members of the organization. Zack’s an important figure in the FINAL FANTASY VII mythos, and his story weaves into the fates of beloved characters like Cloud, Aerith, Tifa and Sephiroth in some surprising ways.

The combat has been greatly improved from the PSP original, with faster movement, snappier controls and even new mechanics. By equipping glowing orbs called materia, Zack has access to a massive range of different moves and spells - finding that perfect character build is a fun game in itself!

What’s more, the game’s mission structure gives it a pick up and play quality that means you can play it for five minutes or five hours and have a good time either way.


  • Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC via Steam and Microsoft Store

The most recent entry in the storied STAR OCEAN series emphasizes speed, spectacle, strategy… and soaring through the sky.

The game begins when Raymond Lawrence, the captain of the merchant vessel Ydas, crash lands on an underdeveloped planet. While searching for his crew, he encounters Laeticia - the crown princess of a nearby Kingdom.

Amazed by his advanced technology, Laeticia asks for his help to save her homeland from the threat of a neighboring Empire, setting off a chain of events that will have big ramifications for not only the planet, but the galaxy as a whole.

The STAR OCEAN series Dual Protagonist system lets you pick to play as either Raymond or Laeticia, and the story and recruitable party members will change depending on your choice. Regardless of which you pick, however, you can expect some gratifyingly intense combat encounters.

Thanks to a mysterious technology, characters are able to fly through the air for a limited time. It’s ideal for getting around, but truly shines in combat, letting you launch yourself towards foes, blindside them for extra damage and more. It makes for breathless encounters full of last minute dodges, and flashy combos.

So, if you’re looking for intense action, or a science fiction setting, you should definitely check out STAR OCEAN THE DIVINE FORCE.


  • Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Steam, Epic Games Store

Developed by Team Ninja from KOEI TECMO GAMES, this two-fisted action RPG is a dark and savage take on the FINAL FANTASY series.

You play as Jack Garland on a quest to kill Chaos. And he really, really wants to kill Chaos. This quest will take you through a wide variety of locations inspired by the FINAL FANTASY series, where you’ll take on hordes of enemies through visceral action combat.

Jack’s a very flexible hero, too, able to take on many classic jobs from the FINAL FANTASY games. He can slash them into submission as a swordsman, blast them with magic as a black mage, jump for joy as a dragoon, steal their abilities as a thief, punch them into crystal as a pugilist and much more.

It's a game that will test your abilities, with challenging opponents and brutal bosses that demand fast reflexes and mastery of your abilities to overcome. Of course, if you’re not a fan of this type of punishing action RPG, you can play on STORY Mode for an easier ride - there’s no judgement or gatekeeping here.

If you’re looking for a truly action-focused RPG, you won’t find much better than this:

Trials of Mana

  • Available on: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS, Android

Trials of Mana is one of the most replayable RPGs of recent times. You’ll take control of three playable characters from a selection of six - each with their own skills, strengths and stories. Depending on who you go with, the narrative will play out in different ways.

The combat will vary too, with playstyles available for each hero. Regardless of who you go with, however, the game puts the ‘action’ in action RPG.

While it starts simple, the battle system is pretty deep, with multiple classes to play as, combos to try out, and plenty of abilities to try out. Plus you have to watch your positioning - when you get hit by a boss’s area of effect attack, it can be devastating.

But the true reason it’s on this list is that just one of those games that makes the simple act of hitting an enemy just feel great. Everything is enjoyably tactile and you’re constantly rewarded for engaging your foes.

It’s one of those titles where you’ll think you’ll have been playing for an hour, only to find three have whizzed by. Satisfying and compelling, it’s a true treat.

So there you have it: 12 incredible action-packed adventures, covering everything from science fiction soap operas to fantasy epics. Whichever game you choose, you’re sure to have a great time!

But what if you fancy an RPG with turn-based combat? Join us on the blog next week to see some of our picks:

For now though, we’re sure you also have recommendations for action RPGs of your own, so head over to Square Enix on social to share your thoughts:

9 of the best fighters and warriors in Square Enix games

Blade in hand, they dive into the heart of battle. Let’s celebrate some of our favorite fighters, warriors and generally awesome sword-swingers!
By Duncan Heaney

Warriors and fighters are a mainstay of any RPG. Sword in hand, these brave combatants dive into the heart of the action, relying largely on strength and skill with the blade to see them through.

We wanted to highlight some of these remarkable warriors of all types across our games.

But let’s be honest - this is a role that can be somewhat blurred - while some characters slot perfectly into the ‘fighter’ archetype, others have abilities that go beyond the blade. The important thing is that they all primarily rely on their weapons and their skills to win the day.

Squall - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

The introspective Squall has trouble sharing his thoughts with others, but when he’s on the battlefield, you know exactly what he’s feeling. Most of the time it’s: “I’m going to hit you very hard with this gunblade”.

Squall has his fair share of flaws - he’s uncommunicative, reluctant to assume responsibility and wastes far too much time playing Triple Triad (although that may be just when we’re in control). Even so, he has an inner strength that draws people towards him - his friends know he’s someone they can rely on, even if he doesn’t.

Of course, his outer strength is pretty impressive too. He’s one of the few people able to wield a gunblade - a powerful weapon that lets him augment his strikes with a powerful blast for a little extra kick.

All said, we consider him among the greatest warriors in all of gaming. And if you don’t agree… whatever.


This Alexandrian knight is proud, brave and utterly loyal to Alexandria. Unfortunately for her, this loyalty is easily manipulated and she’s responsible for some truly heinous acts in the name of the queen.

However, we’re not here to judge her decision-making, which is… let’s say ‘mixed’ (destroying Burmecia: bad choice, opening her heart to Steiner: great choice), we’re celebrating her skills as a warrior. In this respect, she’s unmatched.

You face off against Beatrix multiple times in FINAL FANTASY IX and each time she destroys your group without breaking a sweat. She’s someone you quickly learn to fear and respect, so when she joins the party for a short time during a certain event, it’s a real thrill.

Ardbert - FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

While some embrace the role of the villain, others have it thrust upon them. So it is with Ardbert, the Warrior of Darkness.

This powerful fighter is regularly at odds with the Warrior of Light. Ardbert first appears after the events of Heavensward to threaten both Hydaelyn and its greatest champions. He’s a constant threat who is brash, angry, and utterly loathes the very concept of “heroes.”

While his methods may be dangerous, his motivations are pure, as his singular focus is on saving his home. Over the course of the story, you begin to understand the rage and regret that drives him and even sympathise with his plight. He doesn’t want to be a monster - he just doesn’t see any other path.

He’s a truly compelling character in a game full of them and one of the most memorable warriors in the series.

2B - NieR:Automata

2B or not 2B? That is the question - because her fellow Android A2 is equally deserving of recognition as a warrior.

But with NieR:Automata The End of YoRHa Edition currently winning new fans on Nintendo Switch, it seems most appropriate to avoid spoilers and focus on the character you play as at the start of the adventure. And also because 2B is a formidable fighter.

As a member of the android military unit YoRHa, 2B is more than trained for combat: she’s designed for it. Her speed and agility, as well as her ability to wield multiple weapons, means she’s capable of taking on enemies that tower many meters above her. And often do.

She approaches each battle with focus and a no-nonsense attitude - but she has an emotional side too. It’s just a shame that the story of NieR:Automata means you don’t get to see it, right?

…shh! Spoilers!


You haven’t been properly introduced to Hikari yet - OCTOPATH TRAVELER II isn’t out until February 24, 2023.

But you should be excited because he’s one of the best warrior-type characters you’ll meet next year. Hikari is the younger prince of Ku - a nation that seems to always be at war. This kind-hearted fighter worries greatly about his nations’ people, who suffer greatly due to the endless conflict.

Despite his formidable skills as a fighter, he prays for a world without conflict, and sets off on a journey to try and bring peace to his nation.

So why’s he in this list? Is he a tantalizing tease of what’s to come? A display of confidence in a character we know you’ll adore? A shameless reminder to preorder OCTOPATH TRAVELER II? All of the above?

We’ll let you decide that for yourselves but take it from us: Hikari absolutely deserves his spot. We can’t wait for you to find out why.


Jack can do it all. Whether he’s a diving dragoon, tricksy thief or a punchy pugilist, the protagonist of STRANGE OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN excels at any job you equip him with.

He starts his journey, however, as a Swordsman - and when it comes to carving up foes, he’s one of the best in the biz. Whether he’s going to toe-to-tentacle with a Malboro, or facing off against one of the Four Fiends themselves, a greatsword is all he needs to come out on top.

And what greatswords they are! STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is full of beautiful gear, but these massive blades are particularly impressive - so much so that we commissioned prop-maker LittleJem to bring one to life!

We’ve said it over and over again by this point, but grouchy Mr. Garland really is a Jack of all trades… and definitely a master when it comes to the sword!


The protagonist in Valkyrie Elysium was created by Odin to purify souls.

How does she do that? By beating the ever-loving daylights out of them of course!

Many of the darker souls left in the desolate ruins of Midgard manifest as undead, meaning they have to be defeated to be saved. Of course, the Valkyrie is more than up to the task - she was literally made for this.

She’s able to use multiple weapons, from different types of swords to spears, access Divine Arts to purify foes, summon Einherjar - spirits of fallen warriors - to help her in battle and more. Few fighters in action RPGs have so many options available to them in how they approach a battle.

Combined with her speed and agility, it all makes the Valkyrie a force to be reckoned with - few action RPG heroes are as fun and flexible to control as her!


“What the…?!” I hear you gasp? “Not Cloud Strife?”

Look - blondie definitely deserves to make this list, but with CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION coming on December 13, it’s only right that Zack gets his time in the spotlight.

He’s more than worthy of it too. Zack is a skilled fighter who wields the iconic Buster Sword as much skill and style as any of its other owners. Whether he’s facing off against Wutai ninjas, mechanical monstrosities, or Summons like Ifrit, his speed and strength give him the edge he needs to triumph. He’s one of the few people to have beaten multiple 1st Class SOLDIER operatives...

But the size of the Buster Sword pales in comparison to the size of Zack’s heart. He’s a generous soul who believes in his friends and will do anything to protect them. He may start CRISIS CORE as SOLDIER 2nd Class, but he’ll always be 1st Class in our hearts.

Who needs Cloud, eh?


…oh alright, he’s equally awesome, so here he is. You can stop typing that Tweet now.

Those were just a few of our picks for our favorite fighters, but it’s barely scratching the surface of all the amazing characters out there. It’s a highly contested field - there are so many amazing warriors that everyone is sure to have their own favorite.

So let us know who you’d pick. Share your thoughts on social media - maybe we’ll do a follow-up that highlights your picks later!

A sneak peek at some upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII merchandise

As FINAL FANTASY VII celebrates its 25th Anniversary, we reveal some of the most exciting future merchandise items!
By Duncan Heaney
Bring Arts Cloud Strife action figure and CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION Zack Plush side by side

2022 has been a big year for FINAL FANTASY VII. It’s the game’s 25th Anniversary, and we’ve been celebrating in style!

We’ve announced multiple new FINAL FANTASY VII projects, including FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH, the second game in the Remake series.

December 13 also sees the launch of CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION, and we’ve even been taking a look back through each chapter of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE in our Revisited series.

But we’re not just celebrating with games - loads of FINAL FANTASY VII merchandise is on the way too! We wanted to give you a sneak peek at some of our favorite items - take a look:

BRING ARTS Action Figures

A new range of BRING ARTS action figures, based on the original character designs from FINAL FANTASY VII are on the way! If you loved the stylized visuals and original artwork from the classic 1997 RPG, you’ll want to see these:

Each figure comes with an exchange ticket to redeem a digital certificate of authenticity. You can check them all out on the Square Enix Store for more details.


Bring Arts Cloud Strife action figure and CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION Zack Plush side by side

Cloud Strife: SOLDIER 1st Class and now a first class action figure too!

The original design of the original FINAL FANTASY VII’s leading man shines in this action figure, with everything from his iconic spiky haircut to the wrinkles in his clothes being meticulously recreated in 3D.

The figure comes with a variety of interchangeable hands, and if you’re wondering if the Buster Sword is included… of course the Buster Sword is included!

Cloud is due for release in November 2023, so preorder now to avoid disappointment!


Bring Arts Cloud Strife action figure and CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION Zack Plush side by side

You’ll get a real kick out of this new action figure of Tifa!

It’s another figure that has been created with an attention to detail that borders on the absurd - her boots, gloves and suspenders have all been faithfully reproduced, as has her hair and the ties at the end.

The figure has multiple points of articulation, comes with a set of interchangeable hands, and a stand so you can recreate some of your favorite poses and scenes from FINAL FANTASY VII.


Bring Arts Cloud Strife action figure and CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION Zack Plush side by side

The flower girl from Midgar makes for an awesome new action figure.

Aerith may live below the plate, but the creators definitely weren’t slumming it when they made her figure. It perfectly captures every aspect of her original design - her distinctive hairstyle, her red jacket, her pink dress, her boots and much more.

The detailing is extraordinary too - note the creases in her dress and the detailing on the pockets of her jacket.

It also comes with a set of interchangeable hands and her signature staff - it’s as authentic a depiction of Aerith you’re likely to get and makes this an action figure to die for.


Action figures are awesome, but perhaps you’re looking for something a bit more… cuddly.

Good news if so, because the range of Square Enix plushes is set to expand with two new squeezably-soft items based on the upcoming CRISIS CORE -FINAL FANTASY VII- REUNION. Let’s take a look:


Bring Arts Cloud Strife action figure and CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION Zack Plush side by side

‘Zack the puppy’ is even more lovable as a super-cute plush!

He features his costume from CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION, complete with two large, deep blue eyes that peer into your heart as if to say, ‘buy me.’

If you’ve played the original CRISIS CORE -FINAL FANTASY VII- you know that Zack really deserves a big, warm hug - and now you can give him one.


Bring Arts Cloud Strife action figure and CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION Zack Plush side by side

Add some adorability into your life with this lovely plush, based on Aerith as she appears in CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION!

You’ll probably be immediately won over by those big round two-tone eyes. They may not be Mako eyes like Zack’s, but they’re still plenty adorable!

Other items

Here are some more upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII-themed items that caught our eye:


Bring Arts Cloud Strife action figure and CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION Zack Plush side by side

This backpack is not only sleek and stylish, it also features the logo of a sinister corporation that’s planning to exert their dominion across the world itself (to be clear, we’re talking about Shinra, not Square Enix).

It has multiple pockets, including one for laptops or tablets, two front compartments, a metal clasp that you can attach a keyholder to, and side pockets perfect for an umbrella or bottle.

Long story short, it’s a very lovely, extremely high quality backpack that’s perfect for storing your plans for killer robots, or blueprints for Neo-Midgar - and it’s available to preorder now!


Bring Arts Cloud Strife action figure and CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION Zack Plush side by side

The beautiful 25th Anniversary vinyl record contains character theme songs from FINAL FANTASY VII.

All the themes you’d hope for are included:

Side A:

  • Tifa's Theme
  • Barret's Theme
  • Red XIII's Theme
  • Main Theme of FINAL FANTASY VII
  • Cait Sith's Theme

Side B:

  • Descendant of Shinobi
  • The Nightmare Begins
  • Cid's Theme
  • Aerith's Theme
  • One-Winged Angel

It’s beautifully presented too, with a sleeve that features the FINAL FANTASY VII 25th Anniversary logo, drawn by Tetsuya Nomura.

But what if you want to listen to these tracks on the move? You can’t exactly lug a record-player around with you, after all. Well, good news - a music code is enclosed with the record, so you can play the tracks on other devices.


Bring Arts Cloud Strife action figure and CRISIS CORE –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION Zack Plush side by side

Last but not least, here comes a trading card collection commemorating 25 years of FINAL FANTASY VII!

This box contains 20 card packs, each containing six physical trading cards, randomly selected from the full collection of 207 designs. It also includes an exchange ticket, that you can redeem for any one digital card of choice.

Each card is beautiful, so get ready for a real trip down memory lane!

That’s just scratching the surface of the amazing items available on the Square Enix Store. Jewellery, cushions, music blu-rays and CDs, housewares… there’s lots more FINAL FANTASY VII-themed awesomeness available.

Head to the Square Enix Store to check it all out:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 18: Destiny’s Crossroads

We’re taking a deep dive into the 18th 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 Midgar Expressway" is an incredible track, featuring motifs from across the FFVII/FFVII Remake soundtrack. How much work went into creating this piece of music, was it one of the harder pieces to work on?

I remember that putting together the first arrangement demo for the crazy motorcycle bit at the beginning of "The Midgar Expressway" probably didn't even take a week to do.

I thought that keeping the bpm of 190 but changing the motifs in the subsequent parts would be really tricky, but when I actually got down to working on it, the power and momentum from the visuals guided me and I managed to create these sections without too much of a headache.

The feeling of being "in the zone" when I was working on this track was a valuable experience and really sticks in my memory.

Featuring guitars in all the different sections of "The Midgar Expressway" was one thing that I was quite particular about, so I decided to use the Advent Children versions for the sections from "Those who Fight" and "Let the Battles Begin".

Yoshinori Nakamura (TV ASAHI MUSIC CO., LTD.)

Why was the Motor Ball boss battle added into the motorbike mini-game as opposed to being a separate boss fight in the original FFVII? Was there ever a time when it was a separate boss fight?

That is a great question. The original script written up by Mr. Nojima actually had the last section of the game go from the Motor Ball battle to the Whisper Harbinger and finally the ending.

Mid-way through development we changed direction to make Sephiroth the final boss of this title and felt that having three boss fights in a row would spoil the tempo. Accordingly, we decided to use Motor Ball as the boss of the G-Bike section just before the final boss fights instead.

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

Whisper Rebrum, Viridi and Croceo seem to represent Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo from FFVII Advent Children, fighting to save their own future (referencing the entries that appear after using the Assess materia on each). Is this true?

The Whispers are capable of forming monsters from all the memories in the flow of time, and I think that includes the characters who exist or will exist in the timeline as well.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Next, the party are shown memories of the future as told in the original FFVII, was there ever a concern that this wouldn't be obvious to fans playing Remake with no prior knowledge of the original FFVII?

Cloud and the team do not really understand what they are seeing in the scene where they are granted memories of the future either, so it is fine if the full meaning behind the visions is not communicated to the player.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

The Midgar Highway stage was created specifically for motorbike riding action. I remember it was a large map and it must have been made in quite a different way to the regular stages in the game. Were there any difficulties or challenges in creating the highway?

It was hard work placing the clusters of buildings across such a wide area to match with the layout of Midgar, and a challenge unique to working within this setting. We constantly needed to check the compass directions to prevent the landscape deviating from the map of the city, asking ourselves what direction the Shinra Building should be visible from and where the position of the plate that forms the player's final destination should be.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director)

The battle with Sephiroth features various phases, differing party members depending on conditions set throughout the story and crazy camera angles throughout. How difficult was it to pull this all together?

There were numerous mechanics and systems specifically made for this battle, and it was one of the ones that we took a lot of care on, as well as one of the trickiest to pull off.

There were also a lot of bugs that needed fixing and it took a long time to make overall.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

One-Winged Angel - Rebirth is another wonderful arrangement of one of the most famous music tracks in videogame history. What was it like being entrusted to rearrange this track for FFVII Remake and how pleased are you with how it came out?

“One Winged Angel” is one of the most important music tracks in my whole life, so when I was asked to arrange it, I felt a great responsibility to make a good version, even if I had to use the rest of my life to do it.

It goes without saying that I like everything that the original composer, Mr. Nobuo Uematsu, has done, and I also loved Mr. Shiro Hamaguchi’s orchestration of "One Winged Angel", so the music of these two creators has had a massive influence on me.

When I set out to do my new version of the track, I first searched for what kind of arrangement would make a version of "One Winged Angel" that would satisfy me personally, something that did not damage any of the numerous appealing factors of the original and most importantly something that would not disappoint me or corrupt my childhood memories of hearing it

As the track name “One-Winged Angel - Rebirth” implies, the key word to explain this new arrangement is “rebirth”.

I mentioned this in the Ultimania Guide (Final Fantasy VII Remake Material Ultimania) too, but I remember seeing a comment from Mr. Uematsu somewhere in which he talked about how he approached the original composition by first creating a number of different motifs and then trying to piece them all together in the manner of a puzzle. I started my arrangement in the spirit of “re-constructing” that original puzzle, breaking it back down into its constituent phrases and then putting it back together in a new order.

On top of that, the battle is spilt into four separate phases, so I also had to make the arrangement for each phase fit with its own distinct character, while at the same time making sure that the excitement and tension built up gradually as the phases progressed.

I took particular care with phase 3, where Sephiroth shows his wing for the first time and the player’s party all come together, marking the start of the fierce final confrontation.

I felt that this was the point I needed to raise the player’s excitement level to its peak and decided to do that by bringing in the timpani drums from the introduction, the most distinctive phrase from the whole track. I then worked back to create the whole composition.

Nothing will really come of it if I say this, but in the end my personal favourite version of “One Winged Angel” is the original one! (Laughs)

However, I do think I achieved what I set out to do here and created a worthy remake of the track that would not bring shame to my memories of it.

Yasunori Nishiki (Additional Composers)

Are the attacks Cloud uses on Sephiroth here meant to resemble Omnislash from the original FFVII (and later shown in FFVII Advent Children)? What were the concepts behind the design of this heated battle scene?

I will leave the actual names and background behind the techniques he uses here to players' imaginations.

We did not envisage having a scene where Cloud and Sephiroth face off in a duel when we started the development, so we were very excited while making it.

At the start of the scene we deliberately made the camera movement similar to when the two of them fought in the original FFVII, in order to make it reminiscent of the original game.

Then it moves on to the action part, showing Cloud dauntlessly struggling against the all-powerful Sephiroth.

We consulted with a swordfight choreographer, who offered the opinion that because of the difference in the reach of their weapons, Cloud had little chance of winning if he tried to fight at a distance. Accordingly, we went on to choreograph it to have Sephiroth parrying and evading the attacks while Cloud continuously tries to press in and fight at close quarters.

It may appear to be a fairly evenly matched contest, but Sephiroth is not actually being pressed very hard here.

Hidekazu Miyake (Cutscene Director)

Thank you for sharing your memories and thoughts of working on FFVII Remake. Is there anything you would like to say to fans who have been reading this whole blog series?

As it says at the end of the game "The Unknown Journey Will Continue", and Cloud and his friends will be on that journey for a while yet. From here on in the Whispers cannot act to maintain the destined timeline, so fans can look forward to seeing what kind of future awaits the team.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Thank you for sticking with us all the way through the blog series. The development team are currently hard at work on the second game, in which the story moves away from Midgar and expands out onto the world map. And it is not just the story! I will be working day and night to ensure that the game design also offers an even more thrilling ride and is packed with even more surprises than the first game.

I am very grateful for being given this opportunity to send my message out to all the fans.

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

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited - and the series as a whole! Many thanks to all the devs for sharing their insight with us across all 18 chapters of the game.

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

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 17: Deliverance from Chaos

We’re taking a deep dive into the 17th 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…

What had Aerith been drawing on the walls in her room? Are there any particular details we should look out for?

The initial idea set down when designing the backgrounds for the game was that this was a huge drawing that Aerith put together from ages of 4 to 7. She started out by copying the flowers and creatures in the picture books she was given and gradually moved on to drawing the history of the Cetra people that she had heard from her mother as folk tales.

Each section was done as a separate image, but the interesting thing is how she has joined them all together by drawing the lifestream in an unconscious expression of the Cetra's philosophy that everything is linked.

Mizushi Sugawara (Environment Artwork)

Why do the Whispers show up in Aerith's room? They don't seem to be actively trying to change destiny at this point. Does Aerith have knowledge of the future?

If Aerith were to talk of the things she knew and reveal the truth to everyone here, that action in itself could change the destined timeline, so the Whispers move to prevent her doing so and protect the course of events. Aerith may have known the future but had her "memories" of it stolen by the Whispers until this time.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Sephiroth shows up again! The scene where Cloud attacks him and they clash swords is reminiscent of Advent Children, was this an intentional throwback?

It was indeed!

One of the objectives written into the concept plan for FFVII Remake was to create a playable game experience at the same graphical quality as Advent Children.

Advent Children was used as an overall reference for the quality of the cut scenes in the game, and our intentions might well show through particularly strongly in the scene where Sephiroth appears.

Hidekazu Miyake (Cutscene Director)

How was The Drum devised in development? Was it always seen as a "final dungeon" for the game?

As the Shinra Building is the final location for Remake, where it was not in the original game, we needed to add in a new "final dungeon" between Sample H0512 and the President's Room.

There were a lot of twists and turns in the process of getting this dungeon to the form it finally took, but we felt that it would be best to expand the area with things that paid homage to what was in the original, rather than to put in completely new elements.

We ultimately settled on the idea of re-working the scene on floor 67 where the player peers into the pod storing Jenova's headless body, so that the pod itself is now recreated as a special research facility dungeon with Jenova at its core.

