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My awareness of Final Fantasy VI began when a gaming magazine I read at the time ran a teaser for Final Fantasy V. It may have been Nintendo Power, but I read so many magazines at the time that it could have been any of them. Like I had hoped and hoped for Mother, I hoped and hoped for Final Fantasy III (as it would no doubt have been called.) I even went so far as to write Squaresoft a letter and print it out on one of the school's dot matrix printers. The letter remains unsent, as do its suggestions regarding what to include in the next Final Fantasy game (if there was one.) This is probably why Final Fantasy V wasn't released stateside until years later.
Final Fantasy VI is my favorite Final Fantasy. It also coincides with my introduction to the internet, and as a result, recognizing video game fandom as a separate institution than just hanging out with my friends and playing fun games. Bob Rork's Squaresoft Land was my chosen haunt in those days. I joined an e-mail conversation list and took the moniker of a moogle (Kuzack) just like everyone else involved. We talked about games, fell prey to scams (General Leo! No!), and never really made much of note. I tried teaching myself HTML and registering a Tripod account to create my own interactive Final Fantasy town like Tatsushi Nakao's Illucia, but the science of image maps evaded me.
I cursed myself for not buying Kefka's Domain, the English repackaging of the soundtrack when it was advertised in a direct mailing from Squaresoft. When my mother found the original soundtrack somewhere else for a Christmas present, my year was made. Even after my SNES was packed away for good, I have journal entries congratulating myself on pairing the perfect song (the overworld theme, Cyan's theme, or Shadow's theme, generally) with the perfect environment. I tried replicating the songs on the piano and xylophone, but didn't have any success until Chrono Trigger came along and shattered my world again.
This was the first Final Fantasy I had ever played and to this day remains my favorite. Fans of other entries like to cite this 16-bit gem as "overrated," but I honestly don't think enough people have taken the time to enjoy this title. It was the first Final Fantasy to be directed by Yoshinori Kitase and the last to be released on a 16-bit console. It is because of these two factors, in my opinion, that the game was able to strike a fine balance between story and gameplay while still sounding and looking gorgeous. The narrative adapts some themes from earlier Final Fantasy entries (castles, swords, evil emperors, etc.), but the plot is delightfully unconventional. Terra's situation is at the core of the game for the first section, but Final Fantasy VI is more of an ensemble piece than it is her story — giving all fourteen playable characters enough spotlight over the course of the game that none of them seem like strangers. When it comes to franchise antagonists, many people like to grovel at the heels of Sephiroth, but I've always been more of a fan of Kefka. Much like Sephiroth, Kefka was an unwilling participant in scientific experiments and has since become a nihilistic psychopath. Unlike Sephiroth, Kefka actually succeeds in all of his goals and didn't need to overcompensate with a 6-foot sword. Regardless, the game still holds up beautifully today. Sprites are highly detailed, no battle animation feels overused, character dialogue is engaging, the story shifts tones without suffering as a result, and battles don't feel like a chore due to quick pacing. If you haven't played this classic, I would highly suggest you find a decent port and enjoy its splendor.
Mike "JuMeSyn" Moehnke
My first Final Fantasy experience was actually back in 2001, and it was with VI. After finishing it, I loaned the cartridge to a friend, and his words on the subject were something to the effect of: "It's scary how good this game is — I think it might control the world in some way." I wouldn't say the game will produce a Skynet scenario all on its own, but its amazingly high quality has stuck with me for a very long time now. Its incredibly memorable score seemed amazing to my inexperienced self then, and now it has decreased in effect not at all. The visuals showed just what could be done with the SNES to depict a massive world that still has the capability of pulling me in. What the game delivered was a whole package with what (at the time) was a vast litany of secrets I reveled in finding, though subscriptions to game magazines meant I already knew quite a few of them. I may no longer choose to spend 70 hours with it using the ultra-cheap Vanish + X-Zone combo to kill tyrannosaurs so that everyone on the team becomes a titan able to steamroll Kefka's gauntlet without taking a casualty, but I don't regret having done it more than once with what remains my favorite in the series.
Michael A. Cunningham
Final Fantasy VI was another game that was a major part of my childhood. I clearly remember seeing screenshots of the beautiful scenery on the top of Mt. Kolts in EGM or some other magazine before its release. This was the first Final Fantasy that I was anticipating prior to its release and it didn't disappoint.
