Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth has no right being this funny

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth has no right being this funny

As many people have said on dating profiles (or mothers on their wall art), I love a video game that makes me laugh, and I am delighted Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth has been so goddamn good at it.

In my time with the game, it has asked me to do absurd things like play a card game against a regular-ass dog. It has featured Cloud Strife, the badass protagonist with a giant sword, carrying a little cushion around for him to use on benches. It’s got dudes who play acoustic guitar at you like the Kens in Barbie, the franchise’s second homoerotic biker duel, and a lot of other things I want to talk about but would probably be spoilers. I mean, Chadley???

But if you’ll allow me the indulgence, I need to talk about one in particular.

Consider this a spoiler warning. I’m serious. I’m going to embed a photo of Cloud Strife playing the piano (also funny) to try and spare casual scrollers, but right underneath it, there will be a YouTube video of one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in video games, one that I recommend seeing for yourself if you’re interested in playing through Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth. (You can’t miss it, it’s part of the story.)

Okay, ready?

Cloud plays piano in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Image: Square Enix

Here it is:

[embedded content]

There are a lot of incredible things about this scene, which takes place in Chapter 5 aboard the Shinra-8 cruise to Costa del Sol. First, like a lot of things in Rebirth, it’s a gag lifted directly from the original Final Fantasy 7, but it’s been given such a lavish reinterpretation that it becomes an entirely different kind of funny, a throwaway gag made into a comedic centerpiece for no reason at all.

As previously established in Final Fantasy 7 Remake, the characters are more than happy to break out into dance, but that still doesn’t prepare you for seeing Red XIII do a Michael Jackson impression, or the (smaller but funnier) sight gag of the canine warrior trying to cross his legs across the table from Cloud. (Also the kid crying at the sight of him kills me every time.)

I don’t think you get any of this in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth without Square Enix’s crucial development decision to never shy away from or soften the oddity of the original game’s polygonal abstraction. Under the older game’s art constraints, the unrealities of, say, riding a dolphin or meeting a talking cat are much easier to roll with, and not particularly unusual.

Recreating these moments with such a high degree of realism is in itself funny, an endearing commitment to a bit I can’t believe a massive studio signed up for. It’s also both a necessary counterbalance to an otherwise dire and melodramatic story — yes, the heroes of Rebirth must also fight for a world that has room for fun and levity — and a bit of a eulogy for this kind of goofballery in modern big-budget games.

Sure, every once in a while we get something like Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the latest in a long line of games that always show players a tremendously goofy time — but Final Fantasy 7’s comedy is something different. It’s a relic from a time when games were a little more mysterious, a little more challenging to interpret, with a little more room to surprise. Maybe publishers will see people eagerly sharing photos of Red XIII riding a chocobo and think, hey, this stuff would be good to have in video games again.