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

Why did you decide to split the party up during this section? The PHS labels on the communication devices to swap party members was a really nice easter egg for fans of the original FFVII (the PHS is how the player would swap characters in the original game) - how was it decided that this would be added in the game?

I had thought about having a section where Aerith is playable in the Shinra Building from the early stages of development, but because it was the final dungeon, I also wanted to put in a bit where the player experienced battle with all the characters again.

This was a fairly orthodox way to do it, but I decided to structure this section by having the party split into two teams, who then tackled the dungeon in parallel. We had set on the idea of changing between the two teams using communication devices at the level design stage, but we actually called them "communicators" at that point rather than PHS.

However, at some point the scenario team learned that they were called PHS in the original scenario script and this little touch came from the team's playful nature. I also like it a lot too.

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

Red XIII joins us in the combat but the player doesn't get to play as him, was there ever a time in development where he was intended to be playable? Conversely, was there ever a time when perhaps he wouldn't appear at all until the very end?

Red XIII was definitely going to appear in the story, so the battle designers looked into the best way of incorporating him.

There was a proposal to make him fully playable, but the decision to keep him as an AI controlled guest character in the first game was made when we considered that he only appears at the very end of the story and would not have much room to develop and level up.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

In the battle against Jenova Dreamweaver, the player is engaged in a fierce battle, but the way the BGM changes also adds a huge amount to the excitement of the situation (This goes even more for people who played the original game).

Was adding this kind of climax something outlined in the original briefing?

The original plan was to have the rapid tempo from the start, in a similar way to the same scene in the original FFVII, but when I thought about how it transitioned in from the cutscene immediately before the battle, I felt that it would raise the excitement even further if we started out with a lower tempo version instead and then ramp up to the high tempo during a later phase of the battle.

Even I felt the excitement building when I reached the final phase during the first test play of this scene.

Keiji Kawamori (Music Supervisor)

Was it important to show Barret dying and then being saved by the Whispers to prove that the Whispers are neither for nor against the party, simply trying to correct the course of destiny?

We showed Barret's predicament here as a representation of how the survival or not of a single person can change the destined timeline that the Whispers are trying to protect. However, Barret is pretty tough, so he might well have recovered by himself, even if the Whispers did not move to protect him.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

I found the Rufus battle to be quite challenging! Do you have any tips for players who might still struggle with it from time to time?

You need to firmly grasp Rufus' attack pattern and charge up your ATB for the opening when he reloads, then hit him with your abilities. Repeat that cycle to wear down his health a bit at a time.

He should be easier to beat if you stay calm, observe the situation while guarding and don't just attack recklessly.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

The battle with the Arsenal is interesting in that you can use the scenery to take cover and recover etc. Did you ever consider incorporating more elements of the environment into battles?

You use two long-ranged characters in the Arsenal fight, and I think we managed to create a battle where the scenery can be used effectively.

I was constantly thinking about how we could use the terrain for other battles too, as long as there were good ideas.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

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 18 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 16: The Belly of the Beast

We’re taking a deep dive into the 16th 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…

How important was it to start this chapter with the iconic shot of Cloud looking up at the Shinra Building?

The scene where Cloud looks up at the Shinra Building is fondly remembered by many players as the promotional image for the original game and still comes up with a lot of hits from image searches. It was quite difficult to reproduce and fit this scene into the structure of Remake, but we were adamant that we wanted to include it as fan service.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

The battle through the carpark section is one of my favourites in the game. By this point in the game it feels like the player has started to feel comfortable with and started to master the combat system, while the incredible "Operation Save Aerith" track plays in the background.

Was it important to keep this track playing at full volume throughout the area in order to drive a sense of urgency and keep momentum up?

"Operation Save Aerith" uses some of the same phrases from "Those Who Fight", but was made pretty much from scratch as a new battle theme dedicated to capturing the feeling of apprehension in this scene and to bring excitement to this series of battles.

Keiji Kawamori (Music Supervisor)

On the Shinra Building ground floor we get to play as Tifa and climb across monkey bars, who was responsible for this section and how did it all come together from concept design?

As part of the policy to give each character their own playable section, I wanted to show Tifa's efforts coming to the fore in the infiltration of the Shinra Building as the game moves towards its final climax.

At this point in the story Tifa is conflicted with doubt that Avalanche's actions were the cause of the Sector 7 plate collapse. I wanted to make the player experience her struggling to move forward under those circumstances and open a path for her comrades on her own.

Having her climbing the overhead ladders and moving across the chandeliers were elements we thought up to fit with the theme of infiltration.

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

Compared to the original, the Shinra building feels more high tech and near-future in its design. How did you decide on the design direction for this location?

Shinra is always looking towards future economic growth and will discard older regions without a thought. The design direction for the Shinra Building was a part of that, as we wanted to show how Shinra keep all the high-tech secrets for themselves to drive the company's momentum, while the people of the city only receive the benefits of Shinra's cast-offs and may one day be discarded by them in turn.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director)

In the scene where the party climb the staircase, the music also mimics the effect of being short of breath. How was this achieved?

Mr. Toriyama had the idea of using the BGM as one element to express the character's fatigue at endlessly climbing the staircases. This was achieved by editing the original track and adding effects over it rather than by creating a different arrangement, and it was quite heavily altered in the end, which I think gives an interesting effect.

Keiji Kawamori (Music Supervisor)

The Shinra museum was a great way to introduce us to the company and its executives. How did you decide what to include in it? What was the inspiration behind the museum tour?

This museum shows exhibits designed to get people to view the Shinra Company positively, and is aimed at both Shinra employees and their families, as well as the wider population of Midgar. It tries to give the message that everything will be safe if you stick with Shinra.

To give this area the right appeal and make it feel convincing, I approached the design like an actual museum curator and created numerous assets for historical documents and exhibits that promoted the technology that the company had developed (especially things that did it in a visual manner).

I imagined it more like a company or facility archive rather than a regular public museum.

Mizushi Sugawara (Environment Artwork)

In one of the photos we can clearly see an adult version of Shinra from Final Fantasy X-2, can you tell us why he's there?!

We did this so players can enjoy the speculation, but it could just be a commemorative photo of one of the company employees cosplaying as him.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

The video sequence showing us The Ancients was stunning. Why did the team decide to show this as a pre-rendered video rather than generating everything in-engine?

There is a depiction of the construction of Midgar in the video sequence, and right from the start we had decided to request Visual Works (now Image Studio) to do it as a pre-rendered piece, in order to show this scene at a satisfactory quality

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

Who's the security guard Cloud meets in the Shinra Building? Was there ever a time when Kunsel was going to be included in FFVII Remake? It was a nice throwback to Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-

The guard was one of Cloud's colleagues from Crisis Core and this episode shows how he was previously a Shinra employee. If too many of his old colleagues showed up then it would probably destroy the Remake story and we might have Whispers appearing.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

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 17 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 15: The Day Midgar Stood Still

We’re taking a deep dive into the fifteenth chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake with the wonderful development team who brought the game to life!
By Sunil Godhania
Cloud, Tifa and Barret look out on the destruction of Sector 7

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…

In the original FFVII, there’s the jumping to the swinging wire moment (I failed so many times!) – were you tempted to try to bring that across to the new game like you did the reactor switches, squats etc?

In Chapter 15 the party use wire guns to climb up on the wreckage, but this idea actually came from a homage to the swinging wire in the original game.

We decided that it would make for a better result having something that could be used to traverse the dungeon throughout the chapter, rather than just as a one-off gimmick where you have to watch for the correct timing like it was in the original.

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

Cloud, Tifa and Barret look out on the destruction of Sector 7

As soon as this chapter starts, there is one ruined building that collapses as Cloud and the team pass by it. With the overall shock at the dire state the town is in and how naturally it collapses, players are likely to pass straight on by, but this seems like a scene that a lot of care and attention went into. Could you explain how this scene was put together, including the more technical aspects?

The collapsing buildings were created for us by a separate team of simulation specialists, after which we spent time tweaking them.

This did not involve moving each piece of rubble individually, and we actually only moved the top part of a single pre-destroyed model, which allowed us to depict large scale destruction with fairly light processing.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director)

Cloud, Tifa and Barret look out on the destruction of Sector 7

There's a lot of aerial combat in this chapter, which must have been very difficult to implement for melee characters like Cloud and Tifa. Looking back on FFVII Remake and aerial combat as a whole, is there anything that the team might do differently if given another chance to develop the battle system?

This was something we were very torn about. We wanted to make it so that players who were not particularly skilled at action games could still fight fairly easily, but I think that there were possibly some issues left unaddressed here.

I would like to re-work the system overall so that perhaps characters could always choose to fight in the air to a certain degree, like Yuffie can.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Cloud, Tifa and Barret look out on the destruction of Sector 7

In the original FFVII, the Valkyrie is fought slightly later in the game. Why was this boss battle brought forward and how early in development was this decided?

In Mr. Nojima's original script, the Valkyrie actually appeared in the Shinra Building like it did in the original game, but we were a little concerned that there were too many repeated boss fights in the Shinra Building, which affected the tempo of the area, so we had it altered to be the boss of Chapter 15 instead. Another big factor was how this area sees the player moving over a cross-section of the fallen plate, so having a boss that could fly fitted in well here.

The change was made during the script creation phase, so it was comparatively early in the overall development process.

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

Cloud, Tifa and Barret look out on the destruction of Sector 7

The "Fires of Resistance" track that plays throughout this chapter is a real delight. How was this composed? Were the team given an outline of what's to happen during this chapter (and perhaps even shown early versions of the game running?) to decide how to create this dynamic, ever-changing, piece of music?

In Chapter 15 there is a feeling of despair after the great catastrophe that has just occurred, with the party in a heavy, sombre mood.

When I started work on “Fires of Resistance”, I wanted to make it a track that reflected the emotions of Cloud and his comrades at this point in the story but doing that was actually quite tricky to pull off. It was definitely a competitor for the track that took the most toil and effort for me to complete out of the whole game. I actually finished a whole other version of the track, which was abandoned during development, so the version that everyone hears in the game is actually “Fires of Resistance 2.0” (laughs).

I started work on the original version of the track by asking myself what kind of music would help me shake off the misery if I had come face to face with a tragic event or some kind of great disaster. The result of that approach was a track that had a curiously high energy to mask and break away from my feelings of sadness (a kind of empty bravado).Musically it was bold and reckless, with a fast tempo and an irregular metre, and to top it off, I did it in a Celtic style!

Basically, it had become a heaped down musical smorgasbord of a battle music track and had a sound that had not been seen in FFVII Remake before. I felt that this could be an interesting direction and rode out the momentum to also go on and do a version for exploration sections as well. However, when I took a step back and thought about it objectively, I realised that this was probably not the kind of energy that the scene has, and so I shelved the original attempt (laughs).

To put it simply, I tried throwing a curveball to get a bit of a unique reaction, but it just wound up falling flat (laughs).

For the second version of “Flames of Resistance” I brought a little more emotional restraint back to the process and unlike the first attempt where I had tried to mask the sadness, I faced it head on in the composition. I set out to keep the heavy and oppressive atmosphere of FFVII Remake from a sound perspective too, and the track settled into its current form. The way that the rhythm shifts from 4 beats to 5 beats then to 3 and back to 5 again is probably a leftover from the first version.

For FFVII Remake, I was immensely grateful that the composers were able to see detailed play videos of the chapters we were working on before production, that lasted between several minutes and several hours. On top of that, we also had the opportunity to play work in progress prototype builds, so it was easy to work out what kind of music was needed and what the most effective way to have it played would be before we moved on to putting together the actual composition.

It was also great fun and very rewarding being able to make proposals about the music direction based on the gameplay, such as where it might be good to play a variant of the current BGM etc.

Talking specifically about Chapter 15, I had originally thought to do this section with one battle music track and two exploration area tracks, but I felt that changing the music to be somewhat darker in the gloomy section in the middle would help add to the feeling of exhilaration when climbing the face of the collapsed plate and the feeling of liberation when looking down from the top later on. So, I proposed having that darker version as well.

In the end I created five different versions of the same composition for the plate cross-section area (excluding the boss and cut scenes) and the system switches between them dynamically based on the current gameplay.

FFVII Remake uses this kind of subtle music shifting throughout the whole game to enhance the experience, so I would recommend that players pay extra attention to the music to enjoy it even more during their second playthrough on Hard Mode!

Shotaro Shima (Globe Enterbrainz)

Cloud, Tifa and Barret look out on the destruction of Sector 7

It is a very small detail, but I noticed how in the scene where the team cross the steel girder bridge, there is a small stone right in the centre of the bridge to add a feeling of height and danger. Which section of the development team makes the decisions to add small details like that (e.g. is it the scenario team, the backgrounds team or the level designers) or is it more of a collaborative effort with all the teams getting together and discussing it?

There are many times when ideas like this come up during the debates at our checking meetings. Unfortunately I cannot remember the exact conversations that were had, but the small stone could well have been something born from those discussions.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director)

Cloud, Tifa and Barret look out on the destruction of Sector 7

The shot of Cloud, Tifa and Barret looking out over the destroyed Shinra Building was used often in the marketing campaign for the game - was this a scene that the team spent a long time on perfecting? How did it change during the course of development?

As this is the first time that the player will look out over the ruined cityscape, their emotional reaction will be strong here, so we focused all our efforts on making the backdrop as beautiful as possible.

With the need to depict a wide area of the city, it took some time creating the required resources, but we had solidly fixed down the concept in the planning stages, so we were able to get on with developing the scene without getting lost. The construction of the backdrop and the post-effects were both very important here, so we were helped greatly by the backdrop and lighting teams too.

Hidekazu Miyake (Cutscene Director)

Cloud, Tifa and Barret look out on the destruction of Sector 7

The scene where Cloud, Tifa and Barret are looking out over the destroyed Shinra building at sunset really brings together the power of the distant vista, the lighting effects (lens flare etc.) and the smoke rising from the ruins etc.

What challenges were there on the VFX side when creating this scene?

As this is a defining and memorable scene from the game, we were careful in how we showed the lens flare effect here.

A lens flare moves in tandem with the camera movement, so we re-worked the point where the sunset crosses the characters position many times. The rising smoke and other effects were used to create a feeling of stillness and lingering tragedy.

Shintaro Takai (Graphics & VFX Director)

Cloud, Tifa and Barret look out on the destruction of Sector 7

The battle with the Valkyrie is part of a huge set-piece that takes place over a few floors, how was this battle devised from concept planning right the way through to final development and implementation?

We started from the concept of creating a unique situation that involved combining the scene progression and battles with the crumbling, high-altitude terrain here.

We planned out the Valkyrie's abilities and the size of the area it is fought in to give the player the experience of starting on a narrow platform and the battle area gradually changing to trap them in a difficult corner that they then have to break out from.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Cloud, Tifa and Barret look out on the destruction of Sector 7

In this chapter we move into evening time and the lighting also adjusts to the colours of sunset, with a beautiful crimson sky. Were there any particular places or seasons you used for reference here?

Because you can also see the exposed Sector 7 slums in the distance after the plate collapse, the tones we chose for the sky in this scene were intended to give it a slight melancholy feel too, rather than just being beautiful. It is rare to find these kinds of colours in a normal sunset, so we used images of the evening sky after a typhoon had hit for reference.

Iichiro Yamaguchi (Lighting Director)

Cloud, Tifa and Barret look out on the destruction of Sector 7

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 16 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 13: A Broken World

We’re taking a deep dive into the thirteenth 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…

FFVII Remake wallows in the aftermath of the plate collapse a lot more than the original game. Why did you want players to confront the devastation first-hand in this way?

We decided to focus a whole chapter on the aftermath of the plate collapse in order to show the true impact of the situation in a more realistic way. This was the same idea as how we wanted to get across the aftermath of the reactor bombing mission on Sector 8.

The tragedy that Shinra creates, the fact that Avalanche was the original cause of it and the loss of several comrades are important factors for Cloud and the team's motivation later on in the story, so we took great care in how these scenes were depicted

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

The appearance of the slums changes drastically with the fall of the Sector 7 plate. Looking at all the debris and ruined buildings, it seems that the team did not just add debris to the existing location, but actually went to the trouble of creating another version of the same area again. Was this how it was done?

That is exactly what we did.

We needed to work on the ruined version after the original slums area was completed, so there was not a lot of time left to do it in. However, this is a very important scene for the overall story, so we did not want to cut any corners and it was exhausting for the team. Having said that, thanks to the interesting conceit that there was actually a secret test facility under the area, we were able to approach the design from a fresh perspective, even though we were really making the same location twice.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director)

The Failed Experiment boss in the lab has been designed with rich details, such as the patterns on its body that glow red or blue alternately.

How do you approach making these kinds of effects that are incorporated onto characters? Are they planned in co-ordination with the character team or added on once they have completed the design?

We actually incorporated emissive designs (using shaders that emit light) into some of the characters, and this system also allowed us to change the colour of the light used. We put effect particles over the character model and tweaked the visuals so it appears they are spilling out of the glowing sections.

The practical order in which this work was carried out involved a handover from the character team to the effects team, but we still all created the idea and worked on it together.

Shintaro Takai (Graphics & VFX Director)

The underground laboratories are hinted at earlier in the game by some NPCs, but I didn't think we'd actually visit them during FFVII Remake. Was it important to include these areas to start to set up some of the elements from the Compilation of FFVII?

We created the story and setting for FFVII Remake based on all the elements that are part of the world overall, including those from Compilation of FFVII. The underground facility in the Sector 7 slums is one area that these elements have been incorporated into in a memorable way.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Why was the decision made to allow the player to control only Barret during the underground sections of this chapter? Was it important to give him more screentime and re-establish his character as he had been away from the party for a while by this point? Cloud is absent for a big chunk of this chapter. Why did you make that decision?

I had decided from the start of development that we would definitely give each character their own playable sections, but there was a very clear reason to have the section where you controlled Barret in this chapter.

I felt that out of all the party characters, Barret would be the one who had the most heightened emotions here, with the chance that his friends and comrades from Sector 7 have perished in the plate collapse and the need to see the situation for himself. I wanted the player to take control of Barret and experience these mixed emotions alongside him, vicariously sharing the joy at saving Wedge and the despair at being unable to help his other comrades.

By having this as a playable section, I think we managed to portray his decision the next day in a convincing and believable way. It lets you see why he went as far as entrusting Marlene to Elmira so he could take direct action against Shinra.

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

Shooting the boxes as Barret is insanely satisfying. Is that why you added so many into the area?

The collapse of the Sector 7 plate is the big climax in the middle of the game, so I wanted to add some variation to the feel of the gameplay in this chapter.

I had just decided on making Barret the character used in this section and came up with the idea of differentiating it from the feel of the dungeons where you use Cloud by incorporating satisfying shooting mechanics with Barret's gun arm.

I really wanted to add a fresh feel to this section, so when it was first implemented, I actually requested for the team to put ten times as many Shinra crates down as you see now! (laughs)

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

Was there always an opportunity to create a brand-new piece of music for this boss battle, rather than needing to rely on rearranging existing music from the original FFVII? The track "Infinity's End" plays during the boss battle at the end of this chapter and it's an absolutely stunning piece of music. How did this come together?

"Infinity's End" was originally ordered by Mr. Toriyama as a track to play during battles with enemies in the exploration sections rather than for a boss battle. Although originally created at a request for a new battle theme for FFVII Remake, the finished piece had a real sense of scale and momentum, so it was ultimately used for a boss fight.

Keiji Kawamori (Music Supervisor)

I love the multi-tiered boss battle, with Tifa and Barret fighting on different levels. Was this difficult to implement? Did you ever consider doing more fights like this where the characters were separated?

I do think that there is more potential to expand on the idea of gameplay where the party is split.

We managed to include this type of mechanic in a small way with this boss battle in Remake, but I would like to polish it even further and try something similar again if it looks like we could do something fun with it.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

I was surprised at the detail and accuracy of physical features and movements. Not just the main characters like Cloud, but also animals like Wedge's cat. Did you do tests before implementing things like the cat's eyes, ears and gestures etc?

The facial animation section has some cat lovers on the team, so they were quite particular about these details. There were also other staff members who actually have cat allergies, but who heroically took it on themselves to take medicine and visit cat cafes to observe their gestures and movements anyway. We also looked at various different resources on cat ear and tongue movements etc. In some ways we may have been more particular about the cat's expressions than we were the human characters!

Akira Iwasawa (Facial Director)

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 14 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 12: Fight for Survival

We’re taking a deep dive into the twelfth 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…

By Chapter 12 it has become clear that the Whispers are intent on preserving the timeline of the original FFVII, but why do they appear at the beginning of this chapter and block Cloud, Tifa and Aerith from progressing? Have the trio arrived earlier than expected?

With Avalanche taking the fight to Shinra, the plan to drop the plate has been delayed here. If Cloud and the team were to link up straight away, there would be a danger that the plot would fail entirely, so the Whispers appear to obstruct their progress and preserve the destined timeline.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

The cut scenes in this chapter, such as the gunfight scene, use lots of different camera work to add dynamism. I would imagine that these scenes are initially planned out using storyboards, but how do you decide on the camera movement at this stage?

We do work out the scene direction and camera work when we put together the storyboards, but we also further refine everything to improve the quality when the pre-production visuals are created. At this stage we fix down all the things that you cannot express through storyboards, such as the intensity of camera shake, feelings of motion, the speed and tempo of the cuts etc.

There are often many changes made at this pre-production visuals stage, in order to achieve the best quality we can.

Hidekazu Miyake (Cutscene Director)

Why did Biggs used to visit the Leaf House Orphanage? The fact that he cares for the kids so much even as he loses consciousness really made us love him that much more.

Biggs was also an orphan and was raised at Leaf House himself. Even after growing up and leaving the orphanage, he continued to support their work from the shadows.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

The helicopter approaches the plate support pillar in the original game too, but it would probably look quite odd if it arrived in the same way in the remake, with its more realistic style. It seems like there was a lot of thought and innovation put into this scene, so could you talk about the design decisions here?

When we started work on Remake, we re-assessed the scale of the city of Midgar, and set the height from the slums to the city level as 300m. Considering that the general height that helicopters fly at is around 500m, we felt that this was a restriction that we could show what we wanted to within.

On top of that, having Shinra helicopters regularly appearing from the Train Graveyard onward was done to give the player a sense of the encroaching threat from Shinra. The helicopter arriving during the battle with Reno and Rude atop the pillar was put in for the same reason.

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

It is a small detail, but in the gunfight scene where the Avalanche members are fighting with Shinra soldiers, it feels very realistic how they take cover behind the staircase pillars and only expose their heads and guns while they open fire. How were these kinds of subtle movements created. I do not imagine that the team get into many gunfights in real life, so where did you get inspiration and references from?

When making these kinds of large-scale cut scenes, most of the time we start by creating storyboards, and the overall flow of the action and how it will be presented comes together at that stage.

Some of the detailed movements and sequences are depicted in the storyboards from the beginning, but most of them are created together with the actors during motion capture, achieving a sense of reality as we imagine the actual scene in a real space. In addition, animators also need to have the ability to express things that they could not experience for real, and this comes in at the brushing up stage too, not just for gunfights but all kinds of things.

Thus, the final stage of the process sees the animators putting themselves in the shoes of the characters and adding the finishing touches to create a tense and thrilling scene.

Yoshiyuki Soma (Animation Director)

It feels like the tense scenes in this chapter are differentiated from the more sedate ones through clever use of flame motifs. Was this done deliberately and if so, how did you approach tweaking the volume of fire shown and the intensity at which it burns?

The rooftops see the fiercest fighting here, so we created a gradation as you move up through the different levels, increasing the intensity of the flames, smoke and sparks the closer you get to the top. This effect increases the sense of urgency as the player climbs.

Shintaro Takai (Graphics & VFX Director)

The boss battle with Reno incorporates attacks from the original FFVII, such as Pyramid. How difficult was it to incorporate these old moves into the new combat system?

It was actually the opposite, and these elements fit really well with the character changing and real time action mechanics.

The situation changes greatly when one character is tied down, so in this battle it is important to address that quickly when it happens.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

In this chapter there are many scenes (such as when Aerith saves Marlene, parting with Jessie, and Reno and Rude after battle) where we see several characters looking different to their normal appearances, with bruising, scars and grime.

What do you take particular care with when applying these kinds of alterations and what difficulties are there in doing so? (One small detail was how Jessie's skin looks more drained of blood than normal)

We change the scars and grime depending on what kind of scene the character will feature in. For example, if a character is caught in an explosion, then they will be given burns, but if they are caught in falling rubble then they will be coated in dust instead.

A lot of the time we keep the scars and injuries fairly restrained, as showing them too graphically would violate the restrictions set by the rating for the game.

As you pointed out, we dramatically changed the colour of the character's complexions here in order to depict scenes like this where they suffer serious injuries, while still staying within the restrictions.

Dai Suzuki (Main Character Modeler & Lead Character Artist)

Fans were delighted by the surprise cameo of Cait Sith during this scene! How did the idea of his introduction in FFVII Remake come about? I didn't think we would see him until later.

Was there a concern that this might be confusing for players who had not played the original FFVII and was there ever a point where any of the other main characters from the original FFVII were going to make a cameo appearance in FFVII Remake?

