The Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster Series makes its way to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch today! These games were originally available on PC and Mobile in mid-2021 through early 2022. They received many patches and lots of fan feedback. Now, here we are with the ultimate editions of these classic titles. In this Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster review, I shall discuss the quality of the remastering and offer you, the reader, a look at each game through my words. Let’s get to it!
Remastering Job and New Features
These are remasters after all, so what exactly has been remastered? Visuals, audio, game balance, and more.
The graphics have been updated and the sound has been completely overhauled. The main prerogative with the graphics was to create a unified style between games. They succeeded! It’s a cohesive package in that regard. Tilesets and design retain their original visual identity but the look of the menus and effects stay the same between the remastered games. Man, the new arrangements for the soundtracks are nothing short of amazing masterworks. Give them a listen!
The nice thing about these remasters is the Quality of Life. You can manually save, quick save anywhere, and there is an auto-save every screen transition. That’s a lotta saves! Added exclusively to these console versions are the Boosters. You can increase or decrease the EXP, Gil, AP, and Skill gains in each game. Make grinding a breeze or make the games harder. You can even turn on 0x multipliers. That’s great for challenge runs or preventing over-leveling. You can turn off random encounters as well.
There is also a gallery full of artwork available for each game. Check out high-resolution scans of concept art and game art. There’s also a music library, enabling you to listen to these pristine soundtracks whenever you like! A neat feature also added to the console releases is that you can swap between the new music arrangements or the original soundtracks! How lovely!
Personally, I think all of these features are great. You get some nice extras and tons of options as a player. You can pick and choose options to your liking and play how you want. I will also add: it seems the Nintendo Switch version has some minor stutters. They’re not particularly intrusive and they seem to be connected to the auto save feature and loading certain battle effects. I’m not sure if this is a Unity thing or the Switch itself but these have little bearing on the experience, especially since most other versions don’t lock 60 fps or feel as good as these remasters. There is one upgrade I intentionally saved for next, as it deserves its own section.
The biggest controversy in gaming was caused by these humble little remasters. The original font was small, not pixelated, and scrunched up. You would have thought it was the end of the world and that you were going to get wiped off the face of the earth by weapons of mass destruction, but it was just a mildly befuddling design choice. The old font was perfectly readable and probably widely supported. I don’t think it was a deal-breaker at all. When a new font was announced for these console ports I wasn’t impressed. Until I played the games with it.
Wow, it really is night and day. That old font should be considered an assault on me as a person. I wasn’t going to press charges but I changed my mind. The new font is indeed pixel-y, matching the goal of these remasters. The font is also larger with improved kerning, making it more accessible due to improved readability. I almost wanna say they shouldn’t have included the old font. Oops! I said it! One last thing, how dare you make the new, amazing font, not the default one. I had to spend 10 whole seconds changing it to the superior font. Joking aside, the new font is great and I highly recommend it.
Final Fantasy, the game that started it all. It’s a simple game but has a lot going for it. It was almost series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi’s last game. It wasn’t. I’m so glad it wasn’t. Ms. Kazuko Shibuya, one of the main pixel artists of Final Fantasy and a prolific character designer as well, is one of the main reasons Final Fantasy got green-lit. Seriously! The game didn’t have an artist on board when the game was pitched, it was due to her volunteering that the pitch wasn’t rejected. The programming genius Nasir and the now legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu soon followed suit. And that, as they say, is that.
The world of Final Fantasy doesn’t have as much personality as future games, but it has the same sense of wonder. Shockingly (not), the sci-fi elements and more out there elements have been here since day numero uno. It seems like this has always been part of the series’ identity, huh? Anyways, There are some standard fantasy races, some normal places, and your everyday… robots in a sky fortress, some classic time loop conspiracies? Oh wow! There’s some amazing stuff here despite its look! You even get to meet pirates, sail a ship, and fly an AIRship. All of this stuff in more is all rooted in exploration. You may get lost but there’s always something to find or a hint to guide you. You may stray off the intended path just to gain some experience from a rare monster or find some awesome treasure. This specific, classic sense of adventure and exploration in Final Fantasy is only rivaled by Final Fantasy III, in my opinion.
