It’s been a long wait for the next chapter in the Final Fantasy VII remake, but Square Enix finally gave us a taste.

After years of pandemic-related downsizes, the Tokyo Game Show is back in full force for 2023. As proof of this return to full-scale form, look no farther than the booth of publisher Square Enix, which has a whopping 100 demo stations set up for visitors to experience a taste of its most anticipated title, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.

We sent our Japanese-language reporter Tasuku Egawa out to the Makuhari Messe Convention center to check out the second game in the ongoing remake of Final Fantasy VII. After a quick explanation of the controls from the Square Enix staff, the demo presents you with a choice between two different parts of the game to try. One of these, The World of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth: Junon Area, features a large number of the cast of characters, Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, Barret, and Red XIII, as they explore the military town of Junon. The other choice, though, Fated Beginnings: Sephiroth and Cloud, was too tempting for Tasuku to pass up, since it lets you control Sephiroth, Final Fantasy VII’s iconic villain, at a point in the story before he slips into darkness.

The scene should be familiar to anyone who played the original version of Final Fantasy VII. Sephiroth, at this time a hero for his exploits as part of the organization Soldier, is leading an investigative mission to the village of Nibelheim. Nibelheim just so happens to be Cloud’s hometown, and he’s also part of the operation, as is his childhood friend Tifa, who’s serving as the Soldiers’ guide.

▼ And yes, this is the part in the narrative where Tifa dresses like a cowgirl.

Playing as Sephiroth is a total power trip, Tasuku giddily reports. The game lets you switch between controlling Sephiroth and Cloud in combat, and the former is on a totally different power level. That’s not to say there’s nothing for Cloud to do, though. One of the additions to the combat system for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, which wasn’t present in the main version of Final Fantasy VII Remake, is Team Attacks, and the two dudes with oversized swords can do an awesome synergetic strike.

Again, while they’ll eventually become bitter adversaries, Cloud and Sephiroth are on the same side here. Sephiroth is basically Cloud’s idol, so when they defeat the boss at the end of the demo and Sephiroth, as the senior member of the organization, tells Cloud “You did good”…

…is has, to quote Tasuku, Cloud looking like a…

“puppy dog, 1st class.”

▼ This Cloud looks like he just stepped out of a shojo manga, Tasuku says.

▼ Though he’s on the short side for a Final Fantasy protagonist, Sephiroth’s compliment has Cloud standing tall.

By the way, in the demo there’s a helmeted grunt-level guy accompanying Cloud and Sephiroth, but no sign of Zack, a Soldier contemporary of Sephiroth’s who’s supposed to be a big part of the story. Curious…

▼ Zack even shows up in the “thank you for playing” screen at the end of the demo, so where could he be during the Nibelheim mission?

Square Enix is also showing off some cool new Final Fantasy VII merch at its Tokyo Game Show booth, like these figures of Cloud and Tifa performing their Limit Break attacks, Ascension and Dolphin Flurry/Dolphin Blow.

Both of these figures will be part of an upcoming Final Fantasy VII Rebirth merchandise lottery, with some of the other possible prizes, such as retro blocky polygon-style figures, key holders, and hand towels, showcased here.

The game’s vinyl soundtrack comes on a beautiful illustrated record with Aerith and Tifa gazing longingly at the sky, highlighting their status as both adventuring partners and romantic rivals.

And because there’s no fandom quite like Sephiroth fandom, Rebirth’s special Deluxe and Collector’s Editions come with a statue of the one-winged angel standing amidst flames.

There’s even a cute super-deformed Sephiroth figure on the way, plus a Cait Sith plushie and figures based off the original 1990s Tetsuya Nomura character design illustrations for the cast.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is scheduled for release on February 29, and it looks like it’s going to definitely be worth the wait.

Photos ©SoraNews24
Final Fantasy © Square Enix
Character Design : Tetsuya Nomura/Roberto Ferrari
Logo Illustraiton ©Yoshitaka Amano

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