Final Fantasy VII went through several different drafts, and Parasite Eve, Xenogear and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. But Final Fantasy VII could have been really different from what we originally got to play. I’ve found this out while reading Final Fantasy VII trivia on TVTropes, and I was pretty surprised:
According to legend, Hironobu Sakaguchi’s original pitch for Final Fantasy VII was a Detective Drama taking place in modern-day New York City. Obviously, these segments were incorporated into the first few hours of the game, followed by a more traditional RPG Overworld Not to Scale once Cloud leaves Midgar. Eventually, Sakaguchi had his way and got his NYC gumshoe plot made, starring a gender-flipped Cloud, to boot (i.e. Elena).
Many cut concepts for the game, including Cloud really being a Sephiroth-created copy of the original Cloud, who would occasionally speak through him. (I’m not sure I understand, can someone enlighten me please?)
Sephiroth and Aerith being former lovers(!), or brother and sister. (
…or both if you watch some anime…)
Most interesting is the idea that “Jenova” would be the term for a certain aspect of humans that when “awakened” with Mako gave them magical abilities. Again, this was later incorporated into Parasite Eve with its power-hungry mitochondria. (Also incorporated in Advent Children with the GeoStigma, only as a destructive malady instead of magical powers.)
Sephiroth’s “Jenova” powers would be heightened, and his madness caused by over-exposure to Mako. In other words, Sephiroth could have ended up being a silver-haired Expy of Kefka.
Red XIII had an entire subplot based around him cut from the game. He was going to have his own Quirky Miniboss Squad of feline clones created by Hojo that would repeatedly attack the party (Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII actually incorporated some of this idea).
Yuffie also had a major character-based subplot cut from the game due to time constraints, in which she was a former SOLDIER hired by Shinra to kill Sephiroth and Cloud. She was also intended to be 25 years old, nine years older than she turned out in the final game. (I hope they don’t retcon Yuffie to make her a hired gun of Shinra.)
Early concepts of Vincent had him wielding a scythe instead of a handgun. His profession changed from horror researcher to chemist, to detective and finally, the ex-Turk turned undead gunslinger we know today. His detective concept had him, the party, and even the player unaware of his shapeshifting powers until some time after he would join the party. Vincent would be the most shocked upon awakening his powers – and his various forms would carry over into the Field maps and cutscenes. (Missed opportunity in the game, but rife with awesome possibilities in the remake.)
In earlier drafts, Vincent was supposed to be a Film Noir-style detective and an Expy of Agent Mulder from The X-Files. (Detective Joe Valentine?)
Aerith’s death was originally supposed to happen at the Northern Crater instead of the Lost City.
A significant chunk of the Honeybee Inn was left on the cutting room floor. Probably because the final product was already pushing things. (Who knows how much we’ll get in the remake.)
Sephiroth was at one point meant to be a “Child by Rape”, with his conception and the subsequent experiments being an explicit case of Medical Rape and Impregnate. The final product made the situation more ambiguous, with the Compilation eventually revealing that Lucrecia was a willing participant the whole time. (Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII again.)
The remake probably won’t include any of these elements. Still, who knows if they’ll include Easter Eggs relating to these earlier concepts. I guess we’re going to have to keep our eyes open for homages.