Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Director Talks About the Return of Whispers, Mini-games, and Red XIII Riding a Chocobo
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is coming in hot, and with more and more players getting to try out the game through events like Tokyo and Thailand Game Show 2023, the hype is definitely skyrocketing.
During Thailand Game Show 2023, I got a chance to talk to Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Director Naoki Hamaguchi, who graciously spent the time answering many questions from the media about the upcoming title, including a very small hint about Zack and the Whispers, along with the decision to make Red XIII ride a Chocobo.
*Parts of this Final Fantasy VII Rebirth interview have been edited for clarity and readability.
One of the many mysteries of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is a prominent figure whose appearance in this remake trilogy has been the source of speculation and fan theories. Based on the events of Crisis Core, Zack meets an untimely fate that sets into motion the events of the original Final Fantasy VII game.
Just recently, Creative Director Tetsuya Nomura explained that the key visual shows the “three worlds that form the axis of the story” of the game and that “Cloud and Zack are on the side as they represent their destinies being torn apart by Sephiroth.” When asked about this and Zack’s involvement in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth that could see him as a major player in the events of the game, Director Naoki Hamaguchi pointed to the existence of the Whispers in the Final Fantasy VII Remake and the role they played, which prompted players to ask questions about what would happen and what the changing point would be.
In the same way, Hamaguchi likens Zack to them in the sense of being an important piece of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. While Hamaguchi cannot divulge much at the moment, he says that “Zack will play an important role as a major character,” and that players should very much look forward to “what will the world be, how will the world move, and what will the players encounter” as they play the game.
Due to Zack’s involvement in this game, fans cannot help but concoct many theories about how the events in the game will all play out. When asked if they’ve seen any of these theories from various social media threads, Hamaguchi says that they are not in a position to say whether any of this is correct or not, but they “always check the pulse of the players regarding feedback for the game.” Fan feedback is very important to the team, and they would like to let the fans know that these things do not fall upon deaf ears. They appreciate it because it shows a certain level of excitement about wanting to play and delve deeper into the world of Final Fantasy.
One of these is the comment about Red XIII riding a Chocobo in the game, and it prompted a lot of surprised and fun banter from the fanbase. Hamaguchi says that both he and Nomura agreed to this because they thought it was a nice and fun concept. “One of the game designers presented this concept to us, and we (Hamaguchi and Nomura) liked it and decided to add it to the game.”
It is certainly a great addition, although we’re wondering how comfortable Red XIII is in that position, he probably doesn’t mind as long as he gets to go on a great adventure with Cloud and the rest of the gang!
Hamaguchi also clarified that the two-disc release of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth was nothing more than a straightforward storage decision and not a reference to the original Final Fantasy VII release in any way. “The volume is so large. Not just because we have an open world map, but the story content alone in Rebirth is so much more than in Remake that it simply won’t fit in one disc,” says Hamaguchi. “We just gave up on trying to fit it into one disc so we just opted to add an additional disc instead.”
Hamaguchi followed up by saying that the world map was the most challenging part of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth to develop, as they tried very hard to strike a good balance between size and content. “If we make it too big and spacious, players might think that there’s nothing to do in such a wide space. If we make it too small and narrow, players might not get a good sense of adventure,” says Hamaguchi.
Part of giving players activities to enjoy is the decision to bring back the many mini-games from the original game. “What took what was included in the original Gold Saucer and tried to include everything in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Sadly, since Rebirth takes place until the Forgotten Capital, the Snowboard sequence will not be included and will be saved for the latter game,” Hamaguchi clarifies. “We want to change the image of the game from Gold Saucer having lots of mini-games to the game, as a whole, having lots of mini-games.”
In fact, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth was so meticulously developed that the team has improved almost all, if not all, aspects of the prior release. One good example is the Junon parade with Rufus, and Hamaguchi specifies that whereas previously it was simply pressing buttons throughout the sequence, players will be more involved this time around. “Cloud becomes the leader of the parade, and when we get to Junon, he can recruit soldiers to perform with him. Depending on who he recruits, the mini-game will change and offer players a different experience,” Hamaguchi says. “We wanted to create an entertaining sequence that is fit for modern audiences, so we would take the original idea and add more depth to it.”
And about that moment? You know, the one involving Sephiroth? Hamaguchi didn’t say much, but he did confirm one thing: “There will be a surprise in this version as well.”
Special thanks to Naoki Hamaguchi for allowing us to pick his brain about Final Fantasy VII Rebirth!
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is launching on February 29, 2024, for the PS5.