Every year over the past 7 or 8 years or so I spend time near the end of the year replaying the original Final Fantasy. I do it as sort of a reminder to myself of why I love games and a slight reminder of whom I used to be. Each year I play the game a little differently… I’ve played all fighters, all mages, all blackbelts… this year it was time to play as all thieves. I’ve also played in different formats, for instance, last year I chose to play it on the NES mini. So this year I decided to give it a shot with the recently released Pixel Remaster on the PC. I think it is telling that I didn’t choose to review the NES mini Final Fantasy experience yet I’m here talking about the remaster.
First of all, I want to give props for the base idea of a pixel remaster. I like the idea of taking the original game and updating the graphics, maybe giving us a few quality of life improvements and re-releasing the originals without the hardware constraints they had at the time. I am not a fan of using modern graphics to make them, just in the spirit of the original with improved graphics.
I also want to recognize this isn’t the first remake for the NES & SNES final fantasy versions. Pretty much every port from along the way has messed with the graphics and code. From reading other reviews, this particular version is akin to the graphics of the PS1 origins remake and the GBA Final Fantasy I & II remake. So let’s move into what I like and what I dislike….
- You know from the screenshots I really didn’t like what I was seeing from graphics, but upon playing them, I didn’t entirely mind and thought it was fine. It felt like they basically just reused graphics from the SNES Final Fantasy games and honestly that’s fine. I don’t think they are particularly amazing. I think the FF games on SNES looked better, but it was a definite improvement over the original.
- Music remixes were very nice. I very much enjoyed the soundtrack. Not much else to say there.
- Buying multiple potions at a time was great
- Some of the fixes were nice… for instance, I actually used some of the buffs and debuffs.
- I am surprised I actually was overall OK with the minimap… at least for overland… in the dungeons it felt more cheaty.
- Overall torn on the fact that they in essence got rid of static spawns being repeatable. There are some that you can get to repeat by exiting the map and reentering it, but it made it so much more a pain to grind certain monsters that it wasn’t worth doing so. But on the other side, it is kind of stupid to repeat encounters over and over like that.
- HI-Potions… I sort of liked them, but it did make the game easier in later stages considering the game wasn’t designed for a potion that heals by 150.
- Bigger inventory. FF1 had a huge inventory issue, by the end of the game, you were holding so many key items and important items that you had to ditch many other important items. It was awful. But the problem really was the key items were overbearing. I had items from the first couple of quests at the end of the game and they didn’t do a thing past that. The solution was to make those items used once used and thus not in your inventory, or create a tab to store that stuff in. Both are likely more complicated to implement so SE just increased the limit and now it is essentially unlimited. I almost never sold anything, I never threw anything, and I probably opened more chests than usual and I never felt inventory strain. It’s a modern mentality just to let players hoard everything, but it did create SOME strategy. There should be a happy medium but this way I guess is better than the original system.
- New items in general… They added potions to heal magic points, they added elixers and phoenix downs. And the culmination of these additions was to make the game easier. Elixers at least you couldn’t buy, but by the end of the game I had 99 HI-Potions, 99 Phoenix Downs and 99 of the potions that heal MP… I never needed to return to town and didn’t even have a healer.
- “Bug” fixes. The bug fixes that SE consistently does to this game in particular really annoys me. I wish they came with a big huge preferences file that let me turn fixes on and off. For instance, I think the fix to make it so that you autoattack the next creature in line instead of just losing attack makes the combat infinitely less interesting and strategic and is a bug because it makes the game worse. I don’t like the bug fix to remove the peninsula of power… something that devs in future games of the series intentionally put into their game (other RPGs like Dragon Quest do it too). There are some bugs that are good that they fixed, righting the many wrongs of the Monk… fixing how damage works on weapons… making intelligence do something… make half the spells do something… but some of the things legitimately make the game better and they should recognize it better.
- Increased XP & gil. This was the easiest FF play through that I’ve had, and Thief is largely considered the worst class in the game. I only really farmed xp before the final dungeon of the game where I needed to get more levels. Everywhere else I may just do a fight or two before a boss to get that extra XP that would give me an extra level, but that was rare to need. I guess in a way that they figured out how to streamline the xp so you never had to grind levels is better design… built realistically it feels less challenging if I never die and I never have to work to be equal to my opponents. I never once in the game farmed for money either, even at the very beginning you start with more money and fully equipped.
- Speaking of the beginning. Not a fan of the prelude telling you the whole background nor forcing you to talk to the king before you go off to fight the first baddy. The game actually needed more ways to explain the back story, but they should have done it later. The point of that first boss fight is to leave you guessing as to what was going on. It actually was a direct mocking of Super Mario Bros. To give background kind of took away that feel that was originally there.
- Cid. I realize it became a running joke that Cid is in every game… but let FF1 be the one where he didn’t show up. I don’t understand how you can remove one running joke (peninsula of power) and insert another which had no place here. This was super disrespectful.
My overall feeling of the game is that I liked it better than I thought I would, but I still don’t think Square knows how to remake its own games at all. I can understand why someone may want some of the goodies that these new versions bring to make life a little easier… but I wish they would give an option to opt out for those who actually liked the original game. I honestly don’t know who this game is aimed at. If you like the original… then you are going to dislike this one because they ruin the gameplay… if you don’t like the original… or old games… You aren’t going to find something you want here… it’s too simple of a game. Someone who plays this game now isn’t playing cause of the great storyline or amazing gameplay, they liked the game for whatever weird reason they liked it, getting rid of that doesn’t help anyone.