A little less than a month ago, Square Enix released Final Fantasy 7 Intergrade for the PlayStation 5. It proved to be a fine next-gen upgrade, not the least because it finally upgraded all those pesky doors, but it’s biggest selling point was definitely the DLC episode starring Yuffie — Final Fantasy 7’s high-energy ninja from Wutai.
Yuffie’s episode received strong reviews from multiple publications, which lauded its fresh take on the established combat system, its worldbuilding, and of course, Yuffie herself. It proved to be a microcosm for both the strengths and weaknesses of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, its sparkling worldbuilding occasionally undercut by sequences that could be slow and repetitive. Happily, Yuffie’s story generally moved briskly, never quite outstaying its welcome while also offering a tantalizing taste of what’s to come in Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2, which is now in full production.
Speaking with EuroJournal over email, co-director Motomu Toriyama talked about the role the intermission plays in the larger story, and how it sets the stage for Cloud and company to meet Yuffie in a later installment. “As Cloud and company prepare to leave Midgar in the base game, so does Yuffie. Later, Cloud and his allies will end up encountering Yuffie in the expansive world outside of Midgar. By playing both the base game and [Episode Intermission], I think you’ll be able to understand where they are coming from, from an emotional perspective, and so I recommend playing through both.”
In the DLC, Yuffie is an agent dispatched to steal a massive piece of materia rumored to be in development at Shinra Headquarters. She teams up with Sonon, a staff-wielding series newcomer who mostly reacts to Yuffie’s rapid patter of quips with dry asides. Their fast friendship serves as the emotional core of the DLC, an element that extends even to the gameplay, which is based on the pair sycing up their attacks for large amounts of damage.
Like the base remake, Yuffie’s story is grounded at least in part in nostalgia. Much of it is set in established areas in and around Midgar, with a variety of familiar faces making appearances throughout. Scarlet, a diabolical Shinra executive who gets comparatively little screentime in the original game, is one of the main villains — another example of Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s expert melding of the familiar with the new.
“There were many things we learned from the reception of [Final Fantasy 7 Remake] since its release, but I feel that the response was especially great for the elements we remade while being cognizant to pay homage to the source material, and I recall players’ reactions were very positive,” says co-director Naoki Hamaguchi. “I don’t want to limit it to just this title; I am reminded that for the next installment, it’s of utmost importance not to damage the memories from the source material while reimagining it so it surpasses people’s expectations.”
In that light, Square Enix’s decision to have Episode Intermission run concurrently with Cloud’s adventure makes sense. It allows the development team to reuse some already established environments while providing a different perspective on familiar events. But it wasn’t always that way.
In an interesting twist, Hamaguchi says that writer Kazushige Nojima originally had a very different vision for Episode Intermission. “To be honest, when Mr. Kazushige Nojima turned in the initial draft of the [Episode Intermission] scenario, the story was going to take place at a different time from the events of [Final Fantasy 7 Remake], but we had him adjust it so that it happens simultaneously — while Cloud and his allies were on their adventure in Midgar,” he says. “I had a strong desire for the story of [Episode Intermission] to allow those who played [Final Fantasy 7 Remake] to experience the lore more deeply. As a result, we were able to dive deeper into Avalanche HQ, Wutai, the Shinra Building basement, etc. which were only touched upon in the base game of the remake — and this time from Yuffie’s perspective. As such, I’m hoping it turned out to be something our fans were able to enjoy.”
Another element that the team reimagined for the Yuffie DLC was the Fort Condor minigame. Named for a sidequest in the original game where you defended a giant condor from encroaching Shinra forces, it was reimagined for the DLC as more of a small-scale board game. The minigame has been lauded by many fans as addictive, putting it in the grand tradition of such classics as Triple Triad and Blitzball.
Hamaguchi says Fort Condor was an element he struggled the most with, as he knew it couldn’t just be a “half-baked” homage to the original. “At the start of development, I worked one-on-one with the game designer until we solidified the gameplay; even after the gameplay was solidified, I played it every day and pointed out areas that needed adjustments,” Hamaguchi says. “The person handling the adjustments for the difficulty level is really good with numbers, so there were times when the difficulty was raised without advanced notice… I remember still messing with it right up to finalizing the master build (laughs).”
The development team can only offer hints about what’s to come in Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2, but they do make for some tantalizing tidbits. Among other things, Toriyama says that it will “probably be a while until Wutai is showcased in earnest” owing to its distance from Midgar, but that “perhaps there may be a new aspect to things depicted along the way.”
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade Screenshots – Ramuh, Fort Condor Mini-Game, Nero, and More
Hamaguchi, meanwhile, says that he’s happy with how the first part made players feel like they’re “experiencing a movie through the gameplay,” but that the second part will have unique challenges. “As for improvement, or should I say “change,” moving forward — because the next installment will involve Cloud and company to leave Midgar and explore the world map, our next challenge will be to create gameplay that leverages the vastness of the world, unlike what we did in this current title.”
Director Tetsuya Nomura has previously said via an interview translated by a fan that Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2 will pick up directly after the events of Intergrade, and that the atmosphere will be “quite different from Part 1.” In particular, Cloud will be “running around a lot of nature.” Could this mean that Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2 has an overworld? We’ll just have to see.
In any case, Final Fantasy 7 Remake continues to be a roaring success, with Yuffie’s story once again demonstrating the love and care Square Enix has taken in translating its most popular game for the modern era. You can read our review of the original release here, as well as insights into its famous pole dancing scene and more. Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2 does not yet have a release date.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at EuroJournal. Yes, Yuffie is her favorite character.