Final Fantasy VII made a tremendous impact in the late ’90s, wowing gamers with its level of story, gameplay and characters. Though there were great masterpieces in the 16-bit era from the likes of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI, it wasn’t until the release of VII that help established the JRPG scene into a mainstream level, and its leap to the Sony PlayStation that also contributed in solidifying its popularity. Gamers who played the original had its share of memorable moments, from the characters to the Materia system up to the music. Speaking of music, you can feel a tremendous amount of passion in the makeover of the music in the Remake, and we are here to talk about it.
Considering that the tracks for the Midgar portion in the original were only a handful, the Remake added different arrangements for these tracks, including the character and battle themes. One notable example is the battle theme Let the Battles Begin, in the Remake, there are several variants of the track, which plays a unique style that compliments the scene or mood.
Let the Battles Begin! – Final Fantasy VII
Let the Battles Begin! – Final Fantasy VII Remake
There’s one arrangement (Let the Battles Begin EX-SOLDIER) that centers on Cloud infiltrating the Mako Reactor in the first chapter, giving a feel of a heroic entry with the urgency of reaching the end goal which is the reactor itself. Then later in the second chapter (Let the Battles Begin Break Through) when Cloud is escaping from Shinra soldiers, the battle theme has that familiar opening part but then shifted to a deeper tone with drums and trumpets, giving that feeling that you are being pursued that adds more pressure for you to escape.
Let the Battles Begin EX-SOLDIER – Final Fantasy VII Remake
Let the Battles Begin Break Through – Final Fantasy VII Remake
There is another arrangement (Let the Battles Begin Quiet) wherein you explore a certain area early in the game that sets the mood as if you’re in a stealth mission, with lower tones of piano and violin playing, it gives that less tension but a feel of anticipation that a battle can happen at any moment. It then shifts to the standard battle theme once you encounter an enemy that initiates a battle, but instead of playing the battle theme from the beginning, both tracks continues to play as the other tracks fade out in the transition, giving a seamless experience to the music which keeps you immerse without cutting the momentum of the scene.
Let the Battles Begin Quiet – Final Fantasy VII Remake
And let’s not get into the famous boss theme Those Who Fight Further, that’s one of the best themes in the Remake. Just like with Let the Battles Begin, there are several versions of the theme for select bosses, but the one that stood out the most is the Airbuster theme in the battle at Mako Reactor 5.
Those Who Fight Further – Final Fantasy VII
The Airbuster – Final Fantasy VII Remake
The soundtrack has four phases in the battle and this isn’t the final boss, mind you. The first phase has that familiar tune with a progressive rock arrangement, as you deplete the boss’s life bar, the track transitions to a much intense arrangement, but this time with choirs singing along the tune, giving you that sense of motivation that you can fight further (just like with the original theme title) and persevere. The succeeding phase boosts your confidence that you are getting closer to the end with the violins, guitar solo and choir playing, and then the final phase has that feel where it is finally ending where victory is almost at hand. It was an amazing experience when you reach that boss battle as it keeps you pumped into fighting it. Content Creator and Music Producer Alex Moukala gave a deeper analysis on the Aribuster track, from the pattern, the instruments used and the composers gave it an identity, you can watch his reaction video below:
Outside of the battle theme, other memorable tracks were given more variations. Aerith’s theme that we all are familiar with the theme’s opening piano notes, but the remake went a step further by creating different arrangements for different scenes while maintaining that familiar tune. These versions help heighten the emotions of the characters in the narrative, from the first time you meet her in the game (Aerith’s Theme), in the church area (Flowers Blooming in the Church), up to that grand scene in Wall Market (A Certain Gaudiness), and to the time when she rescues Marlene in Seventh Heaven (Aerith and Marlene – A Familiar Flower). It captures the right moment where it hits you the most emotionally and magnifies the scene, it also fleshes out Aerith’s personality of being an upbeat, outgoing person.
Aerith’s Theme – Final Fantasy VII
Aerith’s Theme Home Again – Final Fantasy VII Remake
Flowers Blooming in the Church – Final Fantasy VII Remake
A Certain Gaudiness – Final Fantasy VII Remake
Aerith and Marlene – A Familiar Flower – Final Fantasy VII Remake
And the classics aren’t the only ones in the spotlight, the newly composed tracks for the Remake were as memorable as those from the original. The Wall Market theme had three variations, each representing the atmosphere of specific areas on the infamous town that also reflects the personalities of the key NPCs that reside in that area (you’ll know what I mean when you encounter them in the game). What’s more interesting is that all three tracks are playing simultaneously with the two being muted, once you move to a certain spot, the track then transitions without repeating the music from the beginning.
Wall Market – The Town That Never Sleeps – Final Fantasy VII Remake
Wall Market – Chocobo Sam – Final Fantasy VII Remake
Wall Market – Madam M – Final Fantasy VII Remake
Square Enix did a great job of maintaining the original feel on the soundtracks while giving it a modern take and expanding it with different versions. Having the great talents of Masahi Hamazu and Mitsuto Suzuki in composing modern takes on the soundtracks with their experience in recent Final Fantasy games and bringing back Final Fantasy Composer Nobuo Uematsu help solidify the team with his new track as the ending theme and contributed his expertise in fleshing out the soundtracks. The new arrangements gave a refreshing feel to the familiar tracks and it adds more impact in making the players more invested in the story. They know that modernizing the classic soundtracks aren’t enough, they have to create new arrangements for these tracks that will help flesh out the characters’ motivations and giving it more impact when showing developments to these characters. If you try to count the number of versions the FF7 Remake made for the original scores, it already tripled the amount that you can hear in the game and each of them has distinct personalities.
A good soundtrack can help elevate the impact of the storytelling, whether for TV series, movies, or even video games, Final Fantasy VII Remake is one of those fine examples of implementing it very well. In addition, as a remake of the classic title, it remains faithful with the original score but expands it with a variety of arrangements that will be appreciated by longtime fans and newcomers to the series.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is now available on the PlayStation 4