Square-Enix is no stranger to the idea of reimagining & re-releasing their intellectual property. Sometimes it comes as a quick and dirty port to a new platform (Final Fantasy 9 on Steam). Other times, a full remaster with updated graphics and quality-of-life improvements like the auto battle feature, such as we find here. The Pixel Remaster collection includes the first six Final Fantasy games. Four of those are out now, with 5 & 6 projected to be released some time this year. They’re available individually or as a bundle. These remasters are on Steam as well as on Android, with rumors stirring about having console releases to follow.
The Pixel Remasters look great at 1080, but lose a little something in at 4k, so I tend to play in windowed mode. That isn’t to say they look bad at 4k, but when sitting a mere arms length away from a 32″ screen, they can be a bit jarring. The Pixel Remasters do add some level of detail to the sprites while staying true to the feel of these classics – albeit a little muted. The Reddit r/FinalFantasy has a bunch of chatter about the comparisons between release versions over the years.
Pixel Remaster: Quality-of-Life Improvements
Some things, like content that was added to previous ports, unfortunately are nowhere to be found. However, as I mentioned, there are a handful of other quality-of-life improvements to the Pixel Remaster:
Speed and auto-battle mechanic:
With the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster, players find that they can toggle “x” on their controller (Steam/Controller) at the start of every battle to allow your party to auto-battle when grinding those random encounters in hopes of leveling up. However, it’s not perfect; it defaults to the last “move” each character made even if that was in a previous battle. Have your White Mage heal on the last turn of the previous battle? On your next battle, if you don’t chose another action first, when you enable the auto battle she will continue to perform “cure” until she is out of MP.
Another quality-of-life “improvement” is the new font for the dialog and menus. While it certainly is cleaner, it’s also plain and jarring. Some of the first mods to come out for the first three pixel remasters were for user-implemented fonts.
Pixel Remaster: Soundtrack
Three of the currently released games have a retooled soundtrack. This is one of the best improvents, in my opinion. The new soundtrack keeps to the original scores, but with the much higher quality orchestral sound we’ve come to love from Square and the legendary Nobuo Uematsu (hail to the king). Honestly, probably my top reason to play these.
Quick-save feature added
Traditionally you could only save in the early games by being in the over-world. Now, with these re-releases, there is a quick save in the menu even in dungeons.
Of course, the biggest improvement is the Pixel Remaster with each having much higher quality sprites that stay true to the original while allowing for gorgeous replay at todays modern resolutions. Each sprite feels handcrafted and perfectly matched.
Pixel Remaster: Worth it?
At the time of writing this, I have all of the new Pixel Remasters in my Steam library. However, I only have playable access to the first four until the others are officially released. If you are a Final Fantasy connoisseur I would absolutely recommend these for your collection. Personally, I cannot wait to try the Pixel Remaster of Final Fantasy 5 & 6.
If you are a die hard fan, pick these up. If you don’t have other copies, but played and enjoyed the originals back in the day, pick them up. And if you were mildly impressed but already have some other remakes (or originals), you could forego these, but I am absolutely enjoying them.