What exactly is the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster Series? Here's what we've managed to find out
Earlier today, Square Enix announced the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series, pixel art remakes/remasters for Final Fantasy I through VI. We didn't manage to get too much of a look, but 5~6 seconds of montage footage from the reveal trailer was enough to give us a (small) idea for what we might be in for.
Before reading on, rewatch the trailer quickly, paying close attention to the section where gameplay and sprites can briefly be seen:
Starting at 16 seconds in, we get our (very) short glimpse at footage, showcasing Final Fantasy I through V, and no discernable footage of VI. We did, however, get a glimpse at the new Final Fantasy VI sprites for Terra and Locke, as a smattering of FF heroes animate around the gameplay footage in this section of the trailer. By zooming in on the gameplay footage, we can see these sprites match the ones in the miniscule crumb of gameplay footage shown.
As far as we've been able to tell, these sprites are all new - alongside almost every sprite showcased in the trailer. These sprites or similar have appeared before - in the recent Final Fantasy DOT artbook that celebrates classic FF's pixel art, a section of the book features new '2018 versions' of the classic FF sprites, often printed directly alongside the originals.
Here's quick look comparing some sprites from FF1, 4, 5, and 6. These aren't perfect comparisons, as the only way to access the new sprites was to rip it directly from the trailer, YouTube compression and all - some detail may be lost. Square Enix didn't release any screens, though, so we'll work with what we have. That said, it does give a solid look at the broad difference in style:
As we said, the closest relative of these sprites appears to fit those printed in the FF DOT book. They aren't always perfect matches, but Cecil's Dark Knight sprite appears to fit what we've seen in the book with only very minor alterations, and Rosa's is a very near match, with the primary difference being her clothes having had a color adjustment - green, instead of the pink found within the artbook.
We've been trying to figure out if these 2018 sprites have appeared any other games before now - they may have made an appearance in a mobile game - but we haven't been able to figure out which one if they have.
For instance, these are not the sprites used in Final Fantasy: Record Keeper, which also tries to unify characters from right across the series in FF6's pixel art style. The much maligned All the Bravest largely used the existing sprites from the original releases.
Thanks to Twitter user KillThad for first making the Cecil & Rosa comparison - we went on to make a few more. Below, you can see an image of the '2018 ver.' Dark Knight Cecil from the book, as an example.
It does seem clear that the sprite changes vary from game to game - they're drawn into a more unified style across all six, but some games will see more changes than others. FF4-6 are the obvious ones with which to compare art styles, however, as their initial graphics remain the most complex.
The backgrounds for fights, as well as the assets for each game's world maps, also appear to be entirely new. In fact, the only concrete example of an entirely reused (or seemingly reused) sprite that we could find, was a short shot of Boko from Final Fantasy V from the very end of the montage. That, too, could have seen some edits - it's just such a short moment in the trailer, it's hard to tell - especially with YouTube compression getting in the way of things.
Nevertheless, it certainly appears that all of these remasters are in large part new, redrawn from the ground up - though there is also clearly influence from the other releases of the games in some areas. Somd backgrounds appear to be redrawn, for instance - while others clearly draw from the GBA or PSP versions of the games. For characters, it appears to present mostly new pixel art that takes cues from previous versions.
As far as Quality of Life additions are concerned, we appear to have a fast-forward button in the upper left, and new minimaps for each game - including within dungeons. On the overworld, the appearance of the world map while you wander around makes these 2D games a little more like the world maps in FF7-9, which all had mini-maps available through the overworld.
Oddly enough, from some of the Final Fantasy IV footage, it appears that players will also have access to 8-way movement - Cecil moves diagonally a number of times.
Hopefully soon, Square Enix will release more information and proper screenshots so we can get a better idea of the visual changes - but for now, this is our read based on the first trailer's brief glimpse of gameplay.