Simplicity is the strong point of the original Final Fantasy in this day and age. Back in 1987, it was cutting edge, but 35 years of updates have only made the ease of access better. This isn’t a knock against it I assure you! After all, something simple and fun can be very refreshing from the visually busy, wonderfully convoluted, and visually dense RPGs of today. Sometimes all you need is a charming, fun little adventure from yesteryear. The combat: classic turn-based. The setting: uses classic fantasy tropes, “borrows” from Dungeons and Dragon, and is missing what would later be classic Final Fantasy mainstays (besides the origins of certain job classes). The story: it has a twist that solidified FF as an ambitious franchise that pushes the envelope in what a player can understand. This is still a simple story because, while this story’s twist still requires a bit of brain power to process, it’s a light story barring the ending.
It’s so interesting to see how the series started. You can starkly see the inspirations the team had from both Western and Japanese tabletop and video games. You can even see the metaphorical pot beginning to simmer while watching all of these ideas begin to stew. Things may have started simply, but the ingredients were always there.
I suppose this is just a hallmark of the Final Fantasy series. Firstly, it’s not pure Western fantasy and secondly, it’s not a bog-standard story with a bland setting. Curse you, Nomura! I can’t believe you understand the series’ identity! Oh, I’m not cursing Nomura or his team for “sullying” Final Fantasy, I’m cursing them for making my favorite series so good!
I have gone on record (a couple of paragraphs ago) to say that Final Fantasy is simple. That’s by today’s standards. Back in the radical 80s, this was some top-of-the-line tech, bro. You could SEE your characters, you had multiple vehicles to traverse the world with, there were a ton of on-screen monsters, and DEM FX! Seriously, that had to have been mind-blowing. The sense of scale was great too. There was a huge world with several dungeons, towns, and side areas you never had to set foot in. This ambition and evolution is something that Final Fantasy still strives for to this day.
I’ll toss this in here for fun. Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin is a good origin story for the series. It takes what little tidbits of story there are and the mystery of the setting to create an awesome spinoff that revels in the original Final Fantasy. The stuff Stranger of Paradise does with Astos, the Lufenians, and even the twist of the original game is nothing short of amazing.
As far as different versions go Final Fantasy has a few. The NES original is definitely the most punishing with basically no Quality of Life features to speak of. You can only save the game when resting at inns, your party members will attack the empty space where a foe was previously if they get slain before said party member’s turn and some spells are bugged. The PS1 version has an FMV opening, updated pixel art, a ‘memo save’ feature, and it’s all accompanied by a wonderful soundtrack arrangement that has a different flavor than what’s on offer from this Pixel Remaster. The GBA version is an updated port of the PS1 version with worse music, an easier rebalancing of the game, and some extra content that includes bosses and enemies from Final Fantasy 2-6. Instead of the GBA version, I can recommend the PSP version because it’s basically the same content-wise, has an added dungeon for the 25th anniversary of the series, the awesome PS1 soundtrack, and updated graphics. I will say that I enjoy the pixel art in the PS1 and GBA versions more than the somewhat gaudy PSP version’s.
Final Fantasy is lacking in the story, personality, and battle departments compared to what video games and Final Fantasy would later become, but that classic feel is pretty fresh in today’s world, I feel. Just sit back, and enjoy some history. Take a chill pill and soak in that comfy setting. Recline and relish some grinding so that you can beat a boss or nab some treasure. Revel in that crazy plot twist at the end. Watch the credits roll and let those feelings of nostalgia and accomplishment soak in, for you are the Warrior of Light.
Final Fantasy II
Final Fantasy II came hot off the heels of the original Final Fantasy. Just around a year later, it hit Japanese store shelves. Yep, Final Fantasy was now a full-fledged series. Instead of outright iteration, it went in several new directions. The setting is entirely different, the characters have names and semblances of personality, the plot is expanded with an actual tone, the battle system has been touched up, and this is all accompanied by a completely revamped leveling system. Woah. They REALLY went all out. It panned out decently too! Well, only enough to make a multi-million-selling series with 35 years of heritage. So I suppose it did alright.
