Review by Watcher19
"RPG perfection on the Game Boy Advance."
In 1994, the Final Fantasy series was doing incredibly well in Japan, and holding its own in America with the handful of titles released in those days. The 3D era was on the horizon, and before moving to the land of polygons, Square crafted one last 2D Final Fantasy, a culmination of their 7 years spent crafting sprite adventures. Final Fantasy VI (originally released as Final Fantasy III in America, but later retconned back to 6) was a masterpiece. It's one of the finest games in the entire series, and fans adored it. It was re-released for the Playstation along with its little brother Final Fantasy V, and now, once more on the Game Boy Advance. One of the best Final Fantasy games, with a new translation, extra dungeons, and portability? To describe this package in one word is simple. Perfection.
The story begins with a legend. 1000 years ago, humans and magical beings known as Espers fought each other in the great War of The Magi. The world was nearly destroyed, but the war stopped and the Espers vanished, along with magic. In the present, the world is ruled by an empire, and its emperor, Gestahl, seeks the power of the Espers to rule the world. To this end, he sends two soldiers along with a mysterious brainwashed girl named Terra to the frozen town of Narshe, to obtain a recently discovered Esper. The Esper frees Terra from her mind control, and she joins up with the Returners, a secret group in resistance against the oppressive empire. The Returners fight to stop the Empire from obtaining magic, and plunging the world into a second War of The Magi. The story is masterfully crafted; it's extremely engaging and will have you playing through the game to see what will happen next. You'll laugh, cry, and find that you care about these little sprites in their little world.
The gameplay is classic Final Fantasy once more. You move on an overworld to get from place to place, and encounter random enemies, switching to a side battle view. The Job system from Final Fantasy V is absent, but VI makes up for it by including a whopping 14 playable characters; the most the series has offered. Each has their own set job and ability; Locke the thief steals from enemies, King Edgar uses various tools in battle, Cyan the swordsmaster charges his sword attacks, and so forth. Most of the time, you're free to put anyone you wish in your party, but you'll occasionally need to bring along one or two people for plot purposes. Another new feature is the party switching system; at certain points in the game, you'll need to make two parties and switch between them to either fight off an advancing army, or work together to solve puzzles in a difficult dungeon. Magic returns with the Esper system. At a certain point in the game, you obtain Espers, and can equip them to learn spells. Each battle you fight gives you Magic Points. Depending on the Esper, some spells may have different learning rates. If a spell has an x2 learning rate, every Magic Point is worth 2% towards learning that spell. When you reach 100% for a spell, you learn it permanently. Espers can also be summoned in battle if you have them equipped, but only once a battle.
The sound and music are absolutely marvelous. Just about every tune is memorable and invokes some sort of emotion, be it excitement or wonder or sadness. One scene in particular, the famous opera scene stands out as fantastic and engaging, especially with little digitized ahh ahh ahhs thrown in.
This game is incredibly fun to play. The story is engaging enough to make you want to play more, and battling creatures while you explore the story doesn't get boring. Some bosses and dungeons can be tricky, especially the ones involving party switching. There are several sidequests and extra Espers for you to obtain, as well as three secret characters and two new dungeons for the GBA re-release. An RPG gamer would have to play for a long time before this game ever got boring.
Final Fantasy VI was a masterpiece of an RPG. It blended classic RPG gameplay with a well-crafted story that made you care about the characters you controlled, and maybe even made you a little misty-eyed. It is an absolute must-own for any RPG fan, and is the finest Final Fantasy on the Game Boy Advance.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/27/07
Game Release: Final Fantasy VI Advance (US, 02/05/07)
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