Hey guys, we have a special treat here, the first guest column on the site, written by longtime friend, even longer time gamer, Joe Pro. Here he’s going to talk about what makes Final Fantasy VI such a classic video game. Without further adieu, here we go…!
Final Fantasy VI: A Review
Growing up in the 1990’s was a completely different time. There weren’t any “freemium” games, there was no paid DLC…there weren’t any free games at all, really. And, if your family didn’t have a lot of money, you had to make the most of the games that you did have. You may have only gotten a new game a couple of times a year, a birthday, Christmas as well if you’re lucky.
One game that really stands out for me from my childhood is Final Fantasy VI, on the Super Nintendo, (called Final Fantasy III here in America, but for the sake of this review, I’ll call it Final Fantasy VI, since it was the sixth game in the series. )
It’s hard to know where to start a review of a game of this epic magnitude, but let’s start from the beginning. The game opens up with a scene depicting the aftermath of the War of the Magi, which had happened a thousand years prior to the opening of the game. Magic had once been in abundance in this world, but it was no more, or so it seemed. I’ll try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, because there are plot twists in this game unlike any I had ever seen before, or since. If you’re into good, story driven games, this one is definitely for you.
You wouldn’t expect to find good graphics on a 16-bit Super Nintendo game from the early 90’s, but don’t discount this one just yet. Squaresoft took their time with this game, and it really shows. I’ve seen newer games that opt for a “retro” feel, that couldn’t even begin to compare to the beauty that is Final Fantasy VI. Sprite based characters or not, this game is downright beautiful. Whether it’s the hand drawn backgrounds, or the feeling of actually flying in the airship, there is something quite astonishing about the way this game looks. Unlike other RPG’s of the time, there is no shortage of special effects in this game, from the battle sequences, to the characters showing emotions by flying all over the screen, they made this game truly unique. 2-D or not, this game is stunning in it’s delivery.
I couldn’t easily talk about the graphics of a game, without mentioning the soundtrack. Longtime Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu handles the scoring duties in this game once again, and, like John Williams composing Star Wars themes, he does not disappoint. Many have said this is his masterwork, and I am one in that camp. Every single tune he composed is packed full of emotions, meant to draw the players into the world of the characters they are playing. Whether it’s the feeling of despair at the death of a friend, or the energy that comes with piloting an aircraft for the first time, the music in this game will hit you hard, and those feelings will stick with you for the rest of your life.
It truly is unforgettable, and even as I’m writing this review now I’m listening to “Kids Run Through The City Corner”, and in my mind, I’m immediately transported to a peaceful town with a river flowing through it, on my way to buy potions. Even if you never play this game, I strongly encourage you to listen to the soundtrack. There could have been no better fitting music for this game, in my opinion.
Many recent games have moved away from the active time battle combat system, in favor of a more real-time based system. Now, I’ll admit, a real-time combat system may be more realistic than turn based combat, but there are things that you sacrifice in the name of “realism” though. The combat system in the game encourages you to use your brains, not just your brawn.
There are many strategies needed throughout the game, to be successful against the myriad of enemies that they throw at you on your quest. Simply running into a battle, Leroy Jenkins style, will quickly land you on the game over screen. This is as much a tactical game as it is a role playing game. Yet, it doesn’t pad the game’s length by adding unnecessary battles. There are just enough battles along the way to level up your characters to the point where you can advance through the game, and if you’re looking to grind in this game, you have to go out of your way to do so.
The pace of the game is set so that it will keep your attention throughout the entire game, with the few heavy moments padded with levity. Now, it’s not to say that you won’t get frustrated during your time with it. There may be a few times when you want to set the controller down, walk away, and pick the game up at some future point in time. However, even during the hardest portions of the game, getting past the challenges set before you always feels rewarding.
As I said, I wanted to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, so I’m going to try to refrain from talking about the characters as much as possible. However, I will say that in doing so, I’m omitting one of the strongest portions of the game. There is a large cast of characters in this game, and, although they are only 2-D sprites onscreen, the writing in this game is so superb that you will become attached to those 2-D sprites. You’ll laugh with them, you’ll cry with them, and it will tear you apart when you reach the end, and realize you’ll never see them again.
To try and sum up my review would indeed be a challenge. This game, in my opinion, is a must play for any gamer looking to broaden their horizons. If you’re into story rich games, Final Fantasy VI is a must own. The biggest flaw I’ll say the game has is that it’s too short. I was able to beat it in under 100 hours, and as a then 8 year old boy with almost nothing else to play,that seemed too short for me. This game is the one I always point to when I hear friends say that video games can’t be art. For all these reasons, and more, this is why I chose to review Final Fantasy VI first. If you’ve never played it before, I hope I have convinced you to check it out. If you don’t happen to have a Super Nintendo handy, you can also pick it up on Game Boy Advance, the Nintendo Virtual Store, PS1, PSN, or even on your mobile device on iOS/Android. My final rating for FFVI is ***** out of 5 Stars.
You can find Joe Pro on Twitter at @Joepro8778