We wanted to show that even within the Shinra company, not everyone agreed regarding the plot to drop the plate, but I think that probably only the most dedicated fans will understand why it was Cait Sith who was used here.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

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 13 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 11: Haunted

We’re taking a deep dive into the eleventh chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake with the wonderful development team who brought the game to life!
By Sunil Godhania
Aerith and Tifa cling onto Cloud in the train graveyard

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…

There's a very distinct change in tone during this chapter of FFVII Remake. Was there ever a concern that this could break up the flow of the story and was this considered during development?

We had decided to make the Train Graveyard its own chapter and so we added in some episodes that were not in the original game to construct the story there.

Like the previous chapter, this was another section that was important for building the relationship between Tifa and Aerith, and we tied it in so that it would be effective when Aerith leaves the party in the next chapter.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Aerith and Tifa cling onto Cloud in the train graveyard

Who created the designs crafted by the ghosts during this chapter, and how did they come together? Was there any reference material used to create these?

I (Sugawara Mizushi) designed these myself. They are supposed to be the work of children around 10 years old, so I looked at drawings by actual children and remembered back to the pictures I had drawn as a child when deciding on the designs. I arranged the designs to fit with the "Ghost" enemy, but also be something that the children in the world of FFVII Remake would have imagined and drawn.

Originally, I made them very child-like, using lots of colours, but to give the drawing a scarier look I ultimately changed it to a monotone.

Mizushi Sugawara (Environment Artwork)

Aerith and Tifa cling onto Cloud in the train graveyard

The Ghost enemy from the original FFVII appears here in the remake too.

The original version appeared as a white, spirit-like monster, but when I first saw the new design, I realized that the white body was supposed to be cloth all along. How do you decide on the textures and details for these kinds of monsters?

We decided on cloth after thinking what kind of texture would be best to maintain the ghostly feel of the monster once it had manifested and not ruin the effect. The textures used on a character vary depending on the personality of that character and how they are used in the game, but in most cases we come up with several possibilities at the illustration stage and then check these over with Mr. Nomura and Mr. Takai to settle on the one that best fits the design.

In addition, we sometimes also change and adjust the textures while character data is being created, in order to make the final design fit in with the area in which it appears, as sometimes there can be situations where a model merges with the background and becomes hard to see.

Masaaki Kazeno (Modeling Director)

Aerith and Tifa cling onto Cloud in the train graveyard

There's an infamous scene as Aerith and Tifa both grab Cloud by the arms as they convince him to take the lead entering the Maintenance Facility, what are all three characters thinking during this scene?

It looks like there's a bit of tension between them all...?

I imagined a situation similar to entering the haunted house attraction at a theme park surrounded by two people who you like, but in the actual scene here, the two ladies are seriously scared of the ghosts and so are clinging on to Cloud.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Aerith and Tifa cling onto Cloud in the train graveyard

There are so many distinct sources of light during this chapter, coupled with a subtle fog effect permeating the facility. What were the challenges in making all of this look as realistic as possible?

This location has many different lighting elements mixed together, and you can also see the plate and the Sector 7 pillar in the distance. It was tricky having to add a horror film style flavour to such a location, but we solved that problem by using the fog and colour correction. We managed to give an overall sense of consistency and reality to differently coloured elements by adding a single fixed tone to them all.

Iichiro Yamaguchi (Lighting Director)

Aerith and Tifa cling onto Cloud in the train graveyard

It felt like the ghost enemies’ ability to grow immune to physical and magic damage was designed to force players to take advantage of different characters in the party. Was that the case?

It was indeed. This mechanic was one way to create gameplay where the player approaches battles by changing between characters and using their different skills.

I think we managed to implement the idea in a way that fits very well with the distinctive characteristics of the ghosts themselves.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Aerith and Tifa cling onto Cloud in the train graveyard

Reno and Rude seem genuinely annoyed at their role at attacking the plate during this chapter. Did they really want to go through with it?

To the Turks, an order from the company is absolute and they must always do their job, regardless of any personal feelings about the situation.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Aerith and Tifa cling onto Cloud in the train graveyard

In Aerith’s flashback, we get a glimpse at her childhood. It gives us a glimpse into Aerith’s psychological vulnerabilities. Was this something you wanted to explore more in the game?

The episodes from Aerith's childhood as an ancient were one element that I wanted to use to dig deeper into the character for Remake. However, if we showed too much from that period then the number of flashback scenes would become unmanageable and the story would not progress.

Accordingly, we made it so that fans who want to know more about those times can learn about Aerith and Tifa's respective pasts in the companion novel "Trace of Two Pasts".

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Aerith and Tifa cling onto Cloud in the train graveyard

The Train Graveyard is quite a large area when compared to its size in the original game. Was it difficult remaking this area anew, while still keeping the gimmicks from the original, such as walking across carriage roofs and starting up one train to push another out of the way etc.?

It was difficult getting the visuals to align properly now that the graphics are so realistic and the staff put great effort into finding the right balance between reality and fantasy for the area. We always seemed to have reference material for trains or tracks in one hand as we worked.

I think that effort definitely paid off though, and the finished area is great fun to get your teeth into from a gameplay perspective.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director)

Aerith and Tifa cling onto Cloud in the train graveyard

Overall were many of the concepts behind the Train Graveyard in FFVII Remake taken from ideas that perhaps did not make it into the original FFVII, or were they all brand-new for Remake?

What was the most challenging thing about creating the Train Graveyard chapter?

The ideas here were all created fresh for the remake, rather than being things that were not implemented in the original game.

For this location we had the most trouble with incorporating the ghostly elements in a way that did not interfere with the overall tempo of the story as the team hurry towards the Sector 7 pillar.

After experimenting with several different things, we decided to move away from trying to merge the feeling of hurrying towards the pillar together with the ghostly elements and instead went for a two-part construction where the focus shifts between them halfway through the area.

In the first half of the area up to the battle with the Ghoul, we concentrate on the ghosts, and do not really touch on the actions of Shinra much. However, in the second half you get to see the battle for the Sector 7 pillar playing out from the playable camera, with helicopters hovering around it. This gives the player a feeling of getting closer to the pillar and to lays the groundwork for mood the of the next chapter. If you pay attention to this while playing, you should notice the point where the overall presentation changes between the first and second parts of the area.

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

Aerith and Tifa cling onto Cloud in the train graveyard

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 12 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 10: Rough Waters

We’re taking a deep dive into the 10th chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake with the wonderful development team who brought the game to life!
By Sunil Godhania
Aerith and Tifa working a water pump in the Midgar sewers

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 battle with Abzu was first revealed at Tokyo Game Show back in 2019 and was a big moment in terms of showing off a long segment of gameplay to fans. What are your memories of that reveal and how did you feel at the reaction received from fans around the world?

We were delighted at the passion we felt from all the fans at the event and those watching from elsewhere and were very grateful to them. One of the marketing themes that was set for the Abzu fight was to show a battle where summons are used. When we saw the response to the first reveal of fighting alongside Ifrit in the video, we were convinced deep down that players would enjoy the battles in FFVII Remake and wanted to get the game to them as soon as possible.

One other thing that we showed for the first time at that year's TGS was Classic Mode (the mode where everything except selecting menu commands is automated to create a play experience closer to the original FFVII). I was the player for that demo and my hands were shown on camera to prove that I was not controlling the characters directly, but it was so hard to stop them from shaking! (laughs)

Yuma Watanabe (Senior Assistant Producer)

Aerith and Tifa working a water pump in the Midgar sewers

Aerith is probably the most difficult character to play as in battle in FFVII Remake. Did she ever play significantly differently in battle during the development of the game? Which aspects of the way Aerith fights in combat are you most proud of developing?

Development on Aerith started with the concept that she should be a character with high magic power, and who really comes into her own when using magic. However, if we allowed her to launch straight into a sustained magical barrage from the start of battle then she would lack nuance and be too powerful.

Accordingly, we designed her as the type of character that needs to get prepared and take up a solid position at the start of a fight, but her offensive power and the variety of things she can do increases greatly once she has.

I think that the extra difficulty in using her stems from the distance she needs to keep from the enemy and the comparative trickiness of managing the charge up of her ATB gauge.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Aerith and Tifa working a water pump in the Midgar sewers

The fog in the sewers gives a great atmosphere to the area. Was it difficult making sure that this effect was not too thick or too thin, and was it easy aligning it with the lighting?

As the fog has a very close relationship with the lighting of this area, we actually worked on adjusting and balancing the effect in the lighting section. We changed around the thickness of the fog several times and tweaked the intensity of the light at the same time, to make sure we got the overall feel just right.

Iichiro Yamaguchi (Lighting Director)

Aerith and Tifa working a water pump in the Midgar sewers

Tifa and Aerith's friendship develops over the course of this chapter, was it important to ensure that they both had enough screentime to grow their friendship and what's going through both of their minds during this part of the story?

There is actualy surprisingly little time that Aerith and Tifa spend together during the part of the story in Midgar, so we decided to focus on their relationship in the underground sewers. That we were only able to put in this oppressive and gloomy area could only come from following the story of the original game.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Aerith and Tifa working a water pump in the Midgar sewers

Tifa and Aerith's friendship was surely tested by the water pump mini-game! What was the reason for implementing that?

I am overjoyed that players could sense the friendship between Tifa and Aerith in this scene. The water pump was not included in Mr. Nojima's original script, but we had always wanted to have the two of them achieve something together through the player's actions here, rather than just confide in each other in the cut scenes.

It was only proposed to add the water pump mini game here during the latter part of the development, so the designers pushed back quite a lot on the asset creation schedule, but I explained to them how important it was to insert a co-operative task between Tifa and Aerith here and they managed to sort out the scheduling somehow. I really am super grateful to the designers for pulling that off.

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

Aerith and Tifa working a water pump in the Midgar sewers

The water pump mini-game is challenging, but it never gets too frustrating. How hard was it to balance the mini-game?

As I said in my previous answer, the objective here was to show Aerith and Tifa co-operating, so we set the initial difficulty a little bit higher. However, we also made it so that it gets slightly easier each time you fail, so that anyone can get through the game in the end.

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

Aerith and Tifa working a water pump in the Midgar sewers

The sewer scene in the original game was considerably shorter. Why did you make the decision to extend it for FFVII Remake?

There is a specific reason why chapter 10 was made denser in the remake.

In terms of the overall game structure, the battle around the Sector 7 pillar in chapter 12 forms the big climax in the middle part of the story, and so we needed to create a sense of achievement from getting to the pillar itself.

One element of that was taking care that the player experienced the true scale of Midgar, by having them travel the actual distance from Corneo's mansion, through the sewers and the Train Graveyard to the Sector 7 pillar at full scale.

I hope that players got a sense of satisfaction at finally having made it back to the pillar after journeying through that section.

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

Aerith and Tifa working a water pump in the Midgar sewers

Were there any concepts / ideas / enemies for the sewer section that didn’t make the final game? If so, why?

The original plans for the sewer section had it laid out like a maze, with the player raising and lowering the water level to access different areas.

However, we felt that having the player need to stop to change the water level and possibly get lost or hit a dead end did not fit with the narrative of needing to hurry back to the Sector 7 pillar, so we removed those mechanics and tweaked the difficulty so the player could progress through the area without great hinderance or getting lost.

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

Aerith and Tifa working a water pump in the Midgar sewers

During Chapter 10 players may end up being turned into toads! How important was it to keep this FF series staple status effect in FFVII Remake? Who oversaw designing the toad versions of each character and how were these built and implemented in the final game?

We absolutely had to include the toads in Remake, and it was never an option to get rid of them.

The designs were handled by the team headed up by Mr. Kazano, and they were all very passionate about making the toads reminiscent of the original characters. We felt that allowing players to still do some things while turned into toads would be more fun, so we also created the models in a way that they could use their triangle button skills and abilities.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Aerith and Tifa working a water pump in the Midgar sewers

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 11 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

7 of the best monks and pugilists in Square Enix games

It takes a very special kind of person to dive into danger with nothing to protect them but their own two fists. Let’s give these heroes a big hand.
By Duncan Heaney

We previously celebrated White Mages and Black Mages here on the blog, so we thought: this time, let’s get physical.

Plenty of Square Enix characters eschew swords, spears and firearms in favor of their own bodies. You can call them monks, pugilists or simply brawlers - whatever the label, we wanted to pay homage to those characters who rely on their own two fists to overcome adversity.

Let’s get to it:



Optimistic, protective, passionate… there are a lot of words you could use to describe Snow Villiers. ‘Subtle’ is not one of them.

This self-proclaimed hero tends to rush headlong towards his problems, relying on brute strength and an unbendable will to overcome the challenges before him. He’s the kind of guy who’ll throw himself into the direst conflicts if it means protecting others - no matter the personal cost.

Some would (and do) call that approach reckless, but in fairness to Snow, he’s got the skills to justify it. In combat, he attacks primarily with his fists, using technologically augmented strength to batter his opponents with a flurry of blows.

He’s got it where it counts on defense too - not only does he have some impressive skills that let him bolster his and his allies’ resistances, he’s pretty hardy in his own right.

But then, considering how many times he gets smacked in the face by Lightning, he’d have to be.

Sabin - FINAL FANTASY VI pixel remaster

It should be obvious why Sabin’s on this list: this is the guy who can suplex a train!

But Sabin’s so much more than mere memes: he’s big, buff, burly… and a brilliant character in his own right.

This prince of Figaro abandoned his claim to the throne years ago for a life of freedom. He’s spent the years training under the martial artist Duncan and mastering his powerful Blitz techniques.

These years of study have turned his body into a weapon - not only is Sabin exceptionally skilled at various martial art techniques, he’s also incredibly strong. Whether he’s single handedly propping up a collapsing building, wielding a steel girder, or simply smashing an enemy, Sabin’s physical prowess never fails to impress.

Kevin - Trials of Mana


As the son of a Beastman and a human, poor Kevin is trapped between two worlds. He’s too wild to mingle well with humans, yet too gentle-natured to fit into the Beastmen’s home of Ferolia. As a result, he tends to spend a lot of time alone.

Although he struggles with this internal conflict, he’s far more capable at dealing with external ones. Kevin is a powerful fighter, who relies on his brute strength to take down the many monsters who oppose him.

He only gets more ferocious at night, when his beast form takes effect, and his power increases dramatically.

He may not be the most articulate character in Trials of Mana, but when he lets his fists do the talking, the message comes through loud and clear: Kevin is awesome.

Zell - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered


Zell is loud, overenthusiastic, and hot-tempered. He’s also brave, reliable and one of Balamb Garden’s finest students.

Whether he’s taking on dangerous missions as a SeeD mercenary or trying (failing) to grab the last hot dogs in the cafeteria, Zell approaches every task with total commitment. Although this boisterousness irritates the game’s willfully introverted protagonist Squall, he soon comes to appreciate the value that the more social Zell brings to his group.

Also, the strength - Zell is a powerful fighter who batters enemies with his punches and kicks. His Limit Break technique, Duel, is particularly impressive, letting the excitable young man use special attacks like piledrivers, uppercuts and more!



Not only is Jack Garland a capable White Mage, and a devastating Black Mage, he can also throw one heck of a punch!

As we’ve said time and time again, he’s Jack of all trades, and as such is able to take on many fist-focused jobs, from pugilist to the powerful tyrant.

Jack’s impressive speed and powerful combos allow him to make short work of most enemies - he can get in close, unleash a flurry of blows, and get out again before they even know what happened. His fast-flying combos are particularly effective at reducing an enemy’s break gauge, setting himself up for an instant Soul Burst kill.

Trust us - few things are as viscerally satisfying as smashing a Malboro into crystal shards with your bare hands. It just feels good…

By the way, Jack is back in the first expansion Trials of the Dragon King - find out about that here:

Yang - FINAL FANTASY IV pixel remaster


Yang is as respected a monk as you’re likely to find. His impressive combat skills combined with a kind and humble nature have made him a person of some standing in the kingdom of Fabul.

In battle, he’s an impressive damage-dealer, striking hard with bare hands and claws alike. His ability to target multiple enemies with kicks, brace himself to withstand more damage and even focus to allow for even more devastating assaults.

That strength is very welcome when he’s part of the team… although less so when, due to a series of unfortunate events, you have to face him as an opponent instead!

Misunderstandings aside, Yang proves himself to be a noble protector, valued companion and one of the most beloved brawlers in FINAL FANTASY history.



How tough is Tifa? Let’s put it this way - while her friends take on Shinra’s giant robots with oversized swords and guns, Tifa splinters them into scrap metal with nothing but her hands and feet!

This bar owner from the Sector Seven slums is also a member of the resistance group Avalanche, and in many ways, the heart and conscience of her cell.

When it is time for action though, Tifa doesn’t hesitate. Her perfectly honed martial arts let her deliver massive amounts of damage very quickly, pressure and interrupt enemies, increase stagger damage and more.

Honestly, the only thing in Midgar that probably hits harder is one of her Cosmo Canyon cocktails.

Those were just a few of the fist-flingin’ fighters who we think are a hit - there are plenty more we’d love to highlight, but perhaps we should leave that for another time.

Of course, you could beat us to the punch by telling us your picks right now on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 9: The Town That Never Sleeps

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

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…

Where did the concept of Aerith wanting to high five Cloud, and the subsequent attempts between both of them to do this, originally come from?

The time they spend together heading between the Sector 5 Slums and Wall Market is an important time for Cloud and Aerith, as this scene is the "date" that she talks about as Cloud's reward. We used the high five to show the relationship between the two characters and how the distance has been broken down between them.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Cloud dancing at the Honeybee Inn

I could never have imagined the Wall Market theme from the original FFVII being turned into "Due Recompense" on the FFVII Remake soundtrack. How did the concept for this arrangement come about? It's so brilliant!

If you play the original FFVII music for Wall Market next to the new version from REMAKE, they tie together naturally.

As I put the track together I tried to get my head into to the atmosphere of the place and build an image of the kind of BGM that could be playing while you walk around the town and see its distinctive vistas. I tried to sweep away all preconceptions and focus my efforts on expressing the things I felt from the location through music.

Unfortunately Corneo was always lurking in the back of my mind while I was doing this! (laughs)

Mitsuto Suzuki (Music)

Cloud dancing at the Honeybee Inn

Creating a brand-new piece of music to serve as the background track for Wall Market must have been a difficult decision to make. How did the team decide to write something brand-new for this part of the game?

Mr. Toriyama's request was to create a noisy and hectic atmosphere, where music can be heard from different angles all over the place.

Once you meet with Chocobo Sam and head out into the town it immediately hits you with a saxophone to bring out the excitement of the bustling neon-lit city, but if you go down a narrow backstreet then you stop being able to hear the BGM. Walk a bit further and the sitar and tabla drums open up to create a exotic and suspicious mood when you pass by the hand massage parlour.

To sum it up in one phrase, I would say that the music for Wall Market in Remake is a "nationless sound", but I imagined a chaotic yet alluring place where people forget about their everyday lives and the flow of time, to enjoy this transient, dystopian world for one night. I would be delighted if the Honeybee Inn and Midgar Blues also added to expanding the world of FFVII Remake too,

Mitsuto Suzuki (Music)

Cloud dancing at the Honeybee Inn

It was an absolute delight to see the Hell House make a return from the original FFVII as a fully fledged boss in FFVII Remake. What process did the team have to go through in order to turn this into a boss fight, including the addition of Tonberries in Hard Mode!

We wanted the gameplay for this boss to involve the player preparing lots of different elemental attacks and strategically selecting the right one for the situation, but had a hard time communicating that structure to the player in-game.

It is a bit of a regret that the underlying logic of the battle is not easy for the player to pick up on, so it can become a fairly gruelling battle.

However, I think that the fact it ended up as a memorable boss works well for the remake.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Cloud dancing at the Honeybee Inn

The squats mini-game looks so simple when being watched but it's actually incredibly tough to get just right, did this need lots of refinement during development to make it just difficult enough for players?

It is always a head-scratcher trying to get the difficulty level right for this type of mini game. If it were a section where the objective is only to progress through for the main story or for a quest then we would obviously make it something that can be completed before it starts to feel stressful for the player. However, when you have something that involves a level of replay, we play through the game over and over, subtly tweaking and adjusting the parameters as we go to settle on the final direction.

The button UI disappears and the difficulty of the inputs increases as you progress, but that was not actually part of the original planning for this mini game. It was added in later while we were testing, as we felt it would be interesting to increase the difficulty by having a phase where the player needed to rely on their memory.

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

Cloud dancing at the Honeybee Inn

How did you determine how many side quests to include in this chapter, especially with the option to revisit and complete additional quests? As an aside, thank you for keeping a sidequest in which mimics Cloud's quest through Wall Market in the original FFVII - it was such a great homage!

This touches on what I said in a previous answer about quests, but we approached the side quests based on the concept of using them to dig deeper into the lives of the slum dwellers.

This concept led to our policy to have side quests through the various slum areas and was solidly in place by the middle phase of development, leading to the quest placement in the Sector 7 Slums, Sector 5 Slums, Sector 6 Slums (Wall Market) and in the areas of Sector 5 and 6 after the plate falls.

We also wanted to have the player earn the outfits they get in Wall Market through progress in quests and split the roles of the quests in different areas so that the ones in the Sector 7 Slums affect Tifa's outfit, the ones in the Sector 5 Slums affect Aerith's outfit and the ones in Wall Market itself affect Cloud's outfit.

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

Cloud dancing at the Honeybee Inn

The entire Honeybee Inn section of the game has been praised by both fans and critics alike for being tasteful and respectful. Keeping in mind that this is all brand-new compared to the original FFVII it can't have been easy to write this entire section from scratch.How did this come together?

We had decided to change the original FFVII's Honeybee Inn episode from a gender free perspective right from the start of development. We remade the whole scene as a song and dance show, in order to make it the big stage for Cloud's cross-dressing event and to give it a "maximum showbusiness" vibe as part of the Remake story.

We collected together references of dance shows and decided on an overall direction, then tentatively edited that footage together while adding music and lyrics, before going even further and setting down the choreography. I think that just that preparatory phase here took up the longest period in the whole development.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Cloud dancing at the Honeybee Inn

Did the entire dance scene with Andrea and Cloud have to be choreographed and motion captured and how was that done? I loved all the nods in the dance to actions that Cloud makes in the original FFVII.

Changing Andrea to the owner of the Honeybee Inn had a big influence on the dance scene. We put together a concept video based on cabaret show reviews and then had the choreography worked up based on that reference and the music.

From the initial planning stages we wanted to have nods to the original FFVII in the dancing. We originally thought about having things happen to break up the show, but having the characters draw weapons felt too abrupt and would not fit with the scene, so we changed it so they took up distinctive poses instead.

If players have picked up on these touches then I think that fortune has smiled on our direction and presentation. It feels like an added bonus for all the effort that we put in.

Hidekazu Miyake (Cutscene Director)

Cloud dancing at the Honeybee Inn

How did the designs of each of Cloud, Tifa and Aerith's dresses come together? Was there one person on the team assigned to design all of these or was it a combination of team members who brought them to life? Were there any dress designs that ultimately didn't make it into the game, and can we see them?

My name is Roberto Ferrari, and I designed the dresses for all the main characters. I re-designed the outfits based on the ones from the original FFVII and approached them by trying to keep the distinctive colour palette for each character, while adding in more different pieces and subtle decoration.

After I showed Nomura the proposals for the basic design direction, I moved straight on to finalising the visuals, so there was not a lot of waste in the workflow. I did not propose any completely different designs, but there were several different colour versions of the outfits.

For example, when I was checking the designs for the purple dress with Nomura, I sent him several different hues of purple to consider, including a redder purple and one with more of a blue tone, and asked him to pick his favourite. As you would expect, I don’t really want to show any of the proposal images from before they were cleaned up (gulp!)

Roberto Ferrari (Character Design)

Cloud dancing at the Honeybee Inn

FFVII Remake has a few sections where players take control of a different character to Cloud. What was the reason for this?

The original FFVII told a story centred around Cloud and was structured so he would be the main character that the player controlled.

For Remake, we have not changed this basic idea, but each of the other party members also has their own strong personality and many fans, so we wanted to do some fan service and give each one an opportunity to be the star as a playable character.

I feel that this philosophy should not just apply to the first game and should continue into the future games in the series.

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

Cloud dancing at the Honeybee Inn

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 10 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

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)


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))


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))


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))


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))


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)


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))


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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 7: A Trap Is Sprung

We’re taking a deep dive into the seventh 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…

Please could you tell us the differences in design between Mako Reactor 5 and Mako Reactor 1? What did you pay attention to when trying to differentiate them and what were the reasons behind the differences in the designs?

We created differentiation through the use of different lights in particular. We made it so Reactor 1 uses warmer colours (these are older lights and have a lower energy efficiency) while Reactor 5 uses colder colours (the latest models that are energy efficient) to show the differing ages of the facilities.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director)

Heideggar and President Shinra's appearance in this chapter differs massively from the original FFVII. How did the team decide on turning both into projections?

This was one of the ideas that came up when we tried to update the interpretation of technology from the original for Remake.

