I feel like Digimon Adventure: is a better example of presenting a Remake than FFVII:R

Piers

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BIG STINKING SPOILERS WITH FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, WATCH OUT

If you have at least seen the trailers for VII Remake, you'll think that title is a load of bologna for good reason: production quality, expanded characters, amazing visuals, the list goes on.
The game really fires on all four cylinders, and Sqaure really went above and beyond taking the scope of FFVII and giving it that sensibility and love Capcom gave RE2's Remake.

Also, this is Square, who made FFXIII, KH2 up to 3, and FFXV.

The story is faithful to the original, broadening various locations and characters along the way that couldn't be done in the original. Until the last 10% of the Midgar arc, that is.

As the team escapes the city they are confronted by Sephiroth and, new to the remake, the "arbiters of fate" — ghosts that intend to keep the timeline in tact. Sephiroth manipulates Cloud & co. into destroying these ghosts so the timeline can then be altered. It turns out this Sephiroth had actually time-travelled after his defeat(s) to alter his own fate, and subsquent entries in FFVII Remake intend to alter the story massively going forward. The next game probably won't have 'Remake' as the subtitle, either.


So the fans are in a total divide over this.

I bring this up because the difference with Digimon Adventure: is that it establishes itself as being different to the original story from the get go. With this knowledge already in hand, it means the writers can just expand upon elements of the original in a clean manner — unlike VII: Remake which has to justify this with a meta-narrative involving ArBiTerS of FaTE, along with pulling the rug out from under the audience that a remake, they have waited all these years for, is never going to happen again.

Wonder what you all take from this.
 
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Sarabande__

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I agree I actually hated the remake. Oh my god it was so boring. I hated the combat with a passion.
 

IndustrialPanic

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I didn't play the original game and so I wasn't interested in following any news on that project, but by the way you're describing it seems really shady that they would promise a remake to fans, only to then give a sequel/reboot.

Was that massive of a change made public before release, or it a surprise to the people who played?
 

icomeanon6

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Was that massive of a change made public before release, or it a surprise to the people who played?
Definitely a surprise, and an unpleasant one at that. In general their messaging about the game was pretty terrible: someone I know in real life, a fellow nerd even, bought the game and started playing it not knowing it wasn't scoped beyond Midgar.

And it's a shame, because I enjoyed playing the game quite a bit, especially the combat. But JEEZE do I take issue with where they went with the story in the end. And here's what I have to say about it at length:

@Piers, you're absolutely right that this is some grade-A Kingdom Hearts-worthy meta-narrative BS, and that Adventure: (unless they pull the rug out from under us) is going about things much better.

Mind, there's nothing wrong in itself with being somewhat meta. Adventure: has (IMO) a pretty funny meta-joke in how nothing fantastical happens at Summer Camp. But this works because if you haven't seen the original it's simply invisible--I don't think you'd get the sense you were missing something because everything makes narrative and logical sense. It's summer, camp's a thing kids do during the summer, and the audience meets Sora and learns that Koushiro isn't outdoor-averse per the nerd stereotype. But what FFVII-R does is different: the writers took a story that didn't have this in-universe meta element and turned the story itself into a meta-story on the original via timeline screwery. At this point, the story is no longer a remake; it's an exhaustingly repetitive sequel. If it's possible to take a twist like "Surprise, it's actually a sequel that's 90% just the original!" and do it well, I've never seen it. The only potential counterexample that comes to mind is the second episode of the Haruhi Suzumiya anime's adaptation of Endless Eight, which was at least audacious in its sheer disrespect of the audience's time and in a way that you could argue contributed slightly to the larger story's premise of reality alteration. (For anyone who doesn't know, they completely reanimated the same slice-of-life episode eight times in a row because the characters were stuck in a time-loop with only lingering deja vu between episodes. Nobody knew this before the episode repeated the first time and everyone was TICKED. Except me--I thought it was brilliantly cruel to the fans, of whom I was one myself. Downright avant-garde. I digress.)

