I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that Final Fantasy is one of the most iconic and adored IPs to ever enter the video game sphere. So many entries are considered all-time classics. Games like Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy IV, etc. A lot of fan favourites just so happen to be IN this collection. Personally, I love FFIII, FFVI, and FFIV. I am supremely lucky because all three of those games are playable here. The first six releases in this legendary series are now available on consoles with a beautiful new coat of paint. These NES and SNES classics have never been as widely available as they are until now, and for that, we are very lucky.
Originally released on Steam and Mobile between 2021 and 2022, these versions have some brand spanking new visuals, orchestral rearrangements and gameplay balances/quality of life adjustments. This collection really respects the original releases and does its best to make them shine more than they ever have been able to. The added elements make the game accessible for newcomers and add a new way to experience the games for FF veterans.
The main party, NPCs and monsters look better than they ever have. The backgrounds feature more detail and colour than ever before. None of the games lose their sense of identity or feel like they are unfaithful to the originals. Each game feels tenderly touched up and loved by the entire development team. It’s like a beautiful salad with extra vinaigrette. It was already good and now it’s even better because it’s got more of what made it great in the first place.
The new quality of life changes I previously mentioned are huge for overall enjoyment and accessibility. Lots of people tend to stay away from Final Fantasy because it’s a very self indulgent/self referential series. Most story beats and combat scenarios are super over the top and drawn out for drama. Many of the games require grinding to get through the story at a healthy pace. One of the huge changes is that you can adjust how much experience and gil (the currency) you can obtain via multipliers. Gaining up to 4x the experience and currency drastically accelerates the speed at which you can fly through these games. Not to say the initial rates were too low or hurt the enjoyability of the games, but these new self directed modifiers make the games more accessible than they have ever been.
The new soundtrack arrangements are stunning. The music is done by industry legend, and Final Fantasy‘s iconic composer, Nobuo Uematsu. During each encounter I would just turn up the volume on my TV and let my ears be blessed. The original OSTs have a nostalgia to them and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for digital video game music. But nothing really comes close or brings the gravitas like a full fledged orchestra. Hearing these new arrangements sweep over you during battles or exploring the world is such an incredible new way to experience these songs. It’s like hearing them for the first time all over again.
If you’ve never heard Uematsu’s work, do yourself a favour and listen to “Dancing Mad” from Final Fantasy VI. The original is a mammoth sized work of digital music and is hard to believe it was capable on the SNES soundchip. But this new arrangement just makes me drool. Just a side note, Nobuo Uematsu also composed the main theme for Super Smash Brothers Brawl, which just so happens to be one of my favourite pieces of music. He is one of the greatest composers of the modern era. But if you feel like listening to the original OST you can turn that option on. It’s Nobuo no matter what, baby. That shit is GOOD!
I feel it’s important to mention that there is a lot of gameplay in this collection. Six games, each game being roughly 20 hours or so. It’s a lot to take in. I played the two games I am intimately familiar with: Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy VI. It felt like hugging an old friend, revisiting these games. I have yet to finish either of them, but getting to play them in a more streamlined, quick, and less grindy way makes them feel a lot less daunting than they are. You can also speed up the gameplay, so you truly can zoom through these titles if you’re familiar with them.
The last time I had played FFIII was on my Nintendo DS. The game is a total product of its time and maybe hasn’t aged the best. But I will say, this method of playing the game is by far and away the most enjoyable it has ever been. This is the definitive way to play FFIII. FFVI was also a nice game to come back to. I think it might be my favourite Final Fantasy game. I’ve never actually played the OG Final Fantasy VII, which is insane, I know. But I do know that a lot of people tend to say one or the other are their favourites. At least when it comes to FFVI, I can see why. These quality of life changes and new arrangements are applied to every game here. This collection has made me truly feel spoiled. I am excited to dive into the other games I haven’t played in the series to see what all the fuss is about.
Trying to explain the story of a single Final Fantasy game is a herculean task. Trying to explain the story of SIX Final Fantasy games is a pipe dream that I am not even going to try to attempt. But if you were to map out 50 of the most iconic moments in video games, I’d argue about half of them would be from the Final Fantasy series. That should be enough of a selling point on its own.
Final Fantasy I-VI is a tremendous way to get back into these classics. Having these fantastic games available on console, PC, and even your MOBILE PHONE makes Final Fantasy the most accessible it has ever been. The only excuse to not play these games is that you’re just not interested. If you are even a little interested in games of the past you owe it to yourself to play these games. It’s hard to tell what video games today would look like if Final Fantasy hadn’t been around. As archaic as some of the systems and game design decisions may seem today, they were revolutionary when first released. These games are important and genre defining.
Playing this collection has made my anticipation for Final Fantasy XVI skyrocket. June 22nd can’t come soon enough. I cannot wait to review that game and geek out about the soundtrack and lose my mind over Final Fantasy yet again. Final Fantasy I-VI Pixel Remaster is such an easy recommendation. Whether you want to buy one of the games individually, or all of the games as a full package, there is no losing here. We are so lucky to have these classic games so readily available.