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This article contains major spoilers for Final Fantasy VII Remake and Rebirth

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Ultimania, which was released on 12 April 2024, includes interviews with the developers who worked on the game. Due to the length of the interviews, this article is split into multiple parts.

This is part 2 of the article: Read part 1 here:

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Post-Release Interview (Part 1) – Devs Discuss the Story

In this part of the interview, Iwaki Hiroaki (scenario), Nojima Kazushige (story and scenario), and Toriyama Motomu (co-director) continue discussing their work on the game’s story, especially regarding characters and dialogue.

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The interviewer points out that characters not just from the original but also those who were newly introduced in Remake appeared in Rebirth, and asks if this was something they had always planned on in development. Iwaki says that it was: He personally thinks that being able to meet characters you know again is part of what makes sequels interesting, and so he proactively included not just characters from the original but also Remake in quests. Additionally, since Nojima’s story had the theme of forging bonds, this was used to show forging bonds with the side characters.

Next, how Roche who left such an impact in Remake ends up as a black cloak in Rebirth is brought up, and the interviewer asks if this was also planned. Toriyama says it was not, and Iwaki says that Roche started off as nothing more than a mid-boss for the bike minigame in Remake. Since he was given no other details, he figured that that meant he had free reign to write the character, and made his personality as it is based on the logic that since Roche is a SOLDIER, he must be a “weirdo” (Iwaki uses the same wording used by Cloud in the game to call Roche a “weirdo,” which was rendered as “jackass” in the English version of the dialogue). After that, other people tacked on more details, and when he learned that Roche turned into a black cloak in the main story in Rebirth, he was amazed at how far he’d gone.

Toriyama says that since Roche stood out a lot, they wanted to give him a bigger role, and so used him to show that some black cloaks are ex-SOLDIERs. This was originally meant for Broden, the owner of the inn in Kalm, but they found that this event did not stand out enough, and so changing it to Roche, who stood out more, helped to emphasize it, especially since he can be contrasted with Cloud. Nojima adds that he intended to give Roche a proper death this time, but in the end he made it out alive.

Next, the interviewer points out how in the original FF7, Corel Prison was run by a character named Coates, who was replaced with Solemn Gus (“Lonely Geth” in Japanese) in Rebirth, and asks why this was the case. Nojima says that when plotting the game, they actually considered cutting the chocobo race portion of Corel Prison, which means that Coates was cut as well. Unrelated to that, he thought up the name “Lonely Geth” (in Japanese “Geth” is homonymous with “gesu,” meaning “scumbag”) and really wanted to use it for a character, and decided to use it for someone who would help out when the player is gathering information in Corel Prison.

Toriyama says that when they ordered the design for Solemn Gus/Lonely Geth, the designer, who was the sort to use elements from the original FF7, gave him a green suit like Coates had. Though it was not what they expected, the design had impact, and they approved it, and Nojima says that the design further influenced the character’s writing, resulting in him turning out as he did.

Ultimately, the chocobo race portion was left in, and Gus ended up taking on the role Coates would have had. Toriyama says that personally, he always wanted to use P-funk music in a game, and is elated that he managed to do so thanks to the inclusion of Gus.

Continuing the thread on music, the interviewer brings up how the Wall Market singer Akila from Remake also appears in Kalm in Rebirth, and Toriyama says that because characters he made for the original like Johnny and the Shinra middle manager are involved with the main story and quests, he wasn’t able to use them freely. He wanted at least one character he could play around with in the Remake Project, and that was Akila: He also says that he plans on having him do something even more impressive in the third game.

Next, the interviewer asks the three for their favorite examples of dialogue they wrote. Nojima starts with saying the lines Aerith has on top of the water tower, especially when talked to a second time: She has no hometown or anyone to share young memories with, and he likes how her emotions are conveyed through her dialogue, the tone of her voice, her expression, and even her legs. Toriyama is particularly fond of Red XIII’s dialogue, especially in the conversation before participating in Run Wild at Costa Del Sol, and adds that Red howling when the game starts was not originally included, and they added it later by reusing a clip from a different scene. Finally, Iwaki says that since he was in charge of quests, Red XIII’s were particularly troublesome for him, as the way he speaks changes completely before and after you reach Cosmo Canyon, but the game was designed so that quests can be done at any time, meaning that he had to make two versions of dialogue for each quest.