While I've been vocal about how I prefer the World of Balance way more than the World of Ruin, during my early experiences with the game it was all excellent. I loved all of the game's characters, the uniqueness they offered, and the story. It was fantastic. I also replayed this one many times, even leveling most, if not all, characters to 99 a few times. It was only in later playthroughs that I started feeling that the World of Ruin was a little weaker and that magicite made characters a little too similar. Those issues aside, I love Final Fantasy VI and its cast of characters still to this day. Forget Cloud, I want to see Terra remade in HD.
I had heard for years about how good Final Fantasy VI was supposed to be, arguably not only the best in the series, but one of the best RPGs of all time. Needless to say I was intrigued, but what would my experience be? Would I be too jaded by contemporary RPGs to enjoy this one as much as people who played it when it was originally released? Regardless, I picked up the GBA version of the game the first day it came out, and it did not disappoint. I was extremely impressed with Final Fantasy VI. I won't go into too much as what I could say has been said many times before, but I was amazed at not only how well it aged but how it still compared to modern RPGs. It quickly climbed the ranks, becoming one of my most favorite video games of all. The story, the characters, the world, the battle system, the music... just about everything is fantastic. While I would like to see a 3DS or some other modern remake of this game and Final Fantasy V, I am glad I finally got the chance to experience it in GBA form.
For the longest time, Final Fantasy VI was the crown jewel of my backlog. It was the most played and most beloved of all the games I never completed. While it wasn't the first Final Fantasy game I ever played, it was the first one I ever owned, and I owned it during a time when I didn't own very many games at all. As a result, I sunk countless hours into the game, and loved every minute of it. Yet, despite all the time I spent playing it, I never managed to beat it. My first save succumbed to the infamous Sketch bug and deleted itself when I was just short of the final dungeon. I made it very far into the game on several other occasions, but I always either lost my momentum right before the end or became too tempted by the allure of seeing the early parts of the game again and restarted. In some way, I think I simply liked the game too much to ever want it to end, and so it never did.
Eventually Chrono Trigger came around and I spent my time beating that a dozen times instead of playing Final Fantasy VI. Later, the PlayStation era began and I moved on to playing Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX without ever having finished their now-neglected predecessor. As that era slowly drew to a close, I purchased the Final Fantasy Anthology, mostly so I could own Final Fantasy V, and with that I again found myself playing that version of Final Fantasy VI. I never finished that either, at least back when it was still new. For a decade and a half, I always gave a weak laugh and a sad groan when I thought of the games in my backlog, because Final Fantasy VI was standing at the top of the heap, smiling down at me.
It was only a few years ago, during the current console generation, that I finally picked up the old classic with the intent to finally see how it ends. It many ways, it was a strange thing to go back to that game and play it in a way I never have before. I learned things about it I never knew, and enjoyed it in ways that were unfamiliar to me. Most of all, I finally saw how it ended, and saw that wonderful credit roll for the very first time. In all the years between when I saw the game for the very first time at a friend's house and when I finished it for myself, I never saw how it ended. Nintendo Power spoiled the entirety of the game's plot and structure for me before I ever even played the game, with the one exception of the final dungeon, and I never even considered the idea of spoiling it by watching it online. It was worth it.
I had a companion throughout this entire, long journey: my twin brother. Final Fantasy VI is one of those rare RPGs that supports multiplayer play, and, for the hundreds of hours we spent playing that game, we almost always spent them playing together. We played the game together and talked about it together. We cast ourselves as the game's voice actors and spoke aloud all of the character lines together, and we groaned about it mocking us from our backlog together. In some way, Final Fantasy VI became a cherished memory we share as brothers.
In so many ways, Final Fantasy VI has transcended my ability to judge with words like "love" or "hate." Indeed, I don't even think I can begin to appraise it on its own merit. It is more than a just a game I played; it is the game that shaped the way I play games.
The very way I play videogames now was molded by this one game. I love RPGs because of Final Fantasy VI. I hate gaming on my own without someone to talk to because of Final Fantasy VI. I enjoy backseat gaming and watching others play games just as much as I enjoy playing games myself because of Final Fantasy VI. Final Fantasy VI was an era of my childhood, and for that I will always adore the memories it gave me.
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