With Final Fantasy XVI just around the corner, this is the perfect time to re-visit the newly updated version of the best game in the series in our Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster review!
Unless you have been living under a crystal, you must be aware that one of the biggest and most hyped games of the year is just around the corner. The world awaits with eager anticipation. But before the 16th mainline iteration of one of the most beloved franchises appears at our doorstep, we should take a moment to return to our roots.
Since the first Final Fantasy game was released in 1987 and saved Squaresoft from an early demise, the series has grown from strength to strength. For me personally (and hopefully for most of you as well) the absolute high point of the series is Final Fantasy VI (from hereon FFVI).
The classic title first appeared on the Super Nintendo in 1994. And what a masterpiece it was! Enough so that over the past 30 years it has seen re-release on the PlayStation 1, GameBoy Advance, PC, Mobile (Android and iOS), Wii and Wii U (Virtual Consoles), and was packaged as one of the 20 games on the ‘Super Nintendo Mini‘.
So… this is the best game of all time? It might just be.
Yet another version of the game was first released in 2022 on Steam/PC. However, on this occasion the game was fully remastered… in Pixel style! Hang on… the game was already presented in a pixel format on the SNES.
What is new here? If you already own, or have played, FFVI – is this version of the game worth another purchase and play? If you feel that the gaming landscape has been ruined by the mass of remakes and remasters in recent years, let me get the team back together to change your mind when it comes to FFVI.
The FFVI Pixel Remaster is truly a risen phoenix.
Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster Review – Story
The story of FFVI is set in a world dominated by the oppressive Gestahlian Empire. The insatiable hunger for power of the Emperor and his right-hand man, Kefka Palazzo, threatens to plunge the whole planet into darkness. Despite the War of the Magi from 1000 years earlier, where the magical Esper race was seemingly exterminated from the world, the Empire seems hellbent on reviving the lost art of magic. A young woman raised as a slave quickly rises through the ranks of the Empire’s army because she somehow possesses magical abilities that were thought lost to the world.
After escaping the clutches of the Empire, Terra finds herself surrounded by an ever growing cast of diverse and compelling allies. Every player will likely gravitate to different members of the group. Indeed, one of the strengths of FFVI is the amount of time and effort the developers put into the backstory of every single member of the team. Each of them are grappling with their own demons (sometimes literally) and all characters have an enthralling story arc that can be played out through the game’s detailed end-game side quests.
Cyan has one of the most compelling stories (and side-quests) in the whole game. And he’s a freakin’ Samurai.
Beyond the internal conflicts that plague the characters, the overarching narrative seamlessly transitions between moments of heart-wrenching tragedy, chucklesome hilarity and soaring triumph.
As the threads of destiny intertwine, these disparate souls find solace in their shared struggles, forging bonds of friendship and camaraderie that defy the bleakness of their circumstances. Their collective resilience and unyielding spirit serve as a beacon of hope in the face of the encroaching darkness, inspiring players to persevere even in the direst of circumstances.
I think I’ll pass on that offer…thanks
In typical JRPG fare, betrayals and sacrifices punctuate the storyline, leaving a mark on both the characters and the players who embark on this emotional rollercoaster. The game deftly explores themes of love, loss, redemption, and the power of the human spirit.
You’ll need some spirit to get through the final boss of this dungeon
Without a doubt, the story told in FFVI is a narrative of unparalleled grandeur in the gaming landscape. This epic tale expertly weaves together the destinies of a diverse ensemble cast, leading us on a profound emotional journey that transcends the boundaries of what should be possible in a video game. This is definitely one of those rare experiences in art that will endure in your mind long after the credits have rolled.
Also, you can Suplex a train (though they renamed it here to ‘Meteor Strike‘).
Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster Review – Gameplay
At its core, Final Fantasy VI employs a traditional JRPG turn-based battle system. Building on the uniqueness of the cast, each character in the party possesses unique attributes and skills, offering a range of tactical options in battle. Edgar, the king of the technologically advanced kingdom of Figaro uses various Tools that are bought or discovered, whereas his muscle-bound brother Sabin uses his fists to do the talking with quick-time-event style attacks.
One of the defining features of the battle system is the focus on the magical being known as Espers. These are powerful beings that allow any characters to learn magical skills and if equipped when party members level up they also provide an additional boost to particular stats. More powerful (and hidden) Espers, of course, teach the most powerful spells.
The Ultima spell. As powerful as it sounds.
Additionally, using the Espers themselves in battle not only allows characters to deal substantial damage to enemies, but some of the Espers also offer unique battle effects that can provide tactical advantages, making them valuable assets in challenging battles.
Tyrannosaurs? Better bust out Bahamut and his Mega Flare attack!
Whilst the overall cast is large (14 playable characters), the game uses story moments to not only focus on the amazing cast but also to effectively require the player to utilise characters they may not otherwise consider. FFVI has a standard party size of four characters that can be used at a time in battle. However, one of the more unique elements of FFVI are a number of dungeons where the player splits the team into multiple groups so it is an absolute necessity to build up more than just 4 characters.
