The announcement of a (very thorough) remastering of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII set the fandom into a frenzy last month, and for good reason. The original is widely regarded as one of the best Final Fantasy spin-off titles and gave specifically FF7 fans a huge amount if insight into the history of its most iconic characters. The remaster, titled Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII -Reunion- also looked absolutely gorgeous in its first showing, bringing the ageing PSP version kicking and screaming into the modern era and looking incredibly close to what we saw in 2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Crisis Core Reunion promises a near-total overhaul of the handheld version’s visuals and gameplay mechanics, making it scarily close to a remake over a remaster (or does it? We’re still debating that stuff). With improved character and camera controls, updated UI, new battle mechanics, full voice acting and new musical arrangements a ton of work has gone into this, and I was lucky enough to jump on a call with some legendary names in Final Fantasy development to pick their brains about how it all came about. My time with Mariko Sato (Producer), Tetsuya Nomura (Creative Director) and Yoshinori Kitase (Executive Producer) was certainly brief and all three remained predictably tight-lipped on specifics, but chatting with these greats is always an honour, so check out what they had to say:
Why did you decide to revisit Crisis Core at this time?
Tetsuya Nomura: Remastering Crisis Core has always been kind of something that we’ve been wanting to do and have been talking about. But with the Final Fantasy VII Remake project and putting all that together schedule-wise and, just, project direction-wise, there were a lot of unknowns. So now that Final Fantasy VII Remake has been released and we kind of know where everything is headed we felt like this was a good time to announce Crisis Core Reunion.
Why opt for a remaster for this game rather than a remake in the style of Final Fantasy VII?
Yoshinori Kitase: So with the Final Fantasy VII Remake we’re creating the Final Fantasy VII story and experience from scratch and it’s really a huge undertaking that’s also very time consuming. And with the kind of roadmap that we are envisioning for the three titles that are to be included in the Final Fantasy VII Remake series we felt that, you know, to keep those main three titles coming out at a good pace, and not overextend the whole project and keep players waiting, remastering Crisis Core was the best way to go about it. That way we can ensure the Final Fantasy VII remakes would be available to players in a timely fashion but also we’ll be able to provide the Crisis Core remaster in the time between Final Fantasy VII Remake and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. And with the Remake and Zack, I think if you’ve played that, you know that Zack has become more of a prevalent character. There’s more of a focus on him, so to be able to bring Crisis Core into the mix was something we really wanted to do.
The reveal trailer showed that Zack’s Buster Sword now matches the Remake version, can we expect many other tweaks or major additions to Crisis Core’s narrative in the remaster?
Mariko Sato: In regards to new things in Crisis Core Reunion story wise, we’re really doing a faithful retelling of the original Crisis Core so there are no new story elements but there are, on the other hand, many adjustments and improvements that we made to the gameplay experience as a whole. One of the big things was the battles, we wanted to make sure that players coming from the Final Fantasy VII Remake experience would be able to kind of just jump into Crisis Core and have a smooth experience. So there’s some adjustments we’re making there. And also it’s going to be fully voiced this time, the music tracks are all rearranged and there’s just so many small and big improvements that we’ve been making – too many to list here – but I really hope that players will be able to enjoy this Crisis Core experience.
What considerations did you need to make when porting a handheld game to platforms designed for a big screen?
Mariko Sato: With bringing a previously portable title to the big screen, the team carefully considered the visuals and the graphics as a whole, because that’s one of the main things you’ll be noticing when the game is now on a big screen. And so we tried to align the visuals and graphics as much as we could with the Final Fantasy VII Remake. But also, it’s not just a simple transition from a small to big screen. It’s also about, how do we update the game so that it’s something that current, modern day players will be able to really enjoy because there’re so many action games and action battles that players of today have experienced. And that’s kind of different from what the original battle system was like. So we wanted to really bring a modern feel to the battle as a whole and we feel like we’ve been able to do a good job with that. So I hope that players will look forward to it.
Would you recommend this game to players who have played Final Fantasy VII Remake but aren’t familiar with the full Final Fantasy VII story yet?
Tetsuya Nomura: Crisis Core is a contained story in and of itself so it can definitely is enjoyable as a standalone game. But if, you know, players of Final Fantasy VII Remake or just Final Fantasy VII really want to get to know the characters like Zack on a deeper level I think that Crisis Core Reunion is going to be an important piece of that. Even just getting a wider, more in-depth and richer understanding of different characters like Sephiroth and what kind of person he was before you get to meet him in Final Fantasy VII, things like what kind of casual daily conversations did Sephiroth have and pieces of the story and characters that are going to enhance the experience of playing Final Fantasy VII Rebirth which is coming after this. Crisis Core Reunion is definitely an integral piece of just getting to really know the Final Fantasy VII lore and world.
Fans online have already expressed that they want all the sillier moments in the original Crisis Core to remain such as the Sephiroth fan club emails – has anything been cut from the game?
Mariko Sato: Yes, definitely we didn’t cut that part out. It’s gonna be included, just like it was in the original..
Is there anything that you’ve been able to realise in Crisis Core on modern platforms that simply wasn’t possible on the PSP?
Tetsuya Nomura: With the original Crisis Core, thinking of the pacing of the battles it was closer to a command-based action system. And then with the Final Fantasy VII Remake being more fast-paced and closer to an actual action battle feel we wanted to kind of bring the Crisis Core battle system closer to that fast-paced feeling but still maintain the kinds of systems from the original game as well.
Yoshinori Kitase: Most of the improvements and things related to the battle system were in the care of Sato-san but the one thing that I actually wanted specifically implemented was the camera controls, because with a PSP there was only a joystick on the left side and that’s what was used to control the camera but with modern day devices, there’s a joystick on both sides and it might feel more natural to control the camera with the right side. So I really felt like, you know, for players today who are used to that kind of control the PSP versions camera control might feel a little bit stressful. So that was one change I really wanted to have implemented.
There were definitely some elements in the PSP version of Crisis Core that must have been a challenge to update now that players have full control of the camera. What work needed to be done there?
Mariko Sato: So yeah, just as you say, with the camera controls, since it was quite limited in the original PSP version there were certain parts of the environment that hadn’t really been fleshed out. So with this remastering, and with the freedom that players have with the camera controls, there were certain areas that we actually had to build anew or just really upgrade the quality. So that was one of the challenges that we did face in this remaster.
Will there be any major differences between the game running on all of the platforms it’s launching on?
Mariko Sato: So with regards to the difference between, for example, the PS5 and Switch, the main difference is just going to be the resolution and the FPS. But the content of the game itself will be exactly the same across all platforms.
We’re celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Final Fantasy VII – why do you think this particular entry in the series has endured so long?
Yoshinori Kitase: I think that, you know, one of the main things that fans continue to gravitate towards is the characters and the unique individual personalities that exist in the Final Fantasy VII story. And each character has their own story and drama that comes with them. And it’s almost like the story really revolves around these characters. And with Crisis Core the main objective is to add further depth to the characters and really flesh out the storyline and the characters and so every title that’s attached to Final Fantasy VII is about the characters and I think that’s why it continues to be loved for so long.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII -Reunion- is set to release in Summer 2022/23 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch and PC.