A couple days ago I noticed @manuspielt mentioning a version of Final Fantasy XIII had been released for to the App Store in Japan. And it is only 20 MB in download size.

Final Fantasy XIII Start Screen

The game is realised by executing and rendering the actual game on servers somewhere in the cloud, only streaming the resulting video output to the phone. You might have heard of such streaming services before. Two well known providers of such streaming services were OnLive and Gaikai. The former recently had to announce shutting down its services while Gaikai had been bought by Sony about a year ago. It got reincarnated in Sony’s PlayStation Now service available for Vita, PS3 and PS4.

After starting the game and watching the intro cutscenes, I dived into the actual game (which is in Japanese only, by the way). I won’t discuss the game itself as it was already released over 5 years ago for the PS3 and there are lots of reviews on it available on the web.

It was great to experience such stunning graphics playable on my iPhone 5S. I didn’t recognise any lag having negative impact to the game experience whatsoever on my home WiFi with 200 Mbps connection. The stream and therefore the responsiveness and quality of sound and video where excellent throughout the whole 30 minutes trial period.

Overlay controls during a battle

What actually made the game less enjoyable was the fact that the size of my iPhone’s screen made it very hard to read the on-screen menus. It didn’t happen during my play time, but in case the streaming video becomes chunky, the menus will be the first and worst thing to become hard to identify. A potential big negative impact for the game experience. In terms of the actual game no modifications were made to adapt the interface to smaller screen sizes besides the nowadays often seen gamepad overlay. FF13 originally being a PS3 game using a lot of the buttons the PS3 gamepad comes with (12 + digipad) makes the overlay feel ridiculous. When it is shown after touching the screen, it obstructs way too much of the game screen to be fun. Especially as it is constantly going to be shown when inputting commands during a battle scene.

While it is basically great being able to play FF13 on the phone it is unfortunately hardly fun to do so. With an interface and controls redesigned for smartphone screens it could have been a decent experience. It might make more sense when using AirPlay to output the video to a big screen TV via AppleTV, but the overlay controls take away too much of the fun for me to lay down ¥ 2000 to be able to play the full game. And it is not much of a mobile game either as the recommended bandwidth requirement for the streaming to give satisfying results is said to be at a minimum of 3 Mbps. Not really made for playing on the train or waiting for the bus.

Final Fantasy XIII in the Japanese App Store