Yeah I’ve already done the PS1 version of the game but I wanted to play the game again and there is very little you can do to stop me and in case you don’t know and are confused by the box art, Final Fantasy VI was released as III in PAL and US as we didn’t get 2, 3 and 5.
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 when comparing to any of the games released after this ones. There is no “It was a dream“, or “you are all brothers and sisters“, there is no whiny emo protagonist, and the main bad guy doesn’t have a mother complex.
FFVI has the most likable characters. Don’t get me wrong, all Final Fantasys have a some good characters, but man Squall, and Tidus 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 the “tormented soul”, yet manages to avoids the cliches present in 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 how the final boss battle pans out.
I really enjoyed 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. This means you are rewarded for the fact you will hopefully have experimented.
On top of having differing personalities each character role follows traditional DnD charcater classes. So you have the Thief, the Mage etc:
- Sabin, has a skill system called “Blitz” this requires you to enter button combinations to perform moves like in a proper fighting game such as Tekken, 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. He/it/she 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, but more specifically jumps off the battlefield and learns the enemies attacks.
- Mog does a “Dance” which sets you off on a series of attacks based on the dance.
- Umaro is an uncontrollable rage machine, and just attacks.
- Setzer has a Slot Machine mechanic because it is a Final Fantasy gam, and you need a Slot Machine.
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.
Also, some events will only trigger if you have certain members in your party, such as Ebot Rock with Strago and Relm, it means you’ll need a guide to figure out some secrets as your unlikely to experiment to such a point you luck spawn an event.
Kefka is by far the best character in any game series. There is no silly motivation behind him, no pretense, no mommy issues or desire to Kompress time, and he certainly isn’t a fucking fish-lizard. 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 attains godhood! Sephiroth just sits in a cave.
Go listen to Dancing Mad, it is one of 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.
I’ve touched on Dancing Mad, but Final Fantasy VI has some great tracks. I love the fact that the game has the confidence to simply stop the game and puts on a full opera. Not like VII where Cloud and “date” have a 3 minute play, or the intro to Final Fantasy IX. The Opera is a curveball that comes out of nowhere.
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 the 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 choice affects the rest of the game. It is pretty cool feature which gives reasons to replay, but it does mean you only need to play the game twice to see everything.
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
Back in the Day:
Scoring mid 80s to late 90s Final Fantasy VI went on to win numerous best RPG game awards.