Disclaimer: this is all conjecture. I have absolutely zero expectation that this will ever happen. In the same way that I had zero expectation that the benevolent Squeenix overlords would ever remake VII. And then they announced it and I did a happy dance usually reserved for things like winning a large sum of money.
Anyway… What would a remake of IX look like?
You can feasibly believe a remake of VII, because they already sorta-upgraded the canon characters and their looks in the 2005 movie, Advent Children – not only were they less blocky (expected), but also less cartoony in both build and stature. And it carried rather well, in my humble opinion. It also holds up remarkably well, even ten years on!
While VIII veered more towards ‘realistic’ looking characters (even if everyone seems to have mega-long legs in that game…), IX went the other way, with its charmingly chibbi characters and ‘classical fantasy’ looks. It was the steampunk entry vs the more cyberpunk leanings of its immediate predecessors.
The way I see it, it could be done in one of a couple of different ways.
Examples of cel-shading in video games exist around the same time as the release of FFIX in the EU (Fur Fighters, Monster Rancher 3 etc.) But I think the earlier uses got a bit of a bad rap for simplifying graphics, particularly in an age where the ‘next gen’ of consoles were coming into play and there was a massive clamouring/push for greater fidelity and realism in-game graphics, and cel-shading kind of looks like the opposite, especially in the earlier iterations…
While the cartoony-ness (there has to be a better word for it than that, surely?) sort of suits the theme of FFIX, I think more modern takes on cel-shading would do the game greater justice than stuff like the example of The Wind Waker (above). Take a look at Bastion, for example:
This sort of fixed isometric view, with high attention to detail in the environments would be a great adaptation for the style of FFIX, bringing something fresh to the series while still sticking to the original’s ‘quirky’ roots. It would also make an HD Freya and Quina look slightly less out-of-place – how they’re going to pull off a believable Cait Sith in the FFVII remake will be… interesting, to say the least.
This one is a bit harder to describe, but my favourite example of this (as an art direction) is in the 2012 game from Arkane, Dishonored.
You might be wondering how this would work for FFIX, but think about the Eastern European fantasy elements of the game; the big castles, the architecture, the royal families – something hyper-stylised would quite easily lend itself to that sort of setting, and Dishonored, while a much darker game in terms of story, kind of demonstrated how it can be executed well.
What I Think
I’d love to see a hyper-stylised version of FFIX, but I think that unless you’re going to stick with a familiar almost-isometric camera system of the original, that you’d get far too much flack for making such extensive changes.
I think – realistically at least – the best option (if this was ever to actually happen) would be the cel-shaded approach. Despite some (very) ropey early examples, more recent attempts in video games have been successful and incredibly pretty, and allow a certain suspension of disbelief if executed well.
Here’s links to all of the games I mentioned in this post, in case anyone’s interested in finding out more. 🙂
- Final Fantasy VII – http://eu.square-enix.com/en/games/final-fantasy-vii
- Final Fantasy VII – http://eu.square-enix.com/en/games/final-fantasy-viii
- Final Fantasy IX – I couldn’t even find an official website for this game. D:
- Fur Fighters – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fur_Fighters – I sense a running theme for older games here no longer having actual websites…
- Monster Rancher 3 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_Rancher_3
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker – http://www.zelda.com/windwaker/ (technically it’s for the HD remake, but I’ll take what I can get, tbh)
- Bastion – https://www.supergiantgames.com/games/bastion/
- Dishonored – http://www.dishonored.com/