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Final Fantasy is a video game franchise that has served as one of the long-standing pillars of the video game community. Square Enix developed the RPG Video Game series, which began in 1987 with the first game’s release. Since then, the franchise has released numerous installations over the years, with 16 games forming part of the main series. Each game has its own unique storyline and characters, with none of the games attached to one other. However, some games have received such positive feedback from fans that they have gone on to earn sequels, prequels, and spin-offs set within the same universe. One such game is Final Fantasy VII.

The birth of a video game icon: Final Fantasy VII (1997)

The original Final Fantasy VII game was released in 1997 and was created by director Yoshinori Kitase and Tetsuya Nomura, who served as the game’s main character designer. The legendary RPG classic tells the story of the powerful ex-SOLDIER, Cloud Strife, as he joins a group of rebels known as Avalanche in an attempt to save the world from a series of enemies: the Shinra Electric Power Company, and one of the most iconic video game antagonists in history, Sephiroth.

Final Fantasy VII (1997)
Final Fantasy VII (1997, Square Enix)

The game was a groundbreaking achievement for its time, receiving rave reviews from critics and the gaming community alike for its stunning graphics, an unforgettable cast of characters, and an emotionally charged storyline that left players on the edge of their seats.

Final Fantasy VII remains one of the most beloved games in the series, with a long-standing impact on the gaming industry. Due to its mainstream popularity, a subfranchise of the game would be developed, spawning multiple sequels, prequels, and spin-offs set within the same universe, as well as the development of The Remake Project.

Expansions from the main story (2004-2009)

Due to the high popularity of Final Fantasy VII, before developing the Remake Project, Square Enix sought to capitalize on the opportunity and produce multiple spin-off stories that stemmed from the original game, including video games, films, and novels. These spin-offs are commonly called the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII project. Some of the most recognizable titles are Before Crisis, Crisis Core, Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, EPISODE INTERmission, and Ever Crisis.

Final Fantasy VII Spinoffs (L-R): Crisis Core, Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, EPISODE INTERmission.
Final Fantasy VII Spinoffs (L-R): Crisis Core, Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, EPISODE INTERmission. (Square Enix)

Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII was a video game released in 2004, set six years prior to the events of the original game and focused on one of the antagonist groups from the franchise, The Turks. Because the game was never released in the West before it was shut down in 2018, the game was considered lost media until the release of Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis in 2023.

In 2005, Square Enix produced an animated film titled Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children,  which serves as the first direct sequel to the events of the 1997 game. It takes place two years after the game’s ending, and centers on Cloud and Co taking on a mysterious group who attempt to bring back Sephiroth.

One year later, another sequel was produced by Sony, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII. This sequel was a video game set three years after the events of the original game and one year after Advent Children. The story of Dirge of Cerberus focuses on Vincent Valentine, a memorable side character in the original game and part of Cloud’s crew. In it, gamers explored Vincent’s past and the past set well before the events of Final Fantasy VII, as well as faced one of the most nefarious organizations from Shinra, the Deepground organization.

Zack Fair in 'Crisis Core: FinalFantasy7 Reunion'
Zack Fair in Reunion’ (Square Enix)

The final addition to the compilation before the release of the Remake Project was Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. The events of Crisis Core covered the story of Zack Fair, a SOLDIER 2nd Class and one of the most important side characters in all of the game’s lore.

The game depicts the events that lead right up to shortly before the beginning of Final Fantasy VII. An HD remaster of this spinoff was released, titled Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion.

Square Enix also released a mobile game, Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis, which encompasses the events of the entire compilation. This includes the events of the original game, Advent Children, Before Crisis, Crisis Core, and Dirge of Cerberus. The game also features original content, in which the game details parts of Sephiroth’s past.

Additionally, as part of the Remake Project, Square Enix released an updated re-release of Final Fantasy VII: Remake with the addition of a DLC chapter known as EPISODE INTERmission, which follows Yuffie Kisaragi, a member of Wutai and eventually part of Cloud’s team later in the original game, during the events of Remake. 

The Final Fantasy VII remake project

Rumors of a Final Fantasy VII remake dated all the way back to 2005, when Sony unveiled a technical demo for their latest technological advancement back then, the PlayStation 3. The demo depicted the opening sequence to the original game, remade with the PlayStation 3’s enhanced graphics.

(L-R): Sephiroth, Aerith Gainsborough, Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart & Barret Wallace in Final Fantasy VII: Remake (2020)
(L-R): Sephiroth, Aerith Gainsborough, Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart & Barret Wallace in Final Fantasy VII: Remake (2020, Square Enix)

At the time, the video game community grew excited at the idea of a Final Fantasy VII remake. However, Square Enix later reiterated that no such remake existed and that the opening sequence had only been made to demonstrate the technical capabilities of the PlayStation 3.

After a full decade of rumors, followed by denials from Square Enix and teases by the creative team behind the original game, the remake was officially announced in 2015, with a full release in 2020 and an updated PS5 release in 2021. As opposed to dedicating one singular release for the game remake, it was revealed that The Remake Project would in fact be a trilogy of games, diving deeper into the events of the original, its world, and its characters more than ever before.

The first installment of the series; Remake, was released in 2020 and depicted the events of the first part of the game, set in the city of Midgar and leading up to the team’s escape from the city. Although the game follows the basic plot from the original, there are some narrative changes that raise multiple questions in regard to what awaits players as the story continues to unfold in subsequent installments. The main deviation stems from the incorporation of “The Whispers”, beings born from the planet who are also the arbiters of fate and enforce the course of destiny within the game.

Final Fantasy VII: Remake (2020)
Final Fantasy VII: Remake (2020, Square Enix)

It is said that the Whispers appear whenever events in Remake start to diverge from the original plot of Final Fantasy VII. Eventually, these Whispers are defeated, and deviations slowly begin to occur across the timeline of the game. One main deviation comes from the survival of Biggs, a side character who was a part of Avalanche and originally died during the Plate Collapse of Sector 7, but was shown to have survived the events of the collapse.

The other main deviant is Zack Fair. Zack is one of the most important characters within the franchise but died prior to the events of the original game. His death and story served as one of the most important factors in the original game, however, the ending of Remake depicted that Zack Fair survived the events of his story.

The unknown journey continues in Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth

As fans look towards the second installment in the Remake project Rebirth, they can expect a continuation of the original story, as Cloud and Co. head out to explore the new world, as well as some new surprises along the way.

Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth (2024)
Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth (2024, Square Enix)

It’s confirmed that the events of Rebirth will cover from where we left off in Remake until the events of the Forgotten Capital. This is where. no doubt, the game will end with perhaps the most memorable scene of the original. On the way to the Forgotten Capital, the story will take gamers across the Planet toward recognizable locations from the original game, including Junon, Costa del Sol, the Gold Saucer, and more.

However, much like in Remake, Rebirth will place some new spins on the retelling of the original story. Among these retellings is the story of Zack Fair. Fans have been curious to learn more about him since the ending of Remake practically changed Zack’s ending. We’re now curious to learn about how he survived. Is he in a parallel world? A new timeline? A memory? Only time will tell.

Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth is scheduled to be released on February 29. 2024 .  Have you played Final Fantasy? Will you play the new games? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or on The Cosmic Circus Discord. (UPDATE 3/12/2024: check out my review of Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth here!)

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