The Merits of Final Fantasy VI

by Katie O'Reilly 

First off, I should tell you what kind of gamer I am, but I'm not sure what you should call me, exactly.

When I was six years old I played my first RPG, Zelda 3 for the SNES. When I was eleven, I beat Illusion of Gaia, and I put away the Super Nintendo, because games had just stopped being released for it. I had never played a Final Fantasy game.

Does that make me an old-school gamer? Well, I'm not sure. When I went away to boarding school, my parents bought my sister a Playstation with a game called "Chrono Cross" and another one called "Final Fantasy 8". Every day at school, my little sister would call me on the phone and tell me how incredible a game Chrono Cross was, how spectacular its FMVs were (although she didn't know the word 'FMV', it was only 'the cool graphics'), how brilliant its music was, and how Harle talked with a funny accent. Neither of us had ever heard of Chrono Trigger.

One Thanksgiving vacation I went home to visit my sister, who had just beaten Chrono Cross, and was playing Final Fantasy 8. She didn't even get past Ifrit's cave at the beginning because she didn't know how to equip a GF, and was annoyed with the junction system that people are always complaining about. Frustrated, she went to the 'Used Games'section of the local video game store, and bought a game called Final Fantasy 7. Promptly thereafter, she paid attention to the tutorials and figured out enough of the junction system to occupy herself through the first few disks. I was left alone with a Playstation and my first Final Fantasy game. I loved it.

I remember the day Aeris died in my game. I had stayed up all night before at the Temple of the Ancients, certain I was almost to the end of the first disk. My mother banned me from the Playstation for the next day, because I wouldn't take my eyes off the screen. When she left to do Christmas shopping the next day, I was confronted with the tragic scene of Aeris' demise. I remember exactly the events of that day. I remember the day I beat Final Fantasy 7, too. I remember the day I beat Illusion of Gaia, the day I beat Secret of Mana, and the day I beat The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

So, I promptly got an emulator and played Final Fantasy 6. And I must say that you are being completely unfair to one of the greatest games I have seen.

I think that what makes us retain loyalty to the games we play are the memories that we associate with them. Think back to the day you first beat Zeromus. Think back to the day that you watched the opening FMV of your first Playstation game. You remember that your parents made you come down to dinner right before you could finish off that last villain, how you watched the ending credits, basking in the glory of your victory... and how a blond girl in a pointless opera throws a bouquet of flowers off of a balcony. These are the scenes that remain with us forever.

What makes Final Fantasy 6 deserve the praise it gets? What makes the opera scene have any dramatic effect whatsoever? For me it was because it was three o'clock in the morning, and my roommate was sound asleep. The volume on my computer was turned down very low, and I had to lean my face really close to the screen to hear it. And when the music started... it was the Aeris theme! The first few bars rise up and then fall back down, and then the melody changes into something entirely different. You listen to it and then Celes opens her mouth to sing; and you chuckle a little bit because of the cartoonish, spritey facial expression she has. And then the midi symphony begins. I remember having to forcibly restrain myself from singing along and waking up my roommate... and then it was time for bed. There's no real reason why we love scenes like that. It's just the way that they are, the way that they intertwine with our own memories, and that make us smile fondly at games that we played years and years ago. A few days ago, I made an urgent phone call to my little sister at home. It was to find a game called 'Final Fantasy 6' for her Super Nintendo, or for her Playstation, it didn't matter. When I learned that they had made the opera scene into an FMV, I took her up to my dorm room. I loaded my saved game of the opera. And my little sister watched the Celes sprite singing in a mangled voice just as eagerly as she watched the most spectacular FMVs of Chrono Cross. I don't know why. She just did.

Original Editorial : The Opinion Not Taken
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