During its E3 presentation yesterday, Square-Enix announced Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster, a collection of the first six mainline games in the RPG series for Steam and mobile devices. However, what the company didn’t do was show was direct screenshots of any of the games in action. This led to some unrest in the series’ fandom, as previous ports Square-Enix released of the sprite-based Final Fantasy games to modern hardware weren’t kind to the original art.
While Square still hasn’t released direct screenshots, RPGSite did an extensive comparison between the pixel art that was shown in the teaser trailer and the original sprites from some of the games included in Pixel Remaster. Their findings are…better than the previous remasters, at least?
Here’s the simplest side-by-side comparison of Final Fantasy V, VI, IV, and the first game RPGSite included in its write-up. The graphic shows a comparison between the original games, the 2013/2014 remasters, and sprites that were clipped out of the teaser. While the original remasters featured smoothed-out art lacking in the same detail as the original games, the Pixel Remaster seems like a little bit more of a happy medium but is still without a lot of the shading of the original games.
Every time a game is remastered or remade, we run into conversations about what it means to remaster something, and what are the lines between improvement and preservation. Sometimes this extends to gameplay concerns like Mass Effect: Legendary Edition’s “improved” Mako controls, but more often than not, art is what sees the biggest changes when it comes to making games for modern hardware. I get the inclination to make games like the original Mass Effect look modern, but I’ve never understood Square’s fascination with changing its pixel art for these kinds of ports because the original sprites still look pretty good.
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This was one of two major announcements Square-Enix made about the Final Fantasy series at E3. The other being a confirmation of our previous report about an action-oriented spin-off called Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. The game is supposed to have a demo on PlayStation live right now, but it’s been struggling.