The interviewer says that he thinks that a characteristic of Nojima’s writing is his effective use of everyday phrases like “welcome back,” and Nojima says that phrases as simple as “thank you” and “welcome back” already have a lot of depth to them, and that when they are read out loud by voice actors they become even more beautiful. Toriyama agrees, saying that when a professional voice actor puts their emotions into acting, even the simplest of words can have deep meaning to them.

Toriyama also recalls his favorite line of dialogue in the game: Cloud’s “…Psych.” from the end of the Hustle & Grind quest. He says that the end of that quest’s story originally lacked punch, but by adding that single word, Nojima managed to give it a great conclusion, and says that it’s small lines like that which leave the strongest impression. Nojima says that due to the characters now being portrayed as far more realistic, it is now harder for him to grasp what they would say and how they would say it, and so he tries his best to have them speak normally. In retrospect, he thinks the original FF7 had a lot more elaborate lines, which Remake and Rebirth cuts down on.

How Aerith silently mouths “yokatta ne” (“I’m glad for you”) to Tifa after she returns after falling into the mako reactor in Gongaga is brought up by the interviewer, who asks about the intentions behind this. Nojima says that he had always wanted to have a character just mouthing words without saying them, and proposed such scenes in many previous games, but they had always ended up subtitled because people might think it is a bug that characters’ mouths are moving even though nothing is being said, and he finally got it to happen for real in Rebirth. Toriyama also adds that there are other scenes with dialogue just being mouthed and not said.

The interviewer points out how even though the dialogue Cloud had in the Forgotten City in the original FF7, “My fingers are tingling. My mouth is dry. My eyes are burning!” left a particularly strong impression, it was not in Rebirth, and Nojia says that he felt that since they could now show it visually, it need not be said, and that even if the lines are not there, players of the original would be able to hear them anyway by just seeing the visuals. Toriyama adds that there are many ways to interpret the scenes at that point in Rebirth, and so he cannot go into the finer details, but after discussing it with Nomura, they decided to put in flashbacks that look like Cloud yelling the lines in the original.

Next, the interviewer mentions how Stamp the dog having a different design in Zack’s scenes in Remake indicated that they were taking place in a different world, and points out how there are even more variations of Stamp in Rebirth. Nojima says that just shows how many different worlds there are, but also notes that these are not quite the same as parallel worlds. Toriyama also adds that Stamp is not seen in the church Zack is in after the final battle, which was an intentional decision to make it so that it is unclear what world he is in.

Regarding Sephiroth saying “I underestimated you” in the final battle, the interviewer asks who this was directed at, and Nojima says it was being said to Aerith, who is standing up to stop Sephiroth’s reunion of worlds. Sephiroth did not originally think she would be a strong force, and this line is the result of her resistance.

As for Aerith’s clear materia, Nojima says that it will be a key item in the coming story. Some sort of power used to be sealed inside the white materia, but it turned clear after that power was lost due to something.

The interview with Iwaki, Nojima and Toriyama, is concluded with the interviewer asking them to say something about the third game.

Iwaki says that the next game will be the curtain call for the characters newly introduced in Remake and Rebirth, and they want to make a story fitting of that. He hopes that players will look forward not just to the main story, but also the side episodes.

Toriyama says that when they started work on Remake, he did not think it would end up as a decade-long project, and he says that they are aiming to give the world of Final Fantasy VII a grand conclusion in the third game.

Nojima says that the main story of the third game is already actually completed, meaning that his job is mostly done. The events leading up to the ending of the third game are going to be very exciting, and he believes that it will be a game that the fans will love.

Part 3 of this article is available here:

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Post-Release Interview (Part 3) – Devs Discuss the World Map and Minigames

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