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Attacking Final Fantasy VI

by Wisdom 

Every time I come to the editorials, I always see one or two editorials that bitch, over and over, that quality games ended with Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. Now, Iāll be the first to admit that both were good games, but for Godās sake, let them go, people. If I have to hear, one more time, the following: ćFinal Fantasy VI was the best game ever ever EVER like Chrono Trigger ever ever EVER yeah SNES woohooä tirade, someoneās gonna die. So hereās my personal attack on Final Fantasy VI. Enjoy it.

Contrary to popular belief, Final Fantasy VI was not the epitome of gaming. To be honest, itās nowhere near my list of favorite RPGs. Iāve divided my ćlist of grievancesä into three categories: the battle system, the storyline, and the characters. Iāll start with the battle system first, because by the end of the game I was bashing my head against the wall because of it.

One of Squareās little nuances is that they like to make customizable games. I can dig that, provided that Iām still presented with characters that are somewhat unique, in their own ways, during a battle. For FFVI, the developers decided: ćWhat the hell· letās have everyone able to learn every spell. Howās that sound?ä Now, donāt get me wrong, thereās nothing faulty with that. I like magic as much as the next man. But when every single battle hinges on the magic-user towards the end of the game, something is seriously wrong. Kefkaās tower was a long, drawn-out Ultima spell. Thatās the only spell I cast the entire last half of the game. The enemies werenāt hard, either÷they were either bloody-frickin-impossible or complete jokes. Being able to fight a Brontaur and a Land Worm, back to back, is a horribly skewed difficulty level.

The Final Fantasy VI battle system was innovative for its time, yes, but it was far from perfect. I know that Sabinās whacked-out Blitz techniques were a hell of a lot of fun to enter the first 8.5 million times, but when the partyās welfare was riding on completion of a move and my finger slipped, thereby nullifying one of my most powerful hitters for a round, I was not happy. Now, if someone tries to tell me this somehow reflects on my skill as a gamer, Iāll answer that it might: but should that make a difference? Plenty of people Iāve spoken with have expressed the same sort of dissatisfaction: button-mashing should give you the chance to INCREASE damage, but definitely not determine whether or not you inflict damage in the first place.

Also, I didnāt feel there was much variety in the style of battles taking place. Unlike games such as Chrono Trigger or even Final Fantasy IV, there wasnāt much strategy involved in fighting. The game was generally very easy, until the last leg, where the difficulty climbed Mt. Everest in the span of three seconds. I enjoyed the Magitek scenarios, but I feel that they were a neglected part of the game; for giant mechanical instruments of destruction, they werenāt used nearly enough.

But all in all, the battle system wasnāt too bad. For itās time, it was fresh and innovative: but NOT PERFECT. (And that is my point.) But Final Fantasy VI only goes downhill from here. The storyline is the most horrible butchery of a plot I have ever seen. Before every HARDCOR3 GAMER! throws a hissy-fit, let me explain. The game starts out amazingly well. Although I didnāt find the intro too captivating, the storyline grabs you by the neck, beats the living hell out of you, and then drags you along as events play out like a beautifully orchestrated symphony. The first half of the game blew my mind. As far as sub-plots go, the game was littered with them, and the idea of destroying an evil empire was altogether intoxicating. I noticed a distinct lack of true moral conflict, (no one ever stopped to say ćMaybe overthrowing the Empire is wrong?ä), and I thought it lacked the same main character strength that Final Fantasy IV provided, but it surpassed all other RPGs in terms of complexity and secular struggle. Up to the floating island, it was a masterpiece.

The World of Ruin was the single worst idea Square has ever had. Even their brutal rape of a combat system for FFVII pales in comparison to the travesty that is the second half of Final Fantasy VI. There is no main storyline. All of the hurried tension, all of the rapid plot progression÷it disappears. Gone. Bye-bye. Now, this is understandable at first: world just blew up, people are a bit preoccupied. But it never comes back. Thereās no re-emergence of that rebellious cause; I felt like I was completing a chore instead of rallying a revolution. As soon as you get your airship back, you can fight Kefka. Of the fourteen characters possibly acquirable, you can proceed to the final dungeon with half. After the amazing quality of the World of Balance, seeing the lack of cohesiveness in the World of Ruin completely destroyed my interest in the game. I donāt understand why they did it. It just didnāt fit it all. If the game had started out open-ended, maybe I wouldnāt have been so angry, but being thrust into a situation where plot development came to a screeching halt and character growth was limited to small side-stories infuriated me. The entire second half of Final Fantasy VI is one big series of mini-quests. The only reason I still consider the game a classic is because the first half is probably one of the most impressive experiences Iāve had, and the ending helps to bring some of that cohesiveness back÷but the middle of FFVI is one large, gaping hole.

I also find some fault in the characters. Relm had no point. I donāt know why they even included her: regardless of her relations to other characters in the game, she shouldnāt have been a playable character. She was average in every sense of the word. Her only real purpose was controlling enemies so Strago could learn a skill from them, but there is a small problem with that scenario. Having both Strago and Relm in your party, at the same time, is the RPG equivalent of blowing off both legs, gnawing off one arm, and then attempting to ride a bicycle· while inebriated. Locke stole, and that was it. As much as I loved him, that was really all he did. He wasnāt even that fast· he just stole stuff. Umaro was cool as hell, because yetis just kick ass, but he shouldnāt have been a playable character either. (Although he wasnāt, really·) It seemed ridiculous. He added nothing to the storyline. While I donāt mind having characters just for the fun of having characters too terribly much, a game with a plot like Final Fantasy VI, expressing the sort of mature development it did in the first half of the game, clashes with pointlessly thrown-in characters. Did anyone really use Setzer? If so, WHY? He rolled dice. Yeah, thatās a dependable way of handling your foes. Gau was a bit of a new stretch on fighting, but he got annoying really, really quickly· if you didnāt take some time off for the sole purpose of acquiring new rages for him, he was completely and utterly useless.

Now, before Nightshadow receives a flood of angry rebuttals decrying her sense of self-preservation for posting this editorial, and before my mailbox is flooded with flames, let me express the following sentiment: even with its flaws, I enjoyed Final Fantasy VI. I still believe it to be a classic RPG and an enjoyable experience. But its time has come and gone; it is no longer the standard for RPGs and is far from perfect. I see it as a link between Final Fantasy IV and VII, providing a background of secular struggle for VII to take along with IVās moral quandaries. Final Fantasy VI is a good game, but not a perfect one. Far, far from it.

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