I have a fondness for RPG games dating back to Pokemon Red, which was my first trip into this style of playing. Something about building a team and watching it go from strength-to-strength, acquiring new abilities and travelling to wonderful places made for a heavily addictive experience.
Playing Final Fantasy VII a year or so after its initial release, the game hit me like a ton of bricks for more of the same reasons and more. The story was incredible, and the score was like nothing that I had ever heard before, either in gaming or films. I was then lucky enough to get Final Fantasy VI when it came out on PS1 in the late 90s, but I was still fairly young and didn’t appreciate it as much.
I’ve had a strong interest in revisiting the series lately. One of my mates and I are always lamenting the fact that neither of us finished Final Fantasy VIII, and I also remain bitter with my younger self for losing interest in VI back then; thankfully they have been on Steam for a little while and in that time I have replayed VII and have made a sizeable dent in VIII earlier in the year. VI was on special recently and I figured it was time to right an old wrong.
The story revolves around a conflict between the Empire and a faction called the Returners, with the Empire trying to track down and utilise the power of magical beings known as espers. Magic itself seems to be something of a rarity in this time with only few characters having access to spells at the beginning. There is more of an emphasis on each character representing a specific class, as each of them has a unique skill; Edgar has an array of contraptions to use in battle, Locke can steal items from an enemy mid-battle, Celes can opt to absorb cast spells and restore MP, and so on.
You definitely get the feeling that the story is on a grand scale, as there is no one main character; instead the story is told through multiple protagonists who all have their own personalities and histories, and these really come through during the course of Final Fantasy VI. The game world itself is highly detailed and feels genuinely lived in, and Nobuo Uematsu’s score perfectly characterises these locations.
My favourite aspect has been the combat, making good use of each character and trying to suss out who my main party will be. The combat segments do feel very fast-paced and it’s easy to get caught up in trying to match the game’s speed, often resulting in wrong spells or abilities being selected (a critique of myself, not the game!) It has a lot of depth though, which keeps the characters feeling different and the battles more tactical.
(The flying is also lots of fun!)
Well, it’s been brilliant getting to revisit this game and understand why it is held in such high regard. I’m aiming to play more titles in the Final Fantasy series in the coming months, albeit in a random order. We’ll see how that goes!