Final Fantasy XIII Goes Retro In This Trailer For Lightning Returns

By Ishaan . January 29, 2014 . 7:17am

Square Enix have released a “restro-spective trailer” for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, and it runs down the events of the Final Fantasy XIII series using 16-bit art, which actually looks really nice. You can view the trailer below, complete with 16-bit renditions of the Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack.



Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be available on February 11th in North America and February 14th in Europe for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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  • I’d rather play this.

    • meiam

      As much as I like 2D sprite, FF13 looked good and the visual weren’t the problem. It’s problem was story, character, ending, customization mechanic and to a lesser extend combat system. Sadly pixelating everything does not fix those issue.

      • Timovisch

        Don’t see any problems with the story, characters and combat system. Probably one of the best in the series. ^_^ But yea I haven’t played all FF’s only I, II, III, IV, IV-AY, V, VI, X, XIII and XIII-2.

        • Mimi

          you have missed all the best ones! ps1 final fantasys remain unrivaled

          • Timovisch

            Yes I have yet to play those. I do own VII, VIII and IX on PSN. But I have no clue which to play first. Suggestions are welcome. :)

          • Skode

            VIII, VII then IX because based on the games youve played id wager you will enjoy VIII the least and IX the most so save the best till last.

          • EverEndingStory

            Depends on what you want.

            Until FFXIII came around and took its mantle, FFVIII was largely considered the black sheep of the series, and is largely considered the black sheep of the PS1 games (though some consider IX to be that). It has probably the best PLOT (read: not story) of any FF game (with the possible exception of XII), and is one of the games most rooted in its theme (romantic love). Its main complaints are its protagonist (who is not at all like the Squall that you see in Kingdom Hearts/Dissidia games, and is more like the sullen and antisocial Cloud you see in the Kingdom Hearts/Dissidia games) and its battle system (by some). Some people like the more hyper-realistic post-contemporary sci-fi setting, others hate it.

            FFVII is the more traditional “Final Fantasy” of the two. I honestly don’t understand the hate for it by FF-traditionalists – I honestly assume it is simply because it is so popular, because aside from the 3d graphics, anime character designs, more 90s grunge/punkish attitude and a slightly more modern, steam-punkish setting, it pretty much fits the mold of the golden age (SNES) games.

            FFIX (my personal favorite of the era) is a straight up homage to the Final Fantasy series as a whole, particularly the classic (NES) games. It has probably the best cast of any of the games in my opinion – its story is very much focused on its characters, their interrelations, and their individual character arcs. It has an almost Shakespearian quality to the way it tears apart then builds back up its characters. But its plot is probably the weakest since FFIII.

          • Timovisch

            Thank you for the clarification of the three PS1 games. :) They all sounds pretty interresting and I’m definitely gonna play them.

            I think I’ll just play them in order VII, VIII and then IX. Oh and after that I’ll beat XII as well I own that one on the PS2. Thanks again~! :)

          • SlickRoach

            I liked VIII as the black sheep personally. It felt different enough to be a breath of fresh air without feeling too estranged from the series. XIII just felt like I was merely suggesting my characters what they should do while walking down what felt like a planet comprised completely of hallways.

          • Lordshade

            FFVII was largely a remake of FFVI, It got more advertising, so it beacme popular. which caused the “it’s popular now it sucks” reaction.

            The plot was VERY similar (Evil empire is introduced as the villains, former soldier for said empire goes rouge and becomes the villain, I could be describing either FF6 or FF7 here. Bonus points for both of them being prototypes for a Super Soldier experiment.)

          • Mimi

            FFIX is my personal favorite. It has the best art style and best localization

          • SuperSailorV

            I really liked IX’s music, too. Not to mention, 4 character party!

        • Luis Ibal

          I think the problem with the game is de pacing.

      • Tom_Phoenix

        Well, if nothing else, the combat system in this trailer is better than the one used in the actual games. =P

      • Noor Mahmoud

        With FFXIII being the first Final Fantasy I ever played, with me having gone and played most of the older ones afterwards, I can say that it is my favorite one.

        • EmoryM

          You poor thing.

      • Stephen Mc Devitt

        A major problem in XIII’s development time was that developers were overhwhelmed by the technology for the PS3. combine this Toriyama never committing to whatever he initially promised and cut corners, XIII wasn’t the game is should have been.
        The game looked nice but was it really worth it?
        Kitase himself admits missing the limitations of the SNES-era and said that VI was only in development for a year. XIII had a much larger and longer pre-development and doesn’t have as much content as VI.
        Perhaps if developers were allowed to return to use 16-bit graphics, it would allow developers to be more creative so it wouldn’t be for the sake of nostalgia but rather be able to remember what made the series great in the first place and expand on it.