Ready for the final battle. Bring your best TWELVE characters along!
Overall, the battle system in Final Fantasy VI is a masterfully crafted fusion of classic turn-based combat, character customization, and strategic depth. The vast array of character abilities creates an engaging and dynamic gameplay experience that stands the test of time through tactically rich combat encounters and memorable boss fights.
Anybody for seafood soup?
All of the existing greatness of FFVI has been made even easier to enjoy with the Pixel Remaster series’ ‘Boost‘ configuration options. With the flick of a switch Experience, Magic Points and Gil can be received at 1x, 2x or even 4x the usual rate. Those pesky encounters can also be turned off at any time (you can’t skip boss battles though).
Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster Review – Presentation
The magnificent story and engaging combat are virtually untouched in the pixel remaster. Other than some translation corrections (mostly better in my mind) and a few glitches being fixed (no more Vanish-Doom… sad face), there really wasn’t a need to mess with perfection.
What the Pixel Remaster does is provide a massive update to the visual and audio presentation. All of it is a change for the better.
Some scenes didn’t need to be updated. The Phantom Forest is as beautiful and eerie as ever.
The visual upgrades provided in the Pixel Remaster version of FFVI breathe new life into this classic title. If you didn’t grow up during the SNES era, then some of the changes might not appear ‘obvious’. To someone like me that has put in literally hundreds of hours, the changes are clear. Updated pixel art, sharper and more defined character sprites and some completely re-done environments are glorious to behold.
The updated Opera scene looks absolutely gorgeous!
The increased resolution and attention to detail result in a crisper and more visually appealing experience. The character animations are smoother, allowing for more fluid movements during battles and exploration, enhancing the overall immersion. Battle animations for every type of attack have been updated – the remastered version incorporates subtle visual effects and enhancements that enrich the game’s atmosphere.
That fire is more menacing than ever
The user interface has also undergone improvements, with cleaner and more intuitive menus. Text boxes and dialogue windows have been redesigned to enhance readability whilst also being more visually pleasing.
One of the most impressive parts of the Pixel Remaster package is the completely new symphonic arrangement of the entire soundtrack. If you simply can’t live without the original soundtrack then you do have the option to select the ‘original’ chiptunes. However, I strongly recommend that you do not as in the vast majority of cases the new arrangements absolutely knock it out of the park. Nowhere is this clearer than in the fantastic new version of the iconic Opera scene – now with full operatic vocals to go along with the amazing new visual presentation.
I tip my hat to the team involved with the new orchestration. It isn’t easy to improve on perfection, but somehow they have managed to do it. The full gamut of JRPG music styles is present here. Soft and calming town music, tunes to accompany you through mysterious dungeons and of course the banging battle tunes.
Kefka’s theme is as mad and unhinged as the villain himself.
“Kids Run Through the City” remains one of the most relaxing themes across the entire series.
“The Decisive Battle” is just impossible not to headbang to.
An iconic introduction, backed up by even more iconic music from the master Nobuo Uematsu.
Final Fantasy VI has always been a masterpiece. Its rich and emotionally charged narrative, coupled with a cast of unforgettable characters and strong gameplay mechanics has cemented its status as a must-play game that simply cannot be missed.
The Pixel Remaster version of Final Fantasy VI brings the game to new heights with significantly updated visual presentation. The enhanced pixel art, refined animations, and subtle visual effects breathe new life into the timeless classic while preserving its nostalgic charm. The new orchestral score is somehow an improvement on perfection. Honestly, I don’t know how they did this magnificent soundtrack justice – but they pulled it off.
That’s curtains on the game, what an amazing adventure.
There are few experiences in the world of videogames as profound as Final Fantasy VI. Whether you’re a long-time fan of the series or a newcomer to the world of Final Fantasy, this game is like a spiritual journey that will stay with you long after the credits roll. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to embark on the definitive version of this unforgettable adventure.
So, why should you play Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster?
- This sixth entry is easily the best game in the series, pure JRPG perfection.
- One of the best and most diverse casts of characters, including one of the best villains ever seen in a videogame.
- Undoubtably the perfect way to prepare yourself for the upcoming release of Final Fantasy 16
But, why shouldn’t you play Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster?
- The only possible reason to not play this game is that you really dislike turn-based JRPGs. That being said, if any game is going to change your mind on that – this is the one.
A review code on PlayStation 5 was kindly provided by Square Enix and Bandai Namco for the purpose of this review. Love your JRPGs as much as I do? Check out our reviews for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and Persona 3 Remaster whilst we wait for Final Fantasy 16 to arrive! Keep an eye out for some more Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster reviews coming out soon as well. Do you need some tips for FF6 such as how to unlock Gogo and the awesome Chainsaw item? Reach out to us on our Discord Server!