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20-Year Wait Is Over: 'Final Fantasy VII Remake' Is Out Friday


Some people stuck at home are dealing with boredom by picking up their game controllers, and for some gamers, a long wait ends tomorrow, a more than 20-year wait. NPR's Lindsay Totty has this one, and just a quick warning - there will be light spoilers for the beginning of the game.


LINDSAY TOTTY, BYLINE: Kelsey Tomblin is on a top-secret mission.

KELSEY TOMBLIN: So we just hopped off the train, and I think we're about to go do some ecoterrorism.

TOTTY: She's a mercenary who just got hired by a ragtag group of resistance fighters that are trying to stop a greedy energy corporation from destroying all life on the planet. All this, of course, is happening in a video game.

TOMBLIN: I haven't played this game in 20 years. This is really taking me back.

TOTTY: The game is Final Fantasy VII, and my friend Kelsey is going back to this 23-year-old game now because she's really excited to play a brand-new, modernized version of it called Final Fantasy VII Remake.


TOTTY: Neal Pabon does marketing at the game company Square Enix.

NEAL PABON: Final Fantasy VII Remake gives new audiences a chance to finally meet some of the most iconic characters in gaming and experience a modernized version of a beloved story. Returning to the world also gives our biggest fans a chance to experience what they loved in a whole new way.

TOTTY: That story combines elements of science fiction and fantasy. The game is set in a world where all living things share a unique spiritual energy. The corporation known as Shinra sucks all of that energy out of the planet to make electricity, creating massive pollution and potentially killing all life.

The adventure begins with a mission to bomb one of the reactors that powers a city. The hero is Cloud Strife, a mercenary who's hired for the job by the extremist group Avalanche, led by a tough-talking guy with a gun for an arm named Barret Wallace. At the beginning, Cloud's just looking out for No. 1. But Barret truly believes his methods are the only way to save the planet.


JOHN ERIC BENTLEY: (As Barret Wallace) You going to stand there and pretend you can't hear the planet crying out in pain? I know you can.

CODY CHRISTIAN: (As Cloud Strife) You really hear that?

BENTLEY: (As Barret Wallace) Damn straight I do.

CHRISTIAN: (As Cloud Strife) Get help.

TOTTY: Taking a 1997 video game and updating it for 2020 meant a lot of changes. The small, blocky figures that were once on the screen are now lifelike, high-definition character models. In the original game, dialogue that was presented entirely by text has now been rewritten to be delivered by voice actors like the ones you just heard. And the story has been altered and fleshed out, especially when it comes to the themes of economic inequality, pollution and terrorism.

Ryan Johnson is a YouTube content creator who makes videos about Final Fantasy games on his channel, The Night Sky Prince.

RYAN JOHNSON: The original, it sort of rushes on those topics. But the remake is really diving into them in such a way that it almost makes the original sort of feel like a plot outline for the remake.

TOTTY: For example, after the bombing mission is over, Avalanche has to hightail it back to their hideout. In the original game, getting back went relatively quickly. But in the remake, the player controls Cloud as he walks through the ruins of a neighborhood destroyed by collateral damage from the bombing, overhearing the citizens as they deal with their shock and grief.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) It is not safe to remain indoors. Please leave your residence...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) What will become of us?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) No matter what happens...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) I repeat...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) ...I'm here for you.

JOHNSON: Everything is, like, burning. People are trying to get home, or they're trying to get to work and other stuff. They're really going deep into those moral questions that are raised because you committed this act.

TOTTY: As the story from the original game progresses, the battle between Avalanche and Shinra becomes part of an even greater struggle over the fate of the planet. Square Enix says the tale was so epic that adapting it for the remake faithfully meant splitting the story up into multiple parts. Jason Schreier of the video games website kotaku.com says what's coming out tomorrow only covers the beginning of the original games' plot.

JASON SCHREIER: Do not come into this expecting a game that has a beginning-to-end satisfying story. It is more like the end of a season of a TV show.

TOTTY: Schrier says only after more installments are released will it be clear if these characters can capture the hearts of fans old and new yet again.


TYLER HOECHLIN: (As Sephiroth) A touching reunion.

TOTTY: Lindsay Totty, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.