After months of pleas from fans Square Enix to do it on social networks, the Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters they’re finally coming to consoles, available this week for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. And interestingly, these aren’t functionally the same versions that debuted on PC and mobile. In fact, they are subtly improved.
These are small changes, but they add up to something bigger. It pushes these titles ever closer to being almost the definitive versions of the classics. In fact, hardcore fans are now likely going to have a headache deciding which version of each 2D FF to play.
For the most part, our original review of the first three games stands. In 2021, I said that these ports had a lot of room for improvement. The console versions have been improved… but there are still many areas where they could, and possibly should, do better. However, they are now much more dignified versions of these classic games.
First, performance: we’ve only tested it on Switch and it’s adequate, but far from perfect. Stuttering is still too common for my liking, and I don’t understand why it happens in such old games. It’s there outside the door; my Switch OLED hung for half a second during the openings of FF1 and FF6. This was also replicable, happening every time I rebooted to the exact same scenes. Many of these issues were also exhibited even on PC, and it’s a bit strange to see issues in a game that is apparently 35 years old.
However, more pleasing are the completely new features. And Square Enix has announced that it will bring these new features to the PC version of the games as well.
The first of the novelties is the enhancers. These are accessed through a new option that can be captured at any time from the field. As long as you can open your main menu, which is most of the time out of battle, you can head to the ‘Settings’ sub-menu and there find a new heading called ‘Boost’.
There are three different Boosts found in this menu for all six games: Encounters, EXP, and Gil. Encounters can be turned on or off, while you can adjust the amount of EXP or Gil you received from winning battles to 0.5x, 2x, or 4x, as well as set it back to 1x, the default setting.
However, specific games get bonus boosts. In FF2, you can turn on or off the ‘Compensation HP’ bonus that automatically increases your max HP after a certain number of battles, as well as help boosts for physical and magical attack stats. FF5 and FF6 have options to increase the ABP and Magic AP gained respectively in addition to EXP and Gil, which means you can get Esper Skills and Job Ability faster within those game systems.
This is all really useful, and the integration of just showing this in the menu feels sleeker and less disruptive than modern PS1 FF remasters, which hid boosters behind controller shortcuts and noted their status with ugly icons on the menu. side of the playing area. . It’s not that quick to turn them on or off, but the fact that you can do it without closing the game is great. If you need to push yourself or are low on cash, you can now easily increase your coin earn rate and then turn off encounters if you want to go through a dungeon. Thumbs up – a great addition.
I’ve previously mentioned how the re-arranged music on offer in these remasters is amazing, and still is, but if you don’t agree, there’s a new option just for you. Buried in the same settings menu is a new music change which allows you to toggle between the original soundtracks as they appeared on the NES and SNES and the arranged score. This, again, can be toggled at any time with little consequence, so if you’re a newcomer wondering what that head-banging boss theme with only 4 channels sounded like, you can open it up in time for the next boss.
I love this change. This is the kind of thing that Pixel Remasters should be betting everything on. These games have been around in many forms over the years, so why not include all the content available and let players personalize their experience? This sentiment speaks to what Pixel Remasters don’t do right, but more on that in a bit.
First, however, let’s talk about the source. That damn fountain. After fan complaints and fan-made solutions on how to replace the really terrible font in the original PC and mobile versions, Square Enix took notice and offered a replacement.
It’s one of the few complaints the developers have directly addressed, including a patch for the PC and mobile versions (also featured here) that adjusted the overly bright color palette of FF6’s cast sprites and reset developer credits for the opening crawl of FF6 (new for the console version, though notably still not the original credits, but the ones specific to the Pixel Remaster staff). But the main mea culpa is undoubtedly the source.
While the games still default to the font we all hated, you can change the fonts in the menu to a more title-appropriate pixelated text presentation. It looks good, but I’m still a little disappointed in it.
Part of this is being marred by fan-made masterpieces, really. Personally, I’ve played all six Pixel Remasters with a fan-made font inspired by the SNES version of Final Fantasy VI created by modder ‘Bdjeffyp’, and it looks gorgeous. Another particularly gorgeous font is the ‘Cornelia Sans’ font, a recreation of the Square font they used themselves for Final Fantasy Origins on PS1.
The new font in Pixel Remasters is a definite improvement, with the pixelated stuff undeniably better than the generic default OS-style font we got before. But he’s also guilty of many of the same sins as the hated source, only in a pixelated form. The kerning of the new font is still terrible, for example. And on many menus it feels misaligned vertically, a bit too high so it’s not in the middle of the text boxes.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a comparison between the original PC source, Square’s replacement, and one of my favorite fan mods, borrowed from our friends at the RPG Site. Judge for yourself.
Or to put it another way, the pixelated look suits these releases better and is exactly the type of font these releases should have had from day one. However, the presentation and styling of this version still sucks. It is a pity.
So, that’s an odd little bump in the road for this lovely package. Another is in its feature set, which goes back to what was mentioned above about the large amount of content from other versions of these games.
Some of it hasn’t aged well, like the CG scenes added to the PlayStation versions. The musical arrangements of those versions are also largely redundant. As such, I can understand getting rid of these, though it would be nice to have them available to view or listen to in a menu, just to help make it feel like a definitive collection.
The main thing I miss though is the extra content that was added for the most part on GBA. Exactly what’s missing varies for each game, but broadly speaking these are late-game or post-game challenge dungeons with unique twists on the established rules of each title’s combat systems. This content was generally a reward for the most hardcore fans: it stretched each battle system to its limits, and often also offered some nice fan service, such as fighting bosses from other games.
A couple of bits are particularly sad to lose. FF2’s Soul of Rebirth was a completely separate post-game epilogue that tied up some of the loose ends of the main game and even introduced a new member of the group: a painful loss. FF5’s main bonus dungeon allowed players to unlock four brand new jobs for characters to try out. And FF6 had some of the best endgame content, with new super bosses offering new ultimate weapons. There are also some exciting additional unlockable Espers, including Gilgamesh and Diabolos from FF8.
Many of them are really bonuses for the true hardcore nerds out there, and if you just want to play through the stories of each game, they’ll serve you well here. But equally, if you’re a fan of FF battle systems and want to explore each one to the fullest, the list of missing content is itchy.
In truth, I understand the logic of wanting to present remasters that accurately resemble the SNES and NES originals. But I also think options are the lifeblood of remasters like this, so players should have this toggleable content. Plus, with redrawn sprites, rearranged music, a 16:9 presentation, and numerous balance changes, the concept of being original and accurate is a long-sailing ship all the same.
And yet, let’s be fair: this is an irresistible bundle, especially if you don’t have access to a PC or Steam Deck, where you can easily tweak some better text options. These are incredible games, finally available in respectable form on more platforms than have been available in decades. We can’t really treat this as more than a net profit.
For the truly smug hardcore, of which I am certainly one, I still think there’s a strong case for the best versions of all of these games, but FF3 is GBA carts played on some sexy neo-retro hardware like the Analogue Pocket, but short. of that particularly expensive indulgence, now it’s a much better and much more dignified way to experience six stone-cold classics. I just wish, I really wish they were really final. Maybe one day, huh?