Final Fantasy VI Review
by Jason Venter
This review was originally posted on HonestGamer.com. It is posted, unaltered, with the author's consent.
As I went through the process of reworking my website recently, I realized suddenly that my review for Final Fantasy III sucked quite a bit. That's putting it mildly. This revelation offended me. Here I am, making a site to bring intelligent opinions to other gamers about great games, and I let Final Fantasy III be on the receiving end of a crappy review? Of course I had no choice but to rewrite. You're currently reading the fruits of that rewrite.
Not every game deserves a rewrite. What made Final Fantasy III so special? Perhaps it was the memories. I can remember putting literally hundreds of hours into this game. I could tell you nostalgic stories about it all day, then all night, then part of the next day. It's just the sort of game that for many people like myself is truly unforgettable. Is it the graphics? Is it the storyline? Is it the music? How about the battles? The answer, not surprisingly, is that it's all of the above.
I'll touch on graphics first. We live in a time where graphics improve by leaps and bounds. New systems seem to come out every time one heads to the kitchen for a glass of water between intense gaming sessions. With those systems come the graphical improvements that make games on old systems look like crap. However, there's not a game yet released that I feel makes Final Fantasy III look like crap. It's true that the sprites are dated. The backgrounds are limited. But they don't look bad now, and I'm not sure they ever will. Most importantly, you never question what's happening. Your characters on the screen are well-animated sprites. If they're surprised or fightened, you know it. If they're maniacal--which some of them frequently are--you know it. And the animation extends past the characters, to the view on the map as one character lifts her body high above the mountains, to the trip through the mines. Everything just looks good. At the time, it was phenomenol. Now? It looks good. That won't change.
Another thing that can't change is sound. The only limitation here is the system for which this game was released. The music, taken individually, is downright fantastic. It can still bring nostalgic moisture to the corner of my eyes. Talk to enough RPG fans and you'll find several who can recite the lyrics from the opera house, years after last playing. The music in Jidoor just amazes me. The Veldt has this rumbling quality to it that won't go away. And there are other great tunes, too, besides the traditional Final Fantasy battle music.
A good RPG has always been--and always will be--about more than graphics and sound. And Final Fantasy III keeps that well in mind. Besides the great features I've mentioned above, it has many other things going for it. The next I should mention is a great story. Once upon a time, this wasn't necessary. I love the Dragon Warrior games of the time, for example, but you can't really say they lay things out on the table for you. Final Fantasy III unabashedly puts forth a tale of an Empire ruled by a greedy man with no idea of the powerful forces he has set in motion. Prepare to see the world you know ripped apart at the very seams as a monstrous creation runs rampant. Along the way, prepare to learn a great deal about all the characters. Even the least developed of the lot seem to have their little groups of fans. Zell from Final Fantasy VIII could never hope for half the admiration Umaro's fans hold for him in their pinky fingers, for example. It's just insane how Square managed to strike a perfect balance in character development.
Another finely developed aspect of the game is the system of Espers, which really are the basis for magic systems in Final Fantasy VII and its succesors. The Esper system allows any member of the group to learn magic. Kind of like a Guardian Force, yet totally different. Treasure hunting gamers will have as much fun looking for the elusive Espers as gamers today have fun looking for materia or guardian forces or whatever the magical object may be. It began with Final Fantasy III (VI in Japan), folks.
The battle system is also quite good, and is obviously related. Each character comes with a specific skill in addition to the magic, so you'll soon find that the characters you have in your party dramatically affect the overall game experience. Props to Square for that. You can go into chat, name what characters you use, then see horrified reactions from people who use something a little different.
That touches on most of the important elements, I suppose. But what no review can ever do is give you an adequate idea of how important it is that you play this game if you even remotely enjoy a good RPG. Do yourself a favor, though, and find the actual cartridge or a ROM. I hear later versions suffer from horrific loading times. This is one game you have to experience the way it was meant to be played. And if you're like me, you might want to experience it more than once. More than twice, even. Final Fantasy III is timeless.
Overall Score: 9.5
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