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Written by  :  Bregalad (972)
Written on  :  Jul 31, 2013
Platform  :  SNES
Rating  :  4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars

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Great game but didn't fully satisfy my appetite

The Good

This review is about the sixth game of the Final Fantasy series, the well known epic jRPGs. This is the last game of what I'll call the "SNES trilogy" which is made of games Final Fantasy IV, V and VI.

The story is about Empire Gestra which oppress people, and how some of the spared nations continue to resist against it. You will control a group of rebel and fight to save people and resist the empire. While the story sounds very unoriginal, it is the developed characters and the way it is told which makes it much more interesting than it sounds at first.

This game features one of the largest character case of the Final Fantasy series with at least a dozen of character available. Unlike Final Fantasy V but like Final Fantasy IV, "jobs" (such as warrior, mage, monk, treasure hunter, etc...) are hardwired to protagonists of the game, which makes every character unique in his fighting style. However, you can also customise your character as wish because the system in this game allows to equip Espers (which is the name this game uses for summons). (This system is similar to the system that will be used later in Final Fantasy VIII). Depending on which summon you equip, you'll learn different spells (surprisingly, everyone can use black, white and time magic regardless of their jobs), and get different stat increases at level-up (in addition to the stat increases related to the job) which makes this system particularly powerful and interesting.

A good thing is that (like most of it's predecessors except FF4) this game has no such thing as a "Main protagonist", you could just have whoever you like in your party after some point in the story. However, it's sadly the last game of the series which lacks this "Main protagonist". Not that I don't like them, but it's nice you can have whoever you want in the party, and not be forced to have some guy just because he's the main protagonist.

Just like other Final Fantasy games, the controls are extremely intuitive and responsive, and are nothing to worry about. The menus are laid out in a way which makes perfect sense, and it's easy to equip your characters with items, etc, etc... (I just thought I'd mention that because this can't be said of all RPGs.) Save points are overall frequent enough and placed at appropriate locations.

This game have a weird Game Over system, where you will respawn at the last save point automatically, instead of loading the last saved state. From what I understand, EXP is kept but everything else is lost (I might be wrong). Apparently Square wanted to try something experimental, before going back again for the rest of the series. It doesn't make much of a difference, since you'll get most of your Game Overs at boss battles, and a save point is placed just before them in general, which means you didn't gain much EXP anyways.

Like the other games in the series, this game features many enemies and bosses you'll have to fight. While enemies are very often reused among different games of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy VI is notable for not reusing anything from the previous games, and making it's own enemies from start. This is mostly a good thing, however, this game kind of break the tradition that was build up with the 5 first games. By the way, for the first time, elemental crystals are gone, too, which is sad because I just happen to love stories which are tightly coupled with the 4 elements. I don't know why but it's just a good old formula that never gets old. Well apparently Square decided it was getting old and, while elemental spells remain intact, the 4 elements are whipped out of the storyline (and will be wiped out for all following games of the series as far I can tell, except Final Fantasy IX where they play a minor role again).

Graphics are very well made for the time, we can immediately tell the developers played with the limitations of the SNES. Character sprites are slightly bigger than in the previous games, and are definitely more detailed. There is parallax scrolling and/or transparency effects everywhere. As you'd expect, summons are graphically very impressive. There is nothing to complain about this department, unless you are one of those guys who think that 2D graphics = bad graphics, in which case I have nothing to say to you.

However I must say that the mode-7 world map (mode 7 is a way for the SNES to fake 3D graphics) is a bit annoying. When you are by foot, the 3D effect is already there but it doesn't work as well as it was supposed to. When you are by airship, it really looks amazing. When you are by chocobo, they made it look like the airship view, where the camera is behind the chocobo, and this is absolutely terrible. Because the chocobo, and therefore the camera, is close to the ground, it makes the ground blend way too much for you to see where you are, and because this is not actual 3D but fake 3D, everything including building and mountains are "drawn on the ground", which in this case looks terrible. Thank god they fixed this in Final Fantasy VII and allowed you to manually switch between the "upper" view and the "behind" view (in addition to having true 3D). So, overall, the world map is globally OK, but it's the weakest point for the graphics of this game, and the effect there is when you ride a chocobo hasn't aged well.

