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Final Fantasy VI-- Retroview

The One, The Only. My Favorite.

By: Castomel


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 9
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 10
   Originality 10
   Plot 6
   Localization 10
   Replay Value 9
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

35-60 hours

 
Overall
10
Criteria

Title Screen
 

   I can still remember the first time I played Final Fantasy VI. In fact, I still have the first game I ever played saved on the cartridge. I know the save battery's probably going to fail pretty soon, but it's still nice to have it on there, to be able to look back fondly at the game I've loved from the moment I first played it, the way I played it that first time. Quite simply, FFVI is a masterpiece, and I have yet to play a game that has engaged me as much.

   Final Fantasy VI begins with a bang, as you, playing as the lovely(albeit slightly zombified)???????, Vicks, and Wedge, (in their debut appearance), are wandering the snowy reaches of Narshe, presumably for fun and profit. I can't see why else you'd want to wander around in MagiTek armour; after all, though it certainly LOOKS cool, your range of options are much more limited than with conventional attacking. This is one area where Final Fantasy VI branches out over its predecessors. With a greatly improved battle system over either FFV or FFIV, this game, though some may complain it is too customizable, also offers one of the many incarnations of the ATB. This, of course, entails waiting around impatiently for your little gauges to fill up so you can do any number of things. There are as many abilities as there are characters, as well as the traditional fight, magic, and item. This broad array of choice succeeds admirably in laying the groundwork for the future incarnations of this system we would come to know and fight about.

  Final Fantasy VI also features what I feel is the best menu system in any Final Fantasy game. Easy to manouver through and yet offering a wide and comprehensive array of options, it offers an optimal mix of simplicity and choice. The only reason I don't give it a ten here is because of the horrible, horrible chocobo background colour scheme, which, if used, is an invitation to epileptic seizure. Don't say I didn't warn you!


More algae means more iron!</lunchlady doris>
Swampwater: Revitalizing the weak and weary since 1745  

   The music in this game, quite simply, is incomparable. This is the best soundtrack that Nobuo Uematsu has put together, plain and simple. Almost every track is memorable, and the sound makes optimal use of the SNES's capabilities. Many of the songs lend emotion to the scenes and characters, and the game just wouldn't be the same without the music as it is. Truly the best part of this game, the music has yet to be matched, in my eyes.

   Final Fantasy VI was a huge improvement over previous games in the series. Not only did it introduce an element of non-linearity, but it also introduced many extras into the game that had not existed before. Side-quests, the coliseum, the auction house, even the opera scene; each of these had no parallel in prior games, and set the foundation for the many extras that would subsequently be included in the series, such as the prolific mini-games that permeated Final Fantasy VII. At the same time, however, it managed to retain all the basic elements of the previous entries in the series; in short, the combination of old and new elements merged to provide an excellent experience.

Final Fantasy VI does have a somewhat conventional plot; what sets the story apart is the growth of the relationships between the characters. There is actually surprisingly detailed attention paid here, given the large number of characters. The storyline itself begins in somewhat rudimentary fashion, borrowing some basic elements from Secret of Mana(fortunately, Square has largely abandoned the evil emperor/more evil sidekick scheme since then) and then, though the body of the story is unique in itself, the end is also rather pedestrian, with a good, old-fashioned maniac raining destruction on the earth and threatening all that is good. These somewhat thin elements aside, the plot is still adequate; the characterization is admirably done, and the gameplay is more critical to the game than anything else.

 Why Square did not retain Ted Woolsey's services, in light of such translation debacles as FFT or (somewhat less prominently) FF7 is a mystery, because Final Fantasy VI has one of the best translations ever. Moreover, the game is perfectly localized, and aside from the occasional son-of-a-submariner(which I suspect is largely censorship more than anything else), there are no glaring oddities in the dialogue. This is how a game SHOULD be localized, and it is a shame that things regressed to the level of tortured thieves.


The floating continent
The neighbours are lousy, but what a view!  

   By virtue of the open-ended nature of the story a good deal of replay value exists. Since there is a wide variety of items, abilities, and even several optional quests that can be embarked upon, playing through the game several times may not even be sufficient to truly find everything. Add to that the degree to which the characters can be customized, and it becomes evident just how good this game is in this regard.

For its day, Final Fantasy VI had very good graphics. The world map especially made optimal use of the technology available at the time, taking things one step further than strictly 2 dimensions. The battle graphics were also the effective pinnacle of the SNES's capabilities; even later titles failed to make significant improvements over what was seen in this game. On a more aesthetic level, the colour scheme suited perfectly the mood of the game; in the World of Balance, things were lush, and green was the colour in most evidence, while in the World of Ruin, more browns and greys were used more. These are the little things that help further a game's quality, and are part of what makes Final Fantasy VI such a great game.

Occasionally, Final Fantasy VI can be a bit of a pain; sometimes, the level of coordination involved in some of the multiple battles can present a challenge, and there are occasional bosses that are fairly powerful. Particularly, a certain Wrexsoul had me ripping my hair out for about an hour before I figured out the trick to beating him.... That said, after a certain point, your characters should be powerful enough to withstand anything(if nothing else, hammering everything unfortunate enough to cross your path with judicious doses of Ultima should be enough to keep even the nastiest of monsters out of your hair) and things get considerably easier.

I hope those things have snow tires or something
Magitek Armour  

Final Fantasy VI is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of RPGs, and has every element a good game should possess. The music and graphics are very well done, though not excessively flashy, the story is prominent but not overdone, and everything else shines. Most importantly, it is a great deal of fun to play, and it does take a fair amount of time to complete- about 35 hours if you breeze through it and, according to Squaresoft "100 hours" of gameplay can (somehow) be wrung out of it. Without parallel before or after, this game is definitely worth taking the time to play, if you haven't already.







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