Shaking and gibbering like some pre-pubescent school girl, I finally manage to thumb the CD into the drive, and with one last prayer to God on high, hit the button to load. Since my SNES died a long (and heart felt) time ago, a part of my soul had been missing. But today, today is the day I became whole again. Because today I finally managed to get hold of a copy of Final Fantasy VI (FF6) for the PlayStation.
It may sound sad to many of you, but FF6 was, to my mind, the greatest ever title in what has proved to be the best role playing series of all time. Many a year of my early childhood was spent in front of that old SNES, battling it out against an evil empire with my misfit band of heroes.
So where to begin? I suppose that the first thing I should review is the differences this game holds over its original (Final Fantasy 3 - as it was known to me then) SNES incarnation. The first, and most obvious, of which would be the stunning new introduction. It makes the heart melt to hear the overworld theme played in an orchestral style over one of Squaresoft's beautiful FMV's. Initially, we only see mist and smoke and hear the first pangs of that lonely theme song. From there you go on to see introduction
sequences to every major playable character within the story, and then the moment we have all been waiting for arrives: The SQUARESOFT logo appears. I won't spoil it for you, but suffice to say, you won't be disappointed. And anyone who has played the game once through will appreciate it more for it's wonderful rendition of some of the game's key scenes.
Once you have passed the FMV, you are treated to the original SNES version title screen. And then have access to the bounty of available goods, including a graphics gallery and a library of monster statistics (very handy). Much more is available as
you play your way through the game, but I won't spoil them for you.
GAMEPLAY - Anyone who has ever played any of the FF games knows how the game runs. You are given a standard (fixed) overhead view of all your characters and have to move them around fixed backgrounds over the course of the game.
The first thing I should mention is of course that this is an update of a SNES game. So whatever you do DON'T turn on your pad's analog option, none of the buttons operate if it is on.
The menu screen is a simple affair of moving the arrow with the buttons until you have what you want, then hitting accept or decline, and the same applies for combat. It would have been useful for Squaresoft to upgrade to analog, but to be honest it makes little difference to the actual enjoyment of the game.
Loading time between places does seem to take longer than it should considering the resolution of the game. But you would hardly notice.
GRAPHICS - Graphically, this was never going to be a high scoring game, but to give it some credit, it was the best looking game ever on the SNES system. In short, characters are small, two dimensional pixels, that look something akin to sprites from Nintendo's Gameboy Advance. They have a nice cartoon-like style, that gives a Manga-like impression, and are surprisingly capable of transmitting a wide range of emotion.
Backgrounds are more of the same. 2D sheets that appear pixelated by today's standards, but there is a very high level of detail on them, including moving fire, items dotted around dwellings, and even curtains in people's windows when you look around their homes. The FMV's at beginning and end are a real treat though, and come to the standard normally expected in a Squaresoft game.
SOUND AND MUSIC - Never underestimate the power of music in a game. FF6's soundtrack has stuck in my mind since I was a kid, and it will do the same
for you. It may not be an orchestra, instead sounding more like a midi file from a PC or Mac, but do not be fooled; the music is excellently composed, and will delight and thrill you throughout the course of your adventure.
Sound effects really only come into play during a battle, and are the standard "crunch" or "Boom" affair. The FMVs at the beginning and end of the game sound far superior, but then that is to be expected.
STORY - In a world that was torn apart by magical holocaust from the 'War of the Magi', a corrupt empire enforces peace through the use of powerful magitech armour. Technology has come to rain supreme, and magic has vanished from this world. But when a small town uncovers a magical creature known as an Esper, the emperor sends three soldiers to retrieve it for their own purposes.
One of those soldiers is a young girl, trapped in a technological headband that makes her their slave. She is not ordinary; in fact, she possesses a power unlike which has been seen in the world for 1000 years, because she can use magic. As she and the other soldiers (Biggs and Wedge!!!) make their way towards the unsuspecting town, the adventure truly begins.
This is an exciting tale of love, hate, death and betrayal, as the war between magic and technology takes centre stage. Only YOU, can lead an unlikely band of would-be heroes through the carnage and lead the world into a new era of freedom and peace.
Characters are well rounded, and the events that occur are entertaining and gripping to the last moment. Let's face it people, you don't buy a FF game for the graphics. You buy it for the epic story line!
CONTROL - As I have mentioned before, the only real fault this game has is with it's lack of analog capacity. On occasion you will find yourself walking into walls and overshooting things because you can't turn in time (especially if you have the dash ability equipped.) Running from combat is a hit and miss affair, but then if you are playing right, you will never have to do so anyway.
OVERALL - As a whole, this game is still the unsurpassed classic I remember it to be. I've completed every role playing game that I have been able to get
my hands on since I was seven years old, and still nothing surpasses it. The game comes with a free demo of FFX, if you are interested, but to be honest the new title has a lot to live up to in my books. Let's hope they can do it again.
This is an essential purchase for any RPG gamer, and it is a statement of how good they are that Squaresoft can release an old SNES game and still whip games like Dark Cloud and The Ring with time left to take on the XBox.