Here's an even closer look at the Final Fantasy 1-6 pixel art remasters
After a baffling 30-second announcement which fans had to pause and freeze-frame to get detail from, Square Enix has finally released a closer look at the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series, an upcoming set of stand-alone re-releases of the classic 2D Final Fantasy games for PC and Mobile.
The Pixel Remaster series aims to offer a definitive remastered version of the first six Final Fantasy games, updating Final Fantasy I, II, III, IV, V and VI to modern standards on modern platforms. They follow on from controversial redrawn versions of FF5 and FF6 from 2013 and 2014 that fans generally hated - this aims to be a much more faithful reimagining of these beloved games.
That doesn't mean they're pixel-accurate, however. As we discovered in our investigation earlier this month, the Pixel Remaster series features redrawn character sprites across all six games, with details and colouring changed. While they're far closer to the originals, they are definitely different - and now, thanks to a new trailer Square Enix uploaded to its Japanese YouTube channels, we can glimpse those new sprites in-game across all six titles.
The 30-minute deep dive trailer was seemingly released by mistake, and has since been removed. It confirms that the games will be released individually, with the first - FF1 - set to release on Steam and Mobile in Japan at some point next month. [Update: Video is now public)
deleted video mostly focuses on talking to some of the developers of the original games about their legacy - but also features some short glimpses of in-game footage. Here's some screenshots of all six games as shown in the trailer, courtesy of ResetEra user Laxoon - with some analysis from us below.
The images give us a better glimpse at the HD Pixel Art Remaster collection, and based on the control prompts for things like the space bar, appear to have been captured from the PC versions.
In these images, we can see that not just the main sprites have changed - but also there have been general artistic tweaks across the board. Most striking is the image of FF6's Narshe from the game's opening moments. In the original game you can glimpse the town of Narse down below the cliff edge where Terra, Biggs and Wedge survey it from on high - but in the Pixel Remaster version, the buildings are much larger and more defined, and the color scheme of the scene in general has been adjusted.
What this comparison makes clear, above all else, is that these are not phoned-in versions of these games with redrawn sprites and nothing else. That was what we got in 2013/4 - and the fan backlash was considerable, mostly to sprites that, while technically accomplished, didn't seem to fit the original games.
The new sprites might be an attempt to emulate the color distribution effects of display on CRT television displays, or they might just be an artistic change to better match other art and the original intent. Certainly, the changes will made the six 2D FFs more similar in general style. We don't yet know the complete intention and detail around changes for sure, though it is clear that these new sprites are based on those in the 2018 FF DOT art book, which original FF sprite artist Kazuko Shibuya revisited much of her work for.
The remasters are clearly aiming to be cohesive works that recreate the mood of the original game - though with some changes. For older games, this involves drawing reference from the many different versions previously available. Here's an extensive look at every major version of FF1 (with credit to various YouTube channels for the screengrabs of the NES, Wondersawn, PS1, GBA, and PSP versions):
Finally, here's a return to the earliest and most visually basic of the 16-bit era Final Fantasy titles, with a look at a few of the various versions of FF4 (with credit again to a few YouTube channels for the shots of PSP and GBA, plus the excellent Legends of Localization for a matching shot of the SNES original):
Hopefully the trailer is re-released, alongside more screenshots and footage, soon.