The first proposal was just to have them appear on a screen, but we felt it was rather lacking. When old sci-fi films are remade, you often see the UI on the machines changed a lot and for FF7 Remake we also wanted to show how gadgets had evolved in the same way.

The resulting 3D holographic projection allowed us to create a feeling of intimidation and arrogance, and I think it worked great visually.

Shintaro Takai (Graphics & VFX Director)

In this chapter we see "cutters" that are similar to, but subtly different from the sweeper robots. How do the designs for these kinds of "subspecies" of enemies come about?

The battle planners decide on everything to do with the forms that monsters will take and their movements, including the subspecies we will have, where they will appear in the game and how they will attack etc. We then base our designs on those plans and in this case worked to ensure that the Cutter looked significantly different from the Sweeper in game.

For example, by changing the weapon mounted on the arms from a machinegun to a cutting blade, we not only changed the appearance of the enemy, but also added variation to its movements and how it attacks. (However, if you change a design too much then you will incur higher resourcing costs when creating the model, so you need to be careful)

Masaaki Kazeno (Character Modeling Director)

One thing this chapter does very well is foreshadowing. Why did you want players to see Airbuster early on?

One key feature of the level design for this chapter is how we wanted to make it so that the difficulty of the Airbuster fight changed depending on how the player had tackled the level. From that concept, it was only natural that we thought of adding in foreshadowing and making the player aware of the presence of Airbuster from the start.

The story in this section has the Shinra side working feverishly to get the Airbuster set up, while the player's team tries to disrupt that, so I think we were able to get a good narrative flowing through this section, with a setup, further development of the idea, a twist and a satisfying conclusion.

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

As someone who was repeatedly frustrated by this, I have to ask… who was responsible for bringing back the mini-game where Cloud, Barret and Tifa have to synchronise disabling the locks? That said, it was delightful to see this homage to the original FFVII. How important was it to ensure that even minor elements like this were brought back from the original FFVII?

When we were sorting out the staff assignments, there happened to be nobody who fit the slot for planning out the Reactor 5 section, so we actually had producer Yoshinori Kitase do the planning for the first part. From that point he had written in the planning documents that he wanted to make the unlocking section into a mini-game.

During development we were always aware that fans would have strong expectations towards how all the mini-games from the original were handled, not just for the unlocking section, but for things like the squats and G-bike too. We also knew that FFVII is associated with having lots of mini-games and unique gimmicks in the dungeons, so we felt a responsibility to meet those expectations, both for Remake and for the subsequent titles as well.

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

This section sees Cloud’s relationship with Barret soften – he even makes a joke! How difficult was it to develop the friendship between these two very different characters?

After the Reactor 1 bombing mission and Cloud having worked together with Avalanche over the next night, Barret gradually opens up to him. He was actually curious about Cloud from the start but was unable to say anything because of Cloud's aloof behaviour.

The distance between the two of them is reduced when Cloud joins them again for the Reactor 5 mission. It could be that the shared experience and facing danger together on the bombing missions has strengthened the bonds between them. As very different people, they also cover each other’s weaknesses and work well together.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

Shinra seems intent on blaming Avalache’s activities on Wutai. Why do they want this so much?

If a war with Wutai erupts then there would be large scale economic effects. The Shinra company is directing this plot to crush two of their foes at once; the nation of Wutai that does not fall under their global control and Avalanche who are engaged in anti-Shinra activities.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

Shinra broadcast Barret and Cloud on TV. Did you plan any scenes where they may be recognised by the population?

The TV broadcast was deliberately done in a way that made it impossible to recognise the faces of the Avalanche members in any detail, as its aim was simply to stir up a vague and generalised feeling of societal unease from an anti-Shinra terrorist organisation being on the loose. It was a tactic aimed to strengthen the public's feelings of dependency on Shinra and create a situation where they could be seen to be dealing with any further crimes attributed to Avalanche in a suitable manner.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

The Airbuster music track is absolutely incredible, especially in the way that it's built up of different pieces of music across phases of the battle. How was this piece created from scratch?

What kind of details are shared before composing the track can even begin? Do the music team receive a detailed overview of how the battle is going to plan out, and then create the music from there?

The Airbuster battle is the first time in the original FFVII that the player will hear "Let the Battles Begin".

We did use some of the melodies from it in the area leading up to the fight, but wanted to save the rock guitar arrangement that is closest to the original for the fight itself. We let the composer and arranger, Mr. Makino Tadayoshi, know that the fight would be split into several phases and had him put the music together in a way that would ramp up the excitement as they progressed.

Keiji Kawamori (Music Supervisor)

When Cloud falls, he’s surrounded by Whispers. Is he being saved by them, or is this to signify something else?

Cloud is destined to survive here, so the Whispers are working to maintain that timeline.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

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 8 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

6 of the best FINAL FANTASY summons

We celebrate a few of the most memorable Espers, Eidolons, Aeons and Eikons in the FINAL FANTASY series and explain what makes them so special.
By Duncan Heaney

What would FINAL FANTASY be without Summons?

Call them Espers, call them Aeons or Eidolons, even Eikons… whatever name they’re currently going by, the ability to call on these powerful entities is one of the most purely awesome things you can do in the series.

Useful too - feeling overwhelmed in a fight? Simply pull a legendary being of ultimate destruction out of your arsenal and watch your enemies fall before you.

There are loads of Summons in the FINAL FANTASY series, and we wanted to highlight just a few of our favorites…


Few summons are as beloved - and iconic - as this raging inferno of flames and fury. His mastery of fire coupled with a… let’s say ‘irritable’ disposition, make him perfect when you want to issue a burn notice on your foes.

Ol’ Iffy - as absolutely nobody calls him - has been present in almost every mainline FINAL FANTASY game since his debut in FINAL FANTASY III. Most recently, he made a triumphant appearance in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, literally diving into battle to let Shinra’s security forces know they’re fired.

His future’s looking pretty bright too - he features heavily in the trailer for FINAL FANTASY XVI. Just one of many reasons it’s among the hottest games coming to the PS5!

Did you know: Ifrit was inspired by a type of Jinn / Djinn from Arabic folklore that embodies fire. He even went by the name Jinn in the original Super Nintendo version of FINAL FANTASY IV!


Shiva’s total control over ice makes total sense - she’s effortlessly cool.

Like her counterpart Ifrit, she’s one of the most famous and prolific summons in the entire FINAL FANTASY series. She made her first appearance in FINAL FANTASY III just as fans have come to know her - not really dressed for the weather but powerful enough to give even the strongest of foes the cold shoulder.

Over the years, Shiva’s remained a consistently powerful and popular presence in the series. Whether she’s helping Squall thaw out in FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered, or challenging Yuna in FINAL FANTASY X HD Remaster, we’re always excited to see her… and her iconic Diamond Dust attack!

Did you know: According to FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, Legend has it that Shiva once saved the planet by staunching a catastrophic wound with a massive glacier. Told you she was cool!


We all love tonberries, right?

I mean, yes, we’re deathly afraid of them because they can shuffle us off our mortal coil with one mean-spirited slice of a knife (and boy can they hold a grudge!), but there’s something about their beady eyes and stubby widdle legs that’s just so gosh darn cute!

While you’re most likely to encounter tonberries as enemies…

…or adorable plushies… FINAL FANTASY VIII you can get one as a summonable Guardian Force.

It’s not easy, mind you. First, you must defeat at least 20 tonberries in the dangerous Cetra Ruins area. That’s a slightly terrifying ask in itself, yet it’s still not enough!

To actually claim Tonberry as your own, you must then face off against the Tonberry King… a super-sized, super-stabby psycho with a spectacularly sharp knife.

And yet… he has a little crown. D’awwww.

If you manage to beat the King, you’ll be rewarded with your very own summonable tonberry. It’s so refreshing to have one of these guys on our side for once!

Did you know: The humble tonberry has gone by other names over the course of the series, including Pug (original FINAL FANTASY VI) and the decidedly unflattering Dinglberry (FINAL FANTASY V on PlayStation). That said, a tonberry by any other name is just as butt-clenchingly terrifying.


When you’re facing off against particularly strong foes, it’s good to have Odin at your back.

This horse-riding warrior specializes in instant kills. Summon him into battle, and he’ll typically use his Zantetsuken move to take out your opponents in a single hit.

The name and function of the move can differ from game to game - it can be called Sword of Vengeance, Atom Edge or Steel Bladed Sword - but the function is the same: take out enemies as quickly and cleanly as possible. He’s very efficient like that.

He’s not always 100% reliable of course (we all have our off days), and he’s usually better at taking out rank and file enemies than bosses. Still, you won’t find many more respected Summons in the entire FINAL FANTASY pantheon.

Did you know: Have you tried facing off against Seifer in FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered with Odin equipped? If not, give it a go - you may be in for a surprise…


If we ever did a list of the top FINAL FANTASY beards, there’s no doubt that this legendary summon would top the list. If that’s all we had to recommend him, it would be enough - but he has something even more impressive - power over thunder and lightning.

Since his debut in FINAL FANTASY III, Ramuh has been leaving his targets shocked and awed but no FINAL FANTASY game captures the power of Ramuh like FINAL FANTASY XV.

When he deigns to make an appearance, the choir starts singing, the sky splits, everything around you is reduced to smoldering embers. It’s an assault on the senses that captures the raw, elemental power of lightning!

Did you know: Ramuh was originally planned to appear in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, but was ultimately left out of the game.

Why? Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi, explained to the PlayStation Blog: “Firstly, we thought there would be fans who would like to use Leviathan in Mako Reactor 1 like you could in the demo for the original game.

“Secondly, we also thought that fans would be disappointed if they could not see Bahamut in a FINAL FANTASY game — I know I would be!

“So unfortunately, Ramuh doesn’t appear in the game - but he’ll definitely be in the running next time we make a decision on what Summons to use!”

True to his word, Ramuh did go on to feature as part of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE. He appears in the Yuffie-centric FF7R EPISODE INTERmission - and I think we'll all agree the Lord of Levin was worth the wait!


Mr Hamaguchi is correct. To not include Bahamut in a FINAL FANTASY game would just feel… wrong. This dragon-like beast is a mainstay of the FINAL FANTASY series, making his legendary debut in the very first game - albeit not as a Summon.

Over the years, he’s been both friend and foe - when he’s on your side he’s a powerful weapon, whose power can turn the tide of battle. Even when he’s not the strongest Summon, he’s definitely up there near the top of the list.

When he’s against you though… let’s just say that tonberries suddenly don’t seem seem so bad.

Whichever role he’s currently playing, Bahamut is a true icon of the FINAL FANTASY series - an iconic figure who struts his stuff with mega-flair.

Did you know: Bahamut has appeared in every mainline FINAL FANTASY game… except one - the big-winged wonder sat out FINAL FANTASY II.

Those were just a few of the FINAL FANTASY Summons that we love to… well, summon. But we’re sure you have your own favorites - why not share your own picks with us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 6: Light the Way

We’re taking a deep dive into the sixth chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake with the wonderful development team who brought the game to life!
By Sunil Godhania
Cloud using fire magic on a monster

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.

Over the coming months we’ll be 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 track "Tightrope" plays during this chapter of the game, originally featured in the State of Play trailer in 2019, when FFVII Remake returned to the public domain. Was this one of the first pieces of music completed for the game?

This was the very first track that we created. Originally it was made with a sense of searching for what would fit with the feeling of suspense from the new battle music played in dungeons and this particular arrangement. After it was used in the trailer we decided to have it play on the Sector 4 plate.

Keiji Kawamori (Music Supervisor)

Cloud using fire magic on a monster

Tifa quotes one of President Shinra's speeches during the chapter, so we assume it must have made quite an impression on her. Is President Shinra the type of leader who makes grand speeches and is there a particular reason that this speech remained in Tifa's memory?

Not just Tifa, but the lives of everyone living in Midgar relies on Shinra. The minor, government PR style pronouncements to the citizens about everyday matters are entrusted to mayor Domino and the leaders of the various Shinra divisions, but the president himself will appear for issues that are important to the company.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

Cloud using fire magic on a monster

The scene where the three characters must pass in front of the giant fan felt really nerve wracking and gave the sense that they could be blown away at any minute! What did you do to give the feeling that Cloud and the gang are being buffeted by immense wind pressure and what kind of wind speeds are actually involved here?

The visuals are based on a wind speed of around 20mps. The movement is all simulated, but because the standard way that hair and clothing is blown around was fine-tuned based on the light to medium wind speeds used in most of the game, we could not get what we wanted here by just upping the wind speed used in the simulation.

For special situations like when they were in front of the fan, we individually set the movements for each part of each character, such as their skirts and belts etc. to give us the kind of extreme windblown effect we were after.

Yoshiyuki Soma (Animation Director)

Cloud using fire magic on a monster

As you are passing through this zone, you see the slums of Midgar beneath you. It feels like you are pretty high up, so were there any special tricks or techniques used to give the player that feeling of height when creating the effects and the far-off vistas?

We tweaked and adjusted the feeling of space between the plate interior and the slums below numerous times as we play tested the area.

If the air were too clear then it would actually feel closer, but if it was too foggy then you would lose the details of the town below and it would not feel that high up either, so we strived to find the right point between those two extremes.

Iichiro Yamaguchi (Lighting Director)

Cloud using fire magic on a monster

The benches that appear around Midgar are a nice touch. Were there any other concepts put forward for what these rest points could have looked like?

I personally pushed to have the benches and vending machines myself (Laughs)

As a part of the mechanics of the game system, it would normally be best for an element like this to stand out a bit (to make it visible) but I thought that we needed to go for that subtle line of abstraction where they didn't feel completely lacking in reality either.

They were to be presented in a warm and inviting way to get across that these are rest stops, so we decided early on in development to go with the benches and vending machines.

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

Cloud using fire magic on a monster

Barret mentions the smell of mako. Is this something the development team have thought about before? What exactly does mako smell like…?

I think that smells will stay as something that is very difficult for players to experience, even after games have evolved into virtual reality. So, this is something I want to leave to everyone's imagination.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

Cloud using fire magic on a monster

Who had the idea for Barret's treasure song? How did that come about and eventually make it into the final script?

Barret's voice actor sometimes ad-libbed the lines by giving them a melody in his performance. There were times when we added in new lines for game design reasons as we continued to record the dialogue, and we added in more lines that were to be spoken with a melody then.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

Cloud using fire magic on a monster

The design of the terrain in this chapter feels really detailed. What kind of ideas went into the structuring of the map and what difficulties were there in realising the final design?

The 3D artist in charge of this section loves mechanical things, so he was able to put his knowledge and imagination to good use when coming up with ideas. What we had trouble with was making the complex and convoluted structure of the area easily visible and possible to be navigated without frustration.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director)

Cloud using fire magic on a monster

The EX Quest where you have to stop the ventilation system and eradicate the enemies within one minute is probably the first time in the game where players are set a difficult challenge in battle. What was the thinking behind setting the time limit at one minute, the number of enemies to have and how to balance the difficulty here?

As this is a side quest that is not required for the player to complete, we decided to make it somewhat of a challenge.

We set the difficulty so you would not be able to get through it unless you aim to use a solid strategy, exploiting the elemental weaknesses and stagger mechanics etc.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Cloud using fire magic on a monster

Please could you tell us about the thinking behind the effects used in this chapter? For example, fire exists in the real world, but it is not magical fire, so how do you approach the line between reality and fantasy in its depiction?

Keeping too close to reality would make it dull, but having it too fantastical would stand out from the photorealistic style of the game, so how do you try to achieve the right balance here?

The same shader is used for both real fire and magical fire, so the photorealistic approach does not change.

However, for real fire we do consider factors like the smoke and ash, as well as what the fuel causing it to burn is.

For magical fire we use elements such as emissive particles and aura like effects to make it appear dazzling and present the flames in a fantastical way.

Shintaro Takai (Graphics & VFX Director)

Cloud using fire magic on a monster

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 7 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 5: Dogged Pursuit

We’re taking a deep dive into the fifth 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.

Over the coming months we’ll be revisiting their thoughts, memories, and anecdotes from the creation of the game. Check out previous 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…

How is the Shinra Middle Manager on the train so brave and able to stand up to Barret, who looks twice his size and has a gun for a hand?!

That kind of willpower is the "Shinra Spirit".

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

Barret hums the traditional Final Fantasy Victory Fanfare as his conversation with Cloud concludes, which was a nice easter egg for fans (who may have also heard it during Chapter 1). Why was this added into the script?

Barret gives a rendition of the fanfare with his prized humming skills when victorious in battle. This humming was added into to the dialogue in places to show different sides of Barret, such as when he was in a good mood and when he was just flaking out a bit.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

The motion for peeling away the grashtrike hives feels so real and you get a great sense of the stickiness and viscosity. Are these kind of imaginative touches all created through the sensitivity of the individual motion artists?

The different motions are designed by the individual animators using their own ingenuity to try and match with the characters personalities, while the team leader occasionally checks over and manages the whole picture. Accordingly, each team member needs to exercise their own creative sensibility.

A lot of the way the peeling motion looked came from how the hives themselves were depicted, and it shows how the collaboration between each section of the development team comes together across the whole game to produce great results.

Yoshiyuki Soma (Animation Director)

Tifa must have been a difficult character to balance alongside Cloud and Barret given that she is so quick, mobile, and able to quickly build up the damage multiplier on staggered enemies, how was this achieved in FFVII Remake?

We wanted to create a fun battle system where the player would get enjoyment in lots of different ways from changing between characters as they fought, so we were very particular about differentiating the situations when each character would come into their own.

It was comparatively easy to differentiate Cloud, Barret, and Aerith, but we had to think extremely hard about what defining characteristics we should give Tifa.

I think that we managed to add depth to Tifa's mechanics by tying her abilities to the burst system that is one of the core pillars of FF7R's battles.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

In this very combat-heavy chapter of FFVII Remake players have access to Cloud, Barret, and Tifa. While playing the game, which character do you tend to gravitate towards using?

As you might expect, we put the battles in this chapter together with the expectation that players would be using Cloud a lot, as the story does centre around him.

However, which character a player uses the most will differ depending on their play style and other preferences, so we designed it to work regardless of who you favour.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Where within the Shinra Electric Power Company did the original design of Stamp come from?

The character of Stamp was first designed as part of a public relations exercise to fire the public's morale when the war between Shinra and Wutai broke out. It is not public knowledge, but there is a rumour that Stamp is based on a doodle that Palmer drew at the time his space exploration division was being downsized.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

What can you tell us about some of the graffiti which appears in this zone? Where does it come from and are there any specific meanings behind each piece?

This area is a sprawling maze of tracks and a dangerous hotbed of monsters and the graffiti is drawn by hot-blooded young punks who sneak into the area to prove their bravery and acts as proof of their bravado.

The 2D design team and localisation team came up with ideas for what it would say, trying to get into the heads of the young daredevils and create the kinds of messages and pictures that they would want to leave here.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director)

The music that plays during the Crab Warden battle is an arrangement of the battle theme from the original FFVII, why was this theme chosen as the basis for this battle, and not, for example, the boss battle theme from FFVII, or an entirely new piece?

In the original FFVII there was only one main boss battle theme, but that would not be enough when aligned with a modern game design, so for Remake we added in new boss music. However, if all of these additional boss fight tracks were completely new music then it would not tie-in to people’s memories of the original, so we created lots of different arrangements of "Those who Fight" and "Let the Battles Begin" to use here.

Keiji Kawamori (Music Supervisor)

When the train passes through the spiral tunnel, the player's viewpoint (the camera) shakes with the vibrations, giving an amazing sense of immersion in the world. How do these little touches come about? Are they envisaged and planned from the start, or do they come about through a process of trial and error?

We did set out the concept of making the player feel a sense of trepidation at moving along the tracks, but also thought that fans would not want to have Cloud hit by a train if they messed up…

So we decided to create a feeling of realism as the trains went thundering past and proactively incorporated various supporting touches with the lights, sound effects and the camera vibration. We also did detailed calculations of the player's position and the timing when a train would come past, to make sure that they only appeared at points where you could not be run over, regardless of how you control the characters.

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 6 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 4: Mad Dash

We’re taking a deep dive into the fourth chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake with the wonderful development team who brought the game to life!
By Sunil Godhania
Cloud and Roche in battle in Chapter 4 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

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.

Over the coming months we’ll be revisiting their thoughts, memories, and anecdotes from the creation of the game. Check out previous 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 push it past the redline…

This chapter doesn't appear in the original FFVII at all, what was the process the team went through to decide this new section should be added, and why it should be added during this part of FFVII Remake?

One thing we placed emphasis on when fleshing out the story in Midgar was adding depth to the relationship between Cloud and Avalanche. By having Cloud work together with Jesse and the others on the night before heading to Reactor 5, we could show their private relationships, how they became closer and how the friendship between them deepened, thus making it possible to empathise with them more.

The Rector 5 bombing mission follows directly on from Reactor 1, so we only had the night before the mission to insert any private episodes.

We also set the objective of showing more of the relations between Barret's offshoot Avalanche group and the main organisation, which was not really depicted much in the original game.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

In addition to Avalanche, Roche is one of the other big features of Chapter 4, but he wasn’t actually included in Mr. Nojima's script from the beginning.

He was originally planned to simply be a SOLDIER operative who was a skilled rider, to be the boss for the G-Bike section, but we felt that it would be fun for the player and only be proper to have the boss of G-Bike also appear as the boss for the battle in the 7-6 Annex.

After that, Mr. Toriyama and Mr. Nojima gave him a unique personality and incorporated him into the story.

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

Cloud and Roche in battle in Chapter 4 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

In the scene where the team are making a parachute drop, if you look closely, you can see Wedge's cheeks wobbling from the wind pressure!

You can get a sense of the development team's attention to detail in this scene, but did the scenario team specifically ask for this detail or was it something added by the facial team?

The facial animation team proposed doing this immediately after seeing the scenario. Our reasons were very simple, as we felt it would look funny to have Wedge's cheeks flapping around, and we had never done anything like that before, so we wanted to give it a go.

The character team and the programmers collaborated along the way too and tested lots of simulations on the skin movement, resulting in a much higher quality wobble effect than I had initially imagined. I was amazed when I saw it in the cut scene for the first time and re-watched that scene over and over.

Akira Iwasawa (Facial Director)

Cloud and Roche in battle in Chapter 4 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Roche was introduced in this chapter for the very first time, not having appeared in the original FFVII, and very little about him is shared with the player. What can you tell us about his backstory or motivations?

He is an eccentric SOLDIER 3rd class operative who fervently loves his bike and his mates who he has bike races with. He is basically a speed freak.

Roche was also a special case in that he is the first ever Shinra bike soldier to advance to join SOLDIER.. He is skilled enough to rise to 1st class but stubbornly sticks to bike-based operations, so hasn't even been recommended for 2nd class yet. Roche himself seems fine with this arrangement though.

That is the background we thought up for this character.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

Cloud and Roche in battle in Chapter 4 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

We love Jessie's Theme! What can you tell us about its composition? What themes were you trying to evoke and how pleased are you with the track overall? Was it ever going to sound drastically different?

Co-director Toriyama had requested that Mr. Hamauzu create Jessie's theme. He makes very technical and complex music but has also created numerous tracks with really haunting and impactful melodies, so that was factored into asking Mr. Hamauzu to do it.

There are two arrangements of Jesse's theme used in the game, one with an acoustic guitar and the other using an orchestra, but if you have a good melody then the beauty of the piece will not change regardless of the actual arrangement. You can really hear that in this track.

Keiji Kawamori (Music Supervisor)

Cloud and Roche in battle in Chapter 4 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

The game must have had lots of new sound effects recorded. Were sounds like the bike engines etc. recorded from scratch?

We did record all the sound assets for the bike engines. We had a professional stunt rider perform all kinds of different manoeuvres and captured the sounds of those. It was not just riding around normally but we also had him doing things like maintaining various engine rotation speeds, performing wheelies and sliding too. This allowed us to capture assets with a good range of modulation.

We then used the raw sounds we recorded and manipulated them for FF7R to produce a final set of effects that are used both in-game and in the cut scenes.

Makoto Ise (Sound Director)

Cloud and Roche in battle in Chapter 4 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

During this chapter we receive a tutorial on Summoning Materia. FFVII Remake features Ifrit, Chocobo & Moogle, Shiva, Fat Chocobo, Leviathan, Bahamut, Carbuncle, Cactuar and Chocobo Chick, as well as Ramuh in Episode Intermission, were any other Summons planned during development?

At an early stage of development, we looked over the line-up of summons in the original FFVII and decided to go with Ifrit, Chocobo and Moogle, Shiva, Fat Chocobo, Leviathan and Bahamut, for a roster of 6.

The reason Leviathan was included is because he was featured in the original FFVII demo, so I personally wanted him in the first Remake too. We then also added Carbuncle, Cactuar and Chocobo Chick as pre-order bonuses.

It costs a lot of development resources to create a summon, so there weren't any that we planned for but discarded. We strived to be as accurate as possible in the planning and then stuck to that plan until the final version.

