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Final Fantasy VI - Review

By: Stewart Bishop


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Gameplay 9
   Music 10
   Originality 8
   Plot 9
   Replay Value 8
   Sound 8
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

30-50 hours

 
Overall
8
Criteria

Title Screen
Until the PSX re-release, we knew this as FF III  

    Heralded by a legion of fans as the greatest RPG of all time, Final Fantasy VI has a tremendous effect on the RPG community. While it did not spark as much public interest as a game as Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VI is considered the barrier between old school and new school RPG fans; those who abide by Final Fantasy VI and itís genuine classic feel; and those who cringe and stand by Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII and Squareís lineup of modernized RPGs. But what makes Final Fantasy VI a game that is loved and similarly hated by the swarm of RPG players? It is the classical feel you get as you play it. Whenever debate is sparked among RPG fans challenging the quality of Final Fantasy VII or the cruel linearity of Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy VI is almost always the unit of comparison, and rightfully so. Though it is not ranked among my top 5 RPGs, it is undoubtedly the greatest classical RPG of all time. Join me as we go into a detailed analysis of one the most worshipped titles in RPG history.

    Graphically speaking, Final Fantasy VI botches slightly. While they were good for its time, the effects in battle as well as the setting and overworld maps are blotched, distorted and plagued with pixelation. I have a general problem with dark browns and colors of the sort, but to contradict this, I also believe that they were appropriate for the main theme of the game, which is a very touching, emotional feel. Bright colors would ruin this effect, and Squaresoft must be commended for taking this into account. The monster sprites in battle, however, are inexcusable. It would have been very easy to make more proportionally correct monsters or at least change them so that they did not look so ridiculous in comparison with the characters. For example, the last thing I want to see are small sprites fighting a gigantic karate fighter hovering in mid-air that just so happens to be five times the size of my characters. The magic effects were decent, but nothing breathtaking, same with the Espers. Not exactly Squareís finest. Graphics donít make the game, but it IS Square and you must admit that Square could have and should have paid more attention to them. It certainly didn't push the limits of the SNES (Chrono Trigger's graphics come to mind).


Oh, my hero....
"Oh, my hero...."  

    The music for Final Fantasy VI is superb. After Final Fantasy VI, I had always expected quality music from Square and to this day, I have not been disappointed. We must all thank Final Fantasy VI for revolutionizing Square in such form that to continuously beat out their previous titles, they were forced to at least keep on par by releasing the end-all musical scores in the RPG world. Moody and refined, Final Fantasy VIís music tends to all be very emotional, usually in a saddened form, but the sheer quality of it should not be overlooked. In my own personal opinion, I enjoy Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger and Grandia's music to Final Fantasy VI, but I consider all four of these titles to be practically untouchable in the musical department.

    Final Fantasy VIís control...is terrible. You ask me, "How can you possibly badmouth a mostly menu-based system?" I have my answer: Directions. The most annoying part about moving around in Final Fantasy VI is that you can only move in four directions. The diagonals serve no purpose in the game at all, except maybe to ease Sabinís Blitz attacks. Even in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, you could move in more than 4 directions, so why did Square decide to neglect this? It is beyond me, and because of it I am so inclined to incur penalty. Fortunately, they learned from their mistakes with their next releases.

    Ah the joys of Final Fantasy VI; to this day it is the last Final Fantasy in the series that actually makes each character original in their own fashion. Every character, from Terra to Locke to Setzer has their own special abilities that can ONLY be used by them. This prevents character clones that can all be practically the same character, like in Final Fantasy VII. I do indeed enjoy the diversity of skills, but did they have to disperse them to so many characters? I never used some characters just because of the ineffectiveness of their own personal skills. Too bad for these characters. Personal skills MAKE the character and without them, they were just a waste of HP. A very good method of doing it, but too bad the selection of characters will always be based on what skills are necessary to defeat the enemies in the area. The feel of a classic battle system is soothing and easily understood.

Summoning Maduin
Summoning Maduin  
While not the most original in the pool of modern RPGs, it was excellent for its time; the Espers were always a sight to behold. Speaking of Espers, my feelings about them are a sort of mixed bag. While I like the fact that you can obtain all magic for all characters, I believe this later nullifies Terra as a useful character. As a genuine magic user, I believe that many spells should have remained unique to Terra. Later on in the game, you never need to use spells, making Espers somewhat useless in the end, both as summons and magic sources. I would have preferred the Espers to be more important to the game, much like the GFs in Final Fantasy VIII.

    Final Fantasy VI's storyline is mediocre. It just did not have the compelling grip that other RPGs have had on me, Grandia in particular. The route to get to the end, though, is a pleasure. Each of the characters is presented with their own problems that are all solved by the time you reach the end. The only gripe I have is that there are TOO many characters. As such, each character is given their five minutes of fame and then nothing else. The character development is swift and sudden, rising to a climactic point in the story and dying down just as quickly. All in all, I enjoyed the story very much. It was not groundbreaking, and I didnít whimper when it was over (like I did with Grandia), but it was still very good.

    Itís hard to consider actual REPLAY value. Though those who worship it in their little cult-like groups would play it over and over again, I would not. In fact, I was growing a bit tired of it after completing all the side-quests and actually beat it just because I felt so inclined too, not because I wanted to. When I was finished, I felt like I had defeated it; overcome it, instead of being happy that I had only finished it. The side-quests however are very good. Optional characters, optional quests, they are plentiful. Unfortunately, they can all be done at reasonably low levels, so there is no point in raising your levels incredibly high, except for personal pleasure. In Final Fantasy VII and VIII, high levels were a must to defeat the WEAPONs, or at least very good Materia and Junctioning setups. Play it over and over if you must, but I will not. I enjoyed it many times before, but I donít intend to water-down my original thoughts on it by starting new games every two weeks.


Magitek Armor
Chung, Chung, Chung! Magitek Armor!  

    For those who have not played an RPG before, give it a whirl, it may or may not change your view on RPGs. For all of you who have ever enjoyed just a smidgen of an RPG before, play this, you will love it. And all of you hardcore RPG fans...Well, if youíre a hardcore RPG fan, youíve already played this, so you already know what itís like! While not spectacular in terms of originality, it makes up for pure classic playability. To this day it rivals multi-million dollar RPG productions such as Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII. Kudos to Squaresoft; I grew up with this game and it will always rest proudly among my collection of RPG titles.



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