Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI is really good.  It's the first Final Fantasy that I can see myself going back and replaying for fun.  The setting and game systems are good but the true heart of this game is the story.  Just FYI, there will be some spoilers in this review.

FFVI is set in an industrial world that exists generations after a magic war caused all magic to be lost from the world.  It's the first Final Fantasy to get out of the classic medieval fantasy setting.  I didn't realize how ready I was to get out of that setting and see something different and in this regard FFVI is a breath of fresh air.  And the world isn't just about going from point A to point B like so many Final Fantasy games up to this point.  There is really a world to explore, especially once the story causes it to change irrevocably.

Worth mentioning is the Mode 7 in this game.  Mode 7 is a technique used on the SNES to fake 3D with 2D.  It has a very distinct look.  It's the first time the overworld of a Final Fantasy game can be explored from a new perspective.  Once I got the airship I had a great time cruising around in Mode 7 and seeing the world in a new way.

FFVI has an ATB system just like the last two.  The iOS version I played made some great decisions, like having the character bars build up from the bottom, that really make it more mobile friendly.  Leveling up is pretty standard but each character can join with Espers and learn magic from them.  Espers can also be summoned and are powerful magic creatures and they tie into the story heavily.  On top of this, each character also has a unique skill.  Terra can enter a Trance state, Celes can nullify magic with Rune, Edgar can use custom Tools to attack.  It's different for every character.  My favorite is Sabin, who takes multiple button inputs to unleash cool martial arts moves with his Rush ability.

Each character has a unique ability because each character is truly unique.  That brings us to another interesting aspect of the game.  There is no main character.  How many games don't actually have a main character?  Not many.  Somehow FFVI succeeds even though it's true.  There are 14 playable characters and while they aren't all fleshed out, most of them are.  12 of them tie into the main story.  2 are optional, but interesting nonetheless.

I don't want to spoil too much of the story, but there are a few things that I'm sure will stick with me... like when the main villain succeeds in destroying the world!  I couldn't believe it at first!  The game is bold enough to let the heroes fail miserably and try to pick themselves back up again.  I haven't experienced anything else in an RPG like waking up with a single character on a deserted island in a post-apocalypse which I had failed to stop.  I wish more stories would take risks like this.

I've also never played an RPG that has an opera in the middle of it.  An actual opera with music and lines to memorize.  It's such a shift in the tone of the game, but it pans out beautifully.  The music from the opera scene was stuck in my head for days afterward and I was delighted to find a remastered version online.

The story contains more adult themes than previous games.  I don't mean "adult" as in violent or sexual.  I'm talking about the cost of making bad choices.  Striving for redemption afterwards.  What is it like for love to slowly form over time and be more complicated than "I like you, now we're in love."  There are characters which actually have a family that matters to them and is an integral part of their story.  Even the question of what is worth living for is addressed.  I was happy to see the change away from simple storytelling and the move towards the more complexity with nuances.

Having completed Final Fantasy VI now brings me to the halfway point in the mainline series, so it's probably time to start looking at how the games are stacking up in my mind.  I'll be updating this with each game from here on out.  For me, this is how it stands after the first six games.

Final Fantasy Ranking:
1. VI
2. IV
3. V
4. II
5. I
6. III

For the storytelling and compelling characters, FFVI takes the top spot easily.  I really liked the story and character driven plot in IV, which comes in second.  V had a great job system, but I didn't enjoy the story or the characters.  II was an interesting take on the leveling system, but it definitely shows it's age.  I is classic and it's the game that started it all, but it too is showing it's age.  I hated III, I just hated it.  It was the game that required the most grind and had some of the most obtuse ways to push the plot forward.  I hated it so much that it took me about a year and a half to actually suffer through it.  FFIII is the one Final Fantasy that I actively try to keep people away from.

That's just a quick summary of my feelings up to this point.  From here onward I'll just be updating with the latest game that I drop into the rankings.

As far as Final Fantasy VI goes, I had a great experience with it.  I would highly recommend it to any JRPG fan.

Total Completion Time:
25 hrs 4 mins


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