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

Cloud and Roche in battle in Chapter 4 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Roche was a tricky foe to defeat the first time around, is this the part of FFVII Remake the team were hoping players would start to take advantage of Cloud's counter while in Punisher Mode, if they weren't doing so already?

This fight was positioned to get the player to use punisher mode and all the other abilities they have to gain a deeper understanding of the battle system.

Of course, it is fine if there are some moves that you don't use, but we wanted to get across that the more nuances of the system that you understand, the easier combat will be.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Cloud and Roche in battle in Chapter 4 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

The adorable cats are a common theme throughout FFVII Remake, is someone on the team a huge cat fan?

I don't know if you could call it a "common theme" or not, but the team do all love cats (and dogs too of course)!

One story is how our co-director Mr. Hamaguchi, who is himself a cat lover, lent us a photograph of his American short hair when we were looking for models for the cats in-game. It played a big role in implementing the cats.

Yuma Watanabe (Senior Assistant Producer)

Cloud and Roche in battle in Chapter 4 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

I felt that the bike race mini-game paid great respect to the original version, but also added something new. What did you take particular care on when creating the bike battles and were there any difficulties when it came to balancing it with the original game?

It is not the kind of mini-game that you play and complete over and over, so we aimed to keep the core gameplay as simple and intuitive as possible.

If we created a traditional bike game where you needed to develop good technique to drive well, it would take time for the player to get used to the controls, so we made the cornering on the track automatic. This lets the player concentrate on moving left and right to aim at their target and makes it easy to control the bike itself.

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

Cloud and Roche in battle in Chapter 4 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

It appears that the Whispers intentionally appear here to cause Jessie's ankle injury, leading to Cloud being forced to take on the next mission with Avalanche, just like in the original FFVII… What can you tell us about this sequence of events?

In Remake, Cloud's mercenary contract with Avalanche is discontinued before the Reactor 5 mission and he was not intending to accompany the others, but the Whispers interfere to keep the destined timeline unchanged, and he ends up going with them after all.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

Cloud and Roche in battle in Chapter 4 of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this third 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 5 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.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

What Does Final Fantasy VII Mean to You?

We’re celebrating 25 years of Final Fantasy VII - and we want you to join us! Here’s how you can join the party and share your love of this amazing game!
By Teague Emery

On its release way back in 1997, Final Fantasy VII immediately connected with audiences. The RPG inspired a generation of fans - and that fanbase continues to grow today!

This year is the 25th anniversary of the game, and we want to celebrate it alongside that amazing community! We’re planning to create an official tribute to commemorate this important milestone, and we want it to feature the people that made it possible: you!

Here’s how you can get involved:


We’d love to see video that discusses what Final Fantasy VII means to you, the characters or themes that resonate, or ways that Final Fantasy VII has been present in your life over the past 25 years.

Did the original game change your perception of storytelling in video games? Have you started your journey at Final Fantasy VII Remake? Is there a character that you relate to, or themes that stick with you? Or perhaps Final Fantasy VII is with you forever as part of a tattoo… or even your wedding day?

We know how passionate you are about this game, and we want to hear your stories firsthand!

We’d love for you to submit a short video of you discussing all or any of the above, to the Final Fantasy VII social channels, by tagging us on @FinalFantasyVII and using #WhatFFVIIMeansToMe.

Videos should ideally be under 30s and can be filmed however is easiest for you.

What Should My Video Include?

As mentioned, the tribute will discuss what Final Fantasy VII means to fans (hence the hashtag), but as to what you should talk about specifically… that’s up to you!

We’d love videos of you talking about your feelings on Final Fantasy VII, showcasing your collections, tattoos, artwork, or FFVII birthdays… but if you have something else to talk about or show us, we’d love to see it!

Stuck for something to discuss? Here are a few thought starters:

  • Sum up why you love FFVII in one sentence or 4 words
  • What are your memories of playing the original FFVII?
  • Three words to describe FFVII Remake?
  • Who is your favourite character, and tell us why in one sentence?
  • Why does FFVII and its themes still resonate 25 years on?

How do I submit my video?

Simply share your video on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and tag us using @FinalFantasyVII and include #WhatFFVIIMeansToMe.

Seriously - don’t forget the hashtag!

We’re @FinalFantasyVII on all platforms.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 3: Home Sweet Slum

We’re taking a deep dive into the third chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake with the 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.

Over the coming months we’ll be revisiting their thoughts, memories, and anecdotes from the creation of the game. Check out previous 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…

How was Tifa's introduction scene decided on? Was it important to make a strong first impression on the player?

We felt it was important to show that the Sector Seven Slums are Avalanche's home ground and to relieve the tension after the reactor bombing mission by having Tifa and Marlene waiting for everyone to arrive back in Seventh Heaven.

The thinking was that this situation would highlight Tifa's kindness as a character. She is the only childhood friend that Cloud can open up about his true feelings to, so we made it that you only see a certain unguarded aspect of his personality when he is interacting with her.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

In the original FFVII you can visit the area under Seventh Heaven, but this was removed for FFVII Remake. Is there a reason for it?

In Chapter 3 Cloud is more distant from the Avalanche members than he was in the original game, so we made it that he was not allowed into their underground hideout. Having group meetings that only full Avalanche members are invited to and Cloud being left out in the celebration of the successful bombing mission etc. depicted the loneliness of his situation.

However, there is more to the story, as during development we had actually planned for a section between Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 where the player controlled Tifa and could experience the events leading up to her infiltrating Don Corneo's wife auditions. That section would have featured the inside of the Avalanche base.

It was developed to a point where the section was joined up and playable, but we were concerned that having a separate story as an interlude after Cloud falls from Reactor 5 and is reunited with Aerith in the church would damage the tempo of the storytelling, so we ultimately decided to remove that part. I think it would be great to show Tifa's side of the story if we get a chance at some point.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

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

Why is there a photo of Seventh Heaven from the original FFVII on the wall in the Seventh Heaven in FFVII Remake?

We put it up as an easter egg for fans of the original game.

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

Can you tell us anything about Marco, in particular his backstory, and how he came to have the number 49 tattooed on him?

The black cloaked figures are all victims of extreme mako poisoning and are scattered around the world. Rather than focus on their individual identities, they present the overall image of a mysterious group.

Going forward, there will be more black cloaked characters appearing than in the original, and we will reveal more details of their predicament.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

Was there ever any concern about adding side quests during main story sections of FFVII Remake, and how these might affect the overall pacing of the game?

We did not have any particular concerns about adding in side quests. However, we did have a clear idea of what their purpose would be from the start.

  1. They would not be compulsory for progressing through the game

  2. They would shine a spotlight on the citizens of the slums to dig deeper into the world

  3. The quest completion status would bring about changes to the costumes in Wall Market

New stories were written for the individual quests, particularly from the perspective of point 2, and from what I have seen the fans responded well to them...

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

Were there any quests you originally planned for this chapter that were cut out? If so, why?

This is not something that was deleted, but when we were discussing the content for the side quests in the Sector 7 Slums, one suggestion was to have a request from one of Hojo's assistants who had been dispatched by Shinra.

This idea for a character was adopted into the game and incorporated as a part of the overall system, eventually becoming Chadley.

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

Why was the decision made to increase the importance Johnny has in the storyline of FFVII Remake? Was he originally planned to have a larger role in the original FFVII?

When making the original FFVII, the game designers were free to populate the various towns with NPC characters like Johnny. It just so happens that I created Johnny myself, but the same thing happened with many of the distinctive NPCs such as Shinra Manager and Andrea, giving them more emphasis as sub characters in the remake.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

We love the darts mini-game, how did this come to life? Were there any other candidates for mini-games that never quite made it into FFVII REMAKE?

The darts match was more than just a mini-game and also plays a part in the story. In the events before and after the darts match, we needed to have Cloud taken out of the plot to bomb Reactor 5 and create a sense of his isolation from Avalanche. We aimed to have the player experience this firsthand with a playable section where Cloud is off having a lonely time while all the other Avalanche members are together in their strategy room.

In terms of mini-games that were rejected, this also relates to the answer to question 2 above, as we did consider having a punching bag on the wall of the underground hideout which Tifa could train with.

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

In the scene where Tifa mixes a cocktail, were the motions of her using the shaker captured by a motion actor? What were the challenges here?

We started out with various different motions as possible candidates to use in this scene but discussed it with the actors during the MC recordings and decided to have the animator tweak the performance to bring out Tifa's personality more and also to have a feeling of realism.

We did many re-takes, and it would have been tricky to capture flashy motions like throwing the shaker in the air and spinning around before catching it, so we kept it down to just throwing it in the air.

Yoshiyuki Soma (Animation Director)

Chapter 3 sees the player unlock weapon enhancement. Is it deliberate that the UI for this feature is reminiscent of space and the planet?

It is set up this way to show that there is lifestream (the energy of the planet) flowing inside your weapons as well, like a whole micro- universe.

It also projects a FFVII take on the world of particles and molecules, with the microcosm gradually expanding as you improve your weapons and drawing out latent abilities.

Shintaro Takai (Graphics & VFX Director)

Hsueh Huei Liao (Lead UI Artist)

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this third 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 the next chapter!

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

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 2: Fateful Encounters

We’re taking a deep dive into the second chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake with the wonderful development team who brought the game to life!
By Sunil Godhania
 Cloud with his sword drawn, running towards a fountain

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.

Over the coming months we’ll be revisiting their thoughts, memories, and anecdotes from the creation of the game. 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…

In Chapter 2 we learn how to equip and set up materia, do any team members have preferred materia set ups when they play?

Similar to the above question, have the team seen fans using specific materia set ups online that they hadn't themselves considered during development, and were surprised by?

As you would expect, there are the classics that a lot of the team equipped, such as Magnify and Elemental. Many of them also actively used Materia that increase the ATB gauge, like ATB assist.

I don't think I saw too many unexpected combinations, but in hindsight, that might have meant the breadth of the system was a little too narrow, so I will take it as a challenge to improve upon next time.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

 Cloud with his sword drawn, running towards a fountain

We see a lot more of the destruction in Midgar than the original FFVII. What were your intentions with the walk-through of Midgar?

We decided to depict the aftermath of the Mako Reactor bombing in a more realistic way and on a greater scale, so we also increased the extent of the damage that was shown.

Another intention was to tie it to the doubts that the characters were feeling towards their actions in the story, by having them see the suffering that they caused the citizens of Midgar firsthand as they walked through the streets.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director)

 Cloud with his sword drawn, running towards a fountain

Sector 8 was very briefly shown in the 2015 PSX Trailer, how much did the zone change in development between 2015 and the launch of the game?

Development on the visuals was prioritised for what we showed at PSX in 2015 and the direction of the gameplay had not been finalised at that stage.

We later decided to structure Sector 8 in the following three parts:

  1. The live section where players would experience the destruction in the aftermath of the bombing.

  2. The battle section where Cloud is noticed by Shinra after encountering Aerith.

  3. The battle section where Cloud is attacked by Shinra in the fountain square and their pursuit becomes even more intense.

The early scenes take place in the busy downtown district, but we paid attention to how the cityscape changes as Cloud is pursued by Shinra and gradually moves out towards the suburbs.

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

 Cloud with his sword drawn, running towards a fountain

Fans who played the original FFVII were very surprised to see Sephiroth appear so early in the game, and taunt Cloud. Why did the team decide to add Sephiroth into the story so early? Is it a way of showing us Cloud's vulnerable side early on?

There was the intention to show the effect that a most likely imagined Sephiroth had on Cloud's mind at an early stage, but his earlier appearance was also because his existence had a massive influence on the world of Remake itself.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

 Cloud with his sword drawn, running towards a fountain

Why are the Whispers interfering with Aerith by the time we meet her? Is she inadvertently interfering with the timeline already?

The Whispers surrounding Aerith in Sector 8 are not trying to interfere but are guiding events so that Cloud and Aerith meet each other for the first time there. The Whispers are making sure that Aerith stays in the area and does not run away because of the commotion from the reactor bombing.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director (Scenario Design))

 Cloud with his sword drawn, running towards a fountain

After Cloud fights against Sephiroth, he wanders through the interference clouding his mind. Is the vista he can see beyond the interference Nibelheim from the past, and if so, what were the challenges in depicting it and what did you pay special attention to?

It is the Nibelheim of the past that Cloud grew up in. We created a dedicated shader for the flashback scenes where his memories are distorted and tweaked the visuals to make it feel like an illusion.

The backdrop of the town itself also contains wooden buildings set on fire that should not exist there and we used the controller vibration to heighten the feeling of synchronicity between the player and Cloud.

Shintaro Takai (Graphics & VFX Director)

 Cloud with his sword drawn, running towards a fountain

It feels like a lot of care was taken with the lighting in the scene where Cloud and Sephiroth face off amidst the flames feels. What were the bits you struggled with here, and what do you want to draw attention to?

As the only light source in the scene is the flames, we mixed multiple different hues of light, such as reds and oranges, to make sure that Cloud and Sephiroth's skin tones did not look too flat. I would like to draw attention to the feeling of tension in the scene and the impression of heat from the flames that cannot be created from just a single colour of light.

Iichiro Yamaguchi (Lighting Director)

 Cloud with his sword drawn, running towards a fountain

In the scene where the construction of Midgar is explained on the screen in the train carriage, many elements have been remade and look great, but we get the impression that the wireframe model shown has not changed that much from the original. Was this deliberate?

We did keep it that way deliberately. Shinra has a monopoly on the cutting-edge technology of the world and the citizens of Midgar reap the benefits of it in their everyday lives. However, the level of technology used to create the different facilities around the city has changed over time, and it was done this way to show that the monitor in the train carriage is a model several generations older than the equivalent system used in the Shinra Building.

As a public facility, it has not been upgraded over the years and still uses the old system.

Hidekazu Miyake (Cutscene Director)

 Cloud with his sword drawn, running towards a fountain

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this second 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 the next chapter!

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

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 1: The Destruction of Mako Reactor 1

We’re taking a deep dive into the first chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake with the wonderful development team who brought the game to life!
By Sunil Godhania
Cloud looking up at Mako Reactor 1

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

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

They’ve answered all our questions about RPG, from queries about characters, storyline and world design through to the secrets of the combat system. Plus a few silly questions thrown in too!

Over the coming months we’ll be revisiting their thoughts, memories, and anecdotes from the development of Final Fantasy VII Remake, starting with the very first chapter of the game: the iconic bombing mission.

If you have yet to play Final Fantasy VII Remake, go and play it now!

Please beware of spoilers.

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

Who designed the posters and vending machines featured throughout the train station and why were these designs chosen? Were there any designs which were cut from the final release of the game? If so, why?

I designed these together with several other designers. Some of the posters look like they were intended to spread the influence of the Shinra company in public spaces, and there are also some more generic ones.

We put a number of unique FF references and Shinra promotion into the products being advertised to enhance immersion in the world of the game. That said, there were some designs that were rejected because they were too similar to advertising slogans used by real world companies.

Mizushi Sugawara (Environment Artwork)

Cloud looking up at Mako Reactor 1

How were the information boards constructed? Does a timetable for all trains in Midgar exist, or were these created specifically for this one scene?

These timetables were created specifically for the very modern-day looking Sector One Station.

We struggled a fair bit when designing them, despite the fact that they are not really related to how the game plays out. We started with the time that the last train would leave and then worked back to what the monitor would show at the time the scene takes place.

When considering what kind of gap there would be between trains, we knew it was a service in a major city, but also considered that the majority of passengers using it would be Mako Reactor staff.

If we managed to put together a full timetable for all the trains in Midgar then I reckon we could all become railway employees for real!

Mizushi Sugawara (Environment Artwork)

Cloud looking up at Mako Reactor 1

Even in this early part of the game, the script is already far more detailed than the original Final Fantasy VII. How was the original script used in the creation of Final Fantasy VII Remake, and how much did it need to be adapted?

The role that the script plays in a game has changed a lot in the time between when we made the original and the remake.

At the time of the original Final Fantasy VII, all a script needed to do was to convey the initial story of the game, but nowadays it is also used as a script for the motion capture and voice recordings with actors who don’t know a lot about the game. It also needs to contain a lot more detail about the backdrops and locations that don’t exist yet, so everyone on the extended development team are all working towards the same image.

As the design work progresses, we also need to add in additional notes about the characters’ emotional states or the nature of the situation at the time.

When we were putting together the script for Final Fantasy VII Remake, we did play through the original game and watch play videos for reference, but we didn’t often refer to the original script directly. Instead, we put a lot of emphasis on the feelings and impressions that we got from a particular scene when we played the original and would enhance those moments in the new dramatization.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Cloud looking up at Mako Reactor 1

As Cloud switches to Punisher Mode it looks as though he takes up a stance similar to how Sephiroth fights in the original FFVII, is this intentional? If so, is this something he learnt from his time in SOLDIER or him imitating his (ex-) hero?

We didn’t specifically set out to imply a detail like that - we just wanted something that would clearly look different from Cloud's regular stance to get across the fact that he has changed attack modes!

We collaborated with the motion designers to find a ready position that would look good and flow easily into blocks and attacks, while also fitting with Cloud's personality. The fact that it is a logical stance to take may well have resulted in it resembling Sephiroth's style in the end.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Cloud looking up at Mako Reactor 1

The lifts/elevators that the team take to get to the reactor core look far cleaner than the versions from the original game, why were these given a complete overhaul?

One of the important themes we set for the remake was to depict the everyday lives of the people in Midgar, so there were some things we changed to give a better idea of their presence.

For Mako Reactor One, we reimagined it as still deteriorating, but maintained quite frequently.

The intention here was to create the impression that the reactor staff might have been using the same elevator until moments ago, and thus give the player the idea that the people of Midgar are closely involved with Mako energy in their lives.

Takako Miyake (Environment Director)

Cloud looking up at Mako Reactor 1

The laser beam mini-game was added to Final Fantasy VII Remake from the original game. Was this designed from the ground-up for FFVII Remake or was it an idea that was intended for FFVII that couldn’t be added at the time?

This wasn’t something that was concepted for the original Final Fantasy VII. We needed to include tutorials for the various different gameplay features in chapter 1 and used the lasers as a way to explain the dash controls and introduce Jessie's personality at the same time, all tied together as part of the experience of infiltrating the mako reactor.

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

Cloud looking up at Mako Reactor 1

We love Jessie’s reaction to the laser beam mini-game and in general how carefree and relaxed she is about the whole mission. Why isn’t she tense like Cloud and Barret are?

Jessie has always had a laid-back and easy-going personality, and one side of that is how she does things to ease the tension of the other members in the group.

It's not just Jessie - the other members of Avalanche also have a somewhat casual, “student protest” kind of approach to taking down Shinra and protecting the planet. Jessie and the team did not imagine that they would cause such extensive damage with their first bombing mission at Reactor One, so they fell right into Shinra’s trap!

Later on, they are tricked into inflicting major casualties on Sector Eight and the surrounding area. From then onwards Avalanche gradually takes on a more serious mood.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Cloud looking up at Mako Reactor 1

Why is there a choice for the bomb timer detonation timer? Does this impact anything in the game?

Having the player set the timer to increase the feeling of urgency during the escape section after defeating the Scorpion Sentinel was the essence of why this was added. The effect of this choice on the game is to add more to the reward Jessie gives you in Chapter 2.

Also, not having the timer count down during the Scorpion Sentinel fight like it did in the original FFVII was because we felt that it gave a lot of stress to players who were not used to the battle system yet. So we decided it should start after the battle finished instead.

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

Cloud looking up at Mako Reactor 1

How were all the Scorpion Sentinel’s attacks thought up and created? Some are based on the Guard Scorpion from Final Fantasy VII, but the new attacks and even the way it moves and jumps around are certainly new to Final Fantasy VII Remake.

It goes without saying that we wanted to respect the movements the boss had in the original game, so we used as many of those as we could. However, Remake switches the gameplay to real time action, so there were also a lot of things that we could not capture if we just stuck to the moves it originally had.

Even though it is an action game, if we went for a system that relied purely on players’ reflexes, it would raise the barrier to entry for people who do not usually play many action games. Thus, we tried to make it so that the advantages and disadvantages from where you stand became important and allow players to think strategically about how to approach the fight over a comparatively long timespan.

The result of looking at the battle from that perspective was that we searched for motions we could use based on an awareness of the Scorpion Sentinel’s character. We wanted to clearly communicate things like: where is the player is from the Sentinel’s perspective? Is that the right place to stand or the right distance away? Does that position poses a danger or not?

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Cloud looking up at Mako Reactor 1

Is Barret strong enough to wield Cloud’s Buster Sword with one hand?

Barret’s biceps are clearly massive when you see them in game. As an easy-to-understand comparison, the surface area of a cross section of Barret’s upper arm is around four times larger than Cloud’s.

If you extrapolate this difference in terms of simple physical strength, then yes, Barret does look like he could lift and chop with the Buster Sword in one hand.

However, that is a very different thing to asking if he could wield it as a weapon. If we assume that the Buster Sword is made from iron then it would be a gigantic sword that weighs around 40kg and there would be many factors required to actually wield it effectively, other than just brawn.

Basically, this shows just how amazing Cloud is for being able to use it so elegantly!

Masaaki Kazeno (Character Modeling Director)

Cloud looking up at Mako Reactor 1

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this first 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 the next chapter…

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is available on PS5 and PC, while Final Fantasy VII Remake is available on PS4.

For news and updates on anything Final Fantasy VII related, make sure you follow us on social media:

Here’s everything in the FINAL FANTASY VII 25th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION stream

FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH, the return of CRISIS CORE and more: here’s everything that we announced during the FINAL FANTASY VII 25th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION!
By Duncan Heaney

The FINAL FANTASY VII anniversary stream is over and there’s a lot to talk about.

FINAL FANTASY VII remake project producer Yoshinori Kitase made a series of exciting announcements, including fans’ very first look at FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH and the reveal of CRISIS CORE -FINAL FANTASY VII- REUNION.

If you missed the event, you can watch it here…

…or read on and recap all the big news right here:


The second game in the FINAL FANTASY VII remake project has been officially revealed… and it’s called FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH!

The short teaser for the RPG showed Cloud and Sephiroth traversing an area that’s sure to be thrillingly familiar to fans of the original FINAL FANTASY VII. And for those of you who joined the party with FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE… well, no spoilers here!

You can see the new trailer below:

Kitase-san also revealed that the series will be a trilogy, comprising FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH, and one final game.

FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH will launch in next winter on PS5.

We know you’re looking forward to this one, so make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY VII on social media and bookmark the Square Enix Blog to see future updates first!


Now here’s a 25th Anniversary present for the fans: CRISIS CORE -FINAL FANTASY VII- REUNION

This prequel to FINAL FANTASY VII focuses on Zack Fair - a Buster Sword-wielding SOLDIER who has a hugely important role in the series that we’re definitely not going to talk about here.

This new game is a full remaster of the PSP original and brings the game - and its unforgettable story - up to date for modern platforms. It will launch this Winter on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Steam and Nintendo Switch!

To find out more about the game, check out our full blog, and the official FINAL FANTASY VII website:


We’ve heard you ask it: when is FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE coming to Steam? The answer is… imminently (or now depending on when you're reading this)!

As of June 17, 00:00 PDT / 08:00am BST / 09:00am CET, Steam users can purchase and download FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE, which includes the excellent Yuffie-focused FF7R Episode INTERmission.

The game’s also compatible with Steam Deck, so you can enjoy the game wherever and whenever you like.


Things are really heating up in FINAL FANTASY VII THE FIRST SOLDIER - Season 3 is just underway! Kitase-san offered a glimpse of the explosive action ahead in the mobile battle royale.

The team has also confirmed an upcoming collaboration with CRISIS CORE -FINAL FANTASY VII-! Follow them on Twitter for more details:


Last year, we announced FINAL FANTASY VII EVER CRISIS: a new episodic single-player mobile game that will allow players to experience the world of FINAL FANTASY VII and its connected stories - including that of the original FFVII!

During the 25th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, we announced that we are planning to carry out a closed beta test during 2022. We also gave fans a new look at this exciting project.

Merchandise and more

The FINAL FANTASY VII celebrations extend beyond games! During the stream, we showcased some of the awesome merch that’s on the way:

Some of the amazing pieces include:


Joining the STATIC ARTS collection is the main character from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE himself, Cloud Strife!


The iconic Buster Sword from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is recreated as a digital alarm clock!


A ring engraved with the Shinra Company logo from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE featuring two materia stones.

You can see all these pieces and more on the Square Enix Store:

We think you’ll agree that it’s a good time to be a FINAL FANTASY VII fan. We hope you’re excited about all the things we revealed during the FINAL FANTASY VII 25th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION.

We’ll have more to share on these games and products in the coming months, so make sure you bookmark the blog and follow the team on social media:

6 of the weirdest enemies in Square Enix games

We take a look at some of the strangest enemies in videogame history. Prepare yourselves because it’s about to get weird…
By Duncan Heaney

Sometimes Square Enix games can be wonderfully weird.

Our designers love to stretch their imaginations, creating amazingly offbeat monsters that surprise and delight players, and leave a lasting impression on all who see them.

The sheer creativity on display in some of these bizarre beasties is worthy of recognition, so we wanted to highlight some of our favorites.

