I finally finished all the Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters. They’re all fantastic games and the added QoL improvements make them more accessible than ever. Just being able to toggle random encounters on and off is huge, but there’s also being able to quicksave anywhere and the ability to increase the amount of experience and money you earn from battles, making grinding unnecessary (or quick) if you want. (You can also set them to zero if you want an extra challenge.)
A few thoughts, in the (weird ) order I played them:
FFVI: Still one of the best games of all-time. Oodles of charm, heart and tragedy packed into one little game. As much of a pleasure from start to finish as it was thirty years ago.
FFI: The original and the one where FF’s D&D roots are the most readily apparent. The characters are literally generic character classes and the plot is “Go beat up the evil guy”. But it has old school charm and even a completionist playthrough can be done in less than 20 hours.
FFII: One of two games I had never beaten. I played it a bit on the PS1 but couldn’t get past the weird leveling system. Which in hindsight is odd because it isn’t that hard to grasp: Use sword, improve ability with sword. Use Fire spell, improve damage with Fire spell. It’s the first one with proper characters and a proper–if predictable–story. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit for a game that is routinely at the bottom of Best Final Fantasy Game lists. (I’ll also have to revisit the SaGa series, which was started by one of II’s developers and uses the same style of leveling.)
FFIV: Another all-time classic, one that I rate right up there with FFVI. Dark Knight Cecil’s journey of redemption is heartfelt and just when you think you’ve explored the entire world, it turns out there’s another entire realm underground. And then you travel to the Moon. On a whale.
FFIII: The one game I knew nothing about, except it had the first rudimentary Job system. (Up until now, it’s never had a proper console release in the West, though I think it’s been on a couple of handhelds.) Turns out we’re back to generic characters and the Job “system” is basically just a secondary level that improves your efficiency with weapons and/or spells. Honestly, not much stands out for me about this game so it’s probably my least favorite of the Remasters, but I enjoyed it well enough when I was playing it.
FFV: One of those games that is cited as underrated so much that I suspect that, in certain circles, it might be overrated. It certainly has the best mainline FF Job system and I have a soft spot for the characters, even if the story doesn’t stand out as much. It doesn’t have quite the same charm as IV or VI…but it isn’t that far off either.
Now, after all that, I just need a Chrono Trigger remaster.