Although Amano’s paintings are known for imbuing the iconic role-playing series with a touch of ethereal elegance, his remarkable artwork is rarely mirrored within the Final Fantasy games themselves. That’s not to say the franchise doesn’t contain beautiful imagery, but it hardly looks like Amano’s one-of-a-kind illustrations.
“I feel like what I add to the franchise is my approach differs from a game developer’s approach,” Amano told Polygon during a 2017 retrospective on the original Final Fantasy VII. “And I think that gives the art more leeway — it isn’t limited to something that would fit into a game.”
That’s probably why I’m so impressed by this Final Fantasy VII Remake mod. Not only is it inspired by Amano’s largely unrealized concept art, but it also focuses on Barret, who sports the kind of larger frame that doesn’t get much play in the artist’s portfolio due to his focus on more waif-like character designs.
In fact, while poring over Amano’s early Final Fantasy VII concepts, I could only find one that features Cloud’s gun-armed ally, which naturally made developing the mod a tricky exercise.
“[T]here isn’t a lot of art to use as a reference, so I kept all the parts that are visible: ponytail, fur trim, earrings, and facial piercings,” wrote mod creator Amiibolad in its Nexus Mods description. “The rest is my interpretation of Amano’s free form shapes and patterns, and of course: BEADS!”
Amiibolad, who Kotaku previously highlighted for their work on an ambitious Breath of the Wild project, included a handful of variations with the Barret mod that gives players different colour palettes for the new outfit.