Yoshinori Kitase explains the reasoning for the villain’s more active presence.
For fans of Final Fantasy 7, the remake was something of a dream come true. While some decisions remain somewhat odd, such as the move to cut the game up into multiple parts, it still saw a recreation of the classic characters and the beloved Midgar. But even before the game released, we saw that changes were afoot, with the iconic villain Sephiroth front and center for a lot of it. It was a big departure from the original game, where the character isn’t even seen until a pretty decent way into the narrative. Well, there’s a reason for that, and it’s actually pretty interesting.
In an interview with the official Square Enix site, Producer Yoshinori Kitase said he understood the confusion for having Sephiroth being a more constant presence vs the original Final Fantasy 7. But he said back then, the character was an unknown and mysterious entity, and teasing out the reveal added to the experience. But now, the villain is such an icon, that same mystique would be lost. It worked, in his view, to make him more of an oppressive force this time around since Sephiroth became such a big part of the entire saga of Final Fantasy 7.
“The way we handled Sephiroth in the original Final Fantasy 7 was to hide him – hold him back.
You may not know this, but I was inspired by the movie Jaws which took a similar approach of teasing this powerful presence, but never fully showing you the shark until later in the story. We wanted to build him up as this really big, powerful character in people’s minds. By only referring to him indirectly, it created this feeling of fear and oppression – so when he makes his first appearance, it’s a big deal.
But for the remake, that doesn’t work so well – partly because everybody knows who Sephiroth is! We didn’t think it would be as effective to have him held back until later on in the story.
Secondly, Sephiroth is this massively overarching presence that looms over the whole Final Fantasy 7 saga. We wanted to make sure that aspect of him was present in this first game in the project – that’s why we have introduced him much earlier in the story now.”
The introduction of Sephiroth was one of many changes to the story, some of which have been rather controversial, such as the climax and ending, something Kitase has also commented on. It seems the game has been a big success all the same, however, so nothing will stop this ride anytime soon.