There are few video game series as long-running as Final Fantasy. With the sixteenth mainline entry just weeks away (and dozens upon dozens of spinoffs under the franchise’s belt), Square Enix has finally ported last year’s Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series to PlayStation and Nintendo Switch following a period of PC/mobile exclusivity. Fans have been begging for these games to be playable on modern systems for years now, and after Square Enix’s laughable mobile remasters of classics like Final Fantasy VI, it seemed like all hope was lost.
Thankfully, the Pixel Remasters of Final Fantasy I-VI are nothing like their shoddy predecessors. They were good when they hit PC and mobile devices last year, but now they’re even greater with additional quality-of-life improvements. These new versions are the definitive way to enjoy some of the greatest RPGs of all time and experience an essential chapter of gaming history.
The Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters follow a recent industry trend of retro appreciation, with publishers realizing that fans are okay with pixels and old-school mechanics and don’t need expensive multi-million-dollar remakes to enjoy the classics. While Square Enix hasn’t gone as far to remake these games in its new HD-2D style in the vein of Octopath Traveler (or the upcoming remake of Dragon Quest III), the games have still received quite a few audiovisual touchups to make them more palatable for a modern audience.
Put simply, these games preserve the look and feel of the originals while bumping up the resolution and adding widescreen support. If you’ve played recent retro classic collections like the Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection or Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle, then you’re already familiar with the types of tweaks on display here. The games look great given their age, and that unique Final Fantasy style bleeds through every pixel of the collection.
However, simply porting games this old to modern systems without any quality-of-life tweaks would be a surefire way to turn off fans both old and new. To remedy this, every game in the collection allows you to turn off random encounters at will and boost your XP and Gil gains by up to 4 times (or lower them below the standard amount if you’re a masochist). Plus, there are ways to speed up battles and dramatically improve the pacing of each game.
These don’t disable trophies or take away from the experience at all, either, so you can bend the games to your will while still maintaining (mostly) the same experience as those playing through the games back in the day. When some of these games still basically require walkthroughs to enjoy fully (looking at you Final Fantasy I), these additions ease the aging pains while still appeasing purists. Preserving these games in their original forms is important, but playing through the original Final Fantasy as it is today is a pain.
These quality-of-life improvements make the Pixel Remasters feel like a highly accessible museum tour. The tour guide wows the crowd with an old-fashioned water pump and invites museum-goers to try it for themselves to see how things were done in the old days, but there’s a water fountain down the hall for when you really get thirsty. Being able to turn off random encounters to head back to town for a quick supply run or boost your Gil gains by 4x to buy new gear for your party is a huge timesaver and makes these games much more playable for a modern audience.
In addition, each game features a rearranged soundtrack that can be turned on and off at any time. Being able to swap to the original songs is lovely, but the chiptune tracks can get old after a while. Thankfully, the new arrangements are all excellent. Square Enix has also finally addressed fan complaints about the font in the original release of the Pixel Remasters, and the new console port allows you to choose a pixelated typeface that fits more with the style of the games on display.
While all of these changes may seem minor on paper, their importance cannot be overstated. They open up these classic games to anyone and everyone, letting them experience the things that really matter. People love these games for their worlds, their characters, their music, and more. Now, there are basically zero barriers to those. There’s no need to put up with antiquated design tropes like annoyingly frequent random encounters, overtuned difficulty, or necessary grinding.
In addition, the release of the Pixel Remasters makes nearly the entire Final Fantasy saga playable on modern platforms. Some platforms have some exceptions — like the XIII trilogy only being available on Xbox via backward compatibility or XIV only being available on PlayStation consoles — but there’s an easy way to play basically any mainline Final Fantasy on your platform of choice now. This collection sets a standard that should be followed by any publisher with a massive back catalog of classic games.
The Pixel Remasters of Final Fantasy I-VI prove that retro games don’t need full-on remakes to make them palatable for modern audiences. All it takes are a few quality-of-life improvements like XP boosts, fast battle options, and encounter adjustments to make these games palatable for everyone. While they’re missing some of the extra content featured in other ports, they’re still the definitive way to experience these classic titles in their entirety.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
- This article was updated on April 24th, 2023