NOTE: Fuck the newest version of the game released, it looks like a shitty RPG Maker game, we’re talking the SNES and GBA release!
Note #2: Also, there are massive spoilers for a 22 year-old video game, so heads up!
I’ve been doing this weekly article for over two months now (6 months if you count the This Week in Sexy Games articles) and you’d think that at some point I’d remember the whole being 28 years old and playing games older than the PlayStation era by now. But it took me this long to remember that oh yeah! I played a ton of games on the Super Nintendo, Game Boy/Game Boy Advance and SEGA Genesis back in the day, maybe I should do some games from that era too!
So with my memory finally kicking in, I figured it makes perfect sense to start with my favourite pre-3D era game of all-time, Final Fantasy VI (or Final Fantasy III when it was first released in North America).
Right from the very start with that opening cutscene I knew I was in for a real treat. I had come off of playing (but not quite finishing, stopped at the moon) Final Fantasy IV and loved the hell out of that, so when I saw the sequel on the shelf of my local video rental store, I grabbed it and I was off to the races. I’d never seen something like the Magitek armor and man did I ever feel godly fighting as such. Being that young, I was dumb enough to think I was gonna be fighting in that power armor the entire game, so I was slightly disappointed by that, but it didn’t last long as the game progressed.
The first bits of the game with Terra and Locke were already enough to have me completely sold on the universe and keep in mind the only world I knew was this dirty, snow-ridden town of Narshe at the time and some caves, I was yet to see the amazement that is Figaro Castle. The two of them alone were interesting enough to have me invested in the story as is, the idea of Terra being an enslaved villain from the start of the game is super interesting and actually isn’t talked about much. We all were shocked when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had the “No Russian” mission, but at the beginning of Final Fantasy VI, you are essentially killing innocent soldiers (and dogs) just trying to protect the civilians in the town and when you also account what you learn later on about the Espers, you’re a horrible villain at the start of the game, regardless of whether you’re being brainwashed or not. It’s a very curious start to the game so by then I was already hooked and ready for the meat and potatoes of the game.
By the time your story really begins once you’re working with the Returners (and eventually get split up), you’re already introduced to a strong cast of four characters in Terra, Locke, Edgar and Sabin and we’re only at about 30% of your party members, 14 in total. And while some shoot above others, none of them are exactly “set them aside” types. Terra is your heroine, a curious girl with high magic ability and a certain affinity with another race later on. Locke is the hilarious thief–I mean treasure hunter with a tragic and I mean tragic backstory. Edgar’s the womanizing King of Figaro who can fight with chainsaws and other tools. Sabin is a crazy martial arts musclehead. Celes is another Imperial soldier than joins you later on and apparently has a fantastic singing voice. Cyan is your cliche stoic soldier that turns into a massive vengeful swordsman. Shadow is a fucking badass assassin with a cool theme song. Gau is just…fucking weird, that’s the best I can say about him other than the fact he lived in the wild his whole live. Setzer’s another flirty guy, except instead of a castle that sinks into the sands below, he has an airship and throws cards at enemies like he’s Gambit. Strago is an old fuddy-duddy, but don’t take it from me, take it from Relm, the tiny girl that paints her enemies and causes them to get hit with their own attacks, a really cool gimmick. Gogo is essentially a mime who you never learn anything about his/her identity, Umaro is a yeti and Mog is a fucking Moogle, need I say more?! Needless to say, there’s an extremely diverse cast of characters in your party alone and we haven’t even started talking about the villains.
First off, there’s Ultros. He’s an octopus, an octopus that can’t keep his mouth(?) shut during battle, often screaming if you light him on fire because he hates fire. He also has a love for cute girls, which as I just said, doesn’t shut up about. He’s a recurring boss throughout the game and later brings a friend in Typhon along with him to make things harder and a little more infuriating. He’s clearly got some staying power though not just counting how many times you fight him in the game, he’s been a boss in several other Final Fantasy games, including FFIV: The After Years, FFXIV and a DLC boss in FFXIII-2.
