Recently, it feels like every old Final Fantasy game is coming back on the Nintendo Switch. We've had Final Fantasy VII, IX, X/X-2, and now we have Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. Final Fantasy XII originally came out on the PlayStation 2 back in 2006 and was heralded as one of the last great PS2 games. It has since been remastered on the PlayStation 4 in 2017 as Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age.
But now it's available on the Nintendo Switch, making this classic tale available on-the-go for the very first time. Like many other Final Fantasy games, I owned the original when it came out, but I didn't spend too much time in it. So naturally, I was eager to get my hands on Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on my Switch, because it is so much more accessible to me than staying home and playing it on a console all the time.
Price: $50Bottom line: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is the best version of the XII remaster, and now you can take it with you on-the-go. The Zodiac Age brings the classic and political tale of Ivalice right to your Switch, with the modernized ATB combat, job license system, extra New Game+ features, and more. The best part is that you can reset the License Boards and gain additional Gambit sets in this remastered version. Navigation and combat also move much faster with the 2X or 4X speeds, which you can toggle at any time.
- Gorgeous graphics
- Remastered soundtrack
- You can choose between three soundtrack versions
- Speed up gameplay at will
- Reset license boards and new Gambit sets
- Game does start off a bit slow
- Graphics appear blurry in handheld mode
- Learning curve with battle system
Whether you've played the game before or are entirely new to the Ivalice Alliance titles, this is definitely one of the best versions of the game to play. Let's dig in.
A classic that shaped the future of Final Fantasy games
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on Switch: Features
This is not the first version of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age remaster, but it's actually the better version for several reasons.
First off, the game looks gorgeous, taking advantage of modern hardware. Even though you can still tell that it was originally a PS2 game, the graphics are fairly polished and there aren't as many jagged edges that you come to expect from PS2 ports. However, the graphics truly shine when you play in docked mode on the TV, running at about 30 fps (the Xbox One version is better with a smooth 60 fps). The graphical quality takes a slight hit when you play it in handheld mode, as environments and character models appear slightly blurry compared to when they're on the TV.
There are also three different soundtracks that you can choose from at the start of the game, giving you the option to relive the original game or go with remastered tracks. The game is also completely voice acted, though the sound quality of the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired, in all honesty.
If you've played the older Final Fantasy games, then the combat system in FFXII may take some time to get used to. Instead of random encounters while exploring the map and dungeons, FFXII has the combat take place on the map itself, and you can see all of the enemies before you encounter them. This means you can be a bit more selective about what you fight, though it also means you can get overwhelmed if you're too reckless, as enemies do re-spawn in areas after a while.
Combat uses the Active Dimension Battle system, which is similar to the ATB system in older games, so while you give commands to your characters, they won't be able to perform them until their gauge fills up. However, there's an option to pause time while you make your selection, which makes battle a bit more manageable for newbies.
A complaint that many had of the original game was that movement and combat felt a bit slow-paced, so The Zodiac Age adds a 2X or 4X speed modifier, making traversing through large cities and combat a breeze. This can be toggled at any time by pressing the L button.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age also uses the traditional job system for all characters, though the jobs are classified as Licenses, and you unlock skills and abilities through the License Board by spending License Points to activate nodes. Every character can also unlock an additional license board with the proper node, so you can customize each character to your personal liking with two jobs. And since you can reset the license boards at any time by speaking to Montblanc in the Clan Centurio Hall (located in Northern Rabanastre), it means you can experiment more freely without having to worry about any consequences.
The Gambit system in The Zodiac Age is also improved, as you're able to have up to three Gambit sets per character. Gambits are basically conditional rules that have a target, an action, and a priority. The target in a Gambit set specifies which ally or foe to act on, and the condition is what triggers the action. Priority level determines which gambit to perform when there are multiple gambits that are triggered. You'll unlock advanced Gambits as you progress through the game. With Gambits, you can pretty much micromanage your battles and switch up strategies for big bosses seamlessly, so it's a great little feature.
And of course, the story in FFXII: The Zodiac Age is quite engaging. It's not original, as it's reminiscent of the politics in Game of Thrones and Star Wars, with empires and rebellions, but the characters themselves remain interesting. Also, all scenes are voiced out, so it's like watching a movie unfold in between gameplay.
One of the more underrated Final Fantasy titles
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on Switch: What I Like
As someone who is used to the traditional Final Fantasy combat system, which is usually turn-based or ATB, with random encounters, I found the system in FFXII to be refreshing. It's nice to be able to explore all of the areas and see where the enemies are lurking, so I can choose to engage or try to avoid them. It's also nice that the enemies, as well as the various chests scattered about, re-spawn when you exit and re-enter the area, so grinding isn't so bad.
I also like the speed modifier that you can toggle on or off at any time, as it helps make exploration less tedious and combat goes much faster. The ability to reset the license board for characters is great because it lets you experiment with different jobs and combinations. It's also very newbie-friendly, so if you don't like how a job works, you can just change them to something else without having to start the game over. The Gambit system makes battles less cumbersome, since they are customizable and automated unless you select one manually.
A great game with some technical flaws
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on Switch: What I Don't Like
Cutscenes are pivotal for the story, but if you've played before and want to skip them, you'll just need to hit the Plus button and then the A button. It's one more step than I think is necessary, but at least it is there. However, the audio for voiced scenes also sounds rather muddy, which I wasn't too impressed with.
And even though the game looks great in docked mode on your TV (though it's limited to 30 fps due to the Switch hardware), I do most of my Switch gaming in handheld mode. And since the graphics are a bit blurrier than when you're playing in docked mode, it's a little disappointing. However, they don't look terrible, considering that it's a PS2 port on a Switch.
But be warned though: playing FFXII: The Zodiac Age in handheld mode will drain your battery faster than no other. Make sure you're near your charger, Dock, or have an extra battery pack handy.
A classic tale of rebellion and adventure
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on Switch: The Bottom Line
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on the Nintendo Switch (and Xbox One) is one of the best versions of the remaster to get, since it includes features that were not in the previous PS4 release (License Board resets and more Gambit sets). It makes this underrated game more accessible than ever, so it's perfect for newcomers, and the mentioned features make it worthy of another playthrough for those who have played it before.
Rebel against the Archadian Empire
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on the Nintendo Switch is one of the best versions of the remaster. You get a rich story, unique exploration and combat system, up to two jobs per character with License Board resets, more Gambit sets, increased gameplay speed, and more bonuses for New Game+.
Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.