Final Fantasy II is often called the black sheep of the series. Along with Final Fantasy VIII. And Final Fantasy XIII. And probably more to be honest, nobody seems to know what Final Fantasy IS. Moving on, Final Fantasy II does have some outstanding elements (outstanding in terms of being an outlier not necessarily exemplary). The leveling system is pretty unique. From what I can find it may be the first video game to use this system. It was inspired by tabletop games, I believe. I’ll discuss it more in-depth soon. MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV and many Western RPGs use similar systems. The melancholic tone and story elements were intense for the era and still holds an air of uniqueness even among future entries. Despite being a “black sheep”, series mainstays such as Cid and Chocobos have their humble origins traced to this game! The keyword system is also neat but a bit clunky. Although, I don’t have any advice on how to improve it really. It does add a neat immersion factor, though! Having to memorize words and then ask them to certain people is kind of awesome.
Freedom. That is the one word I’d choose to describe both the story and the customization systems of Final Fantasy II. The story centers around a band of young Rebels fighting back against a, quite literally, hellish Empire. The story is riddled with loss as you make your comeback against the Empire. The main theme of the game that plays as you explore the overworld perfectly represents the tone and themes. Freedom is also THE descriptor of the leveling system. You can arm any character with any weapon you wish and teach them whatever magic spells you desire. Their personal stats and prowess will grow the more they use certain weapons and skills. There are no traditional levels. You train as you would in real life and gain proficiency.
The unique battle system has its issues. Creating a balanced team can be difficult. I personally don’t understand the parameters for increasing stats or skill levels. Yes, I know that using spells and performing certain actions are tied to stat and skill increases, but I don’t understand the timing of when this happens if that makes sense. You either make a stupidly overpowered team or a ridiculously lopsided one. The fourth party member is constantly being swapped out over the course of the story, which can make you feel like you wasted your time building them up if you don’t already know what is going to happen and when.
Tangent time. This game may have the worst level design in the series. There are dozen of empty rooms with absurdly high encounter rates. Many dungeons have actual mazes, door-guessing games, and paths that are 80% too long. Like, good lord. You’ll be running around like a chicken with its head cut off if that chicken was also a rat in a maze. All the while, you’ll be bombarded with random battles that can be excruciating. RPG is my favorite genre. My patience and appreciation have been tempered over decades and even this pushes me to the edge. If the setting and ideas weren’t so cool I don’t believe that I could take these flaws in stride.
Final Fantasy II does have some distinctions to its versions. Funnily enough, it seems that each subsequent rerelease of the game whittles down the more abrasive elements. Meaning, that my impressions of the game come from the ‘improved’ version. Yeah, most of my experience comes from the GBA version and this remaster. The Famicom original has a system in place where you actually LOSE stats and proficiency if you don’t train properly. Talk about harsh. The PS1 and GBA versions removed this feature. The PS1 version has a great arranged soundtrack and awesome revamped graphics. The GBA can’t handle that kind of supreme audio so it ditches it, but the GBA version does include a kind of neat side story as consolation. The PSP has the good soundtrack and the bonus content. I still say the Pixel Remaster is the best version because of its modernity. Also, that side story is cool but wasn’t cool enough for me to ever finish it.
Final Fantasy II is a really cool game. Neat ideas and awkward execution at times. I have played the game a couple of times all the way through. I do enjoy it and I do think some of the hate for it is unwarranted. Those dungeon designs, though. I’m shaking my head writing this. Was the designer of the dungeons designing these with the intention of creating, for real, tortuous dungeons? Did they not get the memo that they were for a video game that was supposed to elicit fun?
Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy III was released in 1990 on the Famicom. It took a step back after Final Fantasy II’s radical departure. Square chose to refine elements from Final Fantasy and innovate with the new Job Class System. The game never officially left Japan until the 2006 Nintendo DS remake. That remake was my first Final Fantasy.
Darkness is threatening to engulf the world, and the only ones who can stop are the Crystals’ chosen champions, the Warriors of Light. Sounds familiar, huh? Don’t worry, the game does a few interesting things to twist the classic tale the original game spun. Final Fantasy III also has much more variety and a much larger world. the way you traverse and interact with the world is amazing. I was blown away as a child and I’m still blown away by it today.
