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Final Fantasy VI for Mobile: How to Not Make a Port

This is not a review of the game Final Fantasy VI. Released in the US as Final Fantasy III on the SNES, the game is a masterpiece and is considered to be one of the greatest games in the series and one of the best RPGs of all time. It was remade in the 2000s for the PlayStation and Game Boy Advance, and those ports were just fine. They maintained the 16-bit style of the original, and not much was changed overall. This is good because it’s not a remake or remaster, it’s a port. The only thing a port has to do is remain playable on another system.

This brings us to the problems with the Android, iOS, and Windows ports. The graphics are a lot uglier than the original 16-bit sprites, which should never happen when a game is ported to a newer console. The featured image for this post is one of the least bad “upgrades”, most of the others are much worse. This is especially disappointing considering that a lot of time and effort went into “updating” the sprites when using the originals would be a much better choice. However, the biggest problem surfaces in the mobile versions: the terrible, terrible controls.

Most systems have a four directional D-pad or an analog stick. These work in roughly the same way: put your thumb in the middle of the D-pad or on the analog stick, and rock your thumb in the direction you want to go. The mobile version does not have this. When you place your thumb on the screen, this appears:

If you put your thumb to close to the edge of the screen, one or two of the directions will be inaccessible. There is no way to lock it in place or to adjust the size, which is a big problem. On a D-Pad or analog stick, if you’re going to the right and want to go upwards, all you have to do is rock your thumb upwards. On this thing, if you’re going right and rock your thumb upwards, chances are your thumb will still be on the right button. And due to the empty space in the middle, flicking your thumb right to left could put you in the center of the circle, leaving you motionless… or you’ll be too close to the up or down button, leaving you going in a direction you didn’t want to go in!

Ultimately, the FFVI mobile ports of the SNES masterpiece are nothing but sixteen dollar downgrades that just make you want to play the original. It really says something about how disappointing a port is when the original released 20 years earlier is far superior.

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