Artbook Review – Final Fantasy VII Remake World Preview

Final Fantasy VII Remake World Preview

Final Fantasy VII Remake World Preview
ファイナルファンタジーVII リメイク ワールドプレビュー
Artbook
Square Enix Manga & Books

Summary:

Final Fantasy VII: the story of a corporation versus rebel terrorists returns in Final Fantasy VII Remake. In this companion book, the characters and their world are explored through both pictures and supplemental text, including an exclusive side story.

Review:

Ok, Final Fantasy VII Remake World Preview, as a title, makes more sense in the context of its original Japanese release: it was released before the game. Hence, a preview. But at the same time, I guess Final Fantasy VII Remake World of a Game You Already Played But Heck You Probably Enjoyed It So Buy This Book Anyway was not a catchy title. The localizers can be crazy, but even they’re not that crazy. (Dreamweaver just ruined the naming scheme and caused more confusion… If you don’t get it, sorry, I won’t explain for spoiler purposes.)

And speaking of spoilers, perhaps I can suggest another name?

Final Fantasy VII Remake World Preview That You Shouldn’t Read Without Playing Final Fantasy VII Because THIS SPOILS SO MUCH LIKE WHO THAT–

*gets tackled by the Spoiler Police and hauled away*

Technical Difficulties

Ahem. I’m back.

Seriously, the dust jacket says the book “offers both new players and longtime fans essential information”. But if you posted a lot of World Preview‘s information on a review or on certain message boards, you’d be modded for spoilers, forced to either take the post down or hide them under spoiler tags. If your knowledge of Wutai is that it’s some country that Midgar was fighting against and haven’t heard “One-Winged Angel” in its original setting, you should stay away from this book. This is not just a sample of things from Remake despite the chapters being titled [something] Preview; quite a few details are fair game. The original game has been out for 20 years, so yeah, there are some details that probably a lot of players know just from general osmosis or crossovers a la Kingdom Hearts or Opera Omnia. And generally, things like the names of playable characters can be exempt from spoiler guidelines, so yeah, even those whose first VII experience is Remake may be comfortable with knowing those things.

But even though Remake is forging its own identity, it’s not meant to be a one-and-done experience. If finishing Remake didn’t make you go buy Final Fantasy VII off of Steam or PS4 or whatever and play it through to the end, skip this. It’s one thing if you haven’t played Crisis Core or know the other spin-offs, but readers of World Preview should have at the minimum finished Final Fantasy VII. For example, there’s a whole timeline spanning several pages that covers not just Final Fantasy VII but parts of Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. Complete with pictures. I mean, yeah, it doesn’t really get into anything past Midgar stuff, but it clearly does explain what Cloud was up to pre-VII/Remake and lists significant dates involving VII‘s party members.

But so while Final Fantasy VII Remake World Preview doesn’t spoil much about the changes of Remake versus the original — it is a “preview” after all — this info can ruin some mysteries for those who care to remain in the dark. I mean, I guess you could read through the beginning parts without being spoiled too much (like that incident isn’t discussed much in bios, and the rest of the team is relegated to a “supporting characters” section), but even little details like how Remake‘s guest character’s family situation pregame are discussed. And basically, it leads you to the doorstep of the game’s biggest mysteries. Plus, while new fans will enjoy the level of detail in this reimagined Midgar and will like seeing some comparison pics to VII, why would they want to see a small image of the place where a big parade is going to be held when it hasn’t happened yet in Remake?

Anyway…

There are three chapters here along with a very short prologue section, a “Retrospectives” section, and the bonus short story featuring Aerith. The three chapters are “Character Preview”, “Location Preview”, and “Systems Preview”, and they are just as their name suggests. The characters section pretty much goes heroes, then villains, then supporting, and finally VII comparisons and highlights. Next, we get about two large images from many key places in Midgar. After that, comparison screenshots from the original game are include with locations that newbie players probably never have heard of (or maybe were namedropped quickly somewhere in Remake). The last main section covers both the battle system and minigames, first from Remake and then how things were in VII.