Final Fantasy III has some of the best adventuring spirit in the series. I seriously wonder where it all went. Not that future games have bad exploration or uninteresting worlds, mind you, but they never, NEVER, revisit some of this stuff. Final Fantasy III has moments where you must shrink down to mini size to explore areas or turn yourself into a toad to access hidden passages. WHAT?! That’s so cool! Why has this not been revisited in over 30 years? I hope I’m not saying this just to find out FFXI does it. But seriously, this little touch is so creative and adds to the sense of adventure to me. Yeah, it mechanically acts as a locked door or forces certain jobs, but it’s all part of the fun!
Under the hood the battle system is basic like the original Final Fantasy. However, jobs can be changed at any time and each job has a special ability unique to it. Certain boss fights or dungeons require or suggest certain party compositions. There’s a boss weak to dragoons and when you’re mini’d only magic can deal proper damage. It’s pretty fun to test out what works, what doesn’t, and what you like. There are more examples but you’ll have to play and see.
This is my favorite version of the game for a couple of reasons: 1) the pacing is perfect, and you can do almost everything in the game in around 15 hours and 2) The job system removes the capacity and adjustment systems. Those two things make this a fun, highly-replayable romp for me. Bonus Reason for the Pixel Remaster being my favorite version: Since FF III never got another 2D version all of the pixel art is brand-spanking new and not based on any prior version. The Famicom version can be harsh especially in the final dungeon due to save checkpointing, and the capacity system limits what jobs you can equipped at a time. I like the 3D version for making the main party actual characters and the rebalancing is interesting, but the Job Adjustment Phase is annoying. You have to do 5 battles when changing a job because your stats are worse when adjusting to the new job.
I adore Final Fantasy III and can’t stand slander against it. Am I biased? Of course. This was my first true RPG and it holds a special place in my heart. This is what I consider to be a true cornerstone classic game in my head. It has adventure, a bit of plot, some fun mechanics, and a lot of heart.
Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy IV is my favorite game of all time and it’s from my favorite series of all time. This is a real double-whammy super combo that creates heavy biases. This game can probably be attributed to inflicting me with my adoration for RPGs (especially of the Japanese variety). I had played Final Fantasy III (not VI) prior to playing Final Fantasy IV and I definitely thought it was cool. I still think Final Fantasy III is very cool, in fact. I just had to play more Final Fantasy. Equipped with a Nintendo DS and child-like wonder (both of which I still have), I was hunting for more of these ‘Final Fantasy’ games. I’ve played most versions of this game and have above-average knowledge of this game. I’ve played it all the way through probably 20 times and have played specific chunks of it even more. This game may have also created my obsession with video game intros.
Cutting to the heart of the matter, I love Final Fantasy IV and pretty much everything about it. Thank you for reading my personal espousal of my history and love for this game. Now onto things about the game that I think are neat, and a few stray comments about this particular version of the game.
Let’s discuss some semi-objective history about Final Fantasy IV (besides being the greatest work in the medium of video games, of course)! Final Fantasy IV started development as an entirely different Final Fantasy game that was going to be on the Famicom. You can see that the graphics aren’t the most impressive, even for the Super Nintendo. Mode 7, some additional colors, better sound, and some great art design helped it edge out the competition.
Final Fantasy IV was one of the first examples of a huge, impactful story in video games. Were there others before? Yes, and one of them was Final Fantasy II. Obviously, I don’t have perfect Encyclopedic knowledge so I can’t keep feeding you examples. Games of the era and before Final Fantasy IV definitely tried plenty of things and have their own memorable stories. I love basic and charming stories. I like old games and basic premises aren’t equivocal with shallowness. I will say, Final Fantasy IV’s story, writing, and presentation have definitely aged. Not quite like milk, but not like a fine wine either. The 3D version of the game does improve this aspect with a writing style closer to that of Final Fantasy XII and XIV along with added scenes.
