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The high point of a tall mountain.
By: Jake Alley
Of all the many, wonderful RPGs to grace the SNES, the best of all was Square's Final Fantasy VI, released in the U.S. as Final Fantasy III. It delivered on all levels, and set the bar so high in some regards that it still has not been surpassed to this day.
The first aspect of Final Fantasy VI to jump out at players is the very unique visual style of the game. Using every trick available to the platform, the game's visuals deliver a very original steampunk look, with an absolutely unprecedented degree of detail in the scenery, surpassed only by the same company's Chrono Trigger the following year.
Musically, the game is also a delight. In what can be considered composer Nobuo Uematsu's best work of all time, each and every track of the game is a classic, delivering the best of what the system is capable of producing.
The gameplay itself of course is standard Final Fantasy fare for the most part. Battles continue to utilize the Active Time Battle system established by Final Fantasy IV, with precious few changes. Each character in the game has access to magic, learned through an innovative system of equipping magic stones for the course of several battles, as well as a unique skill, many of which required players to perform optional subquests to make the most of them, or used a special input system requiring a little extra skill.
The most unique aspect of Final Fantasy VI however is the story. Rather than focusing on a single character and a few tag-alongs, Final Fantasy VI features a playable cast of over a dozen characters, nearly all of whom receive a great deal of development, and none of whom truly receive the lion's share of the focus.
Furthermore, the story of Final Fantasy VI tackles a surprisingly large number of real world issues, the vast majority of which have not been addressed by any RPG before or since, ranging from teen pregnancy to suicide. While granted, these topics are generally touched on only briefly, the degree of sophistication required to even mention them is exceedingly rare for a videogame, particularly in the mid-90s.
It should also be noted that roughly halfway through the course of the game, things become almost completely non-linear, giving players a whole world full of sidequests to complete at their leisure. However, even in this free-form environment, Final Fantasy VI manages to maintain a strong, character driven story.
In summation, Final Fantasy VI is truly one of the greatest games ever created, and well worth playing by all.
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