Most of these chapters feature large images with some accompanying text. It is an artbook after all. But I want to emphasize is that these pictures are screenshots and key art. So if you expect development sketches or how Cloud changed in various Remake trailers, sorry, you won’t find them here. And in fact…

Final Fantasy VII Remake World Preview Sample 1Final Fantasy VII Remake Tifa websiteMight need to click on the images to be able to see it, but Tifa’s description? Nearly exactly word-for-word as what’s on the official game website. Same for the other characters. But don’t blame this on a lazy localization or anything; the original Japanese release is also much of the official Final Fantasy VII Remake website in book form. Think of this as like a sampler plate at a restaurant — one that doesn’t include some of the house specialties but some things from the old menu. The artbook included with the deluxe version of Final Fantasy VII Remake has reference drawings and such while World Preview is mostly game rips.

Final Fantasy VII Remake World Preview Sample 2

I may seem like I’m being really harsh right now, but I have a feeling that people hear there’s a Final Fantasy VII Remake book coming out and expect it to be a little more detailed about the game. Again, since this was released in Japan pre-Remake, it’s not a complete and thorough collection. Not every Materia is included — heck, not even all four basic elements are included! Aerith and Barret have only three abilities introduced; Cloud and Tifa get slightly more. Midgar is limited to the Slum areas, and significant characters like Marlene and the landlady are MIA. There are always going to be debates in a production like this about why this was included and yet that wasn’t, but I think I was most disappointed by key items like the Buster Sword not being highlighted.

Final Fantasy VII Remake World Preview Sample 3

But if you want to stare at the party members in all their beautiful glory, yes, World Preview is amazing. For me, the highlight is the Remake versions of the character solo art from the original games. So beautiful and so nostalgic. It’s also easy for players to get so involved in the heat of battle that we miss the awesomeness of magic and commands, so those are also eye-grabbers. Other images like the character key art are also amazing, but they also have been seen in so many places… like on the website. (See the Tifa comparison above.)

Before the bonus story, there’s a whole drool-worthy section showing some Remake merchandise like Play Arts figures and plushies. I think the vast majority is available in the West courtesy of Square Enix’s online stores, so it is nice to finally not browse a product section in an artbook and have to cross off 90% of items as being unavailable to purchase.

The short story involves a Shinra trooper looking for a man, and as he heads out on a lead he remembers a girl named Aerith from his childhood. Like other parts of World Preview, it alone is probably not too spoileriffic, but when combined with details from character bios and the timeline, it strongly paints a picture about one of the mysteries in the story. Yes, it’s already hinted at more strongly in Remake compared to the original, but still. Anyway, “Picturing the Past” doesn’t affect too much of anything since it mostly stars new characters. Interesting and it covers a time period both new and old fans don’t know much about, but it’s not strong enough to be the main draw of World Preview.

While the book is going to be available digitally, the fact that so much of its content is already online and available to browse on your computer or tablet kind of defeats some of the purpose. In its physical form, it looks and feels a bit like a children’s book, like maybe a my first guide to dinosaurs or something. It comes with a dust jacket, and if you remove it, you get the group on the highway. The back of the dust jacket is the Japanese cover of the book.

Final Fantasy VII Remake World Preview Dust Jacket and Cover

The dust jacket and cover are both of good quality and aren’t the type that easily get plastered with fingerprints. Inside, however, is a bit of a different story. Pages are nice but are glossy. Fingerprints tend to stick and you might have to adjust how you hold the book because of the light bouncing off the pages. Almost the enter book has a black border, so the fingerprints don’t stand out as much as they could. However, from the side, it is a little bit bizarre that the pages look gray and yet there’s a sudden section of bright white: the battle system section. It’s not noticeable on the top or bottom, but because this section features white pages unlike the rest of the book, it does look a little odd. Not a big deal though, and the hardcover is gorgeous. The binding is also excellent, allowing you to fully see the two-page spreads without forcing it or having part of the art cut off.

Translation:

Sephiroth’s and Chocobo Sam’s English voice actors are missing. Both are obvious omissions since everyone else has both Japanese and English VAs. I know many of Dark Horse’s Final Fantasy books have included how names were written in Japanese, but Square Enix Books has decided not to.

Screenshots from VII are from the Japanese versions of the game while Remake screenshots are in English. However, quite a few are from early release builds: “ABILITY MAGIC ITEMS” is seen on a menu, different from the “Ability Spells Items” in the final release; the screenshot with “Gaia’s Wrath” is included despite it later being renamed to “Sorcerous Storm”; “Backblast” versus “Overcharge”; “Bash” for “Whirling Uppercut”. Some of these are in the original release; others were replaced for this English version. If you go back to the image of Tifa from the website, you notice her Limit Break image is the exact same image on the website, both having “Bash” with Tifa in the sewers. They never updated the website with an image from the final release.

