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Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth - A PS1 mod from the early 10's

cold_spirit

he/him
AKA
Alex T
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. A title that's on everyone's mind right now. However, I wanted to shed some light on another oft-forgotten Rebirth in FFVII's storied history.

rebirthlogofaded_copy.png

Mod DB: https://www.moddb.com/mods/final-fantasy-7-rebirth

Qhimm: https://forums.qhimm.com/index.php?topic=9600.0

Developed by Yojimbo_Beta (known as Bosola on Qhimm forums), Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth is a PS1 mod from the early 2010's that sought to rebalance the original game by significantly overhauling enemy AI and player spells/equipment. Here's the description:

Final Fantasy 7. The perfect game?

Proving popular with countless generations of gamers, despite its age, inspiring fanart, fiction, a series of spinoff games and even a full-budget movie, it's tempting to fit Final Fantasy VII with the title 'Greatest. Game. Ever'.

And I'll agree, it's an awesome game - but, as much as I love FF7, as much I enjoy playing through it over, and over, there's always been a nagging suspicion: could it be... better?

Let's be honest. The battles can get a little too samey, there's little incentive to experiment with materia, and the game can all to easily be bested by simply attacking and spamming Cure-All. We've all heard horror stories about players who have managed to push themselves to the Northern Crater without even grasping the basics of the materia system.

This mod - this rebalance - seeks to address these issues, altering enemy statistics and AI, nerfing overpowered skills whilst promoting others that have been neglected, introducing new tactics, creating cunning and entertaining creatures, and overall making battles far more exciting and engaging.

So, what exactly will the rebirth mod feature? Work is still in progress, and I intent to keep certain features secret until release, so as not to spoil matters, but the mod has the following broad aim in mind: to promote a more strategic mode of gameplay. You won't be able to mash attack to get through REBIRTH. You'll have to keep your wits as sharp as your sword, and think carefully about every choice you make through the entire game.

I think you'll love it.

My favorite change is that enemies are divided into classes, each with own resistances and weaknesses, and renamed accordingly. For example, Materia Keeper in Rebirth is renamed Hexadragon, cluing in players on its dragon classification (which, in this mod, are weak to ice and resistant to fire).

Here's the full list of planned features:

* A new elemental system. Enemies can now be intuitively divided into classes, each with their own elemental affinities. It should be intuitive when a creature is weak to a certain spell. Who looks at a Wolfmeister and guesses it will be weak to water?

* A new status system. Enemies can now have their status vulnerabilities guessed from their appearance and bearing. Status spells now no longer take note of accuracy, and enemies now *all* have some status vulnerabilities, but *none* are subject to gamebreaking combinations. You should be able to see an enemy, use your brain, and change tactics to confound an enemy - in vanilla FF7, it's a matter of randomly trying out spells, hoping they'll hit, and occasionally finding a gamebreaking combo (like an enemy weak to both mini and berserk). This makes for dull trial and error followed by dull single-spell spamming.

* Enemy skills rebalanced: some are altered completely. Consider Lullaby, that acts like FF9's Night. Or Purge Flame, that heals statuses at the cost of fire damage.

* Holy, Air and Wind spells are now available to the player, and these elements now play a real part.

* Enemy stats boosted; steal rates tweaked to make stealing genuinely useful.

* Weapons completely changed. Vincent now has a range of pistols - including an MP sapping Silver Rifle and the Sleep inducing Tranq Rifle. Cloud now has a Blood Sword; Cid now has a range of elemental spears; and Barret has a collection of multi-targeting machineguns.

* Stat curves completely altered to differentiate characters. Materia stat changes are now non-trivial, and can make a radical difference to how characters play.

* Vincent no longer makes spacktastic Limit Break choices, like using Beast Flare on the Materia Keeper.

* Sephiroth controllable

* Completely rejigged accessories. Status protection carefully portioned out to promote a more tactical style of play. Will you use Headbands with Lullaby to put enemies to bed? Will you try the Zombie Ring for massive power at the cost of being able to heal? Use Star Pendants to make Bad Breath a multi-hitting, MP cheap Esuna? With enemy stats boosted, and overpowered spells preened, there's now a real incentive to experiment with these strategies.

* A new Defence Break mechanic that works with a spell named 'Shatter'. Like Meltdown, Shatter reduces enemy defences, *but* multiple castings *don't* stack (it doesn't work like an inverted Dragon Force).

"Hold up, did you say planned features? Is this mod not finished?"

That's the interesting part. Yojimbo_Beta released an alpha version of Rebirth that showcased the mod's full feature set up to the Kalm flashback. From there, you can continue playing the remainder of disc 1 with Rebirth's spells, equipment, and tougher enemies. If you'd like to give the demo a shot, download it via the Mod DB link above. Additionally, you can follow discussion on it over on Qhimm forums.

Unfortunately, all development on Rebirth ceased sometime in 2012. Yojimbo_Beta shared these comments about it on YouTube, six years ago:

It was a very time consuming project, and I found it difficult to stop tweaking and polishing things. Testing is onerous and bugs are hard to diagnose. Plus, half way through I discovered that a tool I was using had been silently corrupting most of my battle scenes. All in all it probably takes 10 hours to develop a single hour's gameplay, and that's in a title that can be stretched to 70 hours in total. And the longer you wait, the higher your standards, because how else can you justify the wait? So you feel pressured to add more and more, which makes debugging and regression testing longer and longer, and rebalancing tougher and tougher.

The scope of the project ballooned out of control, and every change was very expensive to build and test in terms of time. Ultimately the project became a monstrosity - restarted several times over, with six or so hours of polished gameplay, but months and months of development needed before completion. I simply wasn't able to commit the time to something that I'd begun to dread working on. Rebirth isn't necessary dead, but if it does come back, it'll be in a much more modest, much less ambitious shape.


A fascinating and eerily predictive fan project, for sure. Beside the name, its logo is also shockingly similar to the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, utilizing red in place of green.

final-fantasy-7-rebirth-full.jpg

Did Yojimbo_Beta receive memories of Rebirth from a universe where the game has already released? Or perhaps they sent their memories back in time via the lifestream? Whatever the case, one can't help but admire the passion on display here. Even though the credits rolled long ago, fans keep creating new reasons to revisit this world. A true testament to the impact of FFVII.
 
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