Long story short; Final Fantasy IV has a story that has aged, but its content is timeless. Tuck away modern standards and view this game through a dustier, less pristine lens. You will find a super enjoyable story, with some great moments, and imagination that many franchises can barely even lay a finger on. I’m not going in too deep as to avoid spoilers, but for every silly thing or contrivance, there are cool concepts and great scenes.
What do you think of when you see this acronym? ATB. You should think INNOVATIVE. AWESOME. THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD. Setting my admittedly hyperbolic hype job for the battle system aside; the ATB battle system is a series staple that has a lot of amazing aspects to it. This semi-turn-based, semi-real-time battle system asks the player to keep their head on straight while strategizing a contingency plan against foes that never let up (unless you turn on wait mode…). Final Fantasy IV didn’t shirk on its introduction either. The first boss fight uses it to wait out the Mist Dragon’s defensive phase. The ‘Slow’ spell makes the most sense with the ATB system, too. As slow actually makes the enemies’ turn come around slower rather than some weird number sorcery that gives them fewer attacks in damage calculation like prior games. The same logic applies to haste, which means you get more turns in battle! Seriously, how awesome is that?! Anticipation and reaction are the crux of the battle system, so change the speed to your liking!
Our shortest part of the Final Fantasy IV section will be about the music. It’s great! Has been for over 30 years! I love the new arrangements. They remind me of the Final Fantasy IV Celtic Moon rearrangement album. I still prefer the arrangements of the DS version.
The thing that ties all of these aspects of Final Fantasy IV together is what I will deem as ‘The Craft’. Everything is so finely put together. The character’s stats and abilities are tied to who they are as characters and their current standing in the story. There are impactful scenes that are made even better by having knowledge of this micro-detail. There are little lore tidbits and interesting things about this world that are revealed during the story or through curiosity-fueled exploration. The side content is tied into that by fleshing out the setting and characters. Everything just comes together, like a well-balanced party.
Ok, now I can nitpick a few things about my favorite game. The price of being a reviewer is steep. I hope you’re happy with yourself! Let’s see… What do I NOT like about this game? Uh, the treasure chests mostly aren’t great save for some optional areas and the endgame. One feeling that I have a love-hate relationship with is when I buy some awesome gear in a game to prep for a dungeon or something just to go there and get smacked with what I just bought or something better. Makes me feel foolish for spending money, a feeling real-life already wants to give me simply for existing. However, that feeling is better than opening a chest just to get a potion. Oh wow, thank you so much game. What else is there to complain about? I suppose that beyond a couple of battle gimmicks and boss fights that the ATB system itself can seem lackluster. It does affect the game on the whole, but it doesn’t always shine. Other entries affix their own unique quirks onto ATB, though.
Final Fantasy IV has a bajillion ports with different features and quirks. Including this fabulous little Pixel Remaster here. This point alone makes it difficult to decide on a version admittedly. Final Fantasy IV’s original Super Nintendo version has merit, however, the dated translation is the main reason I’d avoid it besides curiosity or nostalgia’s sake. The GBA does indeed have bonus content, but that comes at the cost of glitches, constant instability, and even changes like the removal of swapping turns in battle. The PSP version is like a better edition of the GBA version; extra content is intact, two bonus games are included, it runs pretty well, and it has two soundtrack options. However, I’m not the biggest fan of the new pixel art in it. It can range from looking fine to kind of cheap. I do like the sound effects in the PSP version! The DS version is my favorite. The base game is improved with a revamped script, voice-acted scenes that draw you even more into the game world, a new and challenging game balance that makes battles more intense, and my favorite version of the soundtrack. Some battles are revamped to make fights more interesting or rely on mechanics like the ATB more, as well. Some people may not like the graphical style of this 3D remake, but the real point of contention for me is that battles are 15 fps.
The Pixel Remaster is the go-to 2D version of the game for me. It is a smooth 60 fps, doesn’t have the delay the PSP or GBA versions have in battle, the QoL is nice, the new soundtrack arrangement is pretty good, and the old-style pixel graphics retain their charm. I don’t feel strongly, or anything really, about the missing additional content.