Cruelcumber - DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition


This cool (cruel?) customer is one of the first monsters you’ll meet in DRAGON QUEST XI S… and also one of the most captivatingly weird.

Although the Luminary doesn’t have much to fear from this sinful salad fruit (and yes, apparently cucumbers are fruit), it leaves a big impression thanks to its piercing eyes, crazed expression, and unsettling gherkin - ahem, we mean ‘twerking’.

It's even defeated in a wonderfully weird way, impaling itself with its own weapon.

It’s a good example of the unbridled imagination on display in this incredible RPG - how many other games pit you against a malicious bipedal cucumber armed with a spear? Not nearly enough, we say!



Ozma may not be much to look at - a swirling mass of light and dark energy that resembles a giant ball. Appropriate, because it’s about to roll all over you.

This is one of the toughest superbosses in the FINAL FANTASY series as well as one of the craziest. Not only can it pound you with powerful spells like Meteor, Holy and Death, it can also heal itself at a moment’s notice. A painful reminder that not all surprises are good.

But perhaps one of the weirdest things about mean ol’ Ozma is how elusive it is. You need to have mastered the Chocobo Hot and Cold minigame to even find it, for example.

Yup - weird, wonderful, and utterly brutal, there’s nothing else quite like this in the FINAL FANTASY series. That’s kind of a relief.

Smooth Shark - NEO: The World Ends with You


It’s fair to say that the entire Shibuya Underground (UG) is… unconventional.

Between the quirky characters that make up the Reapers, their sadistic games, and the ever-present threat of annihilation, only Players who can adapt to the weirdness have a chance of placing on the leaderboards.

Perhaps the craziest thing to deal with, however, is the Noise - creatures that players must battle throughout the game. Many of these are bizarre, from giant frogs to snarling wolves, but one in particular stands out as a real mind-bender: the Smooth Shark.

This fiendishly-finned foe may resemble a typical shark, but it has one major difference: it doesn’t need water. In fact, it will somehow ‘swim’ under the surface of the street, leaping out to catch you unawares. When it does, you have to act quick if you want to knock it down and tip the scales.

It’s a very weird enemy that has real bite. We love it.

Phantom Train - FINAL FANTASY VI pixel remaster


The Phantom Train is one of the most surprising bosses in FINAL FANTASY VI, which is saying something considering that this is the game that also features the belligerent octopus Ultros.

The Phantom Train is a massive locomotive that transports the dead to ‘the other side’. Its carriages are full of ghosts - some hostile, some in high spirits, and some that will even sell you items. They’re clearly of the opinion that you can take it with you.

It’s when you reach the engine that things really get weird. It turns out the train is alive… and it’s none too happy about you taking a ride. You’ll have to fight to get off this crazy ride.

It’s one of those rare cases where going off the rails actually puts your adventure back on track. There’s something quite profound about that. Probably.

(Oh… and yes: in FINAL FANTASY VI pixel remaster, you can suplex the train).

Tonberry - the FINAL FANTASY series


Tonberries are loved and feared in equal measure by FINAL FANTASY fans.

Their squat, adorable appearance is a mask for their true nature - a sadistic bringer of pain and suffering. And something that can really hold a grudge.

It’s this clash between what you expect and what you get that makes these series mainstays such an unusual foe. They don’t rush up on you - they move slowly, deliberately and with single-minded purpose. When they finally reach you… well, let’s just say that stubby little chef’s knife ain’t just for show.

Once you encounter a Tonberry, you’ll never forget it - no wonder it’s become such an icon!



“Enter: the Hell Hooouse!”

Cloud and Aerith encounter this four-walled foe while fighting in Wall Market’s Corneo Colosseum. After battling beasts, robots and Midgar’s dumbest bandits, their final foe is something they couldn’t have a predicted: a house.

Yes, a house.

The Hell House appeared in the original FINAL FANTASY VII as a standard enemy, found between the slums of Midgar, but for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, it’s been reimagined into one of the most offbeat bosses in series history.

This is a tough fight too - not very accommodating if you want an easy ride. You’ll have to deal with elemental barriers, flung chairs, a flaming hot jet stream… and that’s not even the worst of it. On hard difficulty it can summon tonberries for a double dose of weirdness!

In short, it’s a true highlight of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. Sometimes the strangest thing in a game can be among the best, and the Hell House really brings that home.

Those were just some of the most weird and wonderful monsters we’ve fought in Square Enix games - but it’s really just scratching the surface.

There’s plenty of wacky things to see in our titles, so embrace the strangeness and tell us your favorites on social media:

A few of the best Square Enix Frenemies

Friends, enemies… something in between? We celebrate some of the greatest frenemies in Square Enix games.
By Duncan Heaney

Love and friendship’s all well and good, but a frenemy often makes for more interesting company.

You know what we’re talking about - two characters who drive each other crazy, or exist on opposing sides, but whose lives are intertwined by an unbreakable bond.

These relationships are often some of the most compelling and affecting of all - so much so, that we wanted to celebrate just a few of our favorites.

FINAL FANTASY XV - Ardyn and Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto

As the Chancellor for the Niflheim Empire, Ardyn Izunia should be at odds with Noctis and his entourage - after all, they’re on opposing sides of the conflict. Yet each time he pops up in the story, that’s not the case.

The heroes know that there’s something… off about the fedora-topped fop, but he’s oddly charming and undeniably helpful. He removes roadblocks for them, helps them escape the army when they’re in trouble, and even gives them a lift where they need to go in his convertible.

It’s clear he has an agenda, but Ardyn still makes for a compelling and oddly likeable presence.

So when his façade finally drops, the sheer cruelty and viciousness comes a genuine shock. Not so much a frenemy, now he’s a sadistic horror who tortures the group physically and psychologically.

… yeah, we’re summoning Umbra and heading back to Lucis. We like Ardyn more when he’s in frenemy mode.

Squall and Siefer - FINAL FANTASY VIII

These two Balamb Garden students have a lot in common. For example, they both use gunblades, their social skills are… less than stellar, and they both have a thing for the same girl (which is pretty awkward when you think about it.

But rather than being pals, Squall and Seifer seem destined to be eternal rivals, constantly competing to be the best. That rivalry drives them to be among the most skilled students in the school, even if things do get out of hand at times - as their scars will attest.

Yet despite all that hostility, there is respect between the two. When Squall passes his SeeD exam, Seifer leads the applause, despite having just failed the same test himself (he has an amazing talent for self-sabotage).

In turn, Squall and his friends are saddened when Seifer sides with the sinister Sorceress over his classmates - and while his increasingly unhinged behavior escalates into full-blown chaos, he never considers him truly evil.

Zidane and Steiner - FINAL FANTASY IX

One’s a free-spirited thief who thumbs his nose at authority. One’s a high-strung knight who values queen and country above all else. Put them together and what do you get (other than the premise of an amazing sitcom)?

One of the most compelling relationships in FINAL FANTASY IX.

Zidane and Steiner constantly butt heads throughout the game. Steiner considers Zidane to be a skirt-chaser and a brigand who doesn’t treat people with appropriate respect - which in fairness is technically true. Zidane thinks Steiner is stuck-up, rusty and incapable of thinking for himself - again, pretty accurate.

But both are fundamentally good men, and as their journey together continues, their eyes start to open to the others’ viewpoint. Steiner realizes that blind adherence to orders is not necessarily just or honorable, while Zidane matures and starts to act more responsibility.

By the time the story ends, the two moved beyond the frenemy stage and become genuine friends. Even if Zidane will continue to tease Steiner from time to time.

So what do you think of our list? Which famous frenemies do you think should make the list? Share your thoughts with us on social media:


Co-Director Motomu Toriyama talks dance-offs, muscular massages, the problems of pole-dancing, and how he found an inspiring new take on one of the original’s most famous scenes.
By Duncan Heaney

Two words that will excite anyone who’s played any version of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: Wall Market.

Cloud and Aerith’s visit to Midgar’s entertainment quarter is one of the true highlights of the game, packed with unforgettable moments from life-changing hand massages to high-stakes battles against a literal house.

But perhaps the most memorable of all is the duo’s visit to the Honeybee Inn. This glitzy cabaret is the domain of one Andrea Rhodea. owner, manager, and consummate showman, he pulls Cloud onto the stage for an incredible dance number that culminates with an incredible makeover and a powerful message of inclusion.

It’s hilarious and uplifting in equal measure, and with many players experiencing (or re-experiencing it) in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE, we thought it would be interesting to talk to the game’s co-director Motomu Toriyama to find out how - and why - it came about.


Let’s start with the obvious question: how did you come up with the idea of Cloud taking part in a dance-off?

It started when we were looking for ways to adapt Cloud’s cross-dressing scene from the original game.

This was a very famous part of FINAL FANTASY VII, so we knew from the beginning we would include it in the REMAKE. However, we hadn’t decided exactly how we would portray Cloud wearing a dress.

When we started to remake the Wall Market section, I came up with the idea to make the scene more of an extravaganza, and have it take place during a musical number on stage.

But why the dance-off?

I started with the concept of Cloud taking the spotlight and appearing before the audience of a stage show. For a show that would fit the occasion, I took inspiration from traditional Parisian cabaret and burlesque-style dance shows.

I added in the idea of a dance-off in the middle of the show. I decided that Cloud’s transformation into his dress and make-up should take place on stage, then Andrea Rhodea would take his hand, and they would dance together before striking a pose.


It’s a very different approach to the original game. Why did you make that decision?

Given how famous the cross-dressing was in the original FINAL FANTASY VII, we were aware that people would have high expectations for the remake. We knew we had to do it in a way that both lived up to those expectations, but took modern sensibilities into consideration.

For example, fans these days expect stories and dialogue in games to go beyond stereotypical depictions of gender. Through Andrea’s lines and the lyrics of the backing track, Stand Up, we tried to build in a positive and supportive message for Cloud during his cross-dressing scene.

Was it difficult to find the right words to convey that message so succinctly?

Well, actually we originally had a much longer conversation planned, but we needed to make the dialogue during the dance scene short and snappy so we had to edit it down.

In the end though, I think this left us with a stronger, more straightforward message.


Were there technical considerations too?

Yes. The original could get away with leaving Cloud’s make-up and hairstyle to the imagination, to a certain extent, due to the blocky polygons of the graphics. However, with modern graphics, you can see everything in much greater detail.

Cloud is a cool and stoic character, so we spent a lot of time making sure that his design for the cross-dressing scene would be an amusing contrast, but also dignified and beautiful.


Were there other ideas considered beyond the dancing, or was the scene envisioned this way from the start?

No, we did have a few other proposals. One idea, which was perhaps closer to some parts of the original, was that Andrea would meet Cloud in a bathhouse. Being impressed with his muscles after giving him a massage, he would decide he was a great candidate for a makeover.

But the idea of a massage overlapped with Madam M, so I decided against this option.

There were a few other ideas too, and some of these were incorporated into other rooms, separate from the main stage.


So how did you get started with actually making the Honeybee Inn show?

First, we decided the overall structure of the scene, consisting of the opening show, the three stages of the dance-off, and finally the ending scene. Alongside this, we came up with a general outline for each part and how long they would last.

After this, we started work on the music. Once that was done, we began work on the visuals and more specific details. Finally, we began work on the choreography. We gave the choreography team a general overview of what we were looking for, and the dance show began to take shape from there.

The whole scene took a long time, from the initial idea, to composing the music, taking the motion capture, and adjusting the music and motions to fit together. I was incredibly nervous until it finally all came together!


Was the music locked in from the start, or did that change during the process?

With this kind of scene, you can’t work out the details until you have the music in place, so we decided on the music first. The music was then reworked to fit with the different scenes and timings, as an ongoing process.

Initially, we worked from a general outline of the song and gradually built up from there. I remember going with the composer, Mitsuto Suzuki, to a club in Roppongi to get a better idea of what a dance show is a really like!


Who’s actually dancing? Did you bring in professionals for motion capture?

Yes - for this scene, we commissioned a team of professional dancers that create burlesque shows and choreography. They proposed changing the concept and choreography for each section of the dance-off.

We actually went through multiple recordings and corrections when making the scene.

Initially, for example, there was a pole dancing scene included, which meant that filming began on an elaborate set. We decided to take that part out due to the impact on the rating!


Why did you decide to also make this section a rhythm action game?

The minigames in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and INTERGRADE are all about completing a specific challenge in a limited amount of time, so we took inspiration from the formats of different genres when we designed them.

Rhythm action is a popular way of representing a dance-off, so we decided to keep the input simple and easy to understand, as well as making sure that the user interface (UI) was in keeping with the visuals of the scene.


Was that difficult to make all those elements work together?

There were challenges to be sure. We decided to make the UI show the timing of the rhythm action prompts by having them fly in on light effects. This gives the scene more depth, but the camera angle shifts a lot during the dance scene, so it was difficult to show everything clearly.


People who have played the game responded very positively to the Honeybee Inn. How did you feel when you saw the reactions?

This scene is a key example of something that was changed dramatically from the original FINAL FANTASY VII. I was a bit worried about what fans of the original game would think, but the whole scene got a much more enthusiastic reception than I could ever have hoped for, so I was quite relieved.

Going forward, I'm sure some parts of the remake will differ significantly from the original. I hope this scene can be a good example of how to approach such changes.


Finally, I think I speak on behalf of a lot of fans when I say… have you considered turning this section into a full rhythm-action game?

(Laughs) It might be fun to add more songs and see more characters dancing, like Tifa and Aerith. I'm sure Red XIII would be delighted to show off his moves!

But no, we’re not working on turning it into a full rhythm game right now (laughs).

Many thanks to Mr Toriyama for taking the time to revisit Wall Market and the Honeybee Inn with us.

It was one of the highlights of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE for many fans, and in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE, it looks and plays better than ever thanks to improved lighting, enhanced textures and buttery-smooth 60FPS in Performance mode.

If you want to experience (or re-experience) if for yourselves, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE is out now on PS5 and PC.

If you already own FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE for the PlayStation 4 (physical or digital version) and own a PlayStation 5, you can download the free FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE PlayStation 5 enhancement update (an internet connection is required to download it).

This update does not include FF7R EPISODE INTERmission. FF7R EPISODE INTERmission can be purchased separately as a digital download via the PlayStation Store.

Note: if you have purchased FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE (physical edition) for PlayStation 4, and own the PlayStation 5 digital edition (the model without a disc drive) then you are not eligible to download the upgrade.

To stay up to date with news and information about the release, make sure you follow the FINAL FANTASY team on social media:

Enemies in Square Enix games that we’ve learned to fear

Here are a few fiendish foes that make us break out into a cold sweat.
By Duncan Heaney

We previously showcased some of the lovable parts of Square Enix games that make us grin from ear to ear - but what about the other side of the coin? The things we fear.

There are some enemies in Square Enix games that make us feel more than a little nervous. Some are ruthlessly difficult, others are just kinda unpleasant, and a few are a heady combination of the two.

Here are just five examples:

PLEASE NOTE: Mild spoilers for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered and Life is Strange



Here’s the horrifying thing about the mechanical X-ATM092. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

…oh wait no, that’s Terminator. Still, the X-ATM092 is equally persistent. Also known as Black Widow, this massive spider-shaped robot pursues Squall and his fellow mercenary trainees around the town of Dollet during their very hands-on exam.

Making things worse is the ticking timer - you only have a few minutes to get back to your transport and escape. That’s not easy when you’re constantly being drawn into battles with this powerful mech. Even if you can win those fights, X-ATM092 will bounce back in seconds and you’re back to square one.

Stay on the run, and you’ll eventually lead it to the beach, where instructor Quistis will blast it apart with a mounted machine gun. It’s a blessed relief.

Experienced players may know a few coping strategies for this boss, as well as a few tips and tricks to avoid it - but the first time you play, it’s pure panic.

Malboros - the FINAL FANTASY series


A giant plant with a serious halitosis problem, malboros have been ruining people’s day since 1988’s FINAL FANTASY II.

Whenever you run into one of these big mouthed monsters, you know you’re in trouble. They’re often very tough, high level foes that can dish out massive damage on a whim - but that’s not what makes them such a sweat-inducer.

No, undoubtedly the scariest thing about malboros is their signature ‘Bad Breath’ attack. This rancid cloud inflicts pretty much every debilitating status ailment in the FINAL FANTASY handbook onto your party.

The exact combination of Bad Breath effects differs depending on the game, but you can expect the likes of Poison, Silence and Slow at a minimum. Plus you have to assume it smells really bad.

A special shout out for the Great Malboros in FINAL FANTASY X-2 and their particularly noxious (and obnoxious) Really Bad Breath attack. Trust me - it ain’t that great.

Nathan Prescott - Life is Strange


Nathan Prescott is not a nice person.

He’s cruel, aggressive, condescending… and dangerous. We see that in the very first moments of the game, when student Max Caulfield witnesses him lose control and accidentally kill her former (and future) BFF Chloe Price.

She’s able to reverse time with her newly manifested powers, but subsequent interactions with Nathan are knuckle-whitening. He’ll shout, he’ll insult and even resort to violence - and the worst thing is that Max, as a fundamentally decent person, doesn’t really have a good way to deal with that unpredictability.

Nathan also treats Blackwell Academy as if he owns it - which in a way his does. His wealthy family is a major financial donor to the school, and the powers that be seem willing to overlook much of his behavior for the sake of that cash.

Of course. Nathan’s as much a victim as he is a villain. He struggles with drugs and mental illness, and his family situation is dysfunctional to say the least. But that doesn’t stop Max and Chloe’s interactions with him from feeling deeply unnerving. He puts them on edge - and us too.

Tonberries - the FINAL FANTASY series


They say that good things come in small packages. Well, bloomin’ terrifying things do too, as tonberries demonstrate.

Anyone who encounters one of these knife-wielding nightmares likely goes through a phenomenon I like to call ‘The 5 Stages of Tonberry’.

1. Delight - Aw, that’s adorable. Look at its diddy widdle legs and cute hoodie.

2. Suspicion - Wh… why’s it moving so slowly? Why’s it not really doing anything? Something feels… off.

3. Dread - Um… it’s getting closer. What’s it doing? Why is it not dead yet? I’m scared.

4. Despair - AAAAARGH - help me! It’s killing EVERYONE.

5. Resolve - …well that went very badly. Next time will be different (NARRATOR: It wasn’t).

Tonberries appear throughout the FINAL FANTASY series, and though their characteristics vary from title to title, they typically have a few things in common - slow speed, high HP, and a ruthless compulsion to stab your party into oblivion.

From the majestic Tonberry King in FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered to its memorable appearance in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, every version of this gaming icon commands both respect and pants-wetting terror.

Well, all except these plushie versions perhaps. Just look at them - d’aww sooo cute!


Those were just five things that make us nervous in Square Enix games, but what do you think? Do you agree with our choices? Which enemies make you clench up? Let us know on social media:

PSA: Active PS Plus users can upgrade to PS5 version of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE this month

If you claimed FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE in March 2021 as a PS Plus member, you can upgrade to the PS5 version starting December 22. Plus, the FF7R EPISODE INTERmission DLC is also on sale!
By Duncan Heaney

Hello everyone - just a quick post to let you know about some exciting FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE news.

Back in March this year (wait, are we in December already?!), FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on PS4 was included as as a part of the March 2021 games benefit for PS Plus members. Players who’d claimed the game as a PS Plus benefit were unable to upgrade to the shiny new PS5 version (dramatic pause) … until now!

We’re delighted to let you know that that active PS Plus subscribers who claimed the game can upgrade to the PS5 version at no extra cost from December 22, 2021.

What’s more, between December 22, 2021 and January 7, 2022 you can also purchase the excellent FF7R EPISODE INTERmission with up to 25% off!

What’s included in the PS5 version of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE?

The power of the PS5 means that the game has never run smoother, played better or looked prettier.

Here’s just a brief rundown of the improvements the next-gen version has to offer:

  • Improved textures and lighting - Midgar is crisper and more detailed than on PS4. New textures, a new lighting system and improved background elements mean you can experience the City of Mako in its true (slightly dystopian) glory!

  • Graphics Mode - choose this option if you want prioritize crystal clear 4K resolution graphics and see the game at its absolute prettiest.

  • Performance Mode - choose this setting to experience smooth action at 60 frames per second. For what it’s worth, it’s my preferred way to play.

  • DualSense™ wireless controller support - battles are more immersive thanks to haptic feedback integration. You’ll really feel the throttle through the adaptive triggers in the bike sections!

  • Faster loading times - you can load any chapter or save in literal seconds. It’s glorious!

  • New difficulty settings - ‘Classic Mode’ can now be used on normal difficulty. This makes the computer take control of character movement and basic attacks, allowing you to focus on commands in a playstyle that hearkens back to the original FINAL FANTASY VII.

  • Photo Mode - you can express your inner artist or just capture and share memorable moments with the customisable photo mode. Hold on, is this an opportunity for me to see my favourite moments anytime? I do believe it is!

Please note that the upgrade from PS4 to PS5 does not include the FF7R EPISODE INTERmission DLC. That must be purchased separately once you have claimed your upgrade… and it’s well worth it for reasons I will now explain:

What is FF7R EPISODE INTERmission?

In this expansion episode, players take control of Wutai ninja Yuffie Kisaragi on a dangerous mission to steal the ultimate materia from Shinra.

It introduces new characters, new gameplay including the ability to synergise attacks with a partner, new minigames (Fort Condor is amazing!) and more!

If you’re a fan, it really is a must-play. If you joined the FINAL FANTASY family with FINAL FANTASY REMAKE, you’ll get to see who Yuffie is and why she’s such a beloved character. If you played the original RPG… well, we probably had you at ‘Yuffie’.

If you want to give it a go, this month is a perfect time to get it. Between December 22 2021, and January 7, 2022, it’ll be on sale on the PlayStation Store, with up to 25% off.

Get FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE (up to 25% off between December 22, 2021 and January 7, 2022)

And that’s basically all we have to say.

Just to reiterate: if you have a PS Plus copy of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE in your library, make sure you claim the upgrade from December 22, 2021.

And also, definitely make sure you get FF7R EPISODE INTERmission while it’s on sale, because it gives you everything you could want out a new adventure - new gameplay, new story, a healthy dose of jazz and more.

Get FF7R EPISODE INTERmission (up to 25% off between December 22, 2021 and January 7, 2022)

Finally, here’s a load of small print and legalese covering some of the fine detail on the upgrade process.

  • You are eligible to receive a PS5 digital version of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE at no extra cost if you already either (i) own a PS4 digital version of the game or (ii) own a PS4 disc version of the game and also own a PS5 console with a disc drive (you must insert the disc each time you wish you to download or play the PS5 digital version of the game). If you obtained FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE via PlayStation Plus Monthly Games then you must maintain an active PlayStation Plus subscription to get, download, and play this PS5 upgrade - if your PlayStation Plus subscription expires, you will lose access to FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and will be unable to play any associated add-on content (such as FF7R EPISODE INTERmission) that relies on access to FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE on PC: Everything you need to know

The City of Mako is on PC through the Epic Games Store and Steam! We take you through every aspect of the game, from recommended specs to the included DLC.
By Duncan Heaney

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE is now available on PC through the Epic Games Store and also Steam!

We’re sure you have a lot of questions about the release, so we’ll do our best to answer them here. Starting with…


The story of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE follows the story of Cloud Strife - a former SOLDIER turned mercenary. When he agrees to help the underground resistance group Avalanche in their fight against the corrupt and amoral Shinra Electric Power Company, he embarks on an adventure that will change him, and the city of Midgar forever.

The game reimagines the events of the 1997 PlayStation classic up to the team’s departure from the city of Midgar. The original game was a ground-breaking release that changed the gaming landscape with its flexible RPG mechanics, epic story, unforgettable characters and sky-high production values - there’s a reason it regularly features on lists of the best games ever.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE captures the unique spirit of that earlier game, but modernizes it with a new battle system, deeper characters, new events and more.

Although it was already a critically acclaimed game (fun fact: the original PS4 release won Best RPG and Best Score and Music in last year’s Game Awards) FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE takes it even further with graphical improvements, 4K and HDR support, improved framerates (up to 120 FPS in the PC version), a photo mode, additional content and more.

Released in 2021 on PS5, the PC version of the game is now on the Epic Games Store and Steam. Not only that, but it includes all the DLC for the game in one package, including the excellent FF7R EPISODE INTERmission!

What is FF7R EPISODE INTERmission?

Yuffie Kisaragi takes center stage in this additional episode, which takes place concurrently with the main game.

The fan-favorite ninja from Wutai makes her way to Midgar for a uniquely dangerous mission: infiltrate the Shinra Building and steal some powerful materia under development inside.

Of course, things in Midgar are never that straightforward. She’ll have to contend with all kinds of threats and distractions, including helping her Avalanche contacts, Shinra’s army of security forces, and a potentially crippling addiction to the Fort Condor minigame.

OK, that last one might actually be me - but the bite-sized strategy game introduced here is super fun and well worth your time!

With a new playable character, new mechanics including the ability to synergise attacks with a partner, and a story that’s funny, exciting, and emotional in equal measure, it really is a must-play.

