Final Fantasy VI

finalfantasy6

For the longest time I was not a Final Fantasy fan. Having never actually played a Final Fantasy game, my dislike for the series was on baseless ignorance, except turn-based strategy combat was not very fun to me. After listening to a Youtuber, I followed a rant about how Final Fantasy 6 was his favorite video game of all-time. I respected his opinions and decided to give the game a chance, 19 years after its original release. After experiencing this sprite animated game for the first time, I have to admit FF6 blew me away with how amazing it actually was.

After the War of the Magi, magic disappeared from the world for 1,000 years.  With magic gone, humans eventually progressed into a technological revolution.  The Gestahlian Empire discovered magic crystals known as magicite that infuses its user with powerful magic from creatures known as Espers.  The Empire then uses these magicite to harness their power through humans and machines  with the goal of ruling the world.  With the help of an assortment of fighters, a rebel faction known as the Returners attempt to stop the Empire before they conquer the world.

One of the things that stood out to me the most was how cinematic the game felt.  With 2D sprite animations, the game somehow managed to convey a level of emotion and detail that was way ahead of its time.  Right at the beginning of the game, during the opening credits, I knew I was about to play a special game.  The opening sequence begins with a young lady named, Terra, and two soldiers on battle mechs as they approach a city they are about to destroy.  The opening credits roll as the camera follows these war machines slowly getting closer to the city in the background, all set to this beautiful music. It felt like something out of a movie that I had never seen before, and this came from a sprite-based video game in 1994.  It became clear that everyone involved in making this game were passionate with what they wanted to achieve.

FF6 reminded me a lot of Mass Effect 2 in the sense both games are very character driven.  What draws you into FF6 is the connection you make to the 14 playable characters, each of them (except for a couple) having their own storyline to develop their character. One of my favorites is Cyan.  Cyan was a knight in the castle of Doma that was attacked by the Empire. During a siege, the game’s big villain, Kefka, decided to poison the castle’s water supply.  As a result Cyan discovers his wife and only child dead in their own room. Understandably, the event breaks Cyan mentally, filling him with a rage and emptiness he struggles to cope with for much of the game.

FF6

Speaking of Kefka, he is one of the stronger villains to grace a video game. He draws similarities to the Joker in a sense that he’s theatrical, evil, completely insane, and has a maniacal signature laugh.  Kefka is such a formidable villain, at one point in the game he actually manages to destroy the world, wiping out most of its inhabitants. Broken and defeated, the heroes, having gone their separate ways, manage to reassemble and muster enough courage to launch one last assault on the new ruler of the world, Kefka.   It’s truly an epic story that takes quite a long time to complete, and every time Kefka appeared on screen, you didn’t want to look away.

Final Fantasy’s gameplay was a huge deterrent for me from playing the game.  I didn’t like turn-based games. I preferred the real-time action of most other games , but the more I played FF6 the more I started to enjoy that style of gameplay.  Like most RPGs I really enjoyed building up my characters, and finding new, more powerful items.  There are tons of secrets in the game that will keep you busy for many hours.   I logged in around 60 hours by the time it was all said and done, and it’s difficult to get that much gameplay in most modern games.  There was one big complaint I had with the game and that was the random encounter system.  I like to explore, and in FF6 open world style there is a lot of ground to cover.  Unfortunately it was extremely frustrating when walking, and having to engage in a random battle literally every 3-8 steps.  It really discouraged my desire to explore particularly in areas with powerful enemies knowing that I may die and lose all my progress from the last save point.  There is an item that let’s you bypass the random encounters, but you can’t get it until over halfway through the game, if you even know about it all.  If the encounter rate was reduced, it wouldn’t have been as bad.

Another gameplay element that I really enjoyed was that every character had their own combat style unique to them.  Sure, every character had the ability to learn magic, but they all had a power that made them feel unique and factored into the strategy of building your party.  A character I mentioned earlier, Terra was one of two characters to perform magic right away, but she also had a power that transformed her into a more powerful version of herself.  The thief, Locke, has the ability to steal items off of enemies.  Another character, Sabin, is a master at martial arts, and has the ability to perform Street Fighter-like attacks with specific button inputs you learn as you level-up.  There are segments in the game that forces you to create multiple parties, and the special abilities factor into how to best balance out your teams.  It’s a great mechanic that I wish more games would execute better.

GRAPHICS

From a Super Nintendo standpoint, the sprite-animation is some of the best to come out of that generation.

SOUND

Composed by Nobuo Uematsu, the music to Final Fantasy is legendary, and FF6 is no different.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Final Fantasy 6 is the real deal.  Final Fantasy 7 may be the more popular and more recognized of the series, but FF6 is arguably the best the series has to offer.  At first I thought maybe nostalgia played a factor into fan’s love for this game, but after playing the game for the first time in 2013, I can confidently say FF6 is one of the best games ever made.  There’s so much subtle detail put into every part of the game that you can tell the developers at Square Enix were passionate about what they were doing.

Pros

  • Great characters
  • Lots of secrets and content to discover
  • Epic story

Cons

  • Random encounter frequency gets frustrating
  • Playstation version has longer loading times

 

Style – Single-player, RPG

Publisher – Square

Developer – Square

Release – April 1994

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