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Final Fantasy VI Review

by Jiggs

This is the third official release of the best RPG series by SquareSoft in the U.S. that took nearly 3 years to arrive. After the awesome FF4 had invaded our shores, I eagerly anticipated the next FF sequel. However, as disappointed as I was when Square decided to can the release of FF5 over here, FF6 more than made it up. It was a masterpiece of work, redefining the boundaries of the RPG while in the process getting some mainstream attention that had been previously ignored. I was one of the happiest customers when I went out and bought this little gem a few weeks after it's release. Here's why…

The plot is most definitely captivating and a strong attribute to the game. In essence, the basic theme of the story lends itself to other RPG's before it. An evil empire bent on world domination is cliché in many RPG's, but the style executed in this game makes the tried and true plot very refreshing, thanks in part to the wonderful settings and the characters that inhabit it. As the story begins, you are introduced to a highly technological, gritty post-modernized world living off geothermal energy, yet the game retains the medieval settings from the prequels. The prologue proceeds to explain it is 1,000 years after the War of The Magi, which nearly wiped out the existence of life. Time has passed on peacefully as steam engines, gunpowder, and iron were being rediscovered. It seems some would bring about a revival of magic, the dreaded destructive force. The conclusion of the introduction provokes you to question, "Will history repeat itself?" Then the scene shifts to a snow-laden cliff with two soldiers and a girl in armored techs, planning to trek to the town of Narshe for rumors of an Esper residing there. Afterward, the game begins...

Setting & Characterization:
As you have witnessed in the preceding paragraph, it is quite dramatic already! The nuances in plot setting between this and previous games in the series are also dramatically different. The way the scenes progress are subtle enough as to leave you speculating what could happen next, but not make it too obvious. There are many twist and turns to the plot that makes the game exciting and bewildering. The scenes progress gracefully and swiftly without having the plot twists disturb the overall flow of the game. It rather builds on it. FF4 paved the way for well-crafted storytelling, but 6 outclasses in this department, blowing it out of the water literally. Early in the game, you'll wonder just who is this mysterious girl and why is she being accompanied by these guards and what their motives for this mission are. That leads me now to explain the character development. Many of the main characters develop nicely in the story. By the end of the game, you will grow quite fond of them. Their roles in the plot aren't clear in the beginning. They can be persuaded by others and forced to lead different roles upon the circumstances. Characters have their own demons to overcome. To see them grow beyond their fears and realize their humanness brings a feeling of togetherness with the characters. The individual uniqueness in personality traits is diverse. Locke is sensitive/helpful, Edgar - cunning/sarcastic, Sabin - courageous, Terra - ethical/observant, etc. You'll get to see the history behind these traits as you progress. The main thing is subtlety. First impressions of a character will change when you get to see a whole another side later during the journey. Again FF6 does this much better than the prequels. The subject matter is presented more maturely and seriously than past installments. Issues such as suicide, teen pregnancy, prejudice, injustice is all the more magnified which enhances the plot even more so. Overall, the game brings an exciting, sentimental, deep plot that is very important part of a good RPG. FF6 executes very well on that.

The next thing to be considered is the de facto between a good or bad game and that is gameplay. A good plot alone cannot be seen in its entirety if the gameplay doesn't allow you to do so. The controls so far are perfect! Even simplified as a matter of fact from FF4. Highlighting numerous targets has never been this easy until now with just a touch of the trigger button instead of tap-tap with the pad. Sweet! The menu interface is also easy to work with. Now you can toggle between different screens with just a touch of the shoulder triggers rather than having to back up that screen and go on the same screen but with different characters(i.e. Magic, Equip screen). The game employs the Active Time Battle(ATB) fast, turn-based combat from FF4, but now gauge bars are included to predict accurately who will be up next to command, another new feature that found its way in future games. There are more characters at your disposal this time around in your party than FF4, each with a special ability unique to them a la FF4. However, this time their abilities can grow to include more various and stronger attacks (i.e. Cyan, Sabin) rather than recycling the same abilities over and over. Weapons, armor and relics play a big part in giving characters newly added abilities or immunities during battle or non-battle. Relics such as Sprint Shoes will make your traveling faster on foot in town, Genji Gloves can make characters attack with two weapons at once, and Star Pendants will prevent you from being poisoned, etc. Some weapons and armors have elemental properties that can be a benefactor to a party's success like FF4. Magic in this game is learned primarily from acquiring and equipping Espers for battle. The more Espers you obtain, the better you will have every spell in the game. The player has more control to decide what spells to learn instead of learning at fixed levels. Everyone is a capable magic caster. You can essentially cast an Esper once during battle, however they still are useful in battle as they give the party useful abilities/spells, so equip at all cost! Once successful in battle, the player will gain magic points that build up to become learned spells. The last thing to be mentioned is the course of action events. There are points in the game that seem to give the player different paths to take or take different actions according to a situation thus producing different scenario outcomes. At points, players will be rewarded differently based on the different scenarios. The better the outcome, the better rewarded. FF6 was the first to make primary use of that feature and it enhances the gameplay immensely not to mention the replay value. The quirky mini special events that take place are fun. I won't reveal any spoilers to it so take my word for that. This game is more customizable than FF4, with all the Espers, relics and equipment to suit your needs, thus making FF6 truly a gameplay bliss.

Graphics & Sound:
This game also kicks serious ass in the graphics department. These are some of the finest the SNES has ever seen. There is no comparison between this and FF4, that would be kind of silly. The graphical leap in quality from FF5 isn't drastic, but it is much better! Character sprites are much bigger and more detailed. Animation conveys much more expressions than ever. The battle scene backgrounds look photo-realistic. Even the overworld surroundings (i.e streams, grass, mountain, buildings) are very well textured and gives the graphics depth. The artwork is vivid and detailed. The protagonists are portrayed very cutesy yet some monsters look down right menacing. Nice contrast. The landscapes are breathtaking and very beautiful. Sound is also a masterpiece of its own. By far, this is the best music soundtracks I've heard on the SNES and also one of the best overall. It is very nicely orchestrated to suit the needs of the drama that is taking place. Ranging from light-bouncy, to eerily haunting. The Opera scene music would have to be the best example of best music in the game which also happens to be Celes's reoccurring theme music. Sound effects are crystal clear and more varied than ever.

Last Impression:
If FF4 was the one that started it all for me, then FF6 took it to the finishing line and made me proclaim Final Fantasy is the best RPG series ever! There hasn't been any RPG after this game that captured the immense joy I had while playing this. There will probably never be anything truly as ground-breaking as FF6 was. It is a timeless classic that I could replay whenever I fancy. I will never get bored of it when reliving the moments. My favorite RPG of all-time!

Well, guess I'll include scores for the first time...
Graphics 9.5(eye candy)
Sound 9.7 (well...ear candy)
GamePlay 9.9 (finger candy)
Plot 10.0 (mind candy, hehe)
Characterization 9.8 (tasty)
Replayability 9.0 (rewarding sweetness)
Overall 9.7 (excellent)

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