Review by Westen Shelton

"They changed "Cafe" to "Pub" UGH how horrible!!!!"

(Note: I never played the original FF6, so I have no real views on the new translation debate. However, from comparing scripts, I think the new script is a lot better and more clear. If you are playing the game for nostalgia, you should probably be doing it with a SNES controller in your hand anyway, that's all I have to say on that…)

Imagine you are reading your favorite book. It has everything you love in a book, an amazing plot full of twists and turns, a great cast full of likable characters, and lots of interesting and fun dialogue. All of a sudden, as you reach the halfway point... it becomes a choose your own adventure book! Whether you would really get over this change is up to you, the reader. Some might embrace the change and enjoy the new book for what it is. Others might not accept that an amazing novel suddenly became a choose your own adventure, and would miserably stumble to the finish line (or not finish at all). This is the story of FF6. One half an amazing linear journey through a war-torn world, one half a non-linear adventure through... a war torn world.

I have almost no doubt in my mind that any RPG fan will love the first half of FF6. In fact, I think the first half of FF6 is about as good as it gets when it comes to SNES RPGs. It has great pacing, thanks to many story sequences being thrown into the middle of all the random battles. It has some interesting characters that you'll want to learn more about it (none of the females have big boobs, but their personalities kinda make up for it... kinda). And it has some great moments that truly rank up there with the greatest video game moments of all time, like the opera scene.

Along with all this comes a rather interesting battle system (even today I'd say it's pretty unique). Instead of just giving all the characters different spells and stats like all too many RPGs, FF6 goes a different route. Your characters' stats and spells are basically completely customizable. By choosing espers to equip to your characters, they can learn whatever spells you want, and the espers you have equipped also give your characters certain stat boosts as they level up.

While that may make it sound like all your characters end up essentially the same, this is not the case. Every single character in FF6 has at least one completely unique aspect about them that will make one character more useful than another one for certain people. For example, one of the most original characters in the game battle wise is Sabin. With his "blitz" techniques, you can input fighting game esque maneuvers on his turn (sorry kids, no fatalities!). If you input it correctly, you'll unleash a powerful attack without even using up any MP. For another example, a character named Setzer has a "slots" option, which is almost like… wait for it… slots at a casino! Depending on what you get, Setzer might have a powerful attack, or he'll just heal your party for a meager 100 HP or so. All this little variety with all the characters really helps to make the combat fresh and reasonably fun at times. A lot more than I can say for most SNES RPGs.

But combat isn't the only spot where the variety is. The first half of FF6 does a great job of mixing up the action throughout the game to keep the random battles fresh. There are loads of sequences where you have to do something within a certain time limit, which really helps to make things exciting. For example, time yourself next time you take a whiz and try to do it under a certain time. I guarantee it will be more exciting and heart stopping than usual.

There's also a point in the game where your party splits up into 3 different groups, each trying to accomplish their own goals in unique ways (for example, one guy has to steal outfits from different soldiers and merchants to sneak his away around a town occupied by the enemy, there is no crossdressing in this part unfortunately). The game also has some fun little battle sequences, where you split up your party into groups and move around a battlefield fighting enemies, keeping them from reaching your base/the guy you are trying to protect. All of this really helps to bring the first half of the game together and make it something unique… something special.

Then, the 2nd half of the game arrives. I could still call it something unique, but I wouldn't call it something special. Similarly to the matrix trilogy, the game goes from can't miss to... "whoa"... what happened? In fact, there were times during the 2nd half of the game where I felt about the same as I did during the Neo-Trinity sex scene. It's just not pretty all the time. All the variety, the story sequences, the fun just go away a lot of the time. The game turns into a big non-linear and open world and let's you roam as you please. While it may sound cool, the story takes a big dive to the crapper from this.

Basically, in the 2nd half of the game you can go from town to town, do quests, get characters and new equipment, as well as find out some important but unfortunately brief things about your characters' past. Then, whenever you want, you can go to the final dungeon to beat the final boss. Once again, it sounds rather refreshing, but you have to do a lot of leveling up of various characters to be able to safely enter the final dungeon, as you need to split up into 3 parties before you enter it. This leveling up or grinding just isn't as much fun as it was on occasion in the first half of the game because the game just isn't split up by story sequences or different moments anymore. It's just flat out dungeon, dungeon, dungeon.

Despite this, the 2nd half has its fun parts on occasion. There's some good flashbacks, and a few caves or dungeons are done rather well, but overall, I found myself just wanting to end the game. Which was a good thing, because the ending is very satisfying, and helped erase some of the bad memories I had during the game at times... but not all of them of course.

Luckily though, while the 2nd "half" of the game can be as long as the 1st half if you do everything, you can decide to end the game once you reach a decent level. So in reality, the 2nd half of the game only took me about 7 hours, while the first half was a reasonable 15-16. While the 2nd half of the game was incredibly boring at times, FF6 is just a great experience overall and a game I'd recommend to any RPG player. Not even a surprise choose your own adventure section can ruin a nearly perfect novel.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/02/07

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