The best way to play an all-time classic RPG?
The announcement of the Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters for mobile and Steam was met with immediate disappointment and surprise that consoles were seemingly left out of the equation. Many speculated that eventually, surely Square Enix would at least bring the six games to Switch, given that they all originally came to Nintendo platforms once upon a time. Fortunately, April showers have brought pixelated RPG flowers with Final Fantasy 1 through 6 launching today on the eShop. I’ve spent a couple hours with a title that needs no introduction, Final Fantasy VI, and I’m pleased to share a handful of impressions here ahead of a full review in the near future.
After launching the game, with each Final Fantasy title having a separate icon on the Switch’s home menu, one of my first reactions was one of disgust. The so-called “Modernized” font seen immediately in the introductory cutscene is unpleasant to say the least. Fortunately, the console launch of the Pixel Remasters includes a “Classic” font option that is much more palatable, if not perfect. As I had anticipated, the beloved Magitek Armor march to Narshe that takes place just before the player gains control is resplendent and an early indication of how an already gorgeous scene can be made all the more beautiful in a remastered version. I noticed that cutscenes can also be skipped for those that want to get right into the gameplay.
The tutorial-like Magitek Armor battles with Terra, Biggs, and Wedge introduce more of the visual changes made to the Pixel Remaster version of FF6. There’s a vibrancy and vitality to spell and attack effects, as seen in the elemental beams of the Magitek Armors. The explosion from the Magitek Missile and the poison cloud from Terra’s Bio Blast showcase further improvements to the look of the game. These are all in addition to more detailed and animated backgrounds, like those from Narshe and even more pronounced during the river raft segment with Banon after escaping The Returners’ hideout. As well, a detailed minimap makes navigating towns all the easier by indicating points of interest like weapon shops and inns.
The upgrades of the Pixel Remaster series aren’t limited to the cosmetic, though. Opening up the Configuration tab of the main in-game menu reveals a Brightness setting, a Graphic Display option to add scanlines, the aforementioned Font Style options, a choice between the arranged soundtrack and the original, and perhaps most importantly, a Boost section to toggle encounters on and off and multiply experience, gil, and magic AP by up to four times. Auto-dashing and encounters can even be toggled outside of the menu by clicking the left or right stick in. These quality of life additions certainly make it feel like the Pixel Remaster version represents an excellent, contemporary option for those wanting to relive classic Final Fantasy experiences or dive into them for the first time.
For all the good it does, there are some aspects of this re-release that leave me wanting. In menus and during combat, certain text fields can be hard to read given their small size. It would be nice to see an option for larger text or perhaps a few more fonts to choose from. The party member sprites themselves are fine, but it’s hard to see them as a clear upgrade over the original NES and SNES ones. There’s also some odd hitching that happens during screen scrolling, particularly when multiple characters are on screen. If I can nitpick a little bit further, the dissipation of boss sprites when they’re defeated in battle doesn’t quite look right; there’s a jaggedness to their pixels that contrasts with the rest of what you see on screen.
So far, the vast majority of the visual upgrades and the new quality of life features make the Pixel Remaster for Final Fantasy VI a strong candidate for being the best way to experience one of Square Enix’s most compelling RPGs. I almost neglected to mention that a bestiary, music player, and gallery are all accessible from the main menu, rounding out the package quite nicely. I’m eager to see how summoned Espers look in all their glory, in addition to the always sublime Opera House scene. We’ll have individual reviews for each Pixel Remaster title on nintendoworldreport.com in the coming weeks, so keep checking the website for our full thoughts.