What they've done here with FFVII-R is written an ending that's completely inscrutable if you don't know FFVII and utterly unsatisfying if you do know FFVII; specifically if you know that Sephiroth's character didn't used to be this sterile and abstract. And yeah, I know that none of Sephiroth's story or motivation in the original was revealed during the Midgar portion, but that's part of the problem: Sephiroth's story worked primarily because of the first flashback to Nibelheim. You saw the human place where his insanity came from, experienced the flames as a real and immediate moment, and were left with the exact right amount of mystery to make his present ghostliness convincing and scary. So if they were going to include Sephiroth so heavily in the story before that point they needed to compensate for that somehow, which they didn't do in any way I can call compelling. (I can hear hypothetical folks objecting that I didn't have any issue with them putting Omegamon at the start of Adventure:, to which I say that Omegamon isn't a character so much as a power-up for the characters of Agumon/Taichi and Gabumon/Yamato. Changing how the power ramp of a show works isn't the same as increasing a character's role while subtracting from what made them a good character. As long as the eventual climax of Adventure: works on its own terms, it doesn't matter that they took what used to be a climactic power up and used it as a hook instead. FFVII-R doesn't work on its own terms in large part because it refuses to have its own terms.)

[...]unlike VII: Remake which has to justify this with a meta-narrative involving ArBiTerS of FaTE[...]
I'm going to quibble a bit with the wording here if by "has to justify this" you mean "has to" in the way I understood it. They don't have to justify jack squat, it's their story! They can change whatever they want however late in the story they want for whatever reason they want! Somehow Peter Jackson managed to make changes to the plot of Lord of the Rings for his movies without making it such that all those changes were the result of Sauron traveling to another universe after getting defeated in Tolkien's original, and nobody batted an eye. I do think that ArBiTeRs oF fAtE should always be written like that, though xD

Anyway, I blame Square Enix's writers' culture for this firstly, but I also blame fandom at large--all fandoms. The reason that writers for multimedia franchises like Final Fantasy (and Digimon) keep throwing this myopic junk into their stories is because fans are absolute babies when it comes to canonicity. Fans seem to have this notion that you can't just write a new story that takes ideas from the original and recontextualizes them in a way that affords new perspectives; the events of these stories have to be absolutely consistent with each other or else one of the stories isn't "canon," and why waste your time with something that isn't "canon?" Or consider Ryou in Tamers: "Uh oh, we want to have a crossover character but the new show wouldn't work if everything in the last show had happened in this one; guess we better tell fans it's a multiverse or they'll get upset!" See also almost anything written by DC or Marvel for decades. I maintain that Crisis on Infinite Earths was one of the worst things to happen to long-form comics and cartoons, as that was when creators first really surrendered to the manic canon-obsessions of their infantile fans. I think fans care more about stories being "canonical" than they care about them being good, or at least their sense of what's good in a story is so rigidly tied to meta-consistency that they miss the forest for the trees.

Or maybe I'm putting too much of this on the fans. Maybe the minds at Square Enix just like all this timeline-crossing navel-gazing. Maybe they think it's just riveting story material, more interesting than the cosmic horror and paranoia of the original FFVII. Maybe they honestly believe that the chief problem with FFVII was that Sephiroth's motivations were too plausible. In which case, I don't know why I keep hoping for them to write stories that resonate with me anymore.


EDIT: P.S. I want to say thanks for starting this thread that contrasts exactly the two pieces of media that have been on my mind the most lately, lol.
 
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Notus

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While I haven't played the remake yet (don't own a PS4), I've seen a few videos. I think the fandom at large is a bit too defensive os this matter. As you said, 90% of the game is a good expansion on the original, so they adding an element to justify future differences to the original version isn't horrible, as of now. This all will depend on how the story goes foward.

About Sephiroth, if I understood right, there should be two of him right now: the one trying to time screw things, and the one frozen in the Northen Cave. The future one being even more out of his mind makes sense, he died a bunch of times already, came back and failed to have his way in all of them. Him being single-minded in this appearence is ok, I think. Also, he doesn't erase the original motivations, they're still there, the narrative hasn't got to this point yet.

Again, I haven't played the remake yet, these are my impressions from what I've been seeing/reading online.
 

Theigno

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I'm still not entirely sure where I stand on all this.

My ideal Final Fantasy 7 remake would be a faithful 1:1 retelling with a graphical facelift more engaging combat, but a mostly unmodified story or even script. Literally no narrative alterations or additions besides content that was at some point planned for the original as well but went unused (like the Honeybee Inn).

