Final Fantasy VI features one of the most iconic openings in the series. The opening credits, overlaying the sight of Biggs, Wedge, and Terra (under the control of a slave crown), trudging towards the Northern town of Narshe across a frozen plain in their Magitek Armors is an evocative and memorable sight. These scenes serve greatly to set the opening tone, initially demonstrating the force of the Empire by having players plough through the town's defences in the overpowered Armors, as they search for the esper unearthered in the town's caves. Despite players leaving fairly quickly, when Locke escapes with Terra after the esper kills Biggs and Wedge, Narshe has already set the scene well for the events to come, in addition to giving players the rare treat of using a party containining eleven moogles.
Fully uniting in Narshe, the party is forced deal with the Empire pushing forth into the town. The townspeople decide to side with the Returners and defend itself from the forces commanded by the sociopathic Kekfa in another attempt to capture the esper. The battle itself makes use of an interesting mechanic used in the previous visit to Narshe, where the party splits into three groups to prevent enemy forces from advancing through to the esper. Following victory, Terra's mysterious connection to the esper's again shows up, paving the way for players to see her true past.
The town itself comes with plenty of character in its design, showcasing the more steampunk direction of the game with a strong mining culture, numerous pipes and chimneys, and the aforementioned Magitek is a dead giveaway. Far from being the idyllic village setting many JRPGs like to start off in, the surrounding area is less than hospitable. The layout of the towns shows this in its disorderly design, with buildings being slotted in cramped spaces. This cluttering, along with the complex layout of paths creates an intricacy that shows how the town has naturally evolved. This haphazard design gives the impression that Narshe is a town that has generally been left to its own devices, helping to justify the inhabitants' wary attitude towards both the Empire and Returners. Narshe is a testament to work of the graphic designers, in that the scenery still evokes those feelings despite the obvious limitations of the 16-bit era.
Players do get the opportunity to return to Narshe in the World of Ruin. Unfortunately, as with many other places in the world, much as changed with the inhabitants either having fled or been killed. Another sombering reminder of the devastating effect Kefka's actions have had on the world. The evocative opening and memorable plot events make Narshe go down as one of more iconic places in the series.
As a special treat to round the feature off, our very own resident Fan Art Curator, Maxime Viventi, has provided this fantastic rendition of the Magitek Armors crossing the frozen landscape with Narshe in the background. Those with good memories may find that branch somewhat familiar. Click the thumbnail to the view the image in its full-sized (1.9MB) glory. Thanks for reading!