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On Final Fantasy VI

by Sean Peters 

Warning: Contains Final Fantasy VI Spoilers

The recent trend as of late seems to be "Down with Final Fantasy VI!" (hereafter referred to as FFVI). I won't attempt to elevate FFVI onto some sort of unapproachable pedestal. What I will do is give my opinions, and perhaps a justification of why I think so highly of this classic game.

To start out, I'm not just some nostalgic guy fondly reminiscing about his favorite game of all time. FFVI is far from my favorite role-playing game, and only takes third place in my personal rankings of the series. This doesn't mean that it's not a good game, as I will show. No game is without its flaws. Even the games which I prefer over FFVI: Xenogears; Chrono Trigger; Final Fantasy IV; Final Fantasy VII... all are flawed in their own ways, but those are editorials or reviews for another time. Despite its flaws, FFVI still rises to be a tremendous game on its own merits.

Both the weakest and one of the strongest points in FFVI are the characters. Only two games in the series, IV and VI, have made me truly relate to the characters. I could sympathize with Terra's confusion and search for herself, feel Edgar and Sabin's pain at the death of their father and how it affected their lives. I could associate with Celes and Locke's struggle to overcome their pasts and be happy together in a dead world. Honestly, I can't explain why, but I've felt that way every time I've replayed the game. And believe me, I've done that a few times.

However, FFVI did suffer from several underdeveloped characters, stemming from the "too many characters" syndrome. Although it led to innovative ideas, i.e. multi-party dungeons, sadly, it weakened the character development as a whole. However, each character still had a reason for fighting: Strago, to relive the adventures of his youth; Relm, to watch out for her grandfather; Shadow, to be with his daughter; Mog, to repay the debt of saving his life; Umaro, as a debt to Mog. In part, tying all the characters into the story makes up for the lack of development they had.

I think that perhaps part of my attachment to the characters comes from the astounding character themes written by Nobuo Uematsu. I consider myself a fair judge of music, I have been a musician for the past 14 years, and plan on double majoring, or at least minoring in music. Especially when done full justice when played by a full orchestra on the "Grand Finale" album, the music for FFVI is spectacular, particularly at conveying themes. From the wandering, searching sound of Terra's theme (enforced even more by its use as the overworld theme) to the sad, mournful, but proud quality of Cyan's theme to Relm's theme, conveying the sweet, peaceful innocence lying beneath her brash exterior, the music paints a picture of the characters even when the story does not. And don't get me started on the "Aria de Mezzo Carraterre", I'm tempted to write a seperate editorial just on that.

That brings us to the story. Although easily misinterpreted as a clichéd evil empire plot, it is much more than that. It is of one man's goal to rule the world, and how in the course of that, he drove another man insane, who later betrayed and killed him, and then tried to destroy the world as a final revenge for what had been done to him. It is one of fourteen seemingly random heroes all drawn together by a hatred of the Empire and because of this, drawn into Kefka's insane web. It is one of self-discovery, of putting one's past aside to find happiness in the future. This is far from merely about a plot about stopping an evil empire, this is truly an epic story.

I could continue on, but I feel that I have made my point as to why I, and many others, enjoy FFVI so much. Although it is not perfect, or even the best game out there, it is well done, and, in my opinion, contains some of the most memorable characters and songs ever to have graced a role-playing game. Who cares if some of the characters are underdeveloped, or the graphics aren't "up to par" with later role-playing games? We are lucky to have been given the opportunity to play such a fine game, whether we like FFVI or not.

If you feel the urge to respond to this, email me at bj656@scn.org, just keep it intelligent and well supported, please.

Original Editorial : The Myth of Final Fantasy 6
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