Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 29.09.2018

Review for Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD on Nintendo Switch

Final Fantasy XV may be one of the most decisive games that Square Enix ever produced, which really should not have been the case considering the unusually long amount of time and huge budget that went into it. It was such a risk that the publisher had to cover all ground to hopefully make some money back with all kinds of anime and movie tie-ins, manga, spin-off mobile games and, eventually, making a really bizarre mobile version of the core game. Things have come full circle now that this small-time interpretation of Square Enix's most ambitious effort has come to the Nintendo Switch. Could this be a chance for Final Fantasy XV to redeem itself and to refine its many rough edges with Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD?

When Final Fantasy XV first came out, it was rife with all kinds of design problems that were very slowly addressed over the course of several years. Even of the publishing of this review, there are still patches and updates that are being implemented to fix what was, at launch, a rather broken title. As it turns out, making a massive open-world adventure that is scaled one to one comes with a ton of technical baggage. The irony is that the Pocket Edition HD version of Final Fantasy XV skirts so many of the design problems that the big-boy counterpart is cursed with because there it has no open-world.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD on Nintendo Switch

What is left when a large open-world game gets interpreted as a very linear adventure? As it turns out, the experience improves since all fat gets cut. Remember all that exploring in Eos that led to nothing of interest? Pocket Edition HD cuts all that out and shunts Noctis and the boys to the next plot related area. No more tedious waypoints to follow and car-rides are now revised as scripted cut-scenes where the only interaction is nudging the camera left or right. Most of the plot important locations are simplified and are accounted for, while presented with a tracking, distant overhead camera perspective. This new point of view makes the action much more manageable compared to the big-boy Final Fantasy XV where battles would devolve into an incoherent chaos of particle effects and geometry clipping. The layouts of towns have been simplified from what was originally already a very basic infrastructure. Anyone who knows XV intimately will find exploring these re-imagined areas interesting, but everyone else will feel underwhelmed or claustrophobic by how little elbow room there is in the world.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD on Nintendo Switch

Impressively, every story element is present in Pocket Edition HD and even recycles all audio dialogue. Most story cut-scenes are present and even use the same exact blocking, camera angles, and music. Some of this does not translate well with the awkwardly redesigned "chibi" character models, which are also recycling what seems to be the same exact mo-cap animation rigs from the original Final Fantasy XV. It is uncanny and makes every character in every cut-scene feel like that they are humans wearing mascot costumes with oversized heads. It is especially distracting since there is no lip flap at all and every character has zero facial expressions, giving everyone a creepy doll-like quality. Things come into their own when Pocket Edition HD has players controlling Noctis and having him fight because controls have also been simplified and made to be more efficient.

Combat in Final Fantasy XV made no sense, so how is Pocket Edition HD's action different? The simple change in camera system can go a long way, apparently. In many ways this plays more like Secret of Mana than it does Final Fantasy. Control is snappier, dodge rolling has invincibility frames, and the pointless jumping has been removed entirely. Expect the same brain-dead hacking and slashing, plus warp-striking, but with a comprehensible view of the action. There are some things that make no sense, though, like how or when party member's special attacks are triggered. They seem to be available randomly and there is no real indication when they will be useable next. Believe it or not, magic is made even more useless in Pocket Edition HD since it operates like a one-time use item that can only be picked up once unless the entire chapter is replayed. Even the attempt at side-quests is relegated in towns, mostly, and involves playing scavenger hunt in very small maps.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD on Nintendo Switch

There is no hiding that Pocket Edition HD was originally a low budget mobile game. Questionable art-direction aside, this is one ugly affair. Things like the original Infinity Blade came out in 2010 and look way better than this. Pocket Edition HD barely resembles something from the early 2000s, with its poorly mapped low resolution textures. It is very common to see really nasty seams that do not match up on extremely low poly models in the environment. The excuse that this was designed to be viewed on a small mobile screen does not hold since the visuals still look like a garbled and blocky mess while playing in portable mode on Nintendo Switch.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


The nightmare that is Final Fantasy XV will continue as Square Enix patches and updates content to it while producing more pointless DLC episodes. Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD is not so bad since it cuts out so much of the agony that bogged it down. Is Pocket Edition HD worth it? Yes, it is since it tells the exact same story with greater efficiency. It is missing a lot of the finer qualities, like the fishing and the attention to detail, in exchange for a more focused story experience that lasts about 10 hours. The lack of scope, however, really does underline how weak Noctis' quest really is when all the car riding and fetch quests are cut. The meat of the story involves running a few errands and a few climaxes later on, with only a smidgen of character development.


Square Enix


Square Enix


Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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