It’s included in the PC release as standard, and you can play it any time - we recommend you play it after the main game though.


In addition to the main game and FF7R EPISODE INTERmission, the PC version of the game has all the previously released DLC as standard. It’s the complete FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE package!

Here’s the additional DLC included:

  • The FF7R EPISODE INTERmission-exclusive weapon, Cacstar
  • Armor: Midgar Bangle, Shinra Bangle and Corneo Armlet
  • Accessories: Superstar Belt, Mako Crystal and Seraphic Earrings
  • Summon materia: Carbuncle, Chocobo Chick and Cactuar

Weapons, armors, accessories and summon materia will be available from launch and can be claimed from the Gift Box on the main menu.

What are the minimum and recommended PC requirements?

You’re probably wondering what sort of rig you need to run FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE on PC. Here you go:


  • OS: Windows 10 64bit (ver. 2004 or later)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 3330 / AMD FX-8350
  • Memory: 8 GB
  • Storage: 100 GB or more
  • Direct X: Version 12 or later
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 780 / Radeon RX 480 (3GB VRAM)
  • Resolution: 1920x1080


  • OS: Windows 10 64bit (ver. 2004 or later)
  • Processor: IntelCore i7-3770 / AMD Ryzen 3 3100
  • Memory: 12GB
  • Storage: 100GB or more
  • Direct X: Version 12 or later
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 1080 / Radeon RX 5700 (8GB VRAM)
  • Resolution: 2560x1440

Supported Languages

  • Audio: English, French, German, Japanese
  • Text: **English, Chinese - simplified, Chinese - Traditional, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese - Brazil, Spainish - Spain, Spanish - Latin American

What controllers can I use to play it?

As well as mouse and keyboard, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE supports XInput and DirectInput compliant controllers.

That means that you can use an Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4 or PS5 controller, in addition to some third-party devices.

Where can I buy and download FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE on PC?

The game is available on the Epic Games Store and now also Steam!

We hope you’re excited for the PC release of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. Whether you remember the original 1997 FINAL FANTASY VII or coming to the series for the first time with the new game, it’s an absolute must-play - please enjoy it!

To stay up to date with news and information about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, follow the team on social media:

7 Square Enix game worlds we wish we lived in

Which Square Enix world would you choose to live in if you could? We have strong thoughts on the matter… but do you agree with our picks?
By Duncan Heaney

Have you explored the world of a game and thought: “I wish I was there?”

It’s understandable if you have - the worlds of Square Enix games are often so well-realised, they feel like real, believable places. Imagine if you could actually live in one of these worlds - which would it be, and why?

We’ve pondered this little thought experiment and here’s what we think:

Fa’Diel - Legend of Mana

We’re gonna lay some truth on ya: the world is what you make of it.

That sounds like a blandly inspirational slogan - the kind you’d see on a cat poster in some depressingly beige office. But when it comes to Legend of Mana’s Fa’Diel, it’s the literal truth.

When you start the game, the world is a blank slate, and it’s up to you to build it through the game’s unique “Land Creation” system. Towns, shops, dungeons - you put it all where you want.

Just ponder the possibilities! You could put the local shop right next your house, and save the long trek every time you need to restock on candy! Put a lovely coastal town like Polpota Harbor nearby so you can enjoy the calming seas and indulgent restaurants whenever you like.

Annoying neighbors? Just stick them on the other side of the world and problem solved! Truly Fa’Diel is a beautiful and vibrant world to be admired and desired.

Shibuya and the UG - NEO: The World Ends with You

Mouth-watering meals, fantastic fashion, and toe-tapping tunes. It’s all right there in the Shibuya Underground - or “UG” as the cool kids call it.

If you like a place that’s always buzzing, this is definitely the game world for you. The city’s a bustling metropolis full of ordinary pedestrians, endearingly quirky players of the Reapers’ Game, and of course the Shinjuku and Shibuya Reapers, who are themselves pretty memorable.

Another big perk of relocating to the UG is the psychic powers you can get. Depending on which power you get, there’s a chance you able to read other peoples’ thoughts - imagine the gossip you’ll be privy to! You may even be able to influence how they think!

If you’re really lucky, you might be able to control time itself, like Rindo in the game! For example, if you had a really good meal, you could travel back to earlier in the day and have it again! And you’ll definitely want to because the food in the UG is chef’s kiss!

It’s not all good in the UG, of course. While all cities have problems with noise, it’s a much bigger issue when that Noise manifests as killer frogs, bears and sharks. Plus you may feel oddly compelled to help everyone around you solve their problems.

Still, all that’s a small price to pay for some of the best clothes and food you can imagine. We’ll see you all at Glutton 4 Gluten!


In FINAL FANTASY X, the world of Spira is a bleak place. Each person lives in constant fear of Sin - a terrifying creature who spreads death and chaos wherever it goes. It’s kind of a party-pooper, to be honest.

So to be clear, we don’t want to live in that Spira. Frankly, we could do without the stress of FINAL FANTASY’s moistest menace turning up to ruin our day.

But the Spira of FINAL FANTASY X-2… well, that’s a different story. By the time the sequel starts, that whole Sin business has been sorted out, and the world is free. Everyone has a new lease on life, and the world has exploded with a sense of freedom, joy and possibility.

There are political tensions bubbling under the surface, as there are in any country, but for the most part, it’s a very positive place to be. It also offers lots of different ways to fill your time, including Blitzball tournaments, chocobo rearing and even shooting galleries… and that’s barely scratching the surface.

Most exciting of all though, would be the chance to see a Spira concert in person. We don’t know about you, but we think we’d experience some Real Emotion…

World A - FINAL FANTASY pixel remaster

The land of the original FINAL FANTASY isn’t named in the game itself, but throughout the history of the franchise it’s referred to as World A. It’s a name that fits perfectly, because in our opinion it’s an A-grade place.

It’s utterly beautiful, particularly the new pixel remaster version. Every town, cave, mountain and desert is crisp, clean and colorful - it’s one of those worlds that just feels good to spend time in.

We could easily imagine spending our time chatting to the townsfolk of Cornelia, visiting the elves in the appropriately named Elfheim or just soaring happily through the skies on an airship.

There’s also a sense of gravitas to the place that comes with being the first. Every land in the FINAL FANTASY series owes something to World A - we’d relish seeing first-hand where it all began.

Haven Springs - Life is Strange: True Colors

It doesn’t take long to fall in love with Haven Springs.

This Colorado mountain town is idyllic, picturesque and… well, generally rather lovely. But it’s not just the scenery that makes it such it joy to inhabit - it’s the people.

From resident DJ Steph, to the loquacious Duckie, almost every resident is friendly and eager to help when it’s needed. This is the kind of town where everyone will excitedly come together in extravagant role play just to help an upset child.

There are secrets beneath the surface of course, some darker than others, but for the most part, Haven Springs is a town of nice people and positive vibes. Add some great shops and an amazing bar (it has an Arkanoid cabinet!) and you have a town where anyone would be able to set down roots.

Just… maybe stay away from the mines, yeah?


Let’s get this out of the way: Midgar is not a perfect city. It’s dirty, there’s disparity of wealth, and as Yuffie makes clear in the new FF7R EPISODE INTERmission, it smells pretty bad too.

And yet, there’s a real energy to the place - and we’re not just talking about the Mako. The upper plate is a suburbanite’s dream, full of lovingly furnished houses with picket fences, well-maintained roads and hidden parachutes (just in case you fancy a spontaneous skydive with a friend).

Down on ground level, things are less pretty, but even more vibrant. Think plenty of shops, friendly communities and great bars like Seventh Heaven (visit ASAP to beat the crush).

Add in the amazing music scene (we like to get down with Hip Hop de Chocobo) and you can see why the people who live in the city love it so. We’d definitely consider moving to Midgar. If, y’know, it was real.

Hydaelyn - FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

What makes Hydaelyn so great is that it’s a land of opportunity.

For adventurous types, the world is full of amazing things to see and do. You can visit the gorgeous vistas and bustling city-states of Eorzea, delve deep into mysterious ruins in search of treasure and maybe even become a legend in the process.

Alternatively, you can just sack off all that exhausting hero business and focus on simpler pleasures. You could go fishing off Costa del Sol, get your hands dirty with some crafter / gatherer tasks, or make your (virtual) fortune betting on the chocobo races in the Manderville Gold Saucer. It really is up to you.

Best of all, there’s always something new to see. The world is always expanding, with new areas, new races, and new activities to try out on a regular basis.

Case in point: on December 7, FINAL FANTASY XIV: Endwalker arrives, adding new locales to this already vast world. You’ll be able to soak in the architectural splendour of Old Sharlayan, marvel at the underground wonder of Labyrinthos, explore the tropical coastline and dense rainforests of Thavnair, and more.

Even more excitingly, you’ll also go to the moon! And unlike the pesky real world, you won’t even need a billionaire’s bank account to do it!

Those were our picks for the Square Enix worlds we’d love to live in, but what about you? Agree with our choices or do you have somewhere better in mind? Let us know:

5 Square Enix characters that we’d recruit for a heist

We’d need a burglar, a grifter, some muscle, a driver and a planner. But who to pick…
By Duncan Heaney


The other day I caught the tail end of a heist movie on TV. Inevitably it got me thinking – if we were going to put together a crew, which Square Enix characters would we recruit?

What follows is a dramatisation of how this little thought experiment went.

I love a good heist.

Oh yeah - me too!

Movies, TV shows, books… it always makes for great fiction.

…fiction, right. (Quietly puts crowbar back in bag)

You know the story – a group of noble-hearted misfits team up to put a wrongdoer in his or her place, typically through means of a needlessly elaborate plan that requires their oddly specialised skillsets.

Ah, you mean some sort of hustle…

Shh! I don’t know if we’re legally allowed to use brand names!

Anyway, if we were going to do a good ol’-fashioned movie heist, who would recruit for our team? After all, there are Oceans-worth of Square Enix characters whose skills we could Leverage.

From what I understand, you really need six roles to pull it off: a cat burglar, some muscle, a safe-cracker, a grifter, a wheelman and finally a big brain to create the plan.

So with that in mind, here are the Square Enix characters I’d pick to pull off a heist.

I dunno… is this really the most productive use of your time? I mean, you haven’t even clearly articulated who you’re talking to? Am I a voice in your head, another member of the team or what?

Hey look friend – as I write this, the power’s gone out in my house and I have nothing else to do. So let me have this, okay?

Fine. Let’s hear it.

The Cat Burglar – Erik from DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age S - Definitive Edition

Every team needs a burglar – the kind of rascal that can slip in and out of a room without anyone noticing.

I’d recruit Erik from DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age to do the job. This spiky-haired hero has fast hands, a quick wit and an unerring ability to get in and out of places he shouldn’t be.

Hmm… sounds a little untrustworthy.

You’d think that, but Erik as a firm a friend as you could ever hope to find.

He’s reliable, loyal and sure he can get a bit carried away when presented with valuable treasure, but he’ll always do the right thing in the end. He’s the quintessential rogue with a heart of gold. In more ways than one actually.

Any other skills?

Like many thieves, he’d prefer to run from a fight rather than stand his ground. But if it does come to fisticuffs, he can more than hold his own. Not only is he incredibly evasive, his Critical Claim attack is one of the strongest of all the DRAGON QUEST XI crew.

Be warned though – he’ll insist on waiting for his turn to use it.


All heist teams need some muscle – someone tough to take care of any unexpected trouble. And there’s no shortage of options here.

Ooh – like Zell from FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered!

Strong, but far too excitable. Think about it – one overexcited whoop and the whole gig’s blown.

Ok, what about Barret from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE?

See above.

No, if we’re talking FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, there’s a much more obvious choice: Tifa Lockhart.

This awesome martial artist is fast, strong and incredibly skilled. I mean, she can literally punch robots into scrap - even ex-SOLDIER Cloud has to use a Buster Sword.

And talk about upper body strength - have you seen how many pull-ups she can do?

Does she have any experience though?

Yes - as a member of Avalanche, Tifa has played a vital role in missions to sneak into dangerous reactors, infiltrate high security offices and more. She may have misgivings about some of these jobs, but she ultimately always steps up to protect her friends and teammates.

And you know there’s one more thing that she can supply to the team: her own bar!

Seventh Heaven has everything you need for a good hideout: a jukebox, plenty of cocktails (mine’s a Cosmo Canyon!) and even a secret room underneath the pinball table.

Brilliant - so after the heist, we can go back there and celebrate with a plate of something.

…yes. I can definitely guarantee you’ll get a plate.

The Grifter – Primrose from OCTOPATH TRAVELER

Next, we need a people person – a slick smooth-talker who can manipulate people to get exactly what they want. Primrose from OCTOPATH TRAVELER fits the bill perfectly.

Once a noble, she’s embarked on a life of subterfuge and revenge after the death of her father. As part of her quest, she assumes guises – such as taking on the guise of a dancer as she lies in wait for her target.

So she’s willing to play the long-con then?

Oh boy is she! But that’s not the only reason she’s the perfect person for this role. Primrose has the special ability to sweet-talk… well, pretty much anyone she meets.

It doesn’t matter how who they are, how old they are, or what they’re doing – a few words from Primrose and they’ll follow her to the ends of the earth.

Wow – that’s persuasive.

I know, right? They’ll even throw themselves into mortal danger if she asks them to. If we get into a fight, anyone following our silver-tongued recruit will jump into the fray – even if they seem wholly unequipped for battle.

Now that’s what I call a grifter.

The Wheelman – Ignis from FINAL FANTASY XV

The plan’s underway – now we need an escape. A good driver’s essential for a slick extraction, but who to choose…

Lots of options here. Cloud Strife from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, for example….

I think Cloud’s more of a bike person. We need someone who’s comfortable with four wheels, not just two.

In fact, if we’re talking FINAL FANTASY, there’s one obvious choice… Ignis Scientia from FINAL FANTASY XV.

This refined gentleman takes care of the bulk of the driving in FINAL FANTASY XV – set him a destination, and he’ll get you there regardless of traffic or weather conditions.

Just don’t ask him to drive at night – he’s very against that.

Ok so we have a wheelman… but still no wheels.

But that’s another great thing about Ignis - he could supply his own car! Sure, the Regalia’s only made to accommodate four people, but I reckon a few more could squidge in if necessary.

It’s not the fastest ride, but Iggy handles it with skill and grace – he won’t put a wheel wrong.

And best of all, when you get back to Seventh Heaven, he can cook the team a delicious meal. He might even have come up with a new recipe!

The Mastermind – Caius Ballad from FINAL FANTASY XIII-2

Finally, we need someone to plan the heist – a mastermind who can see all the angles, make a plan, and execute it successfully.

And here’s where things get a little tricky, because most of the master planners in Square Enix games aren’t on the side of the angels…

Wait – you want to recruit a villain?

What can I say – that’s where the talent is. There are lots of examples of villains carrying out largely successful plans in games.

For example, Garland from the original FINAL FANTASY, Kefka from FINAL FANTASY VI or Ardyn from FINAL FANTASY XV – each of them essentially completed their goals.

So why not one of them?

Well let’s be honest – anyone who’s played FINAL FANTASY VI knows that Kefka’s not exactly stable. What’s more, each was ultimately thwarted – after the fact in some cases, but all their hard work was undone.

That’s exactly why Caius Ballad from FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 is the perfect choice here. Not only is he an incredibly smart fellow, who uses time and space itself as a chessboard, he actually won. There’s nothing that can be done to stop the events he sets in motion – only adapt to them.

In other words, he’s a mastermind whose plans actually work. Exactly the type of person we’d want to plan our heist.

Perfect! Looks like we have a team.

And with this group, our unnecessarily convoluted schemes are sure to succeed.

…but hold on a sec. Now that I think about it, isn’t there already a team of RPG heroes who perform heists?

I don’t know what you mean.

Yeah, stealing heads or hearts… something like that.


Ahem. Anyway, those were our picks – but what about yours? Which characters would you recruit for your heist crew?

Share your thoughts in the comments and social media. And check back on the Square Enix Blog regularly for news and articles that weren’t written because I was at a loose end.

Free FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Zoom backgrounds available here

By Duncan Heaney
Seventh Heaven

Update: We've added some new backgrounds from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE! Scroll down to see and download them!

Like us, many of you may be working or studying from home at the moment. Also like us, you may have found yourself reliant on video conferencing tools like Zoom.

Unfortunately, some homes make for boring backdrops - we’re talking a lot of white walls and beige bedrooms. So why not add a bit of flair to your video calls with a custom background?

We’ve created some free backgrounds to use on Zoom, based on the upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. They cover many of the iconic locations from the game, such the glitzy Wall Market or Tifa’s bar Seventh Heaven (sadly you can’t nip in there for a quick game of darts).

Alternatively, you could pay respect to your favourite characters with backgrounds featuring the likes of Cloud, Barret and Aerith.

Or, if you want to be a dutiful corporate employee, set your background as the inside of the Shinra Building. There are a few interior shots available - personally, I favour the area around the cafeteria.

There’s plenty more to choose from and the choice is yours - you can view and save all the images below (Please note that the images on page are compressed, so click the download link beneath each for a higher quality version).


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We hope these backgrounds add a bit of Midgar charm to your video conferencing. Sure, you’ll still be trapped in a meeting, but at least your friends or co-workers will have something interesting to look at!


To stay up to date with the latest news, images and more, check the Square Enix Blog regularly, and follow the game on social media:

VII of the coolest new things in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE

Yuffie! 4K! 60FPS gameplay! Ramuh! Here are seven of the most awesome new things you’ll find in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE and FF7R EPISODE INTERmission!
By Duncan Heaney


With myriad enhancements to the original game, including improved lighting and textures, as well as new content in the form of FF7R EPISODE INTERmission, there's a lot for both new and returning fans to dig into.

To get you ready to step back into Midgar, we've highlighted seven (or VII - heh) of the coolest new things you can expect to see in the game:

1. Midgar’s been given a makeover

Let’s start with the original FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE adventure, because if you played the game on PS4 last year, you’ll notice it’s had some work done.

The team has revisited every chapter in the game, adding improved textures, new lighting, better background elements and more.

Each location that our hero Cloud and his pals visit looks better than ever before, be it the bustling slums of Sector 7, the gaudy opulence of Wall Market or the sleek, corporate interiors of the imposing Shinra Building.

Suffice to say, it’s a real looker, particularly if you choose Graphic Mode that prioritizes 4K resolution.

2. 60 FPS makes everything smoooooooth

As well as Graphic Mode, there’s another option, Performance Mode that prioritizes 60 FPS gameplay.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE was already smooth and satisfying to play on PS4, but 60 FPS takes it to another level. The heroes are incredibly quick-footed and responsive, and you feel more in control than ever before.

It’s hard to put into words, but when you have your hands on the controller and feel that greater connection to the characters and their actions, you’ll understand exactly what I mean. It just feels wonderful.

Oh, and those of you who played the original release may be pondering the big question: does buttery-smooth 60 FPS make it any easier to beat Jules at pull-ups?

…nope. He’s still an absolute beast. Sorry.

3. A new playable hero - Yuffie!

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE brings some new faces into Midgar - including the legendary Yuffie Kisaragi, who fans may remember from the original 1997 FINAL FANTASY VII!

The Wutaian ninja takes center stage in FF7R EPISODE INTERmission - a brand new story that takes place concurrently with the main adventure. She’s tasked with infiltrating the city to steal some super-powerful materia from Shinra - a mission that’s fated to become far more complicated than she knows.

At least she’s not alone. She’s joined on her journey by Sonon - a ninja who’s as skilled as he is strong - and an eclectic bunch of anti-Shinra rebels.

For fans of the original game - at least those who recruited Yuffie - it’s a real treat to see her return to this reimagined Midgar. She may be on a mission, but she’s the same character we know and love - upbeat, a little clumsy and absolutely obsessed with materia.

At least we don’t have to worry about her stealing ours this time.

4. The combat system for Yuffie adds loads of new options

Inevitably, Yuffie and Sonon’s mission will lead them into conflict with some of Midgar’s… let’s say ‘more undesirable’ denizens. Think feral beasts, undercity criminals and, of course, more than hulking great mech.

Fortunately, our duo can now tango with Synergy; by combining their attacks, Yuffie and Sonon are able to lay the smackdown on the foes in all kinds of flashy new ways.

That’s not the only thing that’s unique to FF7R EPISODE INTERmission though. The duo also has access to unique skills, such as Yuffie’s ‘Elemental Ninjitsu’, which allows her to change the element of her attacks on the fly!

5. Ramuh returns to the FINAL FANTASY series!

As well as new abilities, Yuffie will also have access to brand new materia that gives her new abilities. We don’t want to give away everything, but there’s one in particular that’s got us very excited… Ramuh.

This master of lightning is a mainstay of the FINAL FANTASY series, including the original FINAL FANTASY VII. He’s back in FF7 EPISODE INTERmission, and you know what that means…

Time for shameless electricity puns!

Long term fans won’t be shocked to see this classic Summon make a return, but they’ll definitely get a charge out of it. When you bring him out into battle, you know sparks are going to fly.

…the key point is that Ramuh’s awesome, guys.

6. Fort Condor is your new obsession

In between hunting for materia and doing awesome ninja-y things, Yuffie can relax with the new craze that’s sweeping the slums of Midgar: Fort Condor.

Based on one of Shinra’s military victories, the game pits two players against each other in a high-stakes game of skill and strategy. You’ll need to choose the best board and units to counter your enemy’s tactics and claim victory over the battlefield.

You can get a preview of how it plays here.

This is no simple minigame though - you’ll be able to take on opponents all over the slums. It’s worth doing because not only can you win valuable new materia, you may just meet a few familiar faces too.

7. It delves deeper into the rich lore of the FINAL FANTASY VII series

One of the things that excited the developers about creating FF7R EPISODE INTERmission was the opportunity to explore the world of the game beyond the original adventure.

As FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi told us: “the new episode was an opportunity to dig deeper into the lore of FINAL FANTASY VII.”

That’ll be clear to long-term fans from the trailer alone. For example, if you experienced DIRGE of CERBERUS -FINAL FANTASY VII-, you may just recognize the sinister Shinra military group Deepground and its leader Weiss the Immaculate. There are other references too, some more subtle than others… but we’ll leave those for you to unearth.

As for new fans, you’ll get a new appreciation just how rich and deep this incredible world really is.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE is out for PS5 now. The new episode - FF7R EPISODE INTERmission is included with all new copies of the game on PS5.

If you already own FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE for the PlayStation 4 (physical or digital version) and own a PlayStation 5, you can download the free FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE PlayStation 5 enhancement update (an internet connection is required to download it).

This update does not include FF7R EPISODE INTERmission. FF7R EPISODE INTERmissioncan be purchased separately as a digital download via the PlayStation Store.

Note: that the PS4 version of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE given to PlayStation Plus members is not eligible for the PS5 digital version upgrade.

In addition, if you have purchased FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE (physical edition) for PlayStation 4, and own the PlayStation 5 digital edition (the model without a disc drive) then you are not eligible to download the upgrade.

To stay up to date with news and information about the release, make sure you follow the FINAL FANTASY team on social media:


Get ready for the ultimate way to experience Midgar. FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE hits PS5 June 10, 2021 - get all the details here.
By Samantha Reinert

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE is the ultimate way to experience Midgar. The critically acclaimed, award-winning game has been enhanced and amplified for PS5.

The lighting has been improved. The textures have been improved. These updated, striking visuals will absorb you right into the world of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

This new release doesn’t just update visuals and elevate gameplay (60 FPS performance mode anyone?), but it also includes a brand new story episode to play starring Yuffie.

Did you catch the reveal trailer? If not, take a look right here:

You may be wondering what the exact enhancements are, what’s new, and how this all fits in with FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on PS4… So we’re here to help!

Here’s your breakdown on everything FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE:

1. What exactly is being enhanced?

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE is rich with graphical, gameplay, and system enhancements.

The city of Midgar has been refreshed with improved textures, lighting, and background environments. “Graphics Mode” will let you soak up these new visual features in 4K with HDR support.

There’s also “Performance Mode,” which prioritizes a smooth 60 frames per second gaming experience. Combine this with the DualSense PS5 controller’s haptic feedback integration to immerse yourself in battle like never before.

Another exciting addition is “Photo Mode” which - you guessed it - offers a fully customizable way to capture and share your favorite moments. Maybe it’s time for a Wall Market photoshoot… or just get some snapshot closeups of your favorite characters.

2. How does this fit in with FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on PS4?

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE is an independent game for PS5, so purchase of the PS4 version is not required.

That said, if you already purchased FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on PS4, and have a PS5, you can download a free PS5 enhancement update (please note the PS4 version of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE available to PlayStation Plus members is not eligible for the PS5 digital version upgrade).

The standalone release of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE includes the new episode featuring Yuffie. If you’re just upgrading, you can purchase the episode separately, so no worries there!

3. What’s this new episode starring Yuffie?

You’ll play a brand-new adventure as Yuffie Kisaragi, a new playable character for this episode. This ninja from Wutai sneaks her way into Midgar and devises a plan with Avalanche HQ for a thrilling mission to steal the ultimate materia from the Shinra Electric Power Company.