I think I have encapsulated what makes Final Fantasy IV a foundational RPG, let alone video game, here in this section. The ambition on display and the era of its release are what make this game classic. The way it combines storytelling, gameplay, and a constant stream of change are what makes it peak Final Fantasy for me. It may not have the deepest plot or most fleshed-out characters, but Final Fantasy improved that as a series because of the foundation, this game helped solidify. This entry may not have a highly customizable job system, but the constantly changing party gives you plenty to experiment with along with the advantage of creating puzzle box-esque battles where you have to figure out the best ways to deal with situations with the party you were given.
Final Fantasy V
Final Fantasy V is the last game series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi directed before moving to a producer role. Final Fantasy V has a unique sense of whimsy that makes it really unique among the rest of the series.
Ok, mild spoiler alert. There are 3 world maps. I won’t spoil the story significance of why that is but it’s pretty baller. The first world map feels like a full adventure, but the game keeps ramping up and building steam. You have even more objectives to complete and side stuff to check out. There is a great amount of location variety too. Deserts, forests, ruins, airborne battleships, space, the usual.
The tone of Final Fantasy V may be my favorite part. It is really light-hearted. There are jokes, goofy moments, and more. It’s just so fun! The generally lighter tone creates a dichotomy with the heavier stuff. Serious moments stand out, giving them their deserved spot in the limelight. One may think that this causes tonal whiplash, but if anything it makes these moments hit harder and have more meaning. The main party is so fun-loving with great chemistry that it draws you into the game even more when you see that these characters have more going on than you had initially thought. Also, shoutout to that one guy in a town that wishes the fallen meteorite landed on his mother-in-law. That’s beyond hilarious.
I originally played Final Fantasy V on the Gameboy Advance. That was ages ago. It was a pretty lovely birthday gift from a close friend. Shoutout to that guy, if you’re reading this you know who you are. Thanks! Anyways, the reason I bring this up is because I didn’t realize how neat some of the side stuff was on my initial playthrough of the game. If you revisit certain places or discover certain areas you get new scenes that flesh out the world and characters. I believe some are entirely missable just like in Final Fantasy VII. Even besides that stuff, the summons and piano side quests are nothing short of joyful. Watching Bartz not be so hot at the piano and slowly get better as the game goes on is amazing. More games need trivial stuff like that.
The job system is basically immaculate in this game. Taking the foundation Final Fantasy III offered and balancing it would already be good enough. But no, they just had to make it even better! Ok, distinct abilities and combat usage, what else? How about being able to mix and match abilities? Holy cow! You can do all kinds of crazy things. This isn’t particularly crazy but I love getting the ‘Two Handed’ ability from the Knight job and then equipping it to a Samurai. Double damage on a Samurai that has high evasion removes any need for a shield. I love it. Now imagine what you could accomplish with research and an ample amount of brain spiders. Having unique outfits for each character is a plus.
I adore Final Fantasy III. So, Final Fantasy V having so much in common with it is very neat. It’s almost like a sort of spiritual sequel. There’s obvious stuff like the job system, but there are other parallels too. The two games handle the crystal differently, but the fact that they mix up the status quo in this regard is the same. The changes to the job system are really smart, I’d say it’s a clear evolution. Final Fantasy V‘s main plot even nods to Final Fantasy III’s by having a second set of warriors and a similar all-encompassing evil force. The sense of adventure is close to III’s but the different tone and the more prevalent plot changes the feel for me.
I may sound like a broken record at this point but yep, this is the best version of the game. We never got the Super Famicom original outside of Japan and the PS1 port in Final Fantasy Anthology is plagued with awful load times and a subpar translation. The GBA version is good, but the Pixel Remaster is smoother playing, easier to get, has more QoL, and way better music. Oh? The extra content in the GBA version? Eh, I didn’t care for it. Those extra jobs were cool? I guess?
Final Fantasy V may have one of the deepest class and battle systems in the series. It strikes an absurdly good balance and has tons of customization. The world really is your oyster. If your world is a great battle system. The world(s) offer variety and the unique tone is a really fun time. I also love the job system because playing dress-up is fun. I will run sub-optimal party compositions just to look cool or cute.