So the moment I heard about the new game being 40 hours of Midgar and sidequests about characters I never felt I needed to know more about, I knew that particular ship had sailed. But at that point I am kinda ready to treat it as a separate thing that can do whatever it wants and I still think that FVII has just so much iconic content that even if the plot goes more off-the-rails they'll find some way to keep the most important moments at least similar.
In short, I don't think the dissonance between "we added like 30 hours worth of stuff to this part" and "future parts might diverge in even more drastic ways" is as shocking as some of the reactions to it imply. meta-aspect sounds cringy, sure; But no matter how justified the criticisms against the narrative of FVIIR (I just assume you can shorten it like that and it sounds funny to say) are, I still feel like the comparison to Digimon doesn't really work because the two remakes have at this point basically nothing in common besides being based on something successful from the late nineties. Two different products that were marketed differently, even if one is better it still feels like a comparison along the lines of "this orange would be better if it was an apple".

If it's possible to take a twist like "Surprise, it's actually a sequel that's 90% just the original!" and do it well, I've never seen it.
I would argue that the 2016 DOOM remake pulls this off really well. It's (almost) non-stop demon killing on Mars and in hell just like the original (Bonus points for the remake expanding the lore and concepts immensely) and at some point it turns out that the Doom Slayer you are playing as is quite possibly the orignal Doom Marine who has remained in hell since Doom64. So I don't think it's hard to do if originally there wasn't much story to start with.
 

icomeanon6

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If it's possible to take a twist like "Surprise, it's actually a sequel that's 90% just the original!" and do it well, I've never seen it.
I would argue that the 2016 DOOM remake pulls this off really well. It's (almost) non-stop demon killing on Mars and in hell just like the original (Bonus points for the remake expanding the lore and concepts immensely) and at some point it turns out that the Doom Slayer you are playing as is quite possibly the orignal Doom Marine who has remained in hell since Doom64. So I don't think it's hard to do if originally there wasn't much story to start with.
Huh, I stand corrected, that does sound like a neat twist for Doom 2016. And yes, I think the key distinction is between story-heavy titles and ones like Doom where the main appeal is shooting up demons irrespective of who you're playing as. I could have been more specific.

But no matter how justified the criticisms against the narrative of FVIIR (I just assume you can shorten it like that and it sounds funny to say) are, I still feel like the comparison to Digimon doesn't really work because the two remakes have at this point basically nothing in common besides being based on something successful from the late nineties. Two different products that were marketed differently, even if one is better it still feels like a comparison along the lines of "this orange would be better if it was an apple".
You make a good point, but I do think there's room for meaningful discussion on the similarities and differences between their approaches to remakes/reboots. Of most interest to me is how both take elements of the climaxes of their originals and move them up in the narrative considerably. There was definitely a moment after I'd finished FF7R (maybe this is the best way to abbreviate it?) when I had to ask myself, "Why does Sephiroth's increased role in Midgar plus FF7R ending with a One-Winged Angel fight bother me so much, while it doesn't bother me at all how Adventure: moves Our War Game and Omegamon to the beginning?"

Among the answers I came up with was that Adventure: isn't an ill-advised sequel masquerading as a modern re-imagining (to our knowledge, knock on wood). You get the impression that it doesn't feel the need to free itself from its past because it knows that it's already free; like it doesn't owe existing fans an explanation for what's the same and what's different. Where FF7R strains to turn the end of the original's act 1 into the end of its disc 3 and feels it has to introduce timeline shenanigans to justify it, Adventure: just decides that the main ideas of Our War Game can also work as a great hook even though the original movie was a coda. To me, FF7R feels like surgery where Adventure: feels natural. Or the former feels crushed under baggage where the latter feels unencumbered and exciting. The relevance of the comparison to me is that if FF7R's writers had taken an approach more similar to Adventure:'s writers in regards to the relationship between remakes/reboots and originals, FF7R might have been one of my favorite games instead of just one that I loved playing until the wheels fell off.

Now I realize that opinion on how well Omegamon works in the beginning of Adventure: is far from unanimous and that there are perfectly valid reasons why Adventure: doesn't work for some people, but that's why I'd be specifically interested to hear from fans who disagree with me on Omegamon if they agree or disagree with me on Sephiroth.
 

Piers

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I didn't play the original game and so I wasn't interested in following any news on that project, but by the way you're describing it seems really shady that they would promise a remake to fans, only to then give a sequel/reboot.

Was that massive of a change made public before release, or it a surprise to the people who played?
To put it into perspective, prior to launch there was debate as to why Square would release this Midgar-only retelling as simply Final Fantasy VII: Remake. No episode or chapter prefix.
Now the crap ending provides thrilling context, as the sequel will probably be called Final Fantasy VII: Reunion because the evil 90's Fan Ghosts that want Square to stick to the original story have fortunately been defeated by Cloud and the gang.

