Of all the game developers, Square Enix seems to recognize its back catalog better than most. This year alone has seen Chrono-Cross (although in a slightly messy port), Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remasterand NieR: Automata all are making the jump to Switch. And with the future just as bright with Octopath Traveler II and Theatrical final measuring linewhy do you feel like this weekend’s announcement was a bit of a misstep?
First revealed at E3 2021 as PC and mobile exclusives, it took Square Enix over 18 months to announce these console ports. The last of the Pixel Remasters – Final Fantasy VI – launched on Steam in February, so we understand to at least wait for all six to release before announcing a port. And we understand you need a big celebratory announcement for one of the biggest franchises’ birthdays, and ports of classic games are always a surefire winner. Although by the time Spring 2023 rolls around, we’ll be nearly two years since FFI, II, and III all released on Steam and mobile.
For many people, the NES and SNES eras of Final Fantasy are quite special. Many RPG fans cut their teeth on Final Fantasy I, IV, and VI, while many other Final Fantasy tropes and mainstays were established in II, III, and V. Square Enix had to give these games the treatment they deserve and has created two physical editions – a standard at £64.99 which includes all six games, and an extremely whimsical game Collector’s Edition for £244.99 (plus postage) which includes a vinyl album, an artbook, a beautiful box and some pixel figures. It’s a lavish limited edition that any fan would give up a lot of Gil for – and Square Enix knew it.
Of course, there were some caveats when Square announced these long-awaited Switch (and PS4) ports. First, in the UK, re-releases were announced at 6am on a Sunday morning, a time when most of us are still rubbing our eyes (and certainly not checking our emails or Twitter) – and in the US that means they found out about it at 1am on the east coast. Second, the Standard and Collector’s Editions were both sold “in limited quantities” – the standard version sold out within minutes, and at almost £250 a pop many were budgeted off of the fancier edition – which is now also out of stock.
Both of these releases were exclusive to the Square Enix store, so it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that there will be more available for purchase, and we know for sure. Xenoblade Chronicles 3pre-order debacle that people will be listing copies of the game on eBay at sky-high prices. So many fans feel they have been left out of the celebrations and will have to make do with digital releases. [Note: Square Enix has since restocked both editions on the North American store without any warning, so it’s worth keeping an eye out if you’re desperate for one.]
We have to wonder how long Square Enix has been sitting on this news as well. We understand the announcement of this on the show’s 35th anniversary, but it’s something the company has been aware of for some time. In July 2021, the publisher said console versions would depend on demand – although many fans were already clamoring for these games to come to Switch (that was the days before the Steam Deck), but the demand was there from day one.
Square Enix has, however, staggered the release of the games on Steam and Mobile, with Final Fantasy VI not arriving until February this year. We’re absolutely waiting for all six to come out before we let them hit consoles – and Square Enix has been working on updating those releases for a while as well (Final Fantasy I was last patched in august this year, for example). But it feels like Square always knew it wanted to bring the games to other systems, and instead teased them for an extended period of time before suddenly dropping pre-orders at dawn.
One sticking point of the PC versions remains though – the font. Instead of going with a retro pixel font, Square Enix went with a thin, white, simple case that screams “quick and dirty mobile port” and can be quite hard to read at times. Square Enix hasn’t updated this at all, with modders coming to the rescue to create more fitting and readable text for the game. And when the Switch version was originally announced, Steam screenshots were used to announce them.
A few hours after their announcement, RPG website noticed that Square Enix removed all screenshots that had this bland, spidery writing. According to RPG Site, several sources have confirmed to them that the console versions will be use a new font. As we still have to wait until Spring 2023 to get our hands on the Switch version, maybe the extra time is used to get that perfect font. Why this would cause such a problem when modders fixed the issue on PC so quickly, we can’t say – we can only hope for a fix!
We’re at least happy to have all the Pixel Remasters on Switch at once. These games are important parts of Nintendo and RPG history. Plus, font aside, these remasters look great. Jits colors are really vibrant (imagine those pixels on an OLED!) and the rearranged music is absolutely breathtaking. They are also the “truest” versions of their original releases, which means they lack the content of the GBA versions and other re-releases, but the gist is there. Square still put a lot of effort into these remasters, acknowledging their importance in the video game canon, and their popularity reflects that. Why the company wouldn’t anticipate demand for the physical version is frankly beyond us, but there you are.