Review by theoriginalL5
"If it weren't for the enhancements..."
Meh. FF6. This is a game that as a pre-teen, I pretty much adored. I distinctly remember getting it, and playing through every second in pure joy. However, in 2007, after experiencing many other RPGs, I have to say that this game is overhyped and overrated, and the Advance remake does little to salvage an RPG that is haphazardly tossed together. Which I'll explain... Standard old school presentation is at hand. 2D fighting, turned based battling, physical and magic attacks. Meat and potatoes, kids. If you aren't familiar with it by now, maybe FF6 is a good springboard for you, as it's old school enough to start you off in RPGs 101.
Graphics - 9/10
The best sprite work the series has seen (aside from the PSP Anniversary remakes). Sprites are larger, animated smoother, and shaded with more depth than any of the other 2D FF titles. Each character has unique expressions that add to the presentation that at the time, was limited by 2D only hardware. The game also features alot of mode7 effects, and other special effectswhich make the game a very pretty RPG to look at for the GBA. Unlike FF4a and FF5a, there aren't really any graphical enhancements this time around. Why? The game simply doesn't need them. Beautfiul.
Sound - 6/10
Man.. again, this is because the aethetics set by the original were so high. The GBA simply cannot replicate the original music and sound effects anywhere close to the level of the original. Not to say that they're really awful, but we've seen digitized sounds in FF4a, then a little less good stuff for FF5, and now poorly emulated sounds/music for FF6. Seems like Square-Enix dropped the ball, simply because we've seen them use this platform better in the other 4 FF titles released for it (including Tactics Advance. The music is fairly close, but still is inferior to the original SNES version. After FF4/5a, I'm dissapointed here.
Story - 10/10
LOVE FF6's story. There is so much here. Many characters, most with fully explained backstories, flashbacks, love interests, family matters and the like. These are characters that you really can, if you let yourself, begin to care about. There are 14 playable characters, which no FF title has yet to match. Each one has his own substantial ending as well. This is one game that actually gives the player a sense of development for each character as the plot unfolds, and most have a good sense of closure by the time the game draws to its end. The game has the now-standard FF fare of "Kill the entity that threatens the entire world". But this villian lacks one thing that all other villians have had in FF titles before or since, which add to his appeal. The main villian in FF6 has no reason behind being evil. He just is. Which makes you love, and hate the guy. You really are drawn into the story because of this main boss. He's witty, saracastic, and evil all at once. The new translation helps, but it also shines in that it keeps alot of Ted Woosley's brilliances, all while correcting his mistakes, and overcoming the limitations imposed by the Super NES version. You can't go wrong with the story. Also for coherency, spell and item names have been retranslated. No more abbrivated versions a la FF3US!
Gameplay - 4/10
Infinitely customizable characters. Up to 14 playable characters. A fresh new system for learning magic and aquiring new skills. So why a 4/10? Those strengths, are also the games weaknesses.
First, the amount of level grinding you'll do in FF6 is INSANE. Much more than any FF title I've ever seen. Not so much in the levels themselves but in the magic system. You equip summon monsters that will allow you to learn their spells. You gain Ability Points (AP or ABP), and each spell has a certain multiplier. For instance, Phoenix allows the party member to learn the spell "Curaga" at a multiplier of 3. If you are granted 3 AP at the end of a battle, Curaga is 9% learned. Once the spell reachers 100% it is learned, and then you may then cast it in battle.
Why is this frustrating? Because on average, even towards the end of the game, you're looking at 3-5 AP per battle. Most of the espers you'll be equipping at this point have an important spell that you will NEED, at a multiplier of 3 or less, and many times 1. You're looking at anywhere from 10-30 fights for one spell. Cripes. Then take into account you have FOURTEEN CHARACTERS that need spells! FF6 relies very heavily on magic, and if your characters haven't learned a few of the high end spells, you will quickly wind up toast. So you wind up grinding alot to teach your characters these spells en mass.
Second, the character balance is way off. There are definitely four TOP TIER amazing characters (including ones that can easily trash the last boss on their own), and then there are at least 3 I can think of that are utterly useless by the end of the game. Why is this a problem? Because in the last dungeon you will need to form 3 parties, and can if you choose, be using up to twelve characters. You'll need to level them up, and teach them spells in order to make them not so useless. Now even THIS fact makes the game annoying because some of the espers that will be teaching you spells are also responsible for stat boosting. YAY, more leveling up. Even so, you'll wind up finding it easier to make your godly characters even better while struggling to make your weaker characters competant. The game relies HEAVILY on magic and stat boosts gained from equipping espers. There really isn't much in a way to avoid having to strategize character growth based on these
In the first half of the game this doesn't even matter because your characters wind up being a little more diverse in that not everyone is a magic user, and they seem to level up more consistantly with one another. You won't have godly characters, and then crappy ones.
The second half of the game, while touted for it non-linearity, suffers for that exact reason. You will recieve around half of your characters before finishing the bare minimum of this second half of the game. You recieve few clues as to where the others are residing. Also, you recieve NO clues as to when you've completed most of the sidequests, or when it's "time" to take on the final areas and last boss. Back to the subject of characters; essentially, you'll end up with 2 types of characters:
1 - Godly ones. Characters that accel at physical attacks, or spell casting, and in a few cases, BOTH. It's very possible to have a character that physically attacks for 9999 - the maximum damage per strike, EIGHT times. This is enough to kill the final boss in one round. Remember how I said a few characters are so powerful they can take the last boss down alone? Yep.. they can do so in one round.
2 - Awful ones. You can try to buff them up as a spell caster, or as a physical attacker. However, this is a moot point because they suffer from drastically low base stats that make it difficult to use the esper system to make them more powerful, or they have just plain old bad weapons and armor. Or both. So even when one does go through all the leveling up, they still can't touch the top-tiers.
Extras - 6/10
Eh. New Dungeons. Ok.. I for one, am a little bored by this. New equipment, and some new bosses, and a boss survival run. I yawned at this for FF5, and then much of the same is provided for FF6. At least FF4's extra dungeon provided a little character development. However FF6 already gives you so much life for each character, that this would be overkill. And it's the same premise as before. The top-tier characters will wind up broadening the gap between their power, and the other characters' weaknesses.
Overall - 7/10
As much griping as I did about the battle/leveling system, you can't help but like FF6. The first half of the game alone is packed with so much story, so much emotion, that's it's hard to dislike. The second half of the game unfortunately loses steam with the story, combined with the truly awful character growth make later parts of the quest a chore. Still, there are extras here, and you'll be glad to send the last boss packing after all the leveling you just did! And, minor quips about the sound aside, this is the way you'll want your FF6. Fans already know it, and this port is the game at its best with new quests and a sparkling new translation. Now I must admit.. for some, grinding your characters can be fun. I like it too. However, this title requires too much of it to remain enjoyable. Even so, I'd reccomend playing it just for it's superb story. And those of you who have already played FF6, there's a fair bit of new quests and the new translation is enough to bring you back and merit another purchase. It's something all RPG fans should experience once. And if you're not an RPG fan, maybe still give it a go, you'll definitely be getting yourself acquainted with the FF battle system!
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 05/14/07
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