Prerelease Shots Part 2

Posted By at 11:10 PM on Sunday December 19, 2010

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Shademp comments on the differences between the final game and these Final Fantasy VII prerelease screenshots seen in an FFVII teaser that appeared in the May, 1996 issue of GameFan magazine. Editing and additional notations by GlitterBerri. Scans kindly provided by caitshiznit. Click on the interview scans to enlarge!

Timeline

1995:
“Development of Final Fantasy VII resumed in late 1995, and required the efforts of approximately 120 artists and programmers, using PowerAnimator and Softimage|3D software and a budget of more than US$30 million.” – Unseen64

May 1996:
GameFan Volume 4 Issue 5, which contains the interview analyzed here, is released.

June 27th, 1996:
The last Japanese FFVII demo file is modified.

August 2nd, 1996:
Tobal No.1 is released in Japan, along with a Sampler Disc containing a demo for FFVII.

August 17th, 1996:
The last English FFVII demo file is modified.

September 30th, 1996:
The English version of Tobal and the demo is released in North America. (It is unknown to me if any differences aside from the language exist in the English FFVII Tobal demo.)

January 6th, 1997:
The last files of the first Japanese release of FFVII are modified.

January 31st, 1997:
The “Finished” game is released in Japan.

Screenshot Analysis

(For a clearer view of this image, see the picture that was once found on the now-deleted Japanese site for the original FFVII, a beta version of this well-known CG shot.)

-The beta shows us Cloud’s earlier “realistic CG self”. It is more similar to the battle model.
See this shot from Unseen64 for comparison.
-The proportions of Cloud’s Buster Sword are different. In the beta the Materia slot takes up a larger percentage of the sword’s width. In proportion to Cloud the beta Buster Sword looks longer.
– Cloud’s Buster Sword only has one Materia slot in the beta shot unlike in the final shots where the sword has two.
-The sharp edge of the Buster Sword is held to the opposite side.

As many know, the first characters created for FFVII were Cloud, Aerith and Barret. “Bullet”, likely the origin of Barret’s name, is an acceptable romanization of Baretto and is used for the English translation here. It is unknown why the localization staff settled on Barret in the end.

Notice Cosmo Canyon (COSMO) and Mythril Mine (PSDUN_4). They look pretty much identical to the final product, from what can be seen, though the walls of PSDUN_4 may have received some very small retouches.

Notice the photo of the Beginner’s Hall in Junon, field file JUNPB_2. Neither of those two NPCs are seen in-game. In addition, no NPC is that much bigger than Cloud in the final game.

The shot right below is of JUNPB_1. Judging from Cloud’s model, this is from the development stage seen in the early part of the “Making of FFVII” (1, 2) video found on the 4th disc of FF7 International. At this stage the developers were still experimenting with making the walkmesh match the pre-rendered backgrounds, trying to make Cloud’s steps match how far he should walk on the background (which doesn’t match at all). Some primitive NPCs are seen in the shot as well.

Cloud Field Models:
We can conclude that there were at least three versions for world-roaming Cloud.
1. Shortest Cloud, with arms to his side. Seen in early footage but never playable.
2. Short Cloud. Arms in a diagonal position. A more cartoony
look. Playable in the Tobal No.1 FFVII sampler disc.
3. Final Cloud, first playable in the original Japanese game.

More shots of what, as far as we’ve seen, are the earliest battle models and menus. The spells that correspond in the the final product to Barrier and MBarrier gauges are placed below and partially obscured by the character names. Limit bars are situated in the left menu window. The limit bars were later moved to the left of the Active Time Attack bar, no longer leaving room for the Max MP to be displayed. The Barrier gauges were moved to where the Limit bar once was. Notice that the limit bars are called “LIMIT”. This is interesting because in the English
Tobal No.1 FFVII sampler disc the limits are called “SPECIAL”, and the attacks are labeled Special Attacks rather than Limit Attacks. The reason for the differing translation is unknown, though it may be due to the term “special” (as in “special attack”) being more familiar to gamers than the contextually meaningless word “limit”.

The Midgar model is seen from a different angle than the FMV intro shows. Some lamps are missing, and the base of Sector 0 seems angled differently in relation to the top floor structure.

MD1_2:
Notice the Shinra Guards which are not there even in the demo. This brings us to a total of three versions of this background: the early footage, the Tobal demo version, and the final version.

NMKIN_3:
We also have 3 version of this map. Beta, demo, and final.

NMKIN_4:
The beta footage is different. I cannot spot any differences between the demo and final versions, except that the animation of the Mako gas at the bottom looks choppier in the Demo and has fewer animations. This means the animation was improved for the final version.

NMKIN_5:
The beta footage looks different from the final game. The demo and final versions of this background are both the same. I can spot no differences.

NRTHMK:
This early footage lacks the text “N-8th” on the wall to the left. The demo and final versions appear to be the same.

The big NPC with the green lederhosen appears yet again, along with the blue-shirt NPC.

I can spot no discernable difference between this version of the RCKT map and the final game. The screen shows various shots of Cloud moving closer and closer to the camera, showing that the programmers learned to match Cloud’s distance from the camera with his place on the pre-rendered background.

The zoom-in of Midgar matches the CG sequence seen in the “Making of FFVII” video on FF7 International’s 4th disc.

The Aerith, Barret, and Cloud art are basically the the same as the later official art, with slight differences. Noticeable is Cloud’s darker skin.

A shot of Cosmo Canyon with what is presumably the beta version of either COS_BTM or COS_BTM2 (probably the former). Rock pillars in the background were removed for the final version. The fire looks different, a ladder is missing, and these screens show that Cosmo Canyon once had its flames contained in lamps, whereas in the final game the fires are all on torches of some form. The designers may have figured that the latter made Cosmo Canyon appear more earthbound and naturalistic.

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5 Responses

  1. Some of your image links to the maps are broken/incorrect.

    You’ll recall this shot, with dialogue: http://s152.photobucket.com/albums/s168/VanishedOne/screenshots_miscellaneous/?action=view&current=FFVII_beta_scan_clip.jpg As I’ve mentioned before, the early version of that background still appears as a page backdrop in the International instruction manual (if you’d like a scan…).

    That really big NPC looks a little like Barret, although he’d have to be very roughly coloured… The hair colour reminds me more of the NPC model with the purple-ish waistcoat (I think…).

  2. GlitterBerri says:

    I noticed you were having trouble and preempted you, actually. =) They should be fixed now.

    Sure, a scan could be cool, if you had the time!

    Thanks for letting me know.

  3. […] is very interesting. It’s one of the maps we see in the GameFan article in Prerelease Shots Part 2, written 9 months before the release of the final […]

  4. Them Ds says:

    “Thankfully, thry didn’t hire real actors!, WHEW!” -Paraphrase

    Final Fantasies after FF7 come out, with Really Realistic Character models,

    “Welp, looks like like I’ll have to pack up and be going.”

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