Musically, this game is great and up to line with it's predecessors. The battle theme and boss theme are notably great, and the world map music is amazing, even my parents happens love it, despite them loathing video games in general ! There is even a particular musical piece for a special world map location, which is a nice addition to the game. I'll have to add to say that, however, some songs are more forgettable than songs in Final Fantasy IV and V. Not a big deal though, as this game still have overall incredibly good music. The sound effects are fine and do their work. There is nothing particular to say about them.

The Bad

Yet, I can't refrain from saying this game is overrated. So many people keep shooting "FF6 IS THE BEST RPG EVEEEER", but let me just tell, I think they're wrong. Many of them are biased because they played this first, and before the Final Fantasy series was well known to the masses in the western world. I can perfectly understand why they prefer this game if this is the game that made them discover this amazing series.

However, I played Final Fantasy VI the very last, after beating all the others of the series from Final Fantasy I up to Final Fantasy X-2 (FF7 being the one who made me discover the series). I had of course started games of Final Fantasy VI multiple times, but never had the urge to continue until more recently. Of course, I had high expectations, and for the most part, they were met, however, I will of course have a totally different viewpoint that one of someone who discovered this game in their early teens.

I must say that of course, this is a good game, but the story is one of the weakest of the series, which is mainly well known for it's great stories. If we consider just the SNES trilogy, the quality of the storyline were in my opinion decreasing as the entries of the series were increasing. The story of FF4 is fabulous, especially for it's time. The story in FF5 was a bit of a let down, as the villain had no reason to be a villain, but it was still good with developed characters and multiple worlds to discover.

In FF6, all we have is the cliche of an empire against rebellion group, and the cliche of the evil emperor's right arm (Cefka/Kefka in this case) which is in fact even more evil than the emperor himself. Also, like in FF5 but unlike FF7 for instance, the main opponent of the game has ZERO reasons to be evil. He just wants to bring shame and destruction for his own personal fun, and that's it. This is not what I'd call a very developed character. Sure Cefka/Kefka has the particularity of being an "evil joker" type of villain, something original in the Final Fantasy series.

Although we have a large character set, most of the playable characters do not feel like they are actually in the party. There is about 6 fully developed and interesting characters and 6 jokes/dummy characters with no personality at all (some of them can't even be equipped) who joins your party by pure chance, and couple of characters between those two extremes. Many characters joins you extremely late in the game, some of them can't be obtained until right before the last dungeon.

A large character case works for games like Suikoden which were designed with this in mind (and with the assumption you're going to use your favourite guys), but in the case of FF6 it didn't work as well. Most of the "dummy" characters are still somewhat useful in combat which makes them not as dummy as I am saying (for instance Umaro who is some sort of gorilla, can't be equipped, can't talk and can't be controlled in battle but he hurts enemies EXTREMELY hard, which always happens to be useful), but yet all those dummy character play zero role in the story, and the half-dummy characters play a very minor role once and that's all, which is disturbing to say the least.

One particular character has a command called "Blitz" which is used to make combat-game style gamepad combos. However, this command is very bugged and almost unusable, and therefore I made him out of my party as much as possible. Unfortunately, he's one of the "developed" character, so at multiple times you have to bring him in the party. Not that I don't like him, but I'd like being able to use his ability without getting mad frustrated...

None of this makes FF6 a bad game, not even a mediocre one, but I just see it as being overall a tad inferior to both it's predecessors and it's sequels.

The Bottom Line

Here is it. FF6 is a must play for anyone interested in jRPGs and the Final Fantasy series in general. Missing this great game would be an error. However, my opinion is that it's still definitely weaker than other games in the series, especially it's direct predecessor and sequel, FF5 and FF7, which are both extremely solid (and my personal favourites). FF6 is not the pinnacle of the series of the perfect game some people describe.

There is also not much reason to replay FF6 again when you're finished, but that's the case for RPGs in general.