Pixel Remaster: Games That Deserve the Final Fantasy Treatment - VRGyani News and Media

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Pixel Remaster: Games That Deserve the Final Fantasy Treatment

Over the past decade or so, if you didn’t have an older console lying around, the only way to purchase and experience Final Fantasy VI with its original art style was to have bought the SNES Classic. Though Square Enix had re-released the game plenty of times, the latest iterations of the classic JRPG featured pixel art that was a far cry from its original look. Just in this past year alone, Square Enix has done a really great job when it comes to remasters of classic titles, such as Collection of SaGa and Legend of Mana. This is just another reason why so many people have been frustrated with their remastered outputs when it comes to Final Fantasy, their premier franchise.

With the Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters, Square Enix is perhaps looking to right some of their past wrongs. With the first three entries in the series now released, they stated beforehand that part of their intentions with these remasters was to allow players to “experience the original essence of the game as though you were playing it for the first time in 1987.”

Though these Pixel Remasters have delivered updated graphics, that’s not the only selling point. An updated soundtrack with new rearrangements headed by industry icon and Final Fantasy veteran, Nobuo Uematsu, is another major feature that these releases have delivered on. With that in mind, there are no doubt countless games of the past that would benefit from such a type of release. Let’s take a look at some past titles in series that have gone on to do great things, and whose earlier games deserve some touch-ups.

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Xenogears

Another Square Enix—at that time Square Soft—classic that could benefit greatly in this style, as well as by simply being on modern consoles, is Xenogears. Over the years the Xenoblade series has become a pillar in Nintendo’s library, with its sequel and DLC exceeding sales expectations overseas. With the game’s original director, Tetsuya Takahashi, at the head of Monolith Soft, it would seem there’d need to be a lot of maneuvering for this to happen. Once a company under Namco, and now owned by Nintendo, it seems unlikely for a remaster or remake of any kind to happen with his involvement while he’s at Monolith Soft.

However, due to the success that Xenoblade has had over the past handful of years, one would hope that Square Enix could take a look at their back catalog of games and remaster Xenogears, a game that is already so special. With 2D sprites and 3D backgrounds, Xenogears had a unique look that still captivates today. Touching up the sprites and backgrounds and increasing the resolution would do wonders for this classic title when it comes to capturing a new audience. There must be some fans of the game still at Square Enix, as for its 20th anniversary in 2018, a fantastic remaster of the title’s original soundtrack, overseen by composer Yasunori Mitsuda, was created. With that already in place, one would hope that a remaster of the game itself could perhaps someday be on the horizon.

Donkey Kong Country

It seems every year there is some type of anniversary taking place at Nintendo, and 2021 is no different. As Donkey Kong’s 40th anniversary passes us by, there has been no news from Nintendo in regards to one of their most recognizable mascots. What better way could there have been to celebrate than to remaster one of his greatest outings, Donkey Kong Country. Though the game is perfectly playable as part of the Switch’s SNES online catalog, a fresh coat of paint for one of the best platformers on the system could be something incredibly special. Donkey Kong Country especially would allow for great improvements. Although it didn’t have the most gorgeous art, the environments in these games are ones that could truly pop off the screen if treated correctly, as evidenced by titles like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

With Uematsu behind the rearrangements for the Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters, in that same vein, one can only imagine the music of David Wise being revisited for Donkey Kong Country. With classic songs like “Aquatic Ambiance” and “Life in the Mines,” Wise created one of the most memorable soundtracks of the era, and hearing new takes on these classics could make for something truly special.

Kyūyaku Megami Tensei

Never released outside of Japan, and with the latest entry in the series landing this year on the Switch, there’s no better time than now for the first games in the Megami Tensei series to get another look. Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei I and II both released on the Famicom, and would later get a SNES remake, entitled Kyūyaku Megami Tensei. Like Final Fantasy III, which just had its 2D version released for the first time in the west, this could be a great opportunity for fans of the franchise to experience where it all began.

This release could act as a great foundation for a remaster, as neither of these games has yet to be localized officially. It's a title that features early appearances of some of the famous demons in the series. Allowing new and old fans the chance to see them touched up in faithful representations can act as a nice reference point for newer titles that have been released. Though the game has an auto-battle mechanic already built in, adding other quality-of-life features would be incredibly welcome, like the ability to save anywhere.

Unlike the two games mentioned earlier, the music of Kyūyaku Megami Tensei is largely lacking. Though there are a handful of standout pieces, it often gets incredibly repetitive. This especially hurts the games, which can clock in at around 30 hours apiece. With a remaster, one could hope that, with the stellar soundtracks already in place for so many Shin Megami Tensei and Persona games, a new take on this soundtrack could happen with perhaps touches of the original still present. Atlus is also no stranger to remasters and re-releases, as evidenced by Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne and Persona 5: Royal, both of which were released within the last two years.

It’s great to see Square Enix finally giving fans of the early Final Fantasy games something to be happy about. For years, the series has been relegated to mishandled phone ports with ugly sprite work. Though for some reason these Pixel Remaster releases have only been announced for PC and phones, it’s still a major step in the right direction when it comes to maintaining the original’s visual identity. If these end up selling well, here’s hoping that faithful remasters with new improvements come to great games of the past like Xenogears, Kyūyaku Megami Tensei, and Donkey Kong Country.

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