The first six Final Fantasy games are getting remastered upgrades this year. Five of them have been released already. Here is our review of the first.
Title: Final Fantasy: Pixel Remaster
Developer: Square Enix
System: Windows, Steam, iOS, and Android
Release Date: September 2021
Game Type: JRPG
Four heroes appear with crystal shards in a time of need, and they have to save the world.
This remaster is a good mix of nostalgia and updates. The music, for example, is still in the old bit MIDI style, but it sounds like it’s got the best MIDI interpreter that could be made with 1987 technology.
The story is unchanged, which is also its weakest element. It’s very basic, predictable, and cliche.
The originality is not great. It’s a remaster of a game first released in 1987, keeping fairly close to the original release (though with a few stat rebalances, a higher character level cap, and the removal of the “power peninsula”) but with updates like a new bestiary feature, achievements, and more tweaks. I give it 3 out of 6.
The story is a little more coherent this time. Dialogue changes have updated and clarified the “time-loop” that gives this the reputation for being the most non-sensical game in the series. The story still has no actual characterization for the leads, and it’s still riddled with cliches. I give it 3 out of 6.
The graphics on the playable characters are updated in the 8-bit style from Yoshitako Amano’s original designs, which are included in the gallery under the “Extras” menu. The maps and backgrounds are in much greater resolution, but still reminiscent of the original designs. It’s a fine line to walk, but they walk it. It’s also exactly what most of the target audience is looking for. I give it 5 out of 6.
The sound is updated the same way the graphics are: it feels like the goal was to reflect the theoretical upper limit of 1987 technology rather than shift it to 2021 technology. We have the old sound design, but it’s never sounded better. I give it 5 out of 6.
The playability is good. The Steam version has controller support. The iOS version does not, but the “tap movement” option works very well, although you may want to turn it off in the ice cavern and Mt. Gulug to have better control on the damaging floors, particularly since you can now walk diagonally. Autotargeting when an enemy dies is now automatic, autobattle is an option, and other such “quality of life” improvements are present. I give it 5 out of 6.
The immersion is effective. The simplicity and predictability of the story doesn’t necessarily draw you in. I give it 4 out of 6.
Overall, this delivers its promise of refreshing a classic, without the additional content of the Game Boy Advance releases. It pushes all the right nostalgia buttons, but may not turn new people into franchise fans. For that, you might want to check out the existing remasters of FF4 (which I’m playing through now and will review later), FF5, or the upcoming FF6. Those were originally SNES era games (with FF4 and FF6 released in North America as FF2 and FF3 respectively). I give it 4 out of 6.
In total, Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster receives 29 out of 42.