It took several decades, but we finally got Final Fantasy 1, 2, and the 2D version of 3 released on PC. In fact, this is actually the first time the 2D version of 3 was released in the West in any format. So yeah, as a massive JRPG fan, this was exciting stuff.
Alright, so by this point I imagine many are familiar with these games and the type of gameplay they offer. Put simply, they’re some of the best classic JRPGs ever made – each with a real sense of adventure, a large world to explore, a killer soundtrack, and a simple, yet fun combat system. They are definitely a bit barebones compared to modern JRPGs, but honestly, they can be just as fun if not more so – at least for me. So, if you’re wondering if the games themselves are any fun, the answer is 100% yes.
Story-wise, well that’s a different question. The early Final Fantasy games are not exactly known for their storytelling and that is perhaps most evident in these three. The story in 1 is basically nonexistent and it’s mostly just gameplay. They kick it up a notch in 2 and it’s actually not terrible – although still not at a level I would consider “good”. 3 is a little bit of a decline from 2 – so again, don’t go into these three games expecting story.
The question is then on the remaster portion of these releases. To sum it up – yes, the remasters themselves are good too, but they are not perfect. The key focus for this Pixel Remaster project was to bring these games to modern audiences while staying true to the originals. This has both its ups and downs. For one, you get all the nice upgrades and whatnot, but you end up losing out on some of the bonus content that was added in previous ports. The bonus dungeons in Final Fantasy I, for example, are not present in this release.
It becomes a bit of a trade-off and fortunately – in this case – the pros heavily outweigh the cons. Take the visuals for example. When I played FF1 and FF2, I used the PlayStation 1 versions. These versions already had upgraded art, but these new Pixel Remasters easily blow those old versions away. Not only is the new spritework faithful to the original (it’s even done by the same artist now 35 years later), but it looks incredibly crisp at higher resolutions.
I ran each game at 4k and had absolutely no issues, they run flawlessly at 60 fps and look fantastic as a result – there’s even ultrawide support for those that want to go that route. And honestly, I prefer this “classic, but upgraded” look over what the PSP versions tried to do. I think the only notable downside here is the font. I don’t seem to dislike it as much as others do, but it is pretty small (or rather, thin) and can be hard to read at times. There’s already mods to fix this though, so that’s something you don’t need to worry about if playing on PC.
The music received similar treatment. It maintains that same distinct feel as the original, but upgraded just enough to give it its own identity. As someone that has listened to these soundtracks countless times over the years, I was actually surprised with how much I liked the new versions – I’m already looking forward to hopefully seeing the full soundtracks made available outside of the game.
Then there’s the gameplay, which received just as much an upgrade, but perhaps not as visible as the visual upgrade. For example – they stayed true to the original by keeping the “spell charges” mechanic from the original Final Fantasy (which some ports had removed in favor of the mana system from later games), but changed the combat by toning down the difficulty across the board in all three games.
It’s not so much as to make the games too easy, but enough that you don’t have to grind as much (although grinding is still expected here). I may have been party-wiped six minutes into the first game (the absolute classic Final Fantasy experience), but because of the reduced shop prices in these versions, I was able to quickly get the equipment I needed to progress without mindlessly grinding it all out.
The quality-of-life changes are really what elevate these remasters – enough so that I would deem them the definitive versions of each game. You get auto-battle, battle speedup, diagonal movement, streamlined UI across all three games, auto-saves, and perhaps the biggest change: mapping. Yes, there is now a mini-map and full-blown scrollable world map that not only marks different locations, but tells you how many chests and items you have found in each area.
What was my biggest complaint with the original games has vanished – exploration is now far easier and I am no longer sitting here wandering around wondering which chunk of land will take me to the next town. Now I can just look at the map and figure it out easily from there. Sure, some might actually see this as a downgrade of sorts, but honestly, the time and sanity saved by this feature alone completely wipes away any sort of complaint I might have had.
So yes, I absolutely recommend the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series – at least for 1–3. They’ve done an excellent job staying true to the spirit of the originals while making them more accessible for newcomers – wiping away some of the grind and just generally streamlining them a bit. That and the numerous quality of life upgrades and such easily make these versions the definitive way to play – even if some of the added content from past versions is lost. I’m expecting 4–6 to be just as good, but I’ll do another video once those are out just in case.
Quote: The Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series does an excellent job staying true to the spirit of the originals while making more accessible for newcomers – the new definitive way to play each game.
The first two Final Fantasy games retail for $12 USD and the third retails for $18 USD, but you can get each 20% off using my Green Man Gaming partner link.
The games are also available on iOS and Android.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.