Final Fantasy VI
I want to attribute this game to being Square’s start in the AAA super game, space. What they accomplished in 1994 is unreal. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that at the end of development, Sakaguchi said something along the lines of “We have just made the greatest game of all time.” No, I will not source that because there is such a pure hope in my heart that this is real. This game has really good art on the Super Nintendo, out-of-this-world music, and an unreal story. They really outdid themselves, and some would still say that Square hasn’t topped this. This game is nothing short of amazing and it is truly special. Too bad Final Fantasy IV is my favorite.
I won’t touch too much upon the story or characters. “Speaking Generally” is my middle name! Well, moving on. There are over a dozen characters. Several have main plot importance, some have neat personal stories, and a couple are just… there. Even the “just there” characters have their own unique designs, gameplay gimmicks, and side content. The characters all have personal or tangential stakes in the main plot. Some are tied into the lore, some have relationships with other characters that are explored, and some characters are affected by what happens throughout the game. The first act of the game masterfully crafts a strong set up while the second act takes a deep dive into the characters and the ramifications of the changing setting. The structure is unique and allows the player to make decisions on which order events can play out.
The setting is well-realized, especially upon release. The steampunk-inspired art and design is awe-inspiring. The monsters, characters, environments, and plot significance tied to this aesthetic choice makes the game world so rich. There’s unique technology that defies imagination, unique cultures, and a wide variety of locations. There’re even gameplay and story-driven set pieces between major story events. Some scenes even take things slowly or allow the music to set the mood. Hello? The game’s opening is calling. It has exposition presented in the normal game style, a cinematic opening credits crawl, and then two unique gameplay situations. That’s such a high level of craft, that it’s almost unbelievable that this game is turning 30 next year. The amount of variety in the story and setting even bleeds into the battle system.
The ATB is back with all of its strong points. Stacking on top of it are character-specific abilities and the new Magicite system. Each character has a unique battle command, almost like the job system but instead tied to specific characters. Characters like Cyan even utilize the ATB in a unique way with their abilities. Magicite are little crystals you can equip to characters. They contain an Esper (a summon), magic spells that you can learn, and they give permanent stat bonuses upon leveling up. This system lets you make your already unique characters even more unique. Or, y’know, walking death machines if you grind.
Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster is the best version. The Super Nintendo original’s script has its charms but bugged commands and accessibility are concerns. The GBA version butchers the soundtrack but if you like filler-ific bonus content, eat your heart out. I like the convenience, smoothness, and accessibility of the Pixel Remaster.
“Speaking Generally” is indeed my middle name, but I hope you understand why I’m doing this. Final Fantasy 1-5 are awesome games, but they are fairly simple or simply do their own things. Final Fantasy VI is a different beast entirely. It is dense, finely crafted, and does not deserve to be spoiled in any way. I may like Final Fantasy IV more but VI takes what I love about IV and dials it up. Re-read what I wrote for IV and imagine what VI is like. Or better yet, please try it out! Final Fantasy VI is a juicy PS1 RPG on the SNES.
The Final Word
The Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster Series is a great set of remasters. They strongly preserve the 35-year-long legacy of Final Fantasy with resounding success. These remasters elicit the retro feel of these classic games while providing a bevy of accessibility options and extras. The new Boosters and font that were specially made for the console releases of these games are welcome additions especially. Extra content from prior releases may be missing, but the beautiful re-arranged soundtracks, Quality of Life features, and vibrant redrawn graphics do an excellent job of making up for the loss of admittedly mediocre, tacked-on content. Even underneath the modern bells, whistles, and shinier coat of paint, these are still the classic games you know and love; retaining their classic charm and flaws. As individual games, your mileage may vary, but as a retro collection, you can’t go much higher. What could go lower, however, is the high price point.
I have decided to give the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster Series a 5/5. These games are as great as they have always been, but I understand not everyone will feel as strongly about each individual game. As a collection, however, they excellently retain their classic feel while providing modern updates. What more could you ask for without getting into full-blown remake territory?
Disclaimer: Square Enix provided Final Weapon with a Nintendo Switch copy of Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster Series for review purposes.