Games Podcasts

What 'Final Fantasy VII Remake' Has in Common With 'The Grudge'

Games remade by the same creators are rare, but throughout history artists have revisited and remade works.
08 April 2020, 4:47am
Screenshot from Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cloud Strife, protagonist with a large sword on his back, looks up at the smoke stack of a Mako reactor.
Image courtesy of Square Enix

There have been video game HD remasters for at least as long as HD has existed, updating dated graphics to standard times for new console generations. True remakes, where the original mechanics and structure have been changed as well, are rarer. With both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 releasing in the past year, and Final Fantasy VII Remake around the corner, we seem to be entering a moment where remakes that fully update the mechanics of a classic game are becoming more common.

Even rarer still are the moments where key development staff are remaking games they originally worked on, as is the case with Final Fantasy VII Remake. And while it might seem logical that creators would balk at revisiting past work, in truth we see remakes across many different creative practices. From Monet's series of paintings of the Roeun Cathedral, to Takashi Shimizu remaking Ju-on, there can be something transformative for artists revisiting a story or a theme they've worked with before. Special guest Matthew Gault joins the Waypoint Radio crew to discuss remakes, differences between the original Final Fantasy VII and Remake, and take listener questions on this special episode of Waypoint Radio. You can listen to the full episode or read a transcript below.

Early game spoilers starting at approximately 1:00:28

Content Warning for discussion of transphobia, homophobia, sexual assault, and sexual coercion starting at approximately 1:13:21

Matthew Gault: I would love to have a conversation with them about like, as a creator who's already done this and told this story, what is in it for you? What is your motivation? What do you want to do with a remake, you know? Because when I finish things, I just want to toss it over in the corner and never think about it again.

Austin: I'm now looking at a list of directors who've remade their own movies. This is happening here. Okay. Let's see. Hitchcock did this. Hitchcock did this with The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Matthew: Cecil B. DeMille did The Ten Commandments twice, right?

Austin: Oh, is that true? I didn't know that.

Cado: What?!?

Matthew: I believe so.

Austin: Is the one we know the second one?

Matthew: Yeah, the one we know is the second one. And then the end is also the reason why so many courthouses across the country have Ten Commandment statues because he donated a bunch of them as a promotional thing for the film.

Austin: Oh, that's so funny. That is so fucking funny.

Matthew: It's absolutely true. Cecil B. DeMille, Hollywood gave everyone those 10 commandments statues.

Austin: The one that I remembered was Haneke's Funny Games, the original of which I think is just sharper than the sequel or not the sequel, the remake the English remake but that's all such a different thing.

Matthew: Yeah, those are weird because they happen so close together. I think there were a couple of Japanese horror movies, like that guy that made Ju-on like three or four times.

Austin: Totally. Uh, Fullmetal Alchemist!

Cado: Brotherhood, Yeah!

Austin: Although, though anime and manga already fits this in a weird way. But what did you say Cado?,

Cado: Just that there's like 10 years between those two also.

Austin: I think there was actually 10 years between the two that was not experienced that way for people in America, because for me, I was watching Fullmetal Alchemist in 2004. I want to say I was in college when that was hitting the West. And then Brotherhood was like 2009 or something like that. I'm literally checking this because why not.

Cado: Yeah, that sounds right.

Austin: It came out later than that even. 2003 to 2005 is when it was released in the West, and then 2009 is when Brotherhood started. So there were four years between between, oh no 2005 to 2006. is when the originals were released in North America.

Cado: Wait really?

Austin: That's when it hit DVD, Cartoon Network started November 6 2004. So end of 2004 when that is when the original Fullmetal Alchemist hit airwaves in North America, and then Brotherhood was in 2009, that’s when Funimation started streaming the English version. So yeah, that's a remake in which, hey, some of this is the same, and some of it is not the same. Right? So I think maybe it’s actually a good comparison.

Cado: But they kind of did the opposite thing. They condense the first half of the original anime into eight episodes there to get to the new stuff [faster]. Where [in Final Fantasy VII Remake it] feels like they're taking the same [timeline] and inserting [new] stuff in between.

Austin: Yeah, that seems 100% right.

Matthew: So now I'm thinking about the difference between Japanese and Western filmmakers and artists.

Austin: And creative process also, on the industry side.

Matthew: Yeah. And there's this idea yeah, there's this idea here that like once it's done it's pure and but that's not the way stories work. We retell the same things over and over again, adaptation is constantly happening and always has been.

Austin: But the myth you're saying is "I made that film, why would I make that film again?"

Matthew: Exactly. The evidence doesn't bear that out because people rewrite books and retell the same stories over and over again.

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.