Final Fantasy I-VI Pixel Remaster Review – A Revolutionary Series Returns In a Fitting Manner
The Final Fantasy I-VI Pixel Remaster series breathes new life into the evergreen franchise by bringing it to modern platforms after being limited to just PCs and smartphones. This is one of many attempts by Square Enix to revive these classic games with new features and improvements while staying true to their visual roots. There have been numerous re-releases of the Final Fantasy games, including remakes. Among these, the most faithful recreations of the original Final Fantasy I-II collection have been the PSP versions. As for the later games, fans often agree that Final Fantasy IV to VI is best experienced on the Game Boy Advance, which introduced new content and quality-of-life improvements. However, in my opinion, the Pixel Remaster series now stands as the definitive way to play these games, surpassing all previous efforts by Square Enix.
These Pixel Remaster games are not merely simple ports from their original platforms. Square Enix has meticulously retouched and improved each game’s artwork, soundtrack, and user interface, adding quality-of-life changes like the ability to skip cutscenes, use boosts to reduce grinding and disable random encounters. These improvements are essential for enjoying these classic games, which unfortunately feature some dated design choices. Random encounters, once triggered by walking just a few steps, have now been rendered optional, and the boost feature allows for a faster experience and gold gains, eliminating the need for repetitive, redundant battles.
Each game in the Final Fantasy I-VI Pixel Remaster package boasts an intriguing story, well-developed characters, and truly nefarious villains. The new improvements make it possible to progress through these games at a normal pace, without having to endure countless random encounters just to level up and improve your party. A boost section hidden in the config menu allows players to enable up to 4x boosts for various attributes, such as experience points and gold. These options differ between games; for example, Final Fantasy VI offers an AP boost in addition to experience points and gold.
One heavily criticized aspect of the game was its font, but I’m happy to report that this issue has been resolved with the launch of the PS4 and Nintendo Switch versions. The game defaults to a modern font that clashes with the pixelated aesthetic, but players can now toggle to a different font style that better suits the game’s overall look. While not perfect, this is a welcome improvement, especially since there is no legal way to mod console versions.
Fans of classic Final Fantasy games can enjoy the newly rearranged soundtrack in the Pixel Remaster series, orchestrated by Nobuo Uematsu, the original composer of the series. I have nothing but praise for this new soundtrack, which beautifully amplifies the nostalgic memories of playing these games. However, if you prefer the original music, you can easily toggle back to the classic soundtrack in each game.
Additionally, each game includes a Gallery where players can view the various artworks that inspired the characters and locations on the screen. These classic games feature art by the legendary Yoshitaka Amano, and it’s a pleasure to peruse the gallery, appreciating the character designs and their transition to the pixelated screen. Best of all, this artwork is unlocked from the beginning, so you can dive straight into the extras menu to enjoy it.
Due to the length of each game, it’s not possible to cover them all in detail in this review. So, let’s go through them in release order, starting with the original Final Fantasy NES trilogy. While these games may feel dated if played on the NES today, they still possess a certain charm. These were some of the first Final Fantasy games to focus on the simplicity of gameplay and their combat system, rather than offering a grandiose plot and engaging characters. Final Fantasy II is often regarded as the weakest in the series, while Final Fantasy I is pure old-school magic. Final Fantasy III introduced the job system to the series, providing intriguing gameplay concepts that were also employed in Final Fantasy V and later entries.
Although the story and character development are admittedly weak points for this trilogy, it’s fascinating to see how the series evolved from its roots. Final Fantasy II can be challenging to play today, but the new boost options help strike a balance between making the game more accessible and retaining its charm. It’s easy to use the 4x boost on the first attempt, but doing so can disrupt the game’s balance. In the end, the boost option should be used according to your preferences; if you just want a quick stroll through the game and have already played it, there’s no harm in using the full boost capabilities.
Now let’s discuss the cream of the crop: the Final Fantasy IV-VI SNES trilogy. While most fans consider Final Fantasy VI to be the pinnacle of the Pixel Remaster series, I also have fond memories of playing Final Fantasy IV. It boasts a strong cast, much like Final Fantasy VI, and features a menacing villain with a memorable twist ending. The moral dilemma presented in Final Fantasy IV remains relevant today. Although Square Enix remade this game in 3D for the Nintendo DS, this version is the best way for newcomers to experience it, thanks to the quality-of-life updates.
Final Fantasy V offers one of the most intriguing gameplay mechanics in the Pixel Remaster series with its job system. This feature allows players to customize party members according to their preferences. While the narrative takes a step back, there are still plenty of interesting characters to engage the player. However, I’m not a fan of the villain or the common themes in the game, even though I find its gameplay enjoyable after playing Final Fantasy IV.
Finally, we have Final Fantasy VI, which is still hailed as one of the best games in the series. It stands tall enough on its own to compete with any modern game. Final Fantasy VI represents a perfect blend of talent from Sakaguchi, Ito, Kitase, and others, who joined forces to create such a beautiful game. Although they followed it up with Final Fantasy VII, which set a new benchmark in the gaming world, there’s no doubt that Final Fantasy VI was their lightning-in-a-bottle moment. It’s good to see that Square Enix spent the most time on this release, improving visuals with HD-2D touches, like the Opera scene, which is widely regarded as one of the finest story sequences in the Final Fantasy series.
So, what’s the verdict? The answer is simple: if you’re a Final Fantasy fan, buy these games. They represent a historical piece of entertainment that shouldn’t be missed, especially for fans of the franchise. Even if you’ve already played these games, it’s worth revisiting them with the new boost and quality-of-life improvements. If you’re looking to discover how the franchise got its magical touch, the Pixel Remaster is the perfect starting point to learn more about its history.
Final Fantasy I-VI Pixel Remaster Game Information
- Price: $74.99
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Square Enix
- Platform: Switch (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher