Game Title: Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD
Company: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 2.8 hours – 3.5 hours
Download: 5.3 GB

It’s been ages since I’ve been able to dive into Final Fantasy, my favorite gaming franchise of all time, and that makes me quite sad. Square Enix was a huge supporter of the PSP, but wasn’t nearly as supportive of the PS Vita. In fact, I’ve never been able to do a Video Review for a Final Fantasy title with them having blocked World of Final Fantasy from playing on the Vita TV.

That all changes now. With Square coming out and announcing 8 Final Fantasy titles to be released in 2018 and 2019 on the Nintendo Switch, this Final Fantasy fan is very happy. The first of which came straight out of recent events in the form of Final Fantasy XV’s Chibi-fied version that originally released on Mobile and PC.

Without further delay, here is my review of Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition HD for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

ffxv 2 - story

Firstly, let’s talk about story in terms of Pocket Edition. The Main Questline and Main Story of FFXV is the same story in FFXV Pocket Edition, so all of the events of the story are shown both here and in the original release of FFXV. There are additional character scenarios thrown in from time to time, but all of XV’s main story is here in Pocket Edition.

FFXV takes place around two countries that are constantly at war. You play as Noctis, the prince of the kingdom of Lucis who is sent to take part in an arranged marriage with the opposing country of Niflheim, in the hopes of bringing peace and an end to the war. Not even halfway there, the kingdom is invaded, leading to Noctis becoming the new king and quickly being sent on a quest to acquire the sacred power of his ancestors to help him end the war for good.

The plot of XV I found to be a good mix of new and old Final Fantasy as it takes a lot of elements of “modern” Final Fantasy, or Modern Gaming in general and ties it in with a lot of plot points and elements that have been a part of Final Fantasy’s core lore since 1987. And despite this game looking the way it is, the story still remains a very emotional one. While the visual style does take a bit away from the more emotional moments, they still remain very emotional, thanks to the voice-acting.

Gameplay

ffxv 3 - gameplay

Like its original version, FFXV: Pocket Edition HD is an Action-RPG. Across the game, you’ll be navigating areas and dungeons, doing side-quests for NPCs, and fighting monsters in real-time battles.

The big question for many people is this: What’s the difference between FFXV and Pocket Edition? Here’s how I would describe it: Pocket Edition is like Dragon Ball Z Kai. A more focused version of FFXV with all of the filler quests and open world segments removed for a more simplified way to experience the story. There is no open world, each map is relatively condensed, and there are only occasional side-quests, most of which are exclusive to Pocket Edition.

Progression is pretty simple. In each chapter, you spawn in an area and have a destination to advance the story, normally with shops and a few side-quests here and there to keep you busy. The maps aren’t always small, but the game’s isometric camera angle makes navigating around and looking for items much easier.

ffxv 5 - arache

Combat is the biggest thing that has changed a little bit, but not as much as many would think. You participate in real-time battles where you hack and slash your way through enemies with Noctis’ assortment of Swords, Great-Swords, and Spears. The Warp Attack feature is still here, allowing you to interact a bit more through teleporting to faraway enemies along with having QTEs for Ally Abilities, Magic, and activating Glaives to power yourself up.

WHen you look at it, a lot of things look the same, but from a different camera angle. Comparing the Arache Boss from PE to FFXV, I saw that boss reactions and attack patterns are very similar between the two. One change I did like was the Magic System. Instead of crafting magic, you “Absorb” it from stones around the dungeons, an obvious nod to the Draw system from Final Fantasy VIII. Instead of magic then being a spammable attack like anything else, it is viewed as a much more powerful force, something many Final Fantasy games try to portray in story, but never really feels it in combat.

Once you end a battle, your party earns experience. One way this works differently is that you earn EXP through battle and quests but don’t earn those points until you get to the end of each section of a chapter, letting you see your EXP build up and decide whether or not you want to go back and do that Cactuar Hunt for the extra points towards leveling up.

ffxv 6 - ap

You also get AP during these segments, which is how you upgrade your abilities. You have a skill tree with skills you can unlock with AP. It looks like a much more simplified version of Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid and contains abilities for all characters, rather than one for each character in your party.

This goes for 10 chapters and it lasts longer than I expected it to. When this came out on consoles, I was under the impression that it was only around 9 or 10 hours long. Much to my surprise, even with skipping some of the longer side-quests, I didn’t finish this game until I’d been playing for around 16 hours. A pretty fair deal for both the sale price and full price.

As far as post-game is concerned, the game doesn’t really have any. You can replay previous chapters from the World Map, but there’s nothing extra to do once you beat the Final Boss outside of enjoying the ending.

Controls

Funny enough, this game doesn’t have any touch controls. Everything is done with the button controls.

You can use the Left Analog Stick or the Arrow Buttons / D-Pad to move around and the L and R triggers to help activate some skills in battle. The ZL/ZR triggers and the Right Analog Stick are not used in this game.

The face buttons are, though. A is used for talking with NPCs and B is used for Dodging. X is used for Warping and Y is used for physical attacks.

It’s a pretty simple scheme, but it works.

Presentation

ffxv 4 - pres

Visually, this game is designed in “Chibi” style, much like the DS Remakes of Final Fantasy 3 and 4, or World of Final Fantasy. In this regard, it pulls off the style and optimizes it pretty well. There are no jagged edges and everything looks crisp and smooth. Although it is a bit odd that mouths don’t move in cutscenes, it still retains the cute Chibi style that Square’s been portraying since they brought FF3 to the West.

The only real problems with the game are some performance hiccups here and there. This mostly comes down to small frame drops every so often when loading scenes or in combat, and small little glitches I noticed as I played through the game.

The glitches are a bit more important than combat, as they may require you to go back to an auto-save. The first I encountered was a misplaced camera during a scene, but the other two affected gameplay. The 2nd glitch I saw made Noctis get stuck around an enemy, completely unable to dodge or attack. The 3rd was a glitch where the isometric camera got too close to the characters, making a lot of map markers and enemy health bars impossible to see until the next cinematic story scene reset it.

None of these are huge and game-breaking with how often the game auto-saves, but they are annoying, all the same.

Battery Life

With its Chibi style, this game has a nice amount of time in handheld mode. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 49 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 58 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 22 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 31 minutes

It’s not the best out there, but it’s still pretty decent.

In conclusion, Pocket Edition HD brings Final Fantasy XV to the Switch in a cute and simplified way. Although the game has some glitches about and the style doesn’t quite fit some of the story’s events, I found it to be a fun little ARPG for someone who wants Final Fantasy on their Switch, or just wants to re-experience FFXV in a more focused and cute way.

Final Score: 8/10