Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Final Fantasy VI: One of the Greats

Final Fantasy VI is one of the great JRPGs that came out on the Super Nintendo. For years I've heard how great this game is but I've never gotten very far. My first playthrough on the Final Fantasy Anthology version I reached the scenarios... yeah not so far in! My second playthrough I got to the point where Terra flies around and doesn't have control over her power. That's also not very far. Maybe it was the graphics, maybe it was because I got stuck, or maybe it was something else. Either way, just the other day, I beat Final Fantasy VI for the first time.

I'm not going to go into a full in-depth analysis because let's be honest, most have already played and beaten this game.

First things first, FFVI has an incredible cast of characters and each and every one of them has a unique story to tell. Okay well maybe not Gogo or Umaro, but the main characters do. Although there is no set of main characters I feel as if Locke, Terra, Edgar, and Celes have a tight connection. It can be looked at differently by people, but I feel these characters have the most engaging storylines.

I followed Djibriel's guide on gamefaq's and it's one of the best guides I've ever used. I didn't use the guide at first because I didn't want to spoil anything, but after the world was destroyed I wanted to get the most out of the non-linear gameplay that I could. I followed many of the scenarios and retrieved as many characters as I could. I didn't know Shadow could die so I didn't have him at the end. Poor guy... if I only waited. I know he's a fan favorite and I'm guessing it's because of his presence, attitude, and the ability he has to throw. He's powerful and mysterious, and he has his dog Interceptor. That dog would just run up in battle and bite monsters. More damage!

I really enjoyed Locke's story with Celes and the connection that they have. What would she do without him? Terra is unique and takes on the ability to love, but thankfully it's not quite General Leo that helps her with this. She learns to be a mother to children who've lost their parents to Kefka's cruel ways. When you approach her in the World of Ruin she won't join your party right away. She knows that she needs to protect the children, and that it's more important than getting everyone together.

With a note on Locke, I didn't mean to do this, but I completely skipped the first part of Rachel's story. I know it may sound funny, but the first time I went to Kohlingen I didn't have Locke in my party. Actually... I'm fairly sure I skipped Kohlingen on my first time through in the World of Balance. I think I may have walked right by it, which is very funny because the first time I actually went into that guy's basement he talked to me about Locke. It was very strange... and I had no clue what the hell was going on. Rachel? Locke? Dead body? Huh? In the end I did get Phoenix and tried to revive this woman that meant something to Locke. And then she died again. Woo hoo! It wasn't until after I beat the game that I looked up what Djibriel had to say about what I missed, and I was able to read the dialogue that was spoken when you first bring Locke into the man's house in the World of Balance. A sad story indeed.

The only things I didn't do in Final Fantasy VI were the Ancient Castle with Odin and Raiden, I didn't wait for Shadow, I didn't do everything at the Coliseum, defeat all the dragons, collect all of Gau's rages, obtain every summon, or play through Strago's extra storyline. I might be missing something here, but honestly I know that I've done almost everything the game has to offer.

When Final Fantasy VI enters the World of Ruin it guides your characters only so far. I think this is great, but it's sort of misleading. If that makes sense. What I'm trying to get at is I would have only known to go as far as Zozo but that's it. Yes I could run around looking for other characters but certain characters were ridiculous. Mog and Umaro weren't so bad but Locke and Relm are a bit ridiculous. How are we supposed to know that Locke is adventuring in the middle of a volcano... and why in the world is he doing that anyways? He was connected to the storyline before as a Returner and not quite a treasure hunter. And with Relm, first you need to get her to Thamasa. Then she stays in bed and disappears, but only if you leave the town walking over specific hit spaces. Then you need to walk back in and leave again on those hit spaces to trigger the event of her being abducted. What.

And then there's Kefka. He's certainly a very well constructed villain, or is he? It may just be his simplistic nature that leads fans to believe Kefka as one of the greatest villains in a Final Fantasy title, if not the best villain. He's a simple man... sort of... albeit he's more like Celes who's been fused with magicite but something went very wrong with him. He sort of obey's the emperor's orders but usually takes situations into his own hands. He poisoned an entire town and castle, messed with the creation of magic, and then ruled the world after destroying and rearranging its geography. Simply incredible. So is Kefka the greatest villain in all of Final Fantasy? Maybe. If anything, he's certainly one of the most memorable.

Final Fantasy VI is a game from the SNES era, thus its graphics aren't up to date in today's standards. But back then it was considered one of the most technically beautiful games ever made. Flying airships and riding chocobos never looked so magnificent, and the backgrounds were well done. Each character had a large number of sprite animations and the soundtrack was great as well. The graphics give just enough presentation to allow for gamers to fill in the blanks with their imagination. It's a fairly perfect balance.

And that music, man the music is fantastic. Uematsu does a wonderful job. Playing through FFVI for the first time and listening to the music, I could tell the soundtrack was very Uematsu. It has his tones, his feelings and emotions put into the work. The tunes are sometimes catchy, sometimes depressing, and sometimes moving. One such theme is the obvious Opera: Maria and Draco. It was absolutely incredible to listen to the opera and play along. Without the ability to use voices, listening to the words was awkward but loveable. It stands out as one of the best scenes in any Final Fantasy.

The world of Final Fantasy VI may have been destroyed, but the gamer has the ability to put things back together. Or at least initiate such a thing. You band your characters together to take out what was a man, now a God. It's the right thing to do and so you do it. We make choices and come to appreciate our characters and their stories. Its music gets stuck in our heads and the best moments stick out in our memories. Square really pushed themselves to create one of the best RPGs on the SNES. I suggest everyone to check this game out if they haven't already. Waiting this long to play FFVI is almost a shame, so don't be like me! Play it!

Title: Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy Anthology)

Developer: Squaresoft

Genre: Japanese Role-Playing Game

Year: 1994, 1999 (FF Anthology)

Platform: Super Nintendo, PlayStation

Completion: Played through as stated above. 85,000 steps taken in 41:26, with Terra (50), Celes (46), Edgar (50), and Setzer (45) at the end of the game.

-Jared C.

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