Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition is a surprisingly wonderful remake (update)

Square Enix

Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition piqued our interest during Gamescom this past August because of how ... strange it seemed. An episodic mobile version of a 100-hour console RPG? Featuring big-headed renditions of our burly leading boys? It was one of those things we needed to see to believe.

I got to go hands-on with it, and it turns out that Square Enix has something really sweet on deck with Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition. A scaled-down remake of last year’s long-awaited new Final Fantasy installment, Pocket Edition uses the same storyline and voice acting from its big brother. Over the course of 10 episodes, the mobile iteration will cover the same major moments as Final Fantasy 15 on console, with a few changes to the gameplay and, obviously, the visuals.

I can’t say I’m a fan of the big heads and dead eyes of the cast, but it grew on me during my time with it. What I liked more was how the game played. Pocket Edition relies on touch controls for moving Noctis around the world map, fighting enemies and driving his fancy car. It works better than I expected: Dragging Noctis around Cindy and Cid’s garage with one finger was simple and responsive. Battles worked just as well, relying on a few extra menu taps and swipes to pull out items or unleash special phase attacks.

It even retains those cute bonding moments between the boys.
Square Enix

What really struck me was just how similar it all felt to the full-fledged Final Fantasy 15. I remembered all of the story beats from the game’s first chapter, right down to the quests the gang had to complete and the areas they explored. Even with simpler controls, the game still felt like it had depth. I only got to play for 15 minutes or so, but Square Enix’s attempt at capturing the original experience and condensing it down to work on a phone or tablet is impressive.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of Pocket Edition’s episodes compare to the original Final Fantasy 15. I’m stoked to get back into the game whenever that happens, though; this is a smart, fun way to play what feels like a serious RPG on the go.

The game will be available on iOS and Android devices on Feb. 9.

Update: Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition is out Feb. 9, according to Square Enix Japan. It can be found on iTunes and the Google Play store; the first chapter is a free download. The full game costs $19.99.

Comments

Lots of love for 3D chibi stuff from Square, but no love for retro-style /16 bits 2D stuff (no "major" project at least). Why?

Project Ocopath on Switch should fill that niche.

The demo for Octopath was amazing! I can’t wait for the full game… whenever it actually comes out.

Thanks for the heads up! Wasn’t aware of this. Another reason to grab a Switch in 2018. I would’ve preferred 2D backgrounds, but it looks pretty nice.

Man, I almost envy you getting a Switch in 2018. You’re going to have so much to catch up on!

I’m glad I have mine now, and there is legitimately a good line up of games, but it’s going to be a powerhouse by 2018.

This art style looks more Disney-Kingdom-Hearts-ish than traditional chibi.

Perhaps the most exciting part about this is that Square may have finally found a way to appease both its console and smartphone bases.

As a person who’s still (barely) slogging through XV because of how difficult it is to play, it blows my mind that they decided to make this port. The especially crazy part is actually considering what market this game is meant to be for. Will people who finished the game go back? Will people (like me) who were blown away by the mediocrity of the original decide to try this? Is this a glorified intern project from Square-Enix and any money this makes is profit? None of it really lines up at all.

That being said, is the combat still hyper broken and any progress in the game gated by long cutscenes, driving sections, or tedious menus? As someone who thought the story was cool, I wouldn’t mind a version of the game that lets me consume it without fighting against bad game design.

I haven’t played the original so I’m looking forward to this streamlined mobile version. I agree on the "why bother" aspect, aside from perhaps market saturation. Maybe they figure they aren’t getting much more money from the original, but this more accessible version could hook more buyers for their next major release.

It’s really starting to feel like they planned out this huge roadmap assuming FFXV would be a resounding success. But then it came out and was kind of mediocre…. They are still sticking to the original roadmap for some reason?

I played the original and I’m gonna pick this up too.

I only got like ten hours into the console version. I honestly feel like I’d have rather played the phone version. Granted, I don’t care enough to go back to it now, either way.

The biggest issue of FFXV is they do a horrid job of explaining the combat and turn off wait mode (the backbone of the combat system) by default. They try to parade it around as an action combat system when it is much more a sit back and wait for an opening system.

Once I figured that out the combat system really grew on me and the strategy match of dodging and countering became really nice.

An episodic mobile version of a 100-hour console RPG? Featuring big-headed renditions of our burly leading boys?

If they take out the tiresomely long, eventless car rides and focus on the story, we’ll be lucky if it even fills one episode. But I guess the "burly" indicates this was some sort of joke?

As for the mobile game itself … as disappointed as I was with XV, if they pull this off well, it might actually work. Once it’s complete.

So can we assume this is going to be exactly what’s released for the Switch if they do it lol?

I will probably grab the first episode and mess around with it, but I don’t see myself paying for a phone edition of a game I already finished on console.

Our burly sweet boys finally have heads as big as their hearts

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