        • DeathDias71

          I don’t think ‘allowed to’ is what you really mean here. in the interview Kitase did about the development of Final Fantasy VI, he specifically calls out that the limitations on technology made it easier to develop for. So development on PS3, which was such a higher potential…well they were victims of scope creep and way too ambitious and as a result caused problems. Mostly because they were still in an old-school style way of thinking for game design…which you really can’t do anymore with the new technology.

          It would be awesome to have a 16 bit style game. And would definitely be a worth while endeavor…not to mention the costs and development time would be significantly less.

      • Tincho Kudos

        I must one of the few who actually cared and liked the characters and story (altough if you didn’t read the datalog, you will miss a big chunk of story)
        One little exception is Snow, I hate thay guy. And yes, I love Lightning and Vanille :D

      • Scott

        Final Fantasy 13 was fine, you’re just being a contrarian. It went weird and downhill with 13-2

    • Shane Guidaboni

      If they spent the time to make this trailer, why not re-do the entire game? I’d rather play it like this, too.

      • EverEndingStory

        Because making a 7 minute with sprites takes probably 1% of the time and money it would take to make and program a full game.

        • Shane Guidaboni

          Are you trying to tell me it would cost more time and money to make a sprite based FFXIII than the actual FFXIII?

          • Chaos89

            No, he isn’t comparing sprite FFXIII to the actual FFXIII. He is saying to make a little video like that didn’t take too much time and money, because its not actually a game, its a little video. If they were to make a game using sprites and re-create FFXIII in 16-bit entirely. It would cost a pretty decent amount of time and money. Since you have to go through the entire process of game creation. Design, development, testing, etc.

          • Shane Guidaboni

            Yes. I know how the process works. I’m only saying that this wouldn’t cost nearly as much as whatever it cost them to actually make FFXIII. Okay, get cracking on this SE.

          • Chaos89

            EverEndingStory and you actually have two completely separate comments. That’s what I’m saying…

            And I do wonder how much SE would spend on a 16-bit game nowadays… mmm probably 200K USD

    • Altin

      Now we have pixelated Linearity! x3

      • Tinye

        Play any FF game – They all tell a distinct story and a very linear one. Just because you can go places you never should in the world map doesn’t make the game non-linear.

        • Altin

          Going to places and doing stuff other than the main quest is a step in the right direction though. And they thankfully did that in XIII-2 but there are many other mistakes throughout the XIII saga. Linearity is just one of them.

          • Lordshade

            Most of the series is very linear until you get the airship, and even then, there is almost no reason to go back to places you already visited most of the time.

          • Altin

            Yeah, it was a minor step, but at least the maps there were not consistant of just one line.

    • Chaos_Knight

      So would I. I wouldn’t even care if it was on mobile.

  • Guest

    they should hire whoever did this, and let them work on FF16 in this style, then release it for iOS exclusively
    edit: >I am being sarcastic<

    • Terraforce77

      Sadly, in this day and age, if a game doesn’t have hyper-realistic graphics, it’ll quickly be shafted.

      • I find it’s the opposite most of the time. Call of Duty games tend to have poor graphics by today’s standards, yet they sell millions upon millions of copies each year. I think the argument that only games with amazing graphics sell is too simplified and not based on actual evidence. Don’t even get me started on the recent Pokemon games, which don’t have great visuals, even for the 3DS, yet they’ve sold extremely well.

        I think Square-Enix could get away with making FFXVI retro style and people would still buy it. It’s not like a sprite based game would only sell 100,000 copies or something. There is a still a market for traditional role-playing games, and while I enjoy seeing games like Final Fantasy that always have strong art direction, it’s not necessarily the focus on graphics that causes problems, but how Square-Enix failed to balance a realistic vision with proper execution. Look at FFXIII-2 and Lightning Returns. They have worse graphics, but are generally more open and RPG like than FFXIII. I remember the developers saying they intentionally made FFXIII that way because they wanted to focus on story, but it’s difficult to make games that have a balance of strong story telling, good graphics and exploration these days, which is something that more game developers are coming to terms with.

        Sorry if any of that is incoherent, but I just felt like giving my thoughts on the subject.

    • Firekitty

      I’d play it.

  • 하세요

    Ha, that was cute and funny.

  • ragingmerifes

    I prefer the original graphics, but I liked the retrospective. Really comic and easy to understand.

  • XaviIniesta

    Very nicely done! It was quite a charming way to recap the story. :)

  • fairysun

    Did I just finish the 20 hours corridors in 2 minutes and 50 seconds?

  • Crevox

    *looks over the article*

    *thumbs up*

  • SetzerGabbiani

    SOOO much FF6 in this. I would like to play it this way actually. Awesome recap

  • Spirit Macardi

    “A small group of heroes will defy destiny in an attempt to save their home from chaos.”

    Yeah, they sure defied destiny by… Doing everything the villains openly told them to do.

    • OathkeeperSoraXIII

      wasn’t like they had much chance lol. Take down Orphan and Cocoon falls. Leave Orphan alive, and the people of Cocoon die because they had those arks full of Pulse monsters to come and destroy Cocoon whcih is what started happening when the group gets to Eden. They still defied their fate because Vanille and Fang stopped Cocoon from falling. Which then stopped the Fal’Cie’s plans

      • Spirit Macardi

        Yes they did have an option. As Spoony pointed out in his review, they could have literally done NOTHING. Yeah they would have turned into monsters as a result, but that would have actually been a rather noble sacrifice. And even if all the people did die, the Fal’Cie plan would have still failed since they themselves would still be alive.

        You can’t talk about choosing your own destiny, and then do exactly what you’ve been told to do.

        • OathkeeperSoraXIII

          Did you read my post? Doing nothing is the same as leaving Orphan alive…Orphan/Barthandelus had already started the massacre when they got back to Cocoon. So them doing nothing would’ve led to countless more deaths. How would that have been noble? their ‘fate’/focus. Was to Become ragnarok and destroy Cocoon. Did they destroy Cocoon? No. Fang and Vanille became ragnarok and saved Cocoon. They defied their fate.

          • Spirit Macardi

            Yes, but how did they even know that would happen? They went in wanting to destroy Orphan, which as far as they know will destroy Cocoon and kill everyone. They didn’t know there would be a last-minute deus ex machina.

            Plus the whole invasion thing made no sense, since according to the game itself the Fal’Cie can only maintain the natural order and don’t have the ability to act against it. So much for that! And again, even if the invasion did kill every human, Orphan and the Fal’Cie would still be alive, and hence their plan to kill everything to bring back The Maker would have failed and they’d never again have another chance since, woops, all potential new l’Cie are all dead!

          • OathkeeperSoraXIII

            What do you mean by ‘How did they know that would happen?’ know what would happen exactly? That they could transform into ragnarok? Because it was already stated that Fang transformed into Ragnarok the first time round until Etro reverted her back and turned her and Vanille to crystal.

            Why didn’t it make sense? It was meant to lure the l’Cie out in case they did decide to do nothing, not only that, it further confirmed the gates to the unseen world appear through the death of humans. Don’t give Barthandelus too much credit (which I see a lot) by saying they did everything he asked. Lightning states from the very start that she’s going to topple the Sanctum. Barthandelus guided her to what she was already going to do lol.

            Some fal’Cie were tasked with natural order and maintenance . The likes of Barthandelus and orphan were tasked with finding the gates to the unseen realm (as were many from Gran Pulse) and when they did they hoped they would be reunited with their ‘maker’ – Lindzei. The massacre only took place on Eden, so he wouldn’t have wiped out all life.

            The worst part is that everything I’ve just said is stated and talked about in the game and you don’t know this :S It sounds like you’ve only seen Spoony’s review and not actually played the game yourself.

            One person on tumblr has kindly put the whole story together so it means you don’t have to have figure it out and piece it together.

          • Spirit Macardi

            No, I did play the game unfortunately. It sucked. Not even the presence of Troy Baker in the voice cast saved it for me, and that’s truly sad.

            Now XIII-2 I DO like. That one actually has a coherent narrative and likable characters. Plus you aren’t locked into a hallway the entire game. Hence I just pretend that game takes place in an alternate universe where the events leading up to it actually made sense :B

          • OathkeeperSoraXIII

            You’re not locked into a hallway the entire game only until Gran Pulse. Gran Pulse is meant to symbolize the freedom and nature of life, which is why it’s a lot more open. Cocoon is meant to be linear since you are on the run and treated as a criminal. Then when you’re ‘free’ you hit Gran Pulse and get to explore. I respect your opinion either way :)

          • Stephen Mc Devitt

            Ironic for me on how XIII had some cool sci-fi stuff like the AMP, manadrives as well as the theme of people blindly worshipping those looking to kill them but XIII-2 completely throws everything out the window and magic now just developers “naturally”.
            XIII-2 (and K-ON!) are fine examples that show how characters don’t need to act unlikeable to be unlikeable. At least Trevor Philips from GTA V is more entertaining than Serah, Mog and Chocolina.

        • Think about it this way. If the characters did nothing, the world would be safe and things would continue to go as they already were, but they still would have lived under the rule of Fal’Cie dictating their lives and telling them what to fear. Ignorance is bliss, but they would still continue to live in fear of invasion from Pulse and the threat of more l’Cie being made.

          In chapter 9, the characters come to a realization that the government is evil (no surprise there) and that they need to do something about it. Their goal isn’t actually to save Cocoon, but it’s more to free humanity from Fal’Cie rule. So while they say they want to save Cocoon, I believe what they really meant is that they want to save humanity, and if the only way to stop the Fal’Cie was to destroy Orphan, then that’s what they had to do. Besides, even if the party sacrificed themselves and just turned to cieth instead, there was no guarantee that the Fal’Cie wouldn’t have just made more l’Cie to fulfill their purposes.

          • Stephen Mc Devitt

            I thought there was an auto-timer set for those Pulsian arks to unleash monsters on Cocoon because ones on Pulse still hate Cocoon.

        • Stephen Mc Devitt

          The Fal’Cie would just brand some other humans to become Ragnarok.
          If the main six chose to do nothing and sacrificed their lives, it would only be a minor setback to the Fal’cie.

  • Timovisch

    Ultros! :D

  • MrTyrant

    Oh my…looking at this trailer remind me how stupid the storyline is hahaha but still they made an awesome job doing all this in 16bit.

  • Omikuji

    Geh, there’s so much charm oozing out of this recap. I really couldn’t help but chuckle at the Caius and Yeul falling over and heart break part.

    …And the story still is head scratching even with the cut down of all the cut down.

  • Hentailover

    I like how this is supposed to be just a recap, but it’s story telling is about as competent as the actual game… as in, tells you nothing unless you read a freaking datalog.

    • Spirit Macardi

      In XIII-1’s case, I actually think this made MORE sense. Since it skips completely over the detail that the heroes were doing exactly what Bartandelus told them to do the entire time.

      • Hentailover

        I was talking more about a crippling lack of exposition, to the point that unless you do read Datalog, nothing around you has any context beyond the general things happening in the main storyline. But yeah, I guess that helps too.

    • Do people really find the story that confusing? I played the game and wasn’t too confused by all of the terminology and events going on. They do tell you everything eventually through flashbacks. It’s more that the first few chapters are confusing because they start right in the thick of things and develop the back story slowly with flashbacks. I would have preferred a better intro to set the stage for the events myself, but I feel the main plot itself isn’t as confusing as people make it out to be. The background stuff relating to the mythology is confusing, but everything else is straightforward enough.

      • Hentailover

        Story isn’t confusing(unless you find people doing stupid crap confusing), but a lot of stuff is just left without context because of the lack of exposition. Entire locations get barely touched upon and it makes me feel like I am running through overly expensive and shiny window dressings.

  • Tincho Kudos

    Wow, what a nice trailer. Yeul falling over and over is hilarious

    • Eric

      I also thought the part where Caius fell into Noel’s sword was hilarious.
      Caius: “You must kill me!”
      Noel: “I will do no such thing!”
      *walks into sword*
      Noel: “!”

    • It really is the best part, and you can tell Square themselves are kind of willing to play fun at their own games a bit on that one. Makes me a bit more curious for LR, XV and what’s to come in XIV if they can acknowledge that, actually!

    • My favourite part was actually the very end when it says 500 years later and it cuts to Lightning in CG. I guess video game graphics have come a long way in 500 years :P

    • KanjiLikesBoys

      Her death gave me so much pleasure in XIII2. I only wish it were permanent

  • Ferchenko

    Best thing SE did in a decade

    • Juan Manuel M. Suárez

      The World Ends with You disagrees with that statement~.


        and CCFFVII, KH2, BBS, 358/2, Dream Drop Distance and Type-0.

        • Indeed. Square-Enix has made a lot of great games in the past decade, but like anything, they stand out more for their failings rather than their successes.


            You can do alot of good things to people…But the moment you do only one thing wrong, they will start to hate you…

        • Juan Manuel M. Suárez

          …don’t say Type-0. It hurts my feelings~.

  • Quan Chi

    Faked retro spriting is not really the way it looks xD

  • The pixels hurt my eyes lol

  • NeptuniasBeard

    I’m sorry, butt did anyone else laugh when Yeaul kept falling over? It’s like she never got the hang of putting her feet in water

    • Time Sage

      I’ll admit it made me laugh as well. So glad I’m not the only one.

    • DrakeClawfang

      Me too. They must have intended it that way

    • It’s the best part of the video, and the part where you have to think even Square themselves are taking the mickey out of the game a little bit.

    • JustThisOne

      Me too! I laughed for so long. Especially since Caius just follows it up with “I cannot bear this.”

  • That’s… actually pretty compelling.

  • the_rain

    Make this real please!

  • Yuuki

    They should make this a FFXIII trilogy as a 3DS game,I’d totally buy it.

  • Kintama

    Blinded by light sounds good in every version of it

  • Trotmeister

    This is even better than the actual game.

  • Anthony Hadow

    I cant believe they made 2 sequels for FF13. FF13 was so bad its one of the very, very few games I actually took back and returned

  • Yan Zhao

    Its amazing how this 7 minute trailer made me understand the story of the first 2 FF-13 game better than playing the game itself.

    Not to mention it looks so much funner in FF6 mode.

  • Demeanor

    That was seriously EPIC! XD

    Can’t wait to destroy LR! (or be destroyed lol)

  • ajneez

    i loooove it!!!!!


    I had to download that video. it is just that awesome.

  • NimbusStev

    This was one of the coolest things Square has done in years! I think I could really get into FF13 if they turned this into a real game… though I still don’t understand a thing about the story after watching this.

  • Ghoul_Aid

    Well, if you put it like that, it kinda makes sense. Very lovely.

  • Altumn

    Great trailer! If anything it would make me want to play the older games to see how well the fallowed it (and I’d say pretty well). Cant wait for Lightning Returns.
    Final Fantasy XIII-Pixel

  • SlickRoach

    Sadly, this makes me miss the Final Fantasies that made me fall in love with the series…

  • If this was in fact the real game, it would feel like an RPG Maker game.

  • Blerg

    That was very charming, I laughed quite a bit at Yuel, that said, did anyone notice Ultros at Sunleth

  • BaoZakeruga

    Good old school look and all but it really just serves to remind me how bad this trilogy is in terms of plot.

  • I love FFVI.

    I also love FFXIII.

    In fact, I love all Final Fantasy games.

    What can that be, if not a paradox?

    • Lordshade

      This fanbase is pretty crazy, honestly.

  • Nice Boat Quatro

    That cactuar is the true villain

  • Firekitty

    I’ve always wanted an Advent Children remake done in the style of the original game… This is almost as good.

  • JustThisOne

    Needs more Mode 7.

  • Aoshi00

    So charming! They should do a full throwback like this like Capcom w/ MM9 & 10.. love the 8-bit or 16-bit music, they should make a retro soundtrack like for Nier and Drakengard as well.. 2D sprites is still the best :) I want this video to be included in the LR collector’s edition lol..

    Seriously this is much better and more moving than the prettiest pre-rendered cutscenes.. actually I know why I like this more, because you read the dialogue.. 13 had too much cutscenes one just watches and no interaction at all, even walking up to an NPC and talk to them, and 13-2 fixed that. also, nothing beats turn-based :) playing FFX HD now reminds me of that again..

    This is a very interesting and thoughtful summary though. Poor Caius watching Yeul keel over again and again, like Okabe w/ Mayuri..

  • Attack


    Nothing happens! ;A;

    • neocatzon

      It’s not very effective.
      Monitor fainted.

  • Vash bane

    lmao made xiii-2 look simple…. but I still don’t understand how xiii led into xiii-2 seeing as xiii had such a perfect ending.
    (…….going to…uhh search up that triple summon XD)

  • KanjiLikesBoys

    Noel somehow looks more ridiculous in sprite form


    This clearly demonstrates that the minimalist approach to narrative that the 16 bit hardware imposed on Square was better suited to making their storytelling more memorable and not least of all comprehensible.

  • Ric Vazquez

    Looks more interesting than the actual game, though that may just be nostalgia of my younger days striking me.

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