Final Fantasy VII "What If" Story Reveals SNES Release, New York Setting
Final Fantasy VII was initially planned for SNES and set in New York, as shared in Third Edition's Kingdom Hearts book. The volume also adds some interesting details for fans of the role-playing game franchise.
According to a ResetEra user who has funded the book on Kickstarter, Squaresoft had just wrapped up the development on Final Fantasy VI and was starting to plan a follow-up. Producer Hironobu Sakaguchi focused on the theme of life, and the team aimed for a release on the SNES.
The original plan, which also featured New York City as the core setting, was scrapped a little later so that the team could focus on another title, Chrono Trigger.
In 1994, Squaresoft decided that all of its efforts had to be focused on Chrono Trigger, and in those days the team even involved Yoshinori Kitase (credited as Director) and Kingdom Hearts' Tetsuya Nomura, at the time a Field Graphic Designer.
The development work on Final Fantasy VII was only put on hold, before resuming in late 1995. By that time, things had changed so much in the video games industry, as 3D graphics and Sony's PlayStation grew very popular.
That's why the original plan changed so much, with NYC scrapped as the core location. Still, several pillars of the project remain untouched, like the theme of life, protagonist Cloud and the eco-terrorist organization as part of the plot. One of the original Nomura's character designs, a sorceress witch, was retooled as Final Fantasy VIII's Edea, while New York got back in Parasite Eve.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is approaching its March 2020 release fast; production is proceeding steadily so that Square Enix can already plan what's next: in this case, it's Final Fantasy VII Remake's second act.
When playing the Remake, though, you'll be able to note several differences between the original game and the remake, as the Japanese developer helmed by Nomura has added more boss fights and NPC, and focused on the city of Midgar which only accounts for around 5% in the 1997 game.