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Interview: Preparing Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster for the Switch and PS4

Interview: Preparing Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster for the Switch and PS4
Image via Square Enix

When Square Enix announced the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster games for PCs and mobile devices, people immediately began asking when they’d come to consoles as well. It took about a year, but it happened. Now that people everywhere can also play the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster games on the Switch and PS4, Siliconera spoke to Producer Naofumi Takuma about the process of preparing the RPGs for additional platforms.

Jenni Lada: When did work on the PS4 and Switch versions of Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster begin?

Naofumi Takuma: It was last spring (Spring 2022) when we started the porting process. However, we had already started organizing the additional functional items and areas we wanted to fix or adjust, even before that time.

Were there any special challenges with the Switch and PS4 versions of the games that the team didn’t face with the PC and mobile adaptations of Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster?

Takuma: It is rare to create a console version when a PC version already exists, and we expected there would not be that many problems if we used the PC version as a base, but when we ported the games, we encountered some hurdles including long loads and processing dropouts, which required more tuning than we had expected. In the end, I think the optimization made things much faster.

Interview: Preparing Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster for the Switch and PS4

Image via Square Enix

The Switch and PS4 versions of Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster include the new font option. How much work went into creating them and how difficult was it to implement the option?

Takuma: First, we anticipated that these games will be played by a wide variety of people, including players who have fond memories of the games from back in the day as well as those who are experiencing them for the first time. In order to satisfy this wide range of players, we wanted to provide them with options.

So, we prepared pixel fonts for Western and Japanese language, which are particularly popular among the target audience.

For the Western languages font, we found some font data produced in-house, so we test-implemented them. These titles use one of them. I think it turned out to be a font that matches quite well.

We didn’t have any alternative data saved on file in-house for the Japanese language font, so we decided to create a new one. This was certainly the most difficult part. While the Western language font required us to create only a few hundred characters, with the Japanese font, we had to create around 7,500 characters.

Likewise, what challenges did the team face when adding the original soundtracks to the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster alongside the new arrangements?

Takuma: Our reason for adding the BGM option was even if we take one piece of music, there are those who say, “I like the original version better,” while others say, “I like the arranged version better.” This is influenced by each person’s values and memories, and both should be respected. As with the font, this was the only way we could think of to meet the needs of more people.

The BPM (beats per minute) of the original BGM and the arranged BGM are not the same, and the overall lengths also differ. There are parts where the BGM and event scenes that are linked so tuning became necessary. In some cases, it was as if we were creating two different versions of the same event, which was challenging.

Interview: Preparing Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster for the Switch and PS4

Image via Square Enix

The latest Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster PS4 and Switch releases mean the Xbox is the only platform without access. How would you feel about it showing up there as well?

Takuma: It is not up to me to decide, but if there are enough requests for it, it’s something I think we should consider. The number of games in the pixel series itself makes it a challenge for launching on different platforms which is something we encountered with the recent console releases. I’d always welcome as many people as possible being able to play.

How did you juggle the balance to ensure the boost options in Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster would be both helpful, but not too overpowered? What kind of testing went into it?

Takuma: Even if a player’s purpose was only to follow the story, we wanted to retain a minimum level of gameplay (for example, growth elements), not an “invincibility” type of function. Ultimately, we wanted to make it a function that would broaden the scope of play.

Since our goal was not only to reduce the difficulty level but also to “broaden the scope of play”, we have made it possible to set up to 4 times the experience gain, including options for 0x and 0.5x.

In theory, this is not a difficult function to implement, but since we were conducting tests for all titles and settings, if we had expanded the range of settings to be limitless, we would end up sacrificing something else. This time, I believe we have found just the right balance.

Which Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster entry do you feel best updates and enhances the original game?

Takuma: I’d have to say Final Fantasy I through Final Fantasy III. Since the original is on the NES, the differences are large, and I think they are much easier to play.

In particular, this is the first time that Final Fantasy III has been re-released in 2D, so I’d like for you to try playing the game.

There is inevitably a conflict that arises in pursuing both “preserving the original work” and “providing an enjoyable experience even if playing for the first time,” and as a result there are many elements that differ from the original, but I think that is why the title is so enjoyable.

Image via Square Enix

Image via Square Enix

If you were able to work on a remake of any classic Final Fantasy game, which do you think would be the most enjoyable project with the most potential?

Takuma: Simply speaking on personal preference, I must say Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI come to mind, for post SNES we’ve been freed from the limitations of hardware and are now able to depict rich and profound stories with varied expressions.

I also like the concept of crystals so Final Fantasy V greatly excites me, and depicting the “despair and hope” of Final Fantasy VI seems very fun as well.

How do you personally feel about the idea of Final Fantasy demakes, that is 2D, 16-bit style takes on more modern entries like FFVII or FFIX?

Takuma: That sounds great! As a Final Fantasy fan, I’d like to play it too.

That being said, 2D games leave a lot of room to allow for the players to imagine the world. There are as many interpretations as there are players, and I believe that is one of the big attractions of 2D games. It may be difficult to provide a moving experience like those from past 2D titles from titles that lean more towards the modern era, as the answers have already been presented in rich expressions.

A spin-off or creating something on a small scale as a mini-game, rather than a 2D recreation of the original, may be nice.

Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster, which includes FFI, FFII, FFIII, FFIV, FFV and FFVI, is available for the PS4, Switch, PC, and mobile devices.

Jenni Lada
About The Author
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.