This new story episode will introduce you to new characters, and features expanded gameplay with new combat additions. You’ll gain a new perspective on the story of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, getting a taste of what else was going on in Midgar while Cloud and company were doing their thing.

This is exclusive to PS5 and available to buy separately when you’re upgrading your game from PS4 to PS5. It’s also included with the full purchase of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE.

4. Will my PS4 save data carry over to PS5?

Yes! Before the release of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE, an update patch will become available for the PS4 version. A new menu option will appear on the title screen that will let you carry over your save data.

You’ll need an internet connection to carry over your data, but you also need that to get the update patch in the first place. As a reminder if your copy of the PS4 version is physical, and you own the PlayStation 5 digital edition (the model without a disc drive) you are not eligible to download the upgrade - however if you were to purchase FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE digitally, you can still transfer your PS4 save data.

5. What are the different versions available?

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE will be available as a physical and digital Standard Edition, and as a Digital Deluxe Edition from the PlayStation Store.

The Digital Deluxe Edition comes with a digital mini soundtrack, including songs, such as “Descendant of Shinobi,” and a digital artbook with various concept and promotional art from the production.

This timeless adventure is jumping into the next-gen on June 10th 2021, and you can pre-order now. We can’t wait to share this expanded experience with you all.

5 inspiring times Square Enix heroes came together to save the day

We celebrate those moments where characters combined forces to achieve incredible things.
By The Square Enix Team

When we come together, we can achieve incredible things.

Hope, unity, determination - these are the qualities that are elevated when we support one another, and work hand in hand on a common goal.

Life is Strange 2 Episode 2: The family comes together in a crisis

Sean and Daniel Diaz have had to overcome a lot in a very short time. Torn from their home by tragedy, and on the run from the police, the brothers seek refuge in the home of their grandparents - Claire and Steven Reynolds.

While safe and secure, there are clear tensions bubbling under the surface. Claire is devoutly religious and imposes strict restrictions on the boys, but a bigger source of conflict is her reluctance to speak of their absent mother - something Sean has many questions about.

The drama comes to a head when the brothers break into their mother’s old room - something Claire explicitly told them not to do. When she returns to find them snooping, she’s… less than pleased.

The underlying tensions finally boil over, and an explosive argument erupts. But just as both sides are starting to say things they might regret, Steven is crushed by a falling cabinet.

With Steven in real danger, all conflict is instantly dropped as the family rallies together to lift the offending armoire. Compounding matters, the police arrive, and Claire volunteers to distract them so Sean and Daniel can make a break for it.

It just goes to show that no matter how much we disagree, no matter how much we bicker, family will always rally round each other when it matters most.

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers: The Warriors of Darkness unite!

One of the greatest things about FINAL FANTASY XIV Online is how it brings people together… and we mean that literally! From dangerous Dungeons, to high stakes Triple Triad tourneys, every activity is an opportunity to join up and interact with real players just like you.

A similar theme of togetherness runs throughout the storyline most recent expansion, Shadowbringers, which came to its rousing conclusion in Patch 5.3. With the fate of Norvrandt hanging in the balance, the Warriors of Darkness must fight as one to save the land… and that doesn’t just mean you.

We’ll avoid going into more detail because it’s a remarkable moment, but suffice to say that it captures the spirit of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online as a whole - cooperation, collaboration and community.

DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition: Sylvando brings a smile to the world

If we’re judged by the company we keep, the hero of DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition is very lucky person indeed.

He’s accompanied on his quest by an incredibly charismatic cast of characters, including quick-witted rogue Erik, prickly mage Veronica and golden-hearted Rab. But no companion speaks to the power of coming together as much as the knight of smiles himself - Sylvando.

This charming entertainer gets a special spotlight in the Definitive Edition, with a new chapter focused entirely on him. At this point in the overall tale, events have taken a turn against the heroes and everyone’s feeling a little glum.

Ever the optimist, Sylvando decides to do something about it - he decides he’s not going to just cheer up a few friends, he’s going to put a smile on the entire world!

What follows is a madcap adventure across the land of Erdrea, as Sylvando gathers followers, raises spirits and brings communities back together - all in support of his golden-hearted goal.

His quest is funny, earnest and one of the most life-affirming sequences you’ll play all year!

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: Tifa and Aerith become BFFs

They say that a stranger’s a friend you’ve haven’t met yet, and that’s definitely true for Tifa and Aerith in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

Even during their first meeting, in a dank cellar in Don Corneo’s gaudy Wall Market residence, there’s an instant rapport between the two. They quickly become a formidable force - when confronted with a room of Midgar’s sleaziest goons, the duo spring into action with impressive results.

Tifa’s martial arts training lets her take her foes apart with practiced ease, and Aerith… well, she has a chair.

Their friendship only grows in the following hours, with the two women bound by mutual respect, trust, and an absolute refusal to put up with any of Cloud’s brooding tough guy act.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is a game all about connections and people coming together, and Tifa and Aerith’s charming friendship is a quintessential example.

Those were just a few times characters came together and became all the better for it. As these uplifting examples of jolly cooperation show, we’re stronger, happier and more effective when we’re united.

And if that’s not a positive message to end on, what is?

We’re sure you have your own examples to share, or disagree with some of our choices, so come together on social media to share your thoughts:

More Square Enix friendships that will warm your heart

Let’s celebrate some of the greatest friendships in Square Enix history, from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and beyond!
By Duncan Heaney

Forget things like Summons or Limit Breaks - friendship is the most powerful force in the universe. It lifts our spirits when we’re down, fills us with laughter and happiness, and makes us all feel like better people. We’re grateful to have it.

Good friendships are a wonderful thing to witness in games too - as we’ve talked about before. So in that spirit, we wanted to celebrate some of the most memorable BFFs of all.

Only the sternest-hearted could fail to be uplifted by the likes of…

Hawkeye and Niccolo - Trials of Mana

There’s friendship and then there’s ‘break you out of prison’ friendship.

We should all be so lucky to have someone like Niccolo in our lives. He’s loyal, reliable and affectionate. He’s also a cat - which makes those traits all the more surprising.

He and Hawkeye live together in the desert fortress of Nevarl, where they operate as skilled members of the thieves guild. Between the two of them, no item is safe and no chest goes unplundered. At least until the sinister Belladonna arrives.

Thanks to her manipulative machinations, Hawkeye is locked in the dungeons for a crime he didn’t commit - and his adoptive sister Jessica is placed in mortal danger. All looks bleak for the hero… so thank goodness for Niccolo.

The feline friend breaks through the walls of Hawkeye’s cage, and gives the young rogue a way to escape. Not only that, he promises to stay behind and watch over his family - a decision that doesn’t work out all that well, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.

Wei Shen and Jackie Ma - Sleeping Dogs

Infiltrating the underworld is hard enough, but it’s so much worse when you have to lie to someone you care about.

That’s the awkward situation for undercover cop Wei Shen in Sleeping Dogs. Tasked with working his way into the Hong Kong Triad, he uses his childhood friendship with Jackie Ma to get the job done.

The two have a long history together, and their friendship only grows when they reunite. Thanks to Wei’s influence, Jackie grows in confidence and eventually even get accepted into the organization.

And despite his deceit, Wei Shen feels genuine affection for his comrade, even using his influence to get him released from prison and encouraging him to leave his life as a criminal behind.

Sadly, Jackie’s story doesn’t have a happy ending, but Wei sticks with him until the end - and beyond. Because while their relationship was partly built on lies, the friendship was very real.

The Warrior of Light and Haurchefant - FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

As the Warrior of Light, you’ll make many friends in your adventures across Hydaelyn and beyond. But Lord Haurchefant Greystone has earned a special place in many players’ hearts for one simple reason: he’s awesome.

Unlike a number of his peers, this noble Elezen is friendly and welcoming towards adventurers. He’s always ready with a smile, will do whatever he can to help his friends. Haurchefant forms a close bond with the Warrior of Light, who finds an encouraging and reliable companion in him.

You first meet in FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn, where Haurchefant enlists your aid to unravel a conspiracy and help him save an innocent man from execution. That early quest shows you what type of man he is and provides a firm foundation for your friendship.

But that relationship really blossoms in Heavensward, the game’s first expansion. You’ll get much more insight into Haurchefant’s unique family situation and discover what he’s willing to do to aid those he believes in.

He’s as steadfast a friend as a hero could ever meet and one that no Warrior of Light will ever forget.

Sora and Rikku - KINGDOM HEARTS series

Of course, when it comes to making friends with… well, basically anyone, Sora’s the true master.

This big-hearted hero travels to many Disney and Pixar worlds, becoming best buds with almost everyone he meets, from street rats like Aladdin to heroes like Hercules. But few of his many, many pals mean as much to him - and vice versa - as Riku.

As friends and rivals living together on the Destiny Islands, the two dreamed off setting off to search for new lands. That wish comes true in the most traumatic way, when the Heartless attack their home and tear the young buddies apart.

A stranded Sora sets out on a search for Riku, while his friend takes… a darker path. But despite everything, Sora never gives up on their bond - and helps bring his buddy back to the light.

Since then, the two friends have fought together, laughed together and saved each other time and time again. As Sora says, his friends are his power and thanks to Riku, he’s very powerful indeed.

Biggs, Wedge and Jessie - FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Biggs, Wedge and Jessie: three very different personalities united by their opposition to the Shinra Electric Power Company. Also a love for Jessie’s Mom’s pizza.

Together, they’re core members of the anti-Shira group Avalanche, and their skills complement each other to form a pillar of strength that will never crumble. Biggs is the brains of the cell, with keen strategic insight that helps keeps plans on track even when they’re violently derailed.

Jessie is the tech specialist, building bombs and fake IDs to get the group through Shinra’s security and take down their Mako reactors, and Wedge is the organization’s heart - and stomach. His strong resolve and unwavering commitment to his friends pulls them out of trouble more than once.

But they’re so much more than colleagues, they’re also close friends. You can see this in their mission to the upper plate in Chapter 4, where you get to spend an extended period of time just hanging out with the trio.

You learn how intimately they know each other - and their foibles. You get insight into how much they care about each other and support them unquestioningly. Most importantly, you get the sense that they genuinely love being around each other - and that sense of joy is infectious.

Those were just some of the friendships that warmed our hearts in Square Enix games, but do you agree? Can you think of other examples? Let us know on social media:

Which characters in Square Enix games have the best smiles?

In honor of World Smile Day, we take a look at some of the best grins in all of gaming. Who’s your favorite?
By Duncan Heaney

A smile is a powerful thing. Not only does it make you feel good, it makes everyone around you feel great too. That’s equally true in games - some of the greatest characters in Square Enix titles face their problems head-on with a grin, and it’s a joy to help them do it.

In honor of World Smile Day, we wanted to highlight some characters who can light up a room when they turn their frown upside down. Their kindness, positivity and beaming visages help make their worlds a better place.

Also Kefka’s in there.

So without further ado, let’s get started:

Zell - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

Of all the students in Balamb Garden, few have as much pure energy as Zell Dincht. Whether he’s punching robots to pieces or simply riding in the car, he’s loud and excitable to a fault.

At first, the game’s lead Squall Leonhart, doesn’t think much of his classmate. For the introverted hero, Zell’s big personality, and bigger volume level, are as much an annoyance as an asset.

But over the course of the game, he proves himself to be a loyal and brave companion - someone who always has his teammates’ backs, no matter how dire the situation. And some of those situations are pretty dire indeed…

Ultimately though, Zell’s greatest strength is his resilience. You can lock him up, knock him down or - worst of all - call him ‘chickenwuss’, and Zell’s will always bounce back with a grin.

Well, unless the school cafeteria runs out of hot dogs again. There are some traumas you don’t recover from.

Daniel Diaz - Life is Strange 2

In most respects, Daniel Diaz is a typical 9-year old. He’s excitable, mischievous and curious about the world. But unlike most kids, Daniel also has telekinetic powers, and when a horrifying incident tears he and his brother Sean from their home, they’re forced into a dangerous life on the road.

As things get darker in the story, and the brothers’ situation becomes more severe, Daniel provides Sean with a reason to endure. His happiness, and his innocence are something for Sean and the player to cling on to - it’s amazing how a simple smile can help in the bleakest times.

But will he retain his naivete and innocence, or embrace the destructive potential of his powers to protect his family? That’s largely up to you - the decisions you make as Sean will have a profound effect on Daniel’s personality and outlook. So choose wisely…

Slime - DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition

What would the DRAGON QUEST series be without these smiley little guys?

Designed by the legendary artist Akira Toriyama, the slime has become the de facto icon of the DRAGON QUEST series. These wibbly-wobbly monsters have not only appeared in every game in the series, they’ve starred in movies, inspired merchandise and even headlined their own titles!

A large part of their appeal is that ever-charming grin - it’s so jolly it almost makes you feel bad about casting a well-timed Zap spell at them. Almost.


Not all smiles are nice. Some are Kefka’s.

This monstrous jester has more than earned his place as one of the greatest villains of all time. Not just because he’s a unique combination of charming, sadistic and terrifyingly competent but also because he really enjoys his work.

Kefka’s demonic laugh will be burned into many a FINAL FANTASY fan’s mind. As he commits acts of increasing depravity, his glee only gets more pronounced. How many other villains have essentially destroyed a world with a smile on their face?

If you want an up-close look at how disturbing Kefka’s grin can be, check out DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT.

This 3v3 fighting game presents him as a tricky, technical opponent that can frustrate his opponent as much as hurt them, but it’s oh-so satisfying to finally smack that smirk off his face.

Hildibrand Manderville

This self-proclaimed inspector extraordinaire is a fan favorite character in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, and for good reason. With his positive attitude, unflinching self-belief and a smile as broad as a goobbue’s, Hildibrand is always a pleasure to be around.

True, he may not be the best detective in Hydaelyn (and that’s putting it politely), but he approaches his cases with such verve and enthusiasm, it’s hard to feel anything other than affection. (Even though he inevitably causes chaos and disaster, usually on himself.)

But the real reason Hildibrand Manderville is such a treasure is that he genuinely wants to help those less fortunate than him. While his head may not always be in the right place, his heart definitely is.

Emil - NieR Automata

Emil is a welcome sight in the ruined Earth of NieR Automata - and not just because of his iconic grin.

This grinning moon-faced merchant has some valuable goods, from plug-in chips that improve our heroes’ combat abilities, to valuable materials that you can use to upgrade weapons.

If you’re so inclined, and you know how, you can even fight him a couple of times - but for a disembodied head, he sure can put up a fight. Only the best of the best will be able to - ahem - get ahead in this battle.

Emil is a beloved part of NieR Automata - but did you know he also has ties to the original NieR game too? You’ll be able to find out what that is in NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…. This new and enhanced version of the original title releases April 23, 2021 for PS4, Xbox One and Steam.


It doesn’t matter whether she’s selling flowers on the streets of Midgar, or whacking a hoodlum with a chair, Aerith approaches life with a positive attitude and a smile.

She lights up the screen in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, and provides a perfect counterpoint to Cloud’s more detached and self-serious persona.

Aerith’s total refusal to take any of the mercenary’s nonsense is a constant source of humor in the game - when she finally gets him to achieve a successful high five, it’s as much a victory as making it through the monster infested Midgar underground.

Of course, Aerith’s life is no picnic - she’s watched and hunted relentlessly by the sinister Shinra Electric Power Company. But she never lets her troubles get her down - it’s just one of the reasons she’s won many a fan’s heart.

Sora - KINGDOM HEARTS series

Speaking of hearts, how could we not mention Sora? Look at that smile:

I mean, just look at it.

Few smiles dazzle quite like Sora’s. This friendly hero wears his heart on his sleeve - his welcoming and open personality have helped him win the trust of everyone from Buzz and Woody from Disney and Pixar's Toy Story, to King Mickey himself.

But as Sora often says - his friends are his power, and there’s nothing that makes him light up quite like Donald and Goofy, or Riku and Kairi. So long as he’s surrounded by those he loves, Sora will always have a big grin on his face… and so will we.

Those were just some of our favorite smiles we’ve seen in Square Enix games - but what about yours?

Is there a character who you think we’ve missed? Whose face brings a smile to yours? Let the team know on social media:

The Architects of Midgar: how we rebuilt FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s City of Mako

How do you recreate a place as iconic as Midgar? FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi explains how the team approached this difficult task.
By Naoki Hamaguchi, Co-Director for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Hello - my name is Naoki Hamaguchi and I am the Co-Director of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

When we started development of the game, we were faced with a daunting task: rebuild and expand upon the city of Midgar. It’s one of the most famous videogame locations of all time, and we had to remake it without ruining the atmosphere that makes it so beloved.

It’s fair to say that the team felt the pressure!

So how did we do it? Let me share a little about how we approached this challenge, and the various elements we had to consider.

Why did we reimagine Midgar?

Before we talk about how we did reimagined Midgar, we should probably answer a question many fans may have: why do it at all? After all, the original backgrounds of FINAL FANTASY VII are burned into our collective memories - why not simply remake them in 3D?

The short answer is: we couldn’t. Converting the 2D backgrounds of the original game into 3D actually revealed a lot of structural contradictions. Even in a fantasy world, the buildings and environments have to hang together believably, and that simply wasn’t the case with the old environments.

We realized that we couldn’t create a convincingly realistic Midgar without resolving these contradictions - and that was the main driving force behind our decision to reimagine so much of the city.

Of course, making the decision to recreate and expand the city is one thing: actually doing it is quite another!

Drawing up plans

Our first step for designing FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s Midgar was to look at the scale of the city. We needed to convey the idea of realistic proportions, so an early priority was to establish things like the height and depth of the buildings.

To do this, we tried out an interesting idea: we took an aerial photograph with the rooftop of Square Enix's office building in Shinjuku, Tokyo, at the very centre. We overlaid this with diagrams of Midgar, with the Square Enix roof taking the place of the Shinra building.

This let the development staff imagine the scale of Midgar compared to real life, and they were able to use this aerial image as a point of comparison for how densely we should fit buildings together, while keeping the proportions as realistic as possible.

Taking inspiration from the real world

That wasn’t the only time we used the real world to influence the look and feel of Midgar. We took inspiration from many cities all over the world that we felt captured the spirit of FINAL FANTASY VII.

We wanted Midgar - and FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE as a whole - to have a kind of jumbled together, eclectic, and fun atmosphere. For that, we took particular inspiration from Tokyo. For example, some people may already know this, but the game’s Wall Market is heavily influenced by Shinjuku’s Kabukicho area.

Additionally, the team explored Tokyo looking for odd cityscapes, strange architecture and interesting scenery. You know - the kind of thing where you have no idea how it even ended up that way. These then got compiled into reference documents - that was a pretty fun part of development!

How we made each sector feel unique

Once we had an understanding of the scale, we started work on designing the different sectors of the city. Midgar is split into the areas above and below the plate and each of these contains different regions that all have their own distinct identity - and we wanted that to be clearly expressed by the game,

At the start of development, the game designers and scenario writers created documents that detailed the setting and the world, including the economic status of the different regions.

This information was invaluable in helping us define which elements of the environment could be shared across areas, and which should be region-specific - right down to the ratio of text on the posters!

We also realised that the lighting would play a vital role in helping to differentiate the areas. For example, Mako Reactor 1 is the oldest of the Mako Reactors. Most of the lighting here was made to look like mercury-vapor lamps, which have been around for a long time.

In contrast, Mako Reactor 5 is comparatively new. Most of the lighting here was made to look kind of blue-ish, like LEDs.

Mako is still the energy source for both, but by using real-life lighting as a reference like this we were able to represent the unique characteristics of the different regions, and their own identities within Midgar.

The importance of the little details

Another way we helped give the locations their personality was to add lots of small environmental details to each place you visit. Every place is packed with these little touches - they’re easy to miss, but they add realism and atmosphere to each area.

That said, I hope some of you did notice them, because a huge amount of effort went into their creation. Take the posters for example. The team got really into this part of the process and were resubmitting new designs all the way through development - even after we finished the game!

The graffiti got the team similarly excited - including our Localisation team. We asked them to write us some playful phrases from the perspective of the inhabitants of Midgar, which we then used in the game.

The stuff they came up with was brilliant. Some of my favorites include:

I once came to Midgar in search of riches,

But now I wallow alone in its ditches.

It no longer matters what words I utter,

Because none will get me out of the gutter.


Life can still get you down even after you've grown up.

You can see some more examples here:

Those are just a fraction of what’s in the final game - I hope you enjoy discovering them all!

Designing the upper plate residential zone

As well as reimagining areas of Midgar from the original game, we wanted to add entirely new parts of the city - partly to connect the different areas but also to give players more insight into this world.

One of the new areas was the Sector 7 Upper Plate residential zone. Early on we knew that we wanted to focus on the members of Avalanche to a much greater extent to the original game, and featuring Jessie’s family home was a great way to explore her history - and give players more information about the city itself.

This new area was developed as employee housing for workers at the Shinra Electric Power Company, so we took inspiration from real life residential areas that have a lot of identical buildings crammed together.

We were very careful to get the feeling of this area right because the collapse of the Sector 7 plate is a hugely important part in the story. By having a memorable location that the player has actually visited be the one to collapse, it gives the event more of an impact and makes it feel even more real.

A city is its people

Of course, to create a truly believable Midgar we needed to do more than just design things like the buildings and scenery - the people matter too. In fact, this element of the city was considered just as important as the others.

Right from the start, we created information about each part of the city, including the economic status of its residents. This helped us create a consistent look and feel for the inhabitants in those areas.

In addition, it was important to me that the inhabitants didn’t just stand around passively - if you look closely, the people actually interact with different elements of their environment.

This in particular was difficult for the team and it took a lot of repeated adjustments. But in the end I think it was worth it, as it really breathes life into the city.

The importance of the Shinra Building

The final element of designing Midgar I want to talk about is the Shinra Building. You’ll notice that this imposing structure is visible from all over the city - and we paid special attention to the layout to make sure that was the case.

That building is so important to the climax of the game that we wanted it to always be there as a kind of cinematic foreshadowing, so we designed each area to ensure players always had an eyeline to it.

As well as the building, we also created the entire plaza around it… but players never got to visit it!

Early on in development, the plan was that Cloud and the others would enter the Shinra Building from the main entrance, like in the original, so we actually made all the assets for the plaza. However, since we planned that section around stealth, it was difficult to make the story flow naturally.

Considering it was an infiltration mission, we decided that it made more sense to reimagine it and have them enter from the underground car park instead. I think this was ultimately a good decision, as it allowed us to focus on representing the Shinra Building in ways it hadn’t been shown in the original.

At least we didn’t completely lose all that work - you can see the plaza in the distance when sneaking into the building!

Final Thoughts

I hope that gave you an interesting insight into how we rebuilt Midgar for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

When I look back over the development, I’m proud that we were able to portray areas of the city that had been ‘off-screen’ in the original FINAL FANTASY VII - such as the underside of the plate and more in-depth portrayals of the city and its residents.

I imagine that a lot of people had their own ideas about what these parts of the city were like, so in a sense it was quite nerve-wracking to explicitly show them. But since we put so much thought into the scale and making the city feel realistic, I think that we were ultimately successful in bringing it to life in the way we wanted.

Thanks for reading - and I hope you have fun exploring the City of Mako!

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now for PlayStation 4. It's currently on sale from PlayStation Store and select retailers, with up to 34% off, so if you've yet to play it, now's the time:

More than 5 million copies of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE shipped and sold worldwide

Critically-acclaimed RPG has seen Midgar-sized success - and now it’s on sale too!
By Square Enix Team

We’re excited to announce a major milestone for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - more than 5 million copies of the game have been sold or shipped to date. Digital sales were particularly strong - in fact. it’s our highest selling digital game on the PlayStation platform ever.

That’s a big number, and what is there to say about it other than… thank you!

This game really is a labor of love, and everyone on the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE team deeply appreciate the millions of players who have chosen to step into the mean streets of Midgar and embark on this iconic adventure.

If you’ve yet to take the plunge, then here’s some more highly relevant news: the game is on sale from select retailers, and on the PlayStation Store until August 19, 2020, with a 34% discount!

If you want to learn a bit more about the game, or just want to wallow in more FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE goodness, you should make sure you check out some of the content on the Square Enix Blog.

For example, we recently talked about one of our favorite sections from the game: a thrilling mission into a mako reactor full of dangerous robots, difficult choices and some of the best music in any game this year!

Speaking of music, we recently took an audio tour through the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE soundtrack, to highlight some of the amazing tracks and explore what they have to say about the game itself. Read it here:

We also spoke to the game’s Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi and Producer Yoshinori Kitase about their vision for the game, some of their creative decisions, and how they feel it’s now been released. It’s a fascinating interview - check it out:

Finally, there’s an excellent multi-part video documentary series Inside FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, which takes you behind the scenes with the creators themselves. Featuring interviews with key staff, it reveals everything from the conception of the game, to designing the combat. It’s a must watch:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is out now for PlayStation 4. It’s on sale on the PlayStation Store until August 19, 2020, with 34% off:

To stay up to date with news about the game, make sure you follow the team on social media: