Review by Arkturus
"Say Goodbye To Your Evenings"
Final Fantasy. Just what can be said about it that hasn't been said one thousand times previously? It's one of the most successful series of all time, with 12 games in the main series that have been released on no fewer than six different consoles, and a variety of sequels and spinoffs that have been released on every console known to man. Final Fantasy VI was the sixth game in the series, originally released on the SNES more than ten years ago as Final Fantasy III, the game has more recently been ported onto the Sony Playstation, which is the version that I am reviewing (having only played the original on an emulator).
So what is Final Fantasy VI? As with the other games in the main series, it is a role-playing game that features things such as a cast of diverse characters, a complex battle and ability system and a fantastic storyline, amongst other things, the Playstation version also contains a few extras not present in the SNES version, with their own pros and cons, all shall be explained in due time, but for now, let us begin the review.
Final Fantasy VI keeps up the tradition of Final Fantasy games by having an epic storyline with more twists and turns than a high velocity rollercoaster.
The game starts with a young girl, Terra, who can use magic, assisting two soldiers from an empire in an assault on a small town, it turns out that the people of this town have discovered an Esper, a magical being that disappeared from the world many aeons ago, and that the empire wishes to acquire it. Terra and the soldiers encounter the Esper, but Terra has a strange reaction to it, which causes the two soldiers to flee, Terra is then rescued by a member of the Returners, a resistance group who are against the empire, she has amnesia, not remembering anything about herself, from there Terra goes on a quest to discover who she is, making friends and enemies along the way, all of which contribute to the epic storyline.
Yay for sprites! The graphics for this game, compared to other Playstation games is atrocious, however, back in their day, the graphics were some of the best on the SNES. The majority of things are in 2D, which didn't actually bother me at all, seeing as most of the 3D bits were downright horrible. Despite the low quality of the graphics, the attention to detail is quite high in the non world-map areas, with things such as blackjack tables and sofas decorating the airship, whilst the battle graphics are also quite good, with the monsters being very colourful and detailed. The menu graphics are quite nice, with customizable colours and patterns, as well as artistic mugshots of the characters currently in your party. Whereas character animation is a double-edged knife, some things look quite crisp, such as the animation of Edgar's tool use, whilst some of the animation is downright terrible, such as when a character attacks. The final thing I am going to mention here is the Introduction FMV, that appears before the main menu screen, it was made exclusively for the Playstation version and it looks very, very nice. Overall, the graphics for this game are poor compared to other Playstation games, but very good when compared to other SNES games and SNES ports.
As with all Final Fantasy games, sound is one of the games best bits. Nobuo Uematsu is once again the composer of the game and once again his score is absolutely wonderful, with his music being completely relevant to the scene's mood and environment, from the sad music during the opera (that Aeris' theme from FF7 is very similar to), to the royal music of South Figaro castle. Overall, Final Fantasy VI's soundtrack is one of my favourite FF Soundtracks, slotting in behind FF7 , FF10 and maybe FF8 and FF9 in terms of brilliance.
Where do I begin? As with all Final Fantasy games, the gameplay in Final Fantasy VI is absolutely incredible, with there being next to nothing wrong with it at all. First of all, the controls, a few buttons on the Playstation controller are not used at all (L2 and R2 spring to mind), and only the directional buttons can be used for movement, leaving the analogue sticks redundant. Next up, the menus, the main menu is the first thing that you see in the game and it is very simple and easy to navigate, the in-game menus are similar, albeit slightly more complex, with lots of different customizations and options for you to play around with with. Now, onto the main part of the game, as always, you play as a party of characters, who can fight enemies using the games battle system, where characters take it in turns to either attack enemies and support allies. When enemies are defeated, they drop money, which can be spent in shops to buy new weapons, armour and relics for your characters to make them stronger in battle, items, which can be used for a variety of purposes, such as restoring HP or curing those ever-present status ailments (which do negative things to your characters when picked up) Experience points, which allow your characters to gain levels and become stronger, sometimes gaining new abilities (skills that characters can use for varying effects in battle) and Magic points, which allow your characters to learn magic. The party can also explore the world on foot, by chocobo, or by vehicle, visiting towns and dungeons where the games storyline progresses and things such as sidequests and new areas become available to play around with, the goal of the game is to progress with the storyline and eventually the game's epic plot all becomes clear. The game also can be saved onto a Memory Card and played on from where you last left it at a later date. There's also few negative things about the gameplay, one of which (in my opinion) is the Memo file, the idea of the Memo file was to have a quicksave function, where a game could be temporarily saved onto the games memory (the file is erased if the system is turned off) and then continued quickly without the hassle of loading a game save from the memory card, the only problem is that you can only save a memo file from a save point, where you can save your game anyway, this was sort of fixed in Final Fantasy Origins when they made it so that you could save memo files anywhere. Another niggling aspect of gameplay is the shortened words, characters cannot have names longer than seven letters, spells, items and monsters get letters cut off of their names (Ultimate Weapon becomes Atma Weapon, Reflect becomes Rflect, Crusader becomes Crusadr, Antidote becomes Antdot, Carbuncle becomes Carbunkl, etctera). The other niggling aspect of gameplay is some of the censorship within it, Holy, a spell that we are all familiar with from other FF titles, Holy had to be changed to 'Pearl' because of a religious references, whilst Siren had to wear a pair of shorts and pubs became cafes. Despite these negative aspects, the gameplay of Final Fantasy VI is absolutely superb, you will find very few games with as much variety, complexity and interesting content.
How long the game lasts depends on how you play it. Some players opt for speed runs where the aim is to complete the game is the fastest time possible, most players play the game at their own pace, which can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, depending on how long you spend exploring, levelling and whatnot. As with all RPG's, Final Fantasy VI can be replayed over and over again, still providing an enjoyable experience each time.
The Playstation version contains a number of extra features not present in the SNES version, the first of with is a couple of FMV's here and there made using the Playstation's power. Also included are omake bonuses, a bunch of things that can be unlocked by completing the game - a full bestiary, information on all of the espers, information on Lore magic, FMV's, art galleries and bundles more. The PAL version of the game also comes with the Final Fantasy X demo for the Playstation 2, whilst the NTSC version is bundled with Final Fantasy V (Here in the UK, FF5 was released with FF4, and FF6 was released on it's own).
There's little that I can say here other than buy this game, unfortunately that might prove a little difficult, with bargain bins and Internet vendors often having only damaged copies or none at all in stock). Even if you're not a fan of RPG's, this game is for you (I for one, find most RPG's boring, but I love FF games), so go out, find yourself a copy, feed it to your console and have your mind warped by the brilliance that is Final Fantasy VI.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/17/06, Updated 12/04/07
Game Release: Final Fantasy VI (w/ FFX Demo) (EU, 03/01/02)
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