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Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth Director Naoki Hamaguchi Visits Manila, Thanks Philippine Fans for Supporting the Series

It’s been a couple of days since FF7 fans finally got the long-awaited continuation of the Remake saga with the release of “Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth” for the PlayStation 5, and Bandai Namco Asia and Square Enix Asia decided to give fans in the Philippines a very special treat last weekend by holding a launch event for the newly released game – with the director of the game in Naoki Hamaguchi paying a special visit to Manila and joining in the celebration here!

Held at SM City North EDSA The Block from March 1 to 3, the FFVII Rebirth launch event was a very intimate gathering of Final Fantasy 7 fans – with a large activation area set up in the middle of the wing featuring booths, displays, and a center stage patterned after famous locations found in the game. Primarily inspired by the Gold Saucer amusement center, the launch event was a fun-filled gallery with different activities to participate in – including a huge photo wall display featuring standees of main characters Cloud Strife, Sephiroth, and Zack Fair, a Chocobo Stop with benches visitors could sit in and take photos from, a gacha machine featuring some stuffed toys that looked like Mogs, and of course playable PS5 booths set up that featured copies of FF VII Rebirth that anyone could try out to get a taste of the game themselves.

On March 2 and the second day of the launch event, Naoki Hamaguchi paid a visit to the FF VII Rebirth activation and took to the stage to discuss and share his thoughts with the audience. Starting out a fan and heavily inspired by Final Fantasy VI, Hamaguchi-san entered the games industry after graduating from college – and began his career by working on the Final Fantasy XIII games. He would also work on Mobius Final Fantasy as Project Leader, before eventually leaving that position to work on Final Fantasy VII Remake alongside longtime series director Tetsuya Nomura. He would be promoted to co-director for that game and share duties with Nomura-san – and eventually on February of 2021 Square Enix would announce that Hamaguchi would become the new main director of the series after Nomura stepped down to work on other projects while remaining as creative director for the series.

With the press, media, and guests invited to a special meet and greet session with the director himself, it was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to know one of the creative minds behind one of the most anticipated games of the year. Coming from other launch events held in the United States and South Korea, Hamaguchi-san said he was excited since it was his very first visit to the Philippines. When he heard that Bandai Namco Asia and Square Enix Asia were holding a launch event for FF VII: Rebirth in Manila, he changed his schedule to accommodate the trip so he could see for himself how the fans and Final Fantasy community looked in this side of the world. He definitely wasn’t disappointed with the turnout and everyone loved him for making the visit.

Having played the original Final Fantasy VII on the first Sony PlayStation when it was released in 1997, it was definitely a moment to remember getting to meet one of the creative minds behind the new remake games. I was in line alongside hundreds of lucky fans who got to talk to Hamaguchi-san and show our appreciation for creating FF VII Remake and Rebirth. He was very humble and accommodating, and actually complimented the shirt I wore – which paid tribute to the old school FF VII menu screen featuring the iconic Buster Sword and next to the words “New Game”, “Continue?”, and “Remake”. I was very happy to take in the moment, and happy that Hamaguchi-san signed my copy of Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth too!

Also taking the time to visit and add some excitement to the event were a number of very passionate and dedicated Final Fantasy VII cosplayers – with ZackT as Cloud Strife, Roxanne Kho as Tifa Lockhart, Nicola Ber as Aerith Gainsborough, Jinsei Cosplay as Yuffie Kisaragi, and Elij, Gia, and Rui’s Haunt dressed as Reno, Cissnei, and Tseng respectively from the Turks. All of them are dedicated to their craft and most of them made their own costumes from scratch, with Zack and Rox’s tandem as Cloud and Tifa standing out and absolutely reminding us of why these two characters are paired and celebrated as a couple by FF7 fans since the original was released over 27 years ago.

Besides Hamaguchi-san himself, the program also featured two other very special guests who came over to celebrate the launch of FF VII: Rebirth and take time to show their appreciation as fans – Alodia Gosiengfiao-Quimbo and Ashley Gosiengfiao. The two sisters who are professional cosplayers and gamers themselves have been longtime fans of Final Fantasy, with Alodia actually bringing a special gift for Hamaguchi-san in the form of a Black Rose encased in a glass case. The Cosplay Queen addressed the special meaning of this gift – as it symbolized their gaming guild as well as their passion for the entire franchise that has meant so much to video game and RPG lovers the world over.

As the first of its kind held in Manila for a major game franchise known to gamers across the globe, the Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth launch event definitely helped set a precedent for organizers to hold more events like these where more creatives and talent who helped shaped the games we play should come and visit the country to meet the fans based here. Even after the program, those who were lucky to enter the raffle contest held by Bandai Namco Asia and Square Enix Asia got a chance to win exclusive prizes – including Deluxe Editions and a Collector’s Edition of Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth! There were several winners of course, and those who took home the prize got a chance to play one of the biggest games finally on their PS5 or have a good excuse to buy one at last!

Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth is now available on the PlayStation 5.