Last week I wrote about Final Fantasy 9 being impossible to remake, and judging by all the wonderful messages I received it seems that not many people agreed with me. That’s fine, not all of us can be right all the time, but it’s a possibility that has remained on my mind even after dishing out my take for all to see.
Instead of a remake that risks reinventing the original in ways that simply wouldn’t work with modern visuals and storytelling, why not develop a sequel that maintains its core tenets while seeking to build upon the existing universe? Now I know you could argue that it would run into the very same mistakes as a fully-fledged remake, but not if it was approached with a more intimate and considered scale. One that understands that Final Fantasy 9’s strengths lay within its charming character designs and classical fantasy setting, and maintaining that scale is key to the success of any potential continuation. If done this way, it’d be wonderful.
Final Fantasy is no stranger to sequels either. Final Fantasy 10, 12, 13, and 7 have all been subject to second chapters of some form, even if the latter came in the form of a remake that sought to change the existing canon in a divergent timeline. It still has the building blocks of a sequel in how it takes existing characters, locations, and themes and seeks to expand upon them in ways none of us could have expected. But in the form of a remake it was no longer confined to fan expectations in the same way a traditional sequel would be. That’s such a brilliant idea, and one that – at least so far – has paid off perfectly.
We saw Final Fantasy 10 change from a sprawling epic into a lesbian roadship with 10-2, while Final Fantasy 13 was somewhat more traditional with two sequels that advanced the same story but with vastly different gameplay systems and world design. 12 is the most unique of them all, following up on the PS2 classic with a Nintendo DS exclusive called Revenant Wings. It had more in common with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance than its progenitor, opting for a turn-based battle system and adorable pixel graphics instead of the MMO-esque mechanics of the original.
I loved it as a kid, but in the years since it remains underappreciated and is seldom ever talked about. It didn’t seek to tell a melodramatic story with massive consequences for its characters and world. Instead, in a lot of ways it followed our heroes after the satisfaction of victory while just going about their everyday lives. Of course, Vaan and company are a bunch of sky pirates so pillaging for treasure and battling with fellow scoundrels comes with the territory. Small stakes allowed more time for playful character interactions and a deeper exploration of a world we only saw a fraction of in the base game. Ivalice has so much more to give.
A potential sequel to Final Fantasy 9 should be similarly executed. It already has a fairytale ending as all the main cast reunite in Alexandria after their hard fought war, and Zidane rushing in to reunite with Princess Garnet as the monarch is swept up into his waiting arms. It’s so sweet and deliberately saccharine, opting for the happiest ending possible after all seemed lost before the final battle. We followed the adventures of Zidane, Garnet, Steiner, Vivi, and so many others to the bitter end, and all we ever wanted was for them to be happy. Now they are, and it would make sense to leave them alone, but much like Revenant Wings, there’s so much more to be mined from a world that is no longer held hostage by destiny.
Imagine a cutesy tactical RPG in the universe of Final Fantasy 9, or even a smaller turn-based affair that doesn’t seek to mimic the budget of Final Fantasy 7 Remake. If Square Enix set the right expectations and approached it with the correct level of resources it could craft a loving homage to the beloved classic while also seeking to build something new. I’d love to both revisit its world with versions of these characters I already adore while also peeking into new corners of the continent never once uncovered. We could embark on smaller quests with an overarching narrative of making everyone happier instead of trying to prevent the apocalypse.
The everyday lives of these heroes would be inherently fascinating because we already love them, so delving into smaller struggles and skirmishes would be a delight. Garnet and Zidane could tackle the trials of married life, while Vivi could help make the land a safer place for fellow mages and begin to respect his own existence. Steiner and Beatrix got hitched too, now serving the ground as a nearly unstoppable duo. There is so much potential here, and it’d be nice to see Final Fantasy take a breather with a smaller, more considered tale instead of one all about being the saviour of all humanity.
You might not agree with me about the remake, but this idea definitely has legs. Come on Square Enix, give me a ring and we can get started.
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