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The World Is Square
FFVI features a return to character individuality in battle. Aside from the standard commands, characters have a skill set they can use. These include the ability to steal, use tools, special sword techniques, or even absorb magic. Magic is now learned in the order the player wants them to be learned. Though access to certain spells is limited at times it is far less so than in previous installments and is rarely a problem. Summoning is much easier to do than in previous games, though each character is only allowed to equip one summon at a time. Another addition to battle is the slight improvement ATB system which seems to be a little more efficient than before. It is adjustable in speed and it is easy to switch between characters and stall now. The ATB system for those that don't know is a system that grants characters a number of turns proportional to their speed. Status effects like haste and spell charge times effect this as well. FFVI also features the first desperation attacks which occasionally activate when a character is weak and inflict severe damage. The new set of abilities and ATB system alone make the battle system excellent.
Most of FFVI's enemies can be quickly defeated by a well constructed team. MP restoring items are reasonable easy to obtain and allow the player to use powerful attacks often. As with most other Final Fantasy games, it is quite easy though it does have a few areas that are harder than other games in the series. That isn't saying much though.
Improving even further upon its design, FFVI's interface surpasses those that came before it. Nearly all of the menus are easy to traverse and the item screen even has a useful feature that allows players to see which equipment can be used by which characters while comparing effects. Localization is very solid in most of the game as well. A male character is referred to as 'she' at one point, but that's about it. Excellent job here too.
Though it does borrow a lot from previous FF games, it has plenty of new concepts that set it aside from the others. The greater control over character growth allows players to learn spells in order of preference and boost stats that they like. A new type of weapon that deals damage based on the strength and health of the user or lack thereof has been introduced as well. Many of the characters' special abilities are new to the RPG genre such as the Blitz command and make FFVI seem quite fresh. Even the storyline is very original.
Speaking of storyline, FFVI has an excellent one. It quickly introduces a number of characters and plot twists, but many more are added as the game progresses. The plot is fairly complex and flows very smoothly despite the number of risks it takes such as the incredible branching second half. They all pay off in the long run and VI has one of the best SNES storylines, though it can easily compete with modern games too. Despite having one of the largest casts for its time, almost every single non-hidden character is very well developed in one way or another. There is no specific main character and the game often switches between characters. Because of this, most characters get their chance to be in the spotlight. Thank to the ingenious idea of splitting up characters and mixing them with other groups, many sides of a character are revealed. Another nice feature of FFVI's story is that nearly every character is important at multiple times in the game, not just when the player obtains them.
FFVI features a large collection of beautiful tracks. The world map theme, boss theme, and even the dungeon themes are beautifully done and rarely become repetitive. The final boss tracks are especially well done as they transition seamlessly into one another. The sound effects too are slightly improved and are also excellent. Overall, music and sound are some of the best to appear on the SNES and in most places since.
Thanks to a switch to larger, more detailed sprites, FFVI features some of the best SNES visuals. Each enemy sprite is also very large and detailed which helps make up for the many palette swaps. Spells and abilities have been given a good deal of detail too. Even summons look excellent. Each environment with the exception of caves is heavily detailed too. Though they could have been a little better, FFVI features some of the SNES's best graphics.
Featuring a large cast of characters with no real main character and a branching storyline, an excellent battle system, near-perfect interface and localization, and excellent music and visuals, FFVI is one of the greatest games of all time. I tried very hard to find flaws that would prevent me from giving this game a perfect score, but I could find none. I highly recommend this game to all RPG fans as it is one of the best.
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