Retro Review – Final Fantasy VI
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Final Fantasy VI (originally released in the US as Final Fantasy III) came out for the Super Nintendo before Square Soft released Final Fantasy VII. It is for this reason that the re-release of Final Fantasy VI may not receive as much attention as it deserves; Final Fantasy VII’s shadow is just too big. Final Fantasy VI however, is quite possibly the most engrossing, funny, and terrifying Final Fantasy game of the series. It deserves a second look and gamers have the opportunity to discover the world of Final Fantasy VI all over again or for the first time.
The gameplay in FFVI is what you would expect from a Final Fantasy game. So, depending on your feelings towards turn-based RPGs, this could either be a good or bad thing. There is a top-down overworld with random battles thrown in as you explore. The battles are all turn-based, utilizing the Active Time Battle system, wherein each character has a bar that fills up according to their speed. Once this bar is full, the player can choose which action to perform. It’s an interesting system that Square Soft has used previously, and it keeps things fast paced. I strongly believe (and I’m sure others would agree) that this system can essentially be seen as the precursor to the action RPG genre, because the ATB system is very action-oriented and can make for quick battles. Of course the action RPG genre has evolved beyond this very basic form, but you can definitely see its roots in this battle system.
In terms of graphics, this game was originally released on the Super Nintendo in 1994, so it uses highly detailed 16-bit sprites. I am a huge proponent of 16-bit art, not because it’s retro cool, but because its limitations allow creators to do amazing things artistically. The sprites in FFVI may not move around a whole lot but they are simply gorgeous; the colours, for example, are vibrant in some parts and pleasantly dreary in other spots. Throughout the game, you will earn summons that you can use during battle. The summons deal huge amounts of damage and can really change the flow of the game if you’re in a tight spot. The summons are also beautiful and greatly detailed; simply summoning them is a reward unto itself.
The version recently released on the PSN is the port of the Super Nintendo version onto the original PlayStation from 1999. This particular version has a CG intro and ending to the game that looks incredibly dated. The models admittedly look stiff, unexpressive, and animate slowly, and the textures are essentially non-existent – leaving the world looking flat. We can not, however, fault the game for this. 3D graphics were new and exciting in 1999, and bless their souls for trying. We can view these cut-scenes as more of a nostalgic amusement, and a cute reminder of where we’ve come from in terms of 3D graphics.
To delve into the story would be to ruin the entire Final Fantasy experience for you, as it is the series’ main attraction. Just know that the story is very rich with character development, and boasts one of the most inherently terrifying villains in any game. Kefka is one dangerous man, and it doesn’t help that he looks like a clown too.
Sound also plays a large part in any Final Fantasy game and FFVI does not disappoint on this front. Not only are the classic themes (like the victory one) back, but FFVI has also introduced new ones (which I can easily foresee becoming classics in the future). Kefka’s theme is appropriately menacing and playful, which makes every time he appears a tense moment for me. The story and the music combined make Final Fantasy VI such an engrossing experience that you won’t notice when you’ve sunk close to 70 hours into the game.
Overall, Final Fantasy VI is a wonderful game, even when it’s held up against today’s standards. The combat is strategic and deep, the graphics are detailed and timeless, and the music is perfect. This game has been re-released so many times on so many different platforms that if you haven’t played it already you really don’t have an excuse anymore. For $9.99 on the PSN, this game is practically a steal. Don’t let the cheesy CG opening turn you off of the game, that’s just a silly distraction; the game is a masterpiece.
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