While my humble
opinion on which Final Fantasy game is the best, is just that an opinion, I have never made it a secret, that I believe it
is the seventh installment in the aforementioned series that deserves the highest spot on the list, and probably the vast
majority of fans believe the same thing (one only needs to read all the fan fics in the net to uncover this truth) but alas
there is also a section of old school fans (who call themselves the true hardcore RPG enthusiasts) who will tell you the 6th
installment is the best.
After playing through
FFVI again (now in 2008), I have to say that I can see why fans of that venerable title, would have a case for declaring the
number 6, the number one game in the series, and yet I still stand firm in my belief that the greatest FF game ever is the
7th installment. In fact I dare say that I enjoyed the 9th installment much more than I did the 6th.
A Looker in its day but not as good as fine wine
To Start things off FFVI
wasn’t the best looking RPG of its era, and while graphic prowess should be one of the last things to be taken into
consideration, when judging a classic RPG such as this, it is hard to ignore the fact that the Lunar games have aged better,
and that Chrono Trigger is the more handsome game. Notice that I am not saying
that FFVI is a bad looking game; it was one of the better looking games of its time.
However for some reason
it hasn’t aged as gracefully as some of its contemporaries, in that department, even though the artwork its top notch.
Amano is a master art designer, and perhaps this along with FFIX is his best work.
A MUSICAL MASTERPIECE?
Sound wise the game has
aged very well, while Chrono Trigger to my understanding sounds better in terms of technical proficiency, in terms of artistic
quality (the compositions themselves) are better much better here, the opera scene is probably one of the most beautiful moments
not only in the 16 bit era, but in the entire history of gaming.
Every tune in the game
was beautifully crafted, and will say this for FFVI, while I believe other game’s in the series such as VII and X have
compositions that are superior to the ones found in FFVI, as a whole, tune by tune, FFVI is perhaps Nobuo Uematsu’s
most complete work ever and that is not something to be taken lightly.
PLAYS IT SAFE
Gameplay wise, this is
the installment where the series modernized itself, no longer do we have larger
than life ( and truth be told) annoyingly boring dungeons, but shorter story driven ones, like the ones found in post 16-bit
era Final Fantasies. Other than that step forward, the customization on each party member that FFV allowed with its ahead of its time job/class system, is
now gone ( and will remain missing from the series to this day) what we have here is characters with individual skills which
to Square’s credit are actually relate to who the characters are in the storyline. For example Sabin is a martial arts
master in the game’s story line, so his skills relate to that profession.
Far gone is the ahead
of its time Job system of FFV, a great system for that particular game but in truth it would have felt out place here, and
it probably would have taken away from the plot as it would have slowed the pace of the game considerably.
That being said FFVI
really plays more like a 32 bit era RPG than a 16 bit one, in fact I dare say, this is why the game has aged well in comparison
to the other pre 32 bit Era Final Fantasies. As long as you fight many battles to level up regularly the game is fairly easy.
There are secret characters, who have cool side stories, and many side quests. This
game is perhaps the most complete Final Fantasy in pre 32-Bit era.
GREAT STORY TELLING
FFVI, is actually the
first game in the series to have a compelling tale, yeah many fans would argue that FFIV the first title in the series to
accomplish this, but FFIV’s tale was childish and uninspiring. Lunar was really the first RPG to have a truly engrossing
and epic story, it has always been in the back of my head that it was due to the Lunar Series that Square soft decided to
evolve the story telling in its FF series in the 6th installment.
The fact that it was
FFVI the first RPG in the SNES to have a fairly dramatic story, could be the reason why there is a huge camp of FF fans that
say this is the best game in the series, in other words their first introduction
to the genre probably was this game, and as such nostalgia takes over. However Kefka as evil as he is, and the story as engrossing
as it might have been is not nearly as compelling or as complex as that in VII, so yeah FFVI has a great tale, but VII,IX
and X have better ones, and that’s not counting countless of RPGs not named Final Fantasy that have had better tales
before VI and since.
What Final Fantasy VI
did, that no other RPG accomplished in that Pre 32-Bit era was, blend emotional and dramatic scenes with the amazing music.
FFVI is possibly the most Cinematic game without the use of actual cinemas of
its time. In a sense, in terms of story, FFVI was truly ground breaking for its
time, not the plot itself but the way it was told.
However while I can see
why the game could be considered the greatest game in the series, having played the game now on 2008, and not too long after
Lunar 1, I would not be able to live with myself if I hid the fact that I was actually bored by FFVI at just about halfway
through the game not too long after the big plot twist. I wasn’t bored
by Lunar 1 or Chrono Trigger, and that tells me that simply the game hasn’t aged too well and longevity has to count
for something when ranking a game in an all time list.
A CLASSIC YET NOT THE GREATEST
When all is said and
done, the game is a must play if you have never played it before, it is arguably the fourth best game in the series in my
opinion, and that means it is still a really good game even this long after its initial 1994 release.
The original copy of
the game is a hard to find today, yet thanks to the all the remakes anyone looking to experience this classic, should be able
to find it. The copy I played I found in the FF Anthology package for the PS1, which includes a soundtrack and it is bundled
together with FFV. The game includes a wonderful CG opening sequence and an ending
one, which adds some value to the package as a whole.
Gameplay: 8.0-Not a retro score. The game moves at a rather quick pace, and the combat was simplified and more accessible
than in some of the previous entries in the series.
Graphics: 8.5-This one is a retro score the game would obviously score lower today, but the art work still there, and
in its time it was one of the best looking games on the SNES period.
Music: 10.0-It would be hard to justify any score lower than a 10 in this category. Uematsu at his absolute best, quite
possibly the greatest soundtrack in a FF game ever.
Story: 9.0-The first game in the FF series to have a great plot, however that is a retro score as today the game would
suffer in the category because the character development is not up to current standards set by newer RPGs.
Addictiveness: 8.0- A great game, with mini games and a lot of hidden content, definitely a 40 plus hour RPG, however
once you finish the game once there isn’t much incentive to play it again, not in this day and age.
Overall: 9.0- One of the greatest RPGs of all time, a definite must play
for anyone who is interested in the genre, and truly a classic.