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Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age Nintendo Switch Gameplay: Trials And Desert Combat

The enhanced version of Final Fantasy XII is coming to Nintendo Switch, and we got to check out some of the early game at PAX East 2019.

In 2017, Square Enix released an enhanced edition of Final Fantasy XII in the form of The Zodiac Age for PC and PS4. Along with the improved presentation--adding in full 60 frames-per-second and a re-recorded orchestral soundtrack--it marked the first time western fans could play FFXII's International edition, which overhauled much of the original's leveling and character growth systems. The Zodiac Age was a stellar improvement upon an already fantastic game, and now fans will be able to play the enhanced edition of Final Fantasy XII on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

At PAX East 2019, we got an early look at the Switch version ahead of its April 30 release date and came away surprised at how well it made the transition to the portable hardware. The Switch has built up a strong reputation for being a system that can handle ports of some unexpected games, in particular, Doom (2016), Warframe, and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and it's good to see that the re-release of Final Fantasy XII holds up quite well. From our hands-on time, we got to check out several areas of the game, taking part in numerous battles and exploring some of the more vibrant areas.

Though the graphics are noticeably downgraded compared to the other releases, it still manages to keep its performance and visual luster. It's impressive to see how well a game as massive as The Zodiac Age turned out on Switch, and getting to experience the game in portable form--which will be a first for Final Fantasy XII--makes for a pretty enticing way for long-time fans to give it another go.

For more on the games of PAX East 2019, including Borderlands 3 and other titles that really impressed us, be sure to check out our roundup of games that made the show something to remember.

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Avatar image for ember_to_flame

It came out pretty late on ps2, I never really had time to finish it. By the time I wanted to go back I was already playing ps3 and 360. So never really got back and finished the last things I had left.

I think it is great that games like this gets to shine on the switch.

Avatar image for gleencross

Good game to kill some time, the gambit system is amazing. But other than that, hell... the story/characters is so freaking bad, lol And funny enough, this is one of the most matured FFs. So you can imagine the level of storytelling of games like FF9, 8, 7, etc... After revisiting some FFs, only FF6 took father time like a champ. Everything else, not so much. Maybe 9 remains with it's charm, but there's some flaws. Now 6 is solid, this game is iconic as hell.

Avatar image for amillionhp


Yeah, 6 is a game i feel is completely underrated and not getting a lot of attention it deserves. Definitely one of my favs. Now that isnt saying there werent things i dont like about it. There were a LOT of characters and i dont appreciate the old style of grinding and leveling separate characters. 10 introducing the concept of switching all characters at any time was the best improvement ever. My dream would be a 6 sequel with certain gameplay tweaks.

12 was the low point for me. I hated that game more than any other one for a lot of reasons but i did think they had the right idea with that gambit system. 12 was my least favorite for a while... until i finally played 9 last year. Now those two are tied for the worst spot but then i didnt bother playing either of the newest ones.

I feel FF has completely lost its identity over the years. I dont see it getting back on my radar until Square Enix understands this and revisits their older gameplay elements.

Avatar image for gleencross

@amillionhp: Funny for you to talk about identity... considering the grinding and multiple characters are usual signatures of the FF (old) formula. But I understand why you don't like those concepts, it's fair. imo, the japanese style of storytelling aged badly. FF follows the usual archetype of fantasy: love, conflict, deception, etc... And notice how virtually every FF have bad romances. FFX is the only game who have a believable couple in the entire series. The japanese don't know how to write this kind of stuff, but you still see it in every FF. If they can't evolve their writing, no style of gamplay can resurrect this series. Persona and Dragon Quest XI are good example, P5 is more complex, DQ is simple as it comes.. and both have decent writing and charisma (and DQ have no romance whatsoever, the writer knows his limits). FFXII has a great combat system and side quests, but the world sucks, the characters are awful, etc.. And that is the case for most FFs, but maybe with our nostalgia we were incapable to notice it at a younger age. Nowadays when I tried FFVII again (literally last month), man... what a flawed game. The japanese tropes, all so cool in the 00's... they feel like trash nowadays. P5 is a saving grace, glorious saving grace.. this game is amazing. I don't think square can follow their standards.

Avatar image for amillionhp


Yeah, i guess where i stand exactly is that certain things from the old games are great but others, not so much. I suppose we wont agree on what is or isnt good. I just didnt like focusing time and effort on certain characters and then going through the annoying hassel of changing equipment and characters who may or may not be comparable in levels and abilities to the rest of the cast.

I agree with what you said concerning returning to older games now and its a different experience. We were obviously a lot younger at the time so that does make a lot of sense.

You want to know what is good and old though, tactics. That game still has one of my major pet peeves with the flawed leveling system but the positives far outweigh the negatives. Aside from the story and characters being very enjoyable, i particularly liked the approach of dropping the typical formula of small party of characters with damage and life cap against one big opponent with absurd life. Then we just chip away at its life while it randomly decides which abilities to use. Tactics AI wasnt like that at all. Your opponents are for the most part the same as you could have so they all operate under the same rules for combat mechanics. As a result, the AI had to be a lot smarter. No more of the random crap and praying it decides not to wipe you out. Basically if it had an ability and an opportunity to kill one of your guys, there was no question. It will take advantage of everything. I had a thief charm one of my calculators one time and use an available formula to kill my entire party with Flare in like the first round. My jaw just dropped because i'd never see something like that in the other games unless it was a secret boss or a scripted fight. That was purely because the mechanics allowed interesting things to happen.

12's biggest sin was the complete rip-off of Starwars for characters, plot. Even the order a lot of the worlds showed up like desert, then infiltrating Leviathan, etc seemed to follow Starwars.

Avatar image for gleencross

@amillionhp: Yes.. people always talk good things about Tactics but I've never played this game. Have it on Android, maybe I will give it a shot someday (you know the usual problem, these games erases batteries in a matter of seconds lol). About the characters leveling up at the same time, it's more a quality of life thing than anything else. It feels kinda cheap, almost "cheating", when a character gets stronger without fighting... but old FFs always had a lot of characters. It's a 2 edge sword in a way, you need that to add variety, but most of the time you can have useless characters that only take space like Zell in FF8, catsith (I believe that is the name) in FF7, that weird character in FF9 with a big tongue that looks like a chef, etc.. It's even worse when the entire cast sucks, like in FF12, with only the han solo ripoff and his cat pet as the only interesting characters. In you case that hated the star wars referene, not even bathier can be a saving grace. And that is the major issue, which I mentioned before: bad writing. All FFs have flawed writing, FF6 is the only one I played who is rock solid, 14 interesting characters in a steam punk world facing joker... It's a cool mix, lol That was the pinnacle of the series imo, it's a slow downhill from there. The most recent, FF15, is another example... the world and lore sucks, the protagonist sucks, etc... I think the major issue in these games is not the combat or gameplay.. what is the point of playing 50+ hours with unlikable characters in a story that you don't care?

Avatar image for lionheartssj1

Dropping 24K damage that early in the game?!