Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade’s co-director Motomu Toriyama has commented on the celebrated queer Honeybee Inn scene following the game’s release on PlayStation 5.
The infamous cross-dressing scene, where protagonist Cloud must dress as a woman to meet a sleazy crime lord, is one of the most memorable of the original PS1 release – though it certainly seems regressive these days.
For Remake, Square Enix expanded on the scene and introduced a new character, Andrea Rhodea, the fabulous and eccentric owner of the Honeybee Inn.
Cloud must once again dress as a woman, but this time he’s challenged to a dance routine with Rhodea that celebrates the queer community, rather than ridiculing it.
In an interview on the Square Enix blog, Toriyama discussed the conception of the scene and how they made it “more of an extravaganza”.
His inspiration was Parisian cabaret and burlesque. “I decided that Cloud’s transformation into his dress and make-up should take place on stage, then Andrea Rhodea would take his hand, and they would dance together before striking a pose,” he says.
Most importantly, the aim in updating the scene was to match modern sensibilities.
“We knew we had to do it in a way that both lived up to those expectations, but took modern sensibilities into consideration,” says Toriyama.
“For example, fans these days expect stories and dialogue in games to go beyond stereotypical depictions of gender. Through Andrea’s lines and the lyrics of the backing track, Stand Up, we tried to build in a positive and supportive message for Cloud during his cross-dressing scene.”
For a Japanese game developer to have such a progressive view is remarkable, and refreshing.
Those “Stand Up” lyrics include the lines “Stand up, cast your fears aside / Stand up, bare your soul with pride”.
There were technical considerations too, especially with regards to Cloud’s final look.
“The original could get away with leaving Cloud’s make-up and hairstyle to the imagination, to a certain extent, due to the blocky polygons of the graphics. However, with modern graphics, you can see everything in much greater detail,” says Toriyama.
“Cloud is a cool and stoic character, so we spent a lot of time making sure that his design for the cross-dressing scene would be an amusing contrast, but also dignified and beautiful.”
Toriyama even went to a dance show in a club in Roppongi (Tokyo) with composer Mitsuto Suzuki to “get a better idea of what a dance show is really like.”
Professional burlesque dancers were then brought in for the choreography, though originally there was a pole dance planned too.
“We decided to take that part out due to the impact on the rating!” says Toriyama.
He’s pleased with the reaction from fans though, despite the changes. “I was a bit worried about what fans of the original game would think, but the whole scene got a much more enthusiastic reception than I could ever have hoped for, so I was quite relieved,” he said.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is available now on PlayStation 5, as is the Intermission DLC – everything you need to know is right here.
Read the full interview on the Square Enix blog.
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