*Spoilers ahead! You should really play Final Fantasy 7 Remake before reading this!*
Gee golly, I wonder what I’m gonna review tomorrow! What could it possibly be?! The suspense must be killing you guys!
Final Fantasy 7 Remake does something that so few remakes have the balls to do: it dramatically changes the story from the original game. All the old, important beats are still there, of course. It wouldn’t be FF7 without them. But on top of new ones being added, some have been dramatically expanded or even altered. You’ll know what you’re getting into if you’ve played the original. But it’s different enough to throw returning players for a loop.
One of the biggest changes lies in the characters. All the old members of the cast are present and accounted for, with some minor changes to further flesh out their personalities. The conflict between Cloud and Barrett has been further expanded, with their shared arc becoming much more natural and interesting. Aerith is as sweet as ever, but she’s been given a tougher, almost vulgar side, which makes sense for a kid raised in the slums. Tifa supports her friends, but she’s hesitant to support AVALANCHE’s bombings, unlike the original, wherein she didn’t seem to have any problems with it morally. Jessie’s become thirsty as fuck, Biggs is a worry-wart with a soft spot for kids, and Wedge is a cat maniac who… makes a lot of eating jokes.
I didn’t say that all of the changes were good.
Even bigger still are the new characters. Most of these guys are minor characters, typically providers of side-quests. But there are some that play larger roles in the story. From those that support our heroes, those that prove an obstacle, and even those that ultimately end up as boss fights, the new cast members are varied and plentiful.
Today, I’m going to go into five of these new characters. My ultimate question: was their inclusion in the game necessary? Did they make the story better? Or did their presence ultimately serve as nothing more than a waste of time? Let’s find out, shall we? Starting with…
Roche: SOLDIER on a Bike
Roche is introduced in Chapter 4 of the game, essentially serving as that chapter’s antagonist. He’s a SOLDIER with a pension for extreme violence. He loves nothing more than a good fight, which is why he’s drawn so heavily towards Cloud. He wants his opponents to be at their very best, even if it means he has to heal them and throw his own allies aside. He lives for the thrill, whether it be a motorcycle race or a one-on-one duel.
Unfortunately, that’s all we know about this character. He seems like an interesting character and he makes for an extremely fun boss fight. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get enough screen time to flesh him out! He’s there for one chapter and then he never appears again! He just disappears for the rest of the game! No one even mentions him again!
It’s not like there weren’t any opportunities. There were several throughout the game. Both the fight to save Sector 7 and the raid on Shinra HQ are perfect spots to slip this guy in there! Maybe he could’ve attacked Sephiroth at the end and gotten his ass kicked! In doing so, he buys Cloud and the gang the time to save an injured Barrett or something like that. Plenty of opportunities, all gone to waste.
Oh well. Maybe he’ll get more time to shine in the next game.
Leslie Kyle: Corneo’s Right-Hand Backstabber
When we first meet Leslie in Chapter 9, he doesn’t seem like a very important character. He works for Corneo and he’s a bit of a dick to Cloud and Aerith. Then he has a surprise face-turn later in that chapter as he saves our heroes, providing them with their usual equipment. Why did he betray Corneo? We don’t know. At least not yet. Thankfully, unlike Roche, he returns later in the game! Not only that, but he actually gets a backstory!
In Chapter 14, our heroes try to find a way up to Shinra HQ to save Aerith. They only have one lead to get there: Corneo. Unfortunately, the man himself has gone missing. Luckily, Leslie might just have what they need. All they need to do is help him find Corneo in the sewers and get him his sweet revenge.
Turns out, Leslie wasn’t working for Corneo out of loyalty. He was engaged to this girl, but they broke it off after she was chosen as Corneo’s next ‘wife’. One day later, she went missing. So, driven out of guilt and hatred, Leslie swore vengeance. This is why he helped Cloud and the others in Chapter 9; he saw opportunity knocking and he took it.
Huh. This character is actually pretty good. Not only does his presence prove necessary for the story to progress, as he’s the one who helps them move up to the plate to save Aerith, but he also adds some extra depth to the story! His inclusion is actually a really nice touch that works perfectly well! Plus, his story actually gets an ending! One that’s open enough for him to return in part two.
Now if only the gameplay for his new section wasn’t infuriating as fuck.
Chocobo Sam, Madam M, and Andrea Rhodeo: Corneo’s Big Three
These three are the strangest addition in my opinion. They each earn their presence in the story, at least for a bit. But after that, they quickly resign from relevance and are subjugated to side quest givers. Even before that, they’re backstories and motivations make no sense.
Basically, these are the guys in charge of choosing ladies for Corneo. Chocobo Sam is a rough and tough cowboy who runs the Chocobo fast travel service. Madam M is a lovely lady with a fiery temper who runs a massage parlor. Andrea Rhodeo is the owner of the Honeybee Inn, is totally gay and you can’t convince me otherwise, and only approaches those that catch his eye. Madam M is the most important, as she’s the one who helps Cloud and Aerith the most in getting into Corneo’s mansion, although Rhodeo certainly helps in Cloud’s case.
Plus, he stars in a super ridiculous and fun rhythm game with Cloud.
Story-wise, these guys are a good way to pad it out. They act as a natural roadblock for our heroes. Plus, their gameplay section is pretty fun. Unfortunately, if you really think about it, their role in the story doesn’t make much sense.
Why are they loyal to Corneo? Are they not actually loyal to him, since they seem to help our heroes betray him? Why would they betray him now rather than earlier or later? Why would Corneo entrust finding suitable ladies to them instead of doing it himself? Does he do it himself and just make them go get them? Why does Corneo trust them at all? What benefit do they get for working for him? Why do they care to help Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa? Where did they come from and how did they end up working for Corneo in the first place?
They don’t make any sense. They’re cool, sure. But they don’t make any sense. Plus, they quickly resolve themselves from relevance, becoming mere side-quest givers.
I could keep going for much longer. I could discuss how they revamped the Mayor into an entirely different character. Or I could discuss some of the side-quest givers, like the Angel of the Slums. But since I’ve already discussed all the important new ones, I’ll wrap things up here.
Now, I don’t hate any of these new characters. However, I also can’t say that I’m in love with them. I’m more than open to the idea of adding new characters and story elements. But if you have to do that, then maybe you could have more characters like Leslie, who actually matter and have some depth?
Oh well. Maybe they’ll get extra depth in part two. Or three. Or maybe four, if Square is feeling really greedy.
I’m not mad that I have to wait another few years for part two, what made you think that?