Did Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster Pioneer Retro Game Preservation?

The Final Fantasy series has had numerous releases throughout the years. Due to the series going back all the way to the Nintendo Entertainment System, some of these games have largely been trapped on outdated consoles. Thankfully, a recent compilation made them more widely available, all the while perfecting the art of porting old games to new hardware.

The Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters brought the classic titles in the series to modern consoles. Not only did they preserve the old games’ experience, these ports fixed certain bugs and enhanced what was already great. This has seen similar remakes of old RPGs hit modern hardware, as well, and it could lead to an era of the best old titles getting a new lease on life.

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The Earliest Final Fantasy Games are Not Easy to Play On Modern Consoles

A battle in Final Fantasy II on the Famicom.

As noted, the Final Fantasy franchise started out on the Nintendo Entertainment System, known as the Family Computer in Japan. Though Eastern and Western gamers had access to the original title, the second and third Final Fantasy games weren’t released internationally in their original form. This would be rectified with ports and remakes such as Final Fantasy Origins, which brought the first two games to the Sony PlayStation, regardless of region. Some of these early games also came on later hardware such as the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable. At the time, this was an absolute boon for gamers wishing to experience the classic property’s roots. Time marched on, however, and even these then-current systems became outdated and obsolete. The first three Final Fantasy games weren’t available at all on modern/current consoles, be it through compilations or as downloadable titles. Final Fantasy II was an eShop title for the now-defunct Nintendo Wii U console—but only in Japan.

Thus, it made sense to bring the first games in the series to a broader range of gamers, especially given the property’s popularity. Online hit Final Fantasy XIV and the newly released and acclaimed Final Fantasy XVI have increased the franchise’s spotlight more than ever in recent years, reclaiming its former prominence in the RPG genre. One big change is that these newer games have largely eschewed turn-based battles. By favoring action-based battle systems, modern Final Fantasy games feel a bit removed from where they came from. There’s no better reason to provide the classic experience to old-school gamers and allow newcomers to see what these old-school titles were like.

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The Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters Perfected the Art of the Port

The Bahamut boss fight in Final Fantasy III Pixel Remaster.

The first three Final Fantasy games were some of the titles re-released as part of the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series. Instead of remaking the old games and redoing their mechanics from the ground up, these HD ports give the original sprites a fresh coat of paint. Without outright changing too much of the aesthetic appeal, these games’ graphics pop and come alive like never before. It’s essentially an overclocked version of how the original versions looked, albeit with their potential unlocked via heavily upgraded hardware. Something that did get a massive overhaul was the music, with Nobuo Uematsu’s beautiful score providing epic melodies for a classic adventure. Instead of going the meta-retro route, these songs are orchestral and sound right at home in modern titles, completely doing away with any outdated or primitive recording elements.

Some of the worst bugs and glitches from the old games have been removed, namely the infamous Peninsula of Power. Other gameplay fixes include the ability to move diagonally on the world map and the removal of “wasted hits.” For instance, the first two Final Fantasy games had a system that made attacks miss if the targeted enemy was already defeated. In the Pixel Remasters, they’ll simply be rerouted to other enemies, ensuring that no turn is wasted. Players can change their character’s jobs at any time, and there are also maps to help them traverse dungeons. Given how longwinded some of these caves and routes can be, this is a useful mechanic for even old pros.

The changes made in these remasters offer the perfect ratio of updates and old-school fun. Perhaps the most important of these is the Save feature, which can be used anywhere in case of a particularly grueling boss battle ahead. Thus, the experience isn’t ruined for those wanting to relive their childhood favorites, but those unused to these older, more difficult Final Fantasy games are still able to ease into the action. It makes these decades-old classics feel more like recent games made in a retro vein, with nothing coming off as clunky or cumbersome.

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Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters Have Inspired Other Games

Traversing the overworld in Dragon Quest III HD-2D remake.

Though the graphics aren’t quite the same, the upcoming Dragon Quest 3 HD-2D remake bears a lot of similarities to the Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters. It also brings an old-school hit from yesteryear into the modern day while retaining what made it great in the first place. The modernized graphics still offer the old-school aesthetic in a way that actual retro hardware never could have provided. The same goes for the Nintendo Switch upgraded port of Live A Live. In fact, the original Live A Live was never released worldwide, making it even more like the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster games. Another similarity is the remade music, making the commonalities even stronger.

It’s unlikely that some of these projects would have come about without the Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters paving the way, especially given that the Dragon Quest games are more niche in popularity. Most importantly, this keeps these old classics from being locked away on consoles that gamers have to purchase expensively from collectors in order to play. Plus, by updating certain elements, these remasters make their content more accessible beyond the nostalgic crowd. It’s another vital part of allowing subsequent generations to see what all the hype was about concerning older titles. Hopefully, both Square Enix and several other video game developers continue this trend and make their greatest hits better than ever with similar ports to the Switch, PlayStation family, and other new hardware.

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