Other bosses like the Phantom Train (which I wish I knew about GameFAQs back when I was a kid playing this, so I would’ve known about the whole Phoenix Down way to win instantly), the Atma Weapon just before the world is destroyed (getting to that) and the Shiva/Ifrit battle in the factory are other great examples of fantastic and sometimes frantic boss battles that made the game consistently interested as the story progresses.
But it’s not until the halfway point of the game where the world is literally torn asunder.
You cannot talk about this game without talking about Kefka, the game’s end villain and quite possibly the mot horrifying villain in video game history. This is a man that was originally looking like comic relief, a jester for the evil Imperial Emperor Gestahl, a guy that was a giant pushover or at least looked like it. Then as the game progresses, we start to see that there’s nothing funny about him.
Everything he does (especially in an SNES game) is extremely horrifying. Let’s start off with perhaps the most vile and disgusting thing he does, shall we? This falls into Cyan’s backstory as he was a samurai in the kingdom of Doma. The Empire seeks to take over Doma and Kefka is among them with General Leo, who seeks to win this battle with Doma with minimal casualties, but Kefka likely just because of sheer boredom has a better idea. Even with Empire soldiers imprisoned in Doma, he poisons the water and kills all but two people in the entire kingdom, Cyan and another soldier. Even worse, Kefka is musing to himself about the screams of those dying from the poison. It’s a horrifying sight to watch so much death so fast, especially in a game that you wouldn’t anticipate such a dark moment. Not long after, he also violently kills Leo, hating the man and just waiting for his chance to kill him. He also kills a ton more Espers at this point, stealing their essence in Magicite form and continuing to grow more powerful.
But it’s when the party reaches Gestahl and Kefka on the Floating Continent that things take the darkest possible turn, something you would never anticipate happening in an RPG of this style. After Gestahl even admits he’s gone too far, trying to destroy the world not conquer it, Kefka has the Warring Triad (three magical statues) kill Gestahl and he simply kicks his corpse off the Floating Continent like a piece of trash. It’s then that he messes with the alignment of the statues and causes the magic power to go haywire, in the end causing the entire world to shift and decimate town after ton and killing a massive amount of people. It’s a truly horrifying scene in gaming, watching men, women, children die. Watching children as they watch their parents and then themselves falling to their deaths into the crevasses of the splitting lands never is a comfortable scene for me to watch and I’ve played through that moment at least 10 times over the course of my life, it still pains me to watch today. It’s a moment I will truly never forget in gaming, a moment where the villain actually succeeded at destroying the world and forcing us to watch. Kefka truly is one of the most vile, disgusting, horrifying and in a way, successful villains in all of gaming, as far as I’m concerned.
There’s so much more I could talk about with this game, but I’m already at 1500 words, so I’m gonna put a stop to this soon. So I’ll quickly brush over the few things I want to gush about. The music in this game is some of the best, perhaps THE best game soundtrack of all-time, so many good tracks ranging from “The Decisive Battle” to “Metamorphosis” to the end boss “Dancing Mad”, there’s a ton of fantastic tracks in the game. I loved the Esper system as it creates the opportunity for you to shape each character how you want them, or you can just have them learn every possible spell and ability, your choice. The Opera House scene still remains one of the most unique moments in JRPG history as far as I’m concerned, I’ve never seen anything like it since. And most of all, that game hooked me on Moogles for the rest of my life. How can I possibly not mention that?!
Final Fantasy VI is a legendary game, perhaps one of the greatest games of all-time, in my opinion. It’s definitely the best overall game I’ve ever played, not quite my favourite but I have to admit that without bias, it’s the best made game I’ve ever played and may ever play. And that’s saying something given that this game came out in 1994 and still holds up today, though the Super Nintendo has just become a timeless console, the graphics still look good today. I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted games from that console would still hold up in 20 years. Back to the game, like I said it has one of the best stories I’ve ever played through with a ton of interesting characters and perhaps the greatest video game villain of all-time, not in terms of popularity but in terms of being the most evil and vile human being in gaming history.
There’s so much to love about this game and with so many re-releases of it on various entertainment devices, there’s no reason for you to have not played this game. If you somehow have still let this game pass you by, you need to play it. Like right now! Drop whatever you’re doing, find a copy you can get, whether physical or digital and play it! You won’t regret it!