For me this is salt in a wound because the possibilities of a FF7 Remake have been teased all the way back in 2005. The impetus to actually get on doing a remake is due to the staff from the original PS1 game getting old.
If it's possible to take a twist like "Surprise, it's actually a sequel that's 90% just the original!" and do it well, I've never seen it.
I would argue that the 2016 DOOM remake pulls this off really well. It's (almost) non-stop demon killing on Mars and in hell just like the original (Bonus points for the remake expanding the lore and concepts immensely) and at some point it turns out that the Doom Slayer you are playing as is quite possibly the orignal Doom Marine who has remained in hell since Doom64. So I don't think it's hard to do if originally there wasn't much story to start with.
Huh, I stand corrected, that does sound like a neat twist for Doom 2016. And yes, I think the key distinction is between story-heavy titles and ones like Doom where the main appeal is shooting up demons irrespective of who you're playing as. I could have been more specific.

But no matter how justified the criticisms against the narrative of FVIIR (I just assume you can shorten it like that and it sounds funny to say) are, I still feel like the comparison to Digimon doesn't really work because the two remakes have at this point basically nothing in common besides being based on something successful from the late nineties. Two different products that were marketed differently, even if one is better it still feels like a comparison along the lines of "this orange would be better if it was an apple".
You make a good point, but I do think there's room for meaningful discussion on the similarities and differences between their approaches to remakes/reboots. Of most interest to me is how both take elements of the climaxes of their originals and move them up in the narrative considerably. There was definitely a moment after I'd finished FF7R (maybe this is the best way to abbreviate it?) when I had to ask myself, "Why does Sephiroth's increased role in Midgar plus FF7R ending with a One-Winged Angel fight bother me so much, while it doesn't bother me at all how Adventure: moves Our War Game and Omegamon to the beginning?"

Among the answers I came up with was that Adventure: isn't an ill-advised sequel masquerading as a modern re-imagining (to our knowledge, knock on wood). You get the impression that it doesn't feel the need to free itself from its past because it knows that it's already free; like it doesn't owe existing fans an explanation for what's the same and what's different. Where FF7R strains to turn the end of the original's act 1 into the end of its disc 3 and feels it has to introduce timeline shenanigans to justify it, Adventure: just decides that the main ideas of Our War Game can also work as a great hook even though the original movie was a coda. To me, FF7R feels like surgery where Adventure: feels natural. Or the former feels crushed under baggage where the latter feels unencumbered and exciting. The relevance of the comparison to me is that if FF7R's writers had taken an approach more similar to Adventure:'s writers in regards to the relationship between remakes/reboots and originals, FF7R might have been one of my favorite games instead of just one that I loved playing until the wheels fell off.

Now I realize that opinion on how well Omegamon works in the beginning of Adventure: is far from unanimous and that there are perfectly valid reasons why Adventure: doesn't work for some people, but that's why I'd be specifically interested to hear from fans who disagree with me on Omegamon if they agree or disagree with me on Sephiroth.
This, more or less. Theigno is still right that Adventure : and VIIR are totally different beasts with different goals. I think I bring this up because VIIR's twist is still primarily a narrative driven one that isn't really tethered to gameplay necessities — and obviously, these modern retellings exist in the first place due to nostalgia.

Omegamon's early appearance at least provides some room for believability as a tease, and how he always existed within Agumon and Gabumon — it's finding the means to release it.
Sephiroth and giant time gods at the end of Midgar is just such a wacky upscaling that it throws all the hours prior into disbelief, and as you say, feels like trying to shoehorn Disc 3's crescendo into something that's suppose to originally be an escape from the dystopian city.

The time-meta nonsense still does serve an important purpose for a remake, though. To cut out swaths of locations and characters from the original under budgetary duress.
As Theigno also says, just a 1:1 remake with these kind of visuals would of been fine and realistically doable, but according to Square they need to expand on every front. For me? That's great! I loved it! But whoops, still need to do it for the 5/6 of the original game uh ooooh lol. Looking forward to Episode 3 cutting straight to climbing Northern Crater and fans getting to enjoy watching an anime short film "The Story So Far".

Suppose it says a lot that I was initially dismissive of Adventure : as pandering naff, yet only 2 episodes in and I'm hooked. It's an inverse: everything is different straight away but I love it for that. It's not attempting this Rebuild of Evangelion deep story inflection.
 
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