Just past the mythril mines and deep in the forests that surround the portside-town-turned military-base of Junon, there is a 12.5% chance of encountering Final Fantasy VII’s legendary Wutain warrior Yuffie Kisaragi. If you do happen to stumble upon her, there are then six ways you can potentially mess up the interaction, sending her off with a couple fists full of your hard earned Gil. Just recently, I watched a friend of mine spend the better part of an hour running in circles on the world map, entering random battle after random battle, attempting to recruit the spunky teen. After three encounters and subsequent failed attempts at getting her to join Cloud and company, my friend shut off her Switch, turned to me, and said, “I seriously already can’t stand this girl.”
In Final Fantasy VII, your optional companion Yuffie doesn’t just come with a wide smile and permanently unbuttoned khaki shorts—she comes with literally everything a character needs to be considered pretty god damn annoying. While I, a young girl, adored and saw myself in Yuffie, growing up everyone I knew who played Final Fantasy VII felt nearly the same way my friend did in the year of our lord 2021: they couldn’t stand her. According to them, Yuffie was young, bratty, arrogant, and inconvenient, and when she stole my party’s materia right as I was headed to the quest line I was actively pursuing, thus sending me off on a lengthy side mission, I can’t deny feeling the same sense of hostility towards her.
After Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced, a lot of folks speculated as to how Square would introduce the original game’s optional characters in the new series, or if they’d even be optional anymore. Late last year, I wrote a cheeky piece on Paste about how Yuffie’s aforementioned ridiculous introduction should be left completely intact so folks get the same experience we did back in ‘97. However by Spring 2021—when Square announced Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade—it became clear they had other plans as to how to introduce Yuffie, plans that admittedly seemed both premature and unusual to older fans. However, after seeing my friend struggle through the original, and playing Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade—Episode: Intermission, I am beyond thankful they gave Yuffie and Final Fantasy fans a much kinder treatment than the original game did.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade—Episode: Intermission is a fantastic fix to all the issues that came with Yuffie and gives her the charming introduction to both players and the series that she deserves. When you pick up Intermission, you do so with a 100% chance of encountering Yuffie, and I’d say a solid 98% chance of being delighted by her. When we first see her, she is humming her chipper theme song while scoping out the Midgar slums. After losing her balance, she is sent tumbling down some tin roofs before regaining her footing just to plummet further. She clumsily makes her way out of the building she falls through, takes a deep breath of that sweet Midgar air, and lets out a sound of disgust. It feels straight out of an anime (as does pretty much all of Final Fantasy VII Remake, let’s be real) and serves as an invitation for the player to laugh alongside the game at Yuffie rather than feel as if the game is laughing at them.
For the next few hours, we learn two important things about Yuffie simultaneously: she is both incredibly goofy and incredibly skilled. While she is young and therefore possesses the moderate arrogance and carelessness that comes with adolescence, she is also implied to have earned respect and should be treated with it. Sonon, a man visibly older than her and seemingly more commanding, refers to her as his boss, which shows us quite explicitly that she is someone who has paid her dues and earned her title. In Intermission’s second chapter, she is pressed to say things she fundamentally disagrees with to get the job done, and does so because she knows her actions and heart are more powerful than her words. Additionally, playing as her feels fantastic, which greatly aids players in appreciating her narratively. Her movements are fluid and empowering, allowing us to perfectly understand why she is regarded so highly and feel her strength as we engage in battle.
Beyond that, her new introduction smoothes out a variety of other issues regarding her perceived maturity. Whereas in Final Fantasy VII you have to put in some serious work to see past her massive ego and raccoon-like obsession with shiny things (materia), in Intermission we see these traits are clearly born out of pride and a love for her people that is beyond her years. While Shinra might literally be suffocating Midgar, their reach and crimes extend far beyond the slums’ chain-link fences. They are slowly killing both the planet and all its various peoples. In Intermission, Yuffie serves as a much needed vessel through which we can start to see how Midgar is perceived through the people they’ve othered even more so than the working class. We see why she is both aggressive and defensive, and all the various ways her character has developed from both her country’s pain and love. There are multiple moments throughout the game where we watch her experience injustice, and we learn that, above all else, that is what she desires to end and is what hurts her the most.
Intermission also has a greater appreciation of something incredibly important to me: Yuffie’s age. When not found annoying, Yuffie was regularly pretty god damn sexualized by Final Fantasy fans who didn’t care all that much that she was a teenager. In Intermission, an interaction she has with Don Corelone’s thugs seems to be a direct way of Square telling folks that even the scum of the earth know she is a child and aren’t interested, so simmer down. While Yuffie feels slighted and argues that she is also cute when the older men brush her off to show interest to the woman she is with, they continue to uphold the fact that she is too young to be considered a sexual prospect for their boss. In addition to appreciating them solidifying how she should be viewed, I do absolutely love the fact that she does argue with them and wants to be considered cute. It feels so much like a 16 year old who is trying to have agency over her body and sexuality—who is stuck in between being an adult and being a child, and has been burdened with the responsibility that makes her long for being taken more seriously. We see this again when she rejects Sonon treating her like his little sister because she longs to be taken seriously.
Ultimately, Intermission is a shining example of the greatest thing Final Fantasy VII Remake has done for the series: turn bits and pieces of fantastic characters into an absolutely compelling cast. Much like Remake as a whole, Intermission rejects what fans expect and think they want to deliver them something they need. While there are certainly many things longtime Final Fantasy VII fans such as myself can pick and pull at in the remake, Square’s ability to make the best parts of Final Fantasy VII better is endlessly impressive, as so is the great ninja Yuffie Kisaragi.
Jessica Howard is the managing editor at gaming site
and a freelance writer with works published at Paste, UPROXX, Collider, and more. She enjoys loud music, hot coffee, and games with romanceable NPCs.