First off, this is the PlayStation re-release, not the original SNES version.
Secondly, and to the point… This is my favourite Final Fantasy game. If you know me, you will know I have spent the last 18 years saying Final Fantasy 7 is the best game ever. Well, I have been converted.
Differences between original and re-release
There are no real differences between this and the original SNES version in terms of gameplay/graphics, and sound. The differences are:
- *Slight* loading time increase between menus/battles
- Addition of the Memo saving function
- CGI intro, and CGI ending.
Other than those 3 minor changes, this is the same game you played on the SNES, with the 16bitty goodness has been retained.
To cut a long story short…
Magic is outlawed, an evil emperor is mining magic to increase his grip on the empire, a rebel faction sets out to stop this.
It is a simple story, and it is easy to follow.
It is also the best, and most coherent Final Fantasy story. There is no “It was a dream“, “you are all brothers and sisters“, there is no whiney emo protaganist, and the main bad guy doesn’t have a mother complex.
FFVI has the most likable characters too. Don’t get me wrong, all Final Fantasies have a some good characters, but man Squall, Tidus, and Cloud (and others) are mopey, whiney douchebags.
In FFVI, all the main characters are well defined, there is no sudden personality change, no “Cait Sith” moment of “We all know he is a bad guy,”. Celes and Terra are two great female leads, Locke is cool, Edgar and Sabin provide a decent amount of backstory. Cyan is a the “tormented soul”, yet manages to avoids the cliches present in Vincent or Cloud.
All in all there are 14 characters, and depending on your actions you can permanently kill 2 of them (Mog/Shadow), and not collect the secret ones (Mog/Umaro/Gogo), and since all characters have a unique ability, losing (up to) 4 of them will seriously affect the final boss battle.
One feature of FFVI I really enjoyed was the lack of “main character”. In most of the FF games, you are stuck controlling 1 character, and then choosing others to complete the party. This will often lead you to having 3-5 characters massively over levelled, and then the other 4-6 being next to useless.
Some people find that too many cooks spoil the broth, but for me, free reign to choose your party is a massive plus.
In FFVI apart from a few story driven sections, there are very few constraints on your party. This means you are much happier to experiment, and swap people out. My preferred party would be Celes/Terra/Sabin/Relm, but having the other 10 meant I was always swapping, and trying different techniques.
This experimenting helped, as there are a few sections, such as the Pheonix Cave, or Kefka’s Tower, where you have to form 2 or 3 parties (of 4). This means you cannot have 1 overpowered core character, and the rest useless.
In Kefka’s Tower you use 3 groups of 4, and each group will fight multiple bosses, so you need to ensure all characters are skilled up, and you have learnt everyone’s strength.
- Sabin, has a skill system called “Blitz” this requires you to enter button combinations to perform moves, like in proper fighting games, short codes do less damage, but a 12 button combo will do a hard move.
- Cyan has a skill which charges, so, do you do a level 1 attack, and do low damage, or do you charge it, wasting a move or two, but get a super powerful attack at the end of it?
- Gogo is a Mime, and has no skills. So you can repeat the previous attack, this is great for combo attacks, and repeating stupidly powerful attacks. For instance, X-Magic Ultima, and a Mime will do 4 Ultimas, this will kill pretty much everything.
- Terra transforms into a Esper, and gets stupidly powerful magic temporarily.
- Celes absorbs magical attacks.
- Locke Steals…
- Strago has Lore (Enemy Skills)
- Relm, paints a picture of enemy, and the “sketch” does one of that enemies moves
- Shadow throws items…
- Edgar uses tools, which vary in usefulness
- Gau is crap…
- Mog does a “Dance” which sets you off on a series of attacks based on the dance.
- Umaro is uncontroable, and just attacks.
- Setzer has a Slot Machine mechanic
One other quirk of the party system is, you get different responses to events, or general town experiences. Edgar, as an example, if he is you’re party leader in Figaro Castle, everything is half price. If you stay at an inn with Shadow, you’ll get cutscenes.
Some events will only trigger if you have certain members in your party, such as Ebot Rock with Strago and Relm, so unless you have a guide, it is highly advisable to swap parties.
Kefka is by far the best character in any game series. There is no silly motivation behind him, no pretense. He is just evil. Think the Joker, from Batman. He just wants to watch the world burn.
The first half of the game, you’re led to believe he is a joker, a clown, just doing his masters bidding, half way through the game, it finally dawns on you, he is just fucking evil. And for evils sake.
For christ sake, he destroys the world and attained godhood!
Go listen to Dancing Mad, it is the best song in the FF series.
Have a listen, seriously. I know a lot of you don’t click these links, but you’re missing out if you don’t. Each section, accompanies a different section of the final forms of Kefka, it integrates various sections of other songs from the game, and seamlessly blends them into one 20 minute epic. (The release [operatic] version is only 10 mins).
Oh, and Kefka’s laugh.
Awesome sections in the game
There are loads of “MAN THAT’S COOL” moments in FFVI, due to word counts I won’t go into detail (and avoid spoilers):
- The banquet scene is awesome…
- The Opera is… AWESOME
- The 3 scenarios to reunite the party is pretty fucking awesome
- Kefka’s Tower is immense, and FUCKING AWESOME
There are others, but i’ll let you find your own favourites
I loved the endgame stuff, but one issue I did have is the lack of “epicness”. To get the two most powerful Espers, you need to kill Doom Gaze (random encounter), and 8 Dragons. These are cool battles in themselves, but are way too easy. Doom Gaze follows an Ultimate Weapon (from FFVII) style fight. You punish him, he runs away, you chase him, fight him, runs away etc… He doesn’t regain health, and only has 55,555 health. which for me was 2 battles and casting Ultima 7-8 times.
At this point in the game you have “X-Magic”, you’re party is most likely doing 6000+ per magic hit, and with Celes and Terra who will doing 9999, meaning this (the hardest boss) is stupidly easy.
The 8 Dragons, while cool, are also too easy. The hardest Dragon is only 4 Ultimas from death, on my file I hadn’t particularly grinded either, I was level 47ish at completion, I hadn’t got all the final weapons, and only 4 people had the top tier spells. So if anything, the end game is the only let down.
100%ing the game
There is no 100% completion. This is due to the choice system the game employs. For example, you can choose to save Mog, or get an awesome item. Not both.
Do you get the Ragnorak Summon, which gives you Ultima, or do you get the Ragnorak sword, which can be traded for the ultimate weapon. (HINT: Get Ultima)
Save Shadow or not???
There are several points, where you will make decisions and your choce affects the rest of the game. It is pretty cool feature, and somewhat lacking from future games in the series.
The SNES soundtrack is awesome… I do advise you listen to the original tracks, but you really need to listen to the Distant Worlds versions of “Dancing Mad”, and the “Draco and Mario Opera” to get the full orchestral/operatic range.
I could waffle on for another 1000+ words, but I won’t. No words can adequately describe how good it is, or, more specifically, how much I enjoyed my play through.
The music is better, the characters are more relatable, and the setpieces are better (technological limitations aside).
Cons: End game is a little too easy, load times on PS1 are a little shit