The dates on the timeline appear to be messed up. It goes from [μ] – εγλ 2000 to [μ] – εγλ 0001 — which makes no sense! It’s supposed to be [ν] – εуλ 0001 (although sometimes it looks more like [υ] – εуλ 0001 — ν would make more sense and could just look similar to υ because of the font). Either way, the idea is that the world entered a new era/calendar, but in this book, it’s like time reset for no reason. Obviously, as I discussed earlier, some of the website information is slightly edited. The name of the short story 絵画の中の調査隊 (“The Survey Team in the Picture”) is localized as “Picturing the Past”.

Final Comments:

Final Fantasy VII Remake World Preview may have a limited audience. Remake has been out for almost six months now, and not much of World Preview‘s art and info is going to be new. At the same time, the inclusion of some key information from Compilation of Final Fantasy VII may affect new fans’ enjoyment of letting the story unravel at its own pace. But for Final Fantasy VII fans, it’s wonderful to finally get a real VII book to enjoy, even if it isn’t the most dynamic release.

Also, thank you, Justin!

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7 Comments

  1. raistlin0903

    “*gets tackled by the Spoiler Police and hauled away*“ That was too funny!😂😂
    It sounds this book is a bit of letdown overall, but still has some interesting elements that does make it worth it. I have never played this Final Fantasy myself so can’t really say much about it (I started playing with part VIII😊)

    Reply
    1. Krystallina (Post author)

      Don’t underestimate the Spoiler Police!

      The problem with this book is it’s kind of like those magazine movie tributes you see come out. There’s a reason they are stocked on the shelves before the movie hits theaters instead of months after. Interesting to look at, but can’t really add hype once you’ve seen it.

      Reply
  2. Sailor Star Dust

    I wondered why your blog looked familiar and it’s because I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on SM Crystal (ugly sobbing, it could’ve been incredible) forever ago XD I honestly wish timing wise, Remake World Preview could’ve had an English release sooner, so fans (new and old) wouldn’t find it as a potential disappointment, but I suppose it is what it is.

    I’m relieved to hear Aerith’s short story by Nojima is included—the page count looked the same, but because the official summaries didn’t mention it as a big draw…I worried a little.

    Thanks so much for your review! My fingers are crossed we’ll get the FF7R Ultimania in English, however unlikely that would be—but maybe it’s not such an unusual hope, considering the Ultimania Archive books had recent English releases, too 😀

    Reply
    1. Krystallina (Post author)

      If we ever got an Ultimania in English, I would FREAK OUT. They’re just so amazing, but I think at best is maybe borrowing the name and creating a book (say, 200 pages or so) that includes some stuff from Ultimania.
      I agree, it’s too bad this book didn’t come out months ago. I think it would have made a big difference in how people view it.
      And yes, SMC — so disappointing! So much wasted potential…

      Reply
      1. Sailor Star Dust

        Something I didn’t mention earlier, but the way Square (whether Remake or more recent games) tends to render dialogue in English versus the original Japanese is honestly puzzling. Maybe they’re trying to be hip for western fans? I just don’t understand the logic, when that sometimes changes character motivations/their emotions, too… (Even comparing the E3 2019 trailer of Japanese and English is quite different in what Tifa’s saying! I contacted Square back then as a concerned fan, but of course, canned response….)

        AC back in the day had a similar situation of “dubtitles”, so this is simply disappointing—I can only hope Square will take fan concerns into account with Remake Part 2.
        About the Ultimania books, I noticed the Japanese Remake Ultimania up on Amazon says “Japanese version”, so hopefully it’s not reading too much into things….?

        Reply
        1. Krystallina (Post author)

          Yeah, and often their localization muddies the script. It’s amazing how inconsistent they can be even with things they could easily look up online to make things consistent — or correct!

          Amazon often puts “Japanese version” (or French/Italian/whatever) on books and stuff that don’t ever receive an English version, so I don’t think that’s a good indicator unfortunately.

          Reply
          1. Sailor Star Dust

            *Disappointed finger snapping ala FF8*

            Win some, lose some, I guess!

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