Almost twenty years after it came out, Final Fantasy VII is still stealing the show. When Square Enix announced the upcoming Final Fantasy 7 remake at Sony’s E3 2015 press conference, multiple members of the audience broke into tears. The remake – which will completely overhaul the classic game, adding HD visuals and changing the tired-and-true combat system – was so well received that Square Enix’s stock rose almost 3% the next day. In short, people are excited.
The newest version of Final Fantasy 7 isn’t quite as thrilling, although it’s intriguing in its own right. Tonight, an iOS port of the PC version of the PlayStation original launches on the Apple marketplace, bringing the series’ most popular entry to phones and tablets. The PC edition of the game doesn’t change much from the original (the graphics are a little better), but for fans who were stunned by Final Fantasy 7’s cutting-edge graphics on 1997, the fact that the whole game now runs on a device that fits in a pocket is noteworthy in and of itself.
Of course, the iOS version of Final Fantasy 7 does make some radical adjustments, at least as far as the game’s interface is concerned. Instead of a PlayStation controller, players move Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, and their friends via their devices’ touch screens; users can choose between a rigid D-pad or a virtual analog stick for movement, while facsimiles of the PlayStation controller’s buttons appear on the right side of the screen.
That’s not all, however. Square Enix has also updated the game to make it more accessible to casual players. Want to enjoy Final Fantasy 7’s renowned, sometimes shocking story, but don’t want to bother with all of that pesky gameplay? No problem. A virtual button on the bottom of the screen turns off the game’s random encounters, making it easy for players to cruise through the game combat-free. Players who choose that option won’t need to worry about boss fights, either; a slider on the menu screen lets users adjust their characters’ power levels, unlocking the maximum level (99) with the flick of a finger.
Frankly, that’s a strange choice. If players aren’t fighting, it’s not clear exactly what they’ll be doing – the bulk of any Final Fantasy game is combat, and removing battles from the equation cuts out a huge part of the overall experience. The franchise is famous for its sweeping, epic narratives, but cutscenes are only one part of a larger whole: Final Fantasy’s characters resonate with audiences because the players are in the trenches with them. Cut out the interaction, and you might as well watch a movie.
The updated version of the original Final Fantasy 7 (not the full-on remake) will arrive on the PlayStation 4 in October; Square Enix hasn’t said whether or not these newbie-friendly features will be included in the PS4 port, although it would make sense if they were. After all, the work’s already done.
The Final Fantasy VII port is available at midnight for iOS devices. It comes to PlayStation 4 on October 16.