New Game Review

Review – Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD (Switch)

Not exactly the Final Fantasy XV Switch owners were hoping for...

Life hasn’t been easy for Final Fantasy-loving Nintendo fans ever since the mid 90’s, with Square (and Square Enix later on) always giving Sony consoles preferential treatment when it came to releasing new or remastered games of the franchise. The latest Nintendo Direct unveiled an industrial amount of Final Fantasy re-releases for the Switch as some sort of compensation for all those missing years, including games like VII, IX, X, X-2, my beloved Crystal Chronicles, and many more. It also revealed the surprise launch of Final Fantasy XV for the Switch! Well, the mobile version…

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Well crap, there goes the framerate…

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is a re-release of a severely simplified and abridged version of Final Fantasy XV originally developed and launched for mobile phones in the beginning of the year. In terms of mobile games, this is actually a very impressive game. There is a ton of voice acting, an excellent soundtrack (what else would you expect from a Final Fantasy game?), no microtransactions, as well as a commendable length. That’s all fine and dandy for an app on your phone, but for a console, you should expect a bit more from it.

Unlike other decent ports of mobile games to the Switch like ImplosionFinal Fantasy XV Pocket Edition doesn’t have an arcade-esque feel that lets you play it for a few minutes and call it a day, with tons of replayability to make you want to come back to it after an hour or two. This is still a story-heavy RPG with a ton of cutscenes, voice acting, and overall length, but with a lot less overall content. The game is linear, episodic, devoid of exploration, with a microscopic amounts of sidequests, and filled to the brim with technical hindrances that make it look dated and unenjoyable to play on a TV screen.

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It’s hard to feel emotionally attached to characters with absolutely no facial expression…

First of all, there’s the elephant in the room: the graphics. There’s no other way to put it: Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is one ugly game. In order to run properly on mediocre mobile hardware, Square Enix had to massively downgrade the game, introducing chibi-like characters with absolutely no facial expressions, oversimplified environments, and low-quality textures. The result is shocking. In a game that tries hard to provide players with an emotional story, all drama is thrown out of the window when you’re forced to look at dollar-store bootleg versions of Funko dolls pretending to cry during cutscenes. To top things off, whenever there’s a lot of characters onscreen (that means, almost always), the framerate goes haywire. Yay.

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Old habits die hard.

In terms of gameplay, Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition does its best to replicate its bigger brother’s pseudo hack n’ slash feel but in a much simpler way. This is a very easy game. Mash the Y button until there’s nothing else moving onscreen and you’re good to go. While the combat can be fun at times, especially on-the-go, it’s still hindered by the aforementioned framerate issues and a near-sinful delayed input lag. When outside of combat situations, controlling your characters is still responsive, even though you can’t do much. You can’t ever properly drive the Regalia convertible, for instance.

While there’s a bit of character customization and Ignis still comes up with a few ingredient hunting sidequests every now and then. However, all you can do is follow the (abridged) story until the very end. You can’t return to a previous area unless the plot tells you to do so. While I understand the concept of abridging the game for a better on-the-go experience, Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition isn’t exactly short, with each episode being a couple of hours long. Granted, you’re getting quite a handful of bang for your buck, especially if you’re buying the game while the discounted introductory price is up on the eShop. I have to admit that it doesn’t make as interesting of a concept for a portable game. Without a doubt, FFXV is best experienced on a TV. Why would you want to play this abysmal version on a TV when you can get a used copy of Final Fantasy XV for even less, is beyond me. I mean let’s be honest here, who really just owns a Switch?

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If you see one of those, you’re in for a ton of extra EXP points.

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD is definitely not the Final Fantasy XV Switch owners were hoping for. I know the Switch can’t handle the original game itself due to its weak hardware, but I doubt this can be considered a consolation prize for fans. The atrocious art style, technical issues, and reduced amount of content aren’t pleasant in any way. It’s not exactly bad in the literal sense of the word, since there’s still a good story in here and an occasionally fun combat system, but I would have expected a lot more from Square Enix. If I were you, I’d just wait until proper Final Fantasy games like IX come out for the system. If you want to enjoy this specific iteration, I’d say just grab the actual mobile version instead.

Graphics: 4.0

The characters are ugly to look at, the texture quality is really poor, and the framerate still manages to be inconsistent. Definitely not a looker of a game.

Gameplay: 6.0

The oversimplified combat is hindered by delayed button responses and the aforementioned framerate issues whenever there are too many enemies onscreen, which is almost always.

Sound: 9.0

The good voice acting is here and the soundtrack is Final Fantasy levels of great. This is definitely a saving grace.

Fun Factor: 6.0

It might be a somewhat lengthy and newcomer-friendly RPG, but it’s still an extremely linear and underwhelming version of a much larger game. It might be suitable for mobile phones, but not for a console.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and iOS.

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About Leo Faria

Founder and mastermind behind Way Too Many Games, hailing from the southern swag that is São Paulo, a Sega widower who considers the Dreamcast to be the greatest console ever released, the greatest Guitar Hero and Tetris player you’ll ever meet. My favorite games include Perfect Dark, Banjo-Tooie, the Guitar Hero series, Bioshock Infinite and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II. I also own an Ouya. Never turned it on.

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