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 Final Fantasy VI

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PostSubject: Final Fantasy VI   Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:55 pm

Ever since I started my reviews on the series, this is the game I've been waiting to get to.  However, Setzer's dice haven't been to kind with the order I'd do these.  Thankfully, it's now time for me to review the game that got me into the RPG genre.

Gotta start this game with backstory before getting to the actual plot.  1000 years ago, humans and these magical creatures called Espers lived in harmony.  However, humans grew hungry for the Esper's power, and this led to a war that nearly destroyed the world.  At the end of the war, the Espers sealed the gateway leading to their world so the humans could no longer abuse their power.  Many years later, a human manages to enter their world by some fluke, and she, as well as the Espers, decide to see if the two races can live in harmony like days of old.  The human and an Esper have a child they name Terra, and things seem to be going well for the two races.  However, this doesn't last long.

One day, an Emperor named Gestahl, who longs to harness the power of the Espers, discovers the gateway to their world, and breaks his way in.  The Espers are able to ward of Gestahl and his men, but many Espers as well as Terra are sucked into the human world.  At this point, Gestahl raises Terra as a slave to the empire and uses the powers of the Espers who were sucked into the human world to accomplish his goals. 

Come the present day, Terra is sent on a mission to obtain another Esper, but the mission fails when the mind control device on her is destroyed by the Esper.  Terra, not knowing what to do, meets up with a resistance that is fighting against Gestahl.  During her time with the resistance, she makes many friends and enemies of the empire.  Eventually, the Empire sends Ghestal's right hand man named Kefka to obtain the Esper that Terra was originally sent to obtain.  Terra and the resistance manages to save the Esper, but then Terra loses control of her body and flies to the other side of the world.  The resistance goes to where Terra went and discover from an Esper guarding her about her heritage.  Discovering that Terra is out cold, the gang decide to break into the Empire and rescue some of the captured Espers.  After rescuing some, they use their powers to help Terra come to. 

At this point, the gang decide to travel to the Esper World to try and get them to help fight the Empire, but instead, the Espers go on a riot and destroy everything in their sight.  After this, the Empire realizing what they were doing was wrong, decide to team up with the resistance to try and save the world from the Espers.  The gang doesn't trust Gestahl, but go along with it.  It turned out that they were right to doubt him since it turned out that the Emperor was using this moment to try and capture more Espers.  Using their powers, Gestahl and Kefka awaken the power of 3 magicial statues that give all magic to the world.  Gestahl plans to use them to become a god, but Kefka betrays Gestahl and uses their power to kill him.  At this point, Kefka uses their powers to destroy the world and the party gets seperated.

One of the party members named Celes awakens and discovers that she is on an island, and that she was in a coma for an entire year.  Not only that, but Kefka has become the ruler of the world.  She feels like giving up on life and even attemps suicide, but she fails and gets lost in thought.  She decides that suicide isn't the right way, and that something needs to be done.  Using a raft, she leaves the island and works on getting the party back together so they can defeat Kefka and return the world to normal.

Coming off of Final Fantasy II, the similarities are apparent.  Sure, there's some extra fluff here and there, but at its core, it's another Empire against an underground resistance plot.  After the world gets destroyed, the game sacrifices any possible plot for non linear gameplay.  This is the point where the entire world is open for you, and you as the player, decide when you're ready to face Kefka.  There is an order you have to follow for a short while, but once you get the third party member back, the game becomes a giant sandbox.

Before I get to the gameplay, I have to talk about Kefka.  Kefka is one of the most popular antagonists in gaming history.  However, I personally find him to be overrated as fuck.  Don't get me wrong, the clown is insane.  He has great lines, he does some incredibly inhumane stuff, and he manages to actively fuck with the party.  With that said, we get absolutely no backstory on the guy.  All we learn about him is that he once did some experiment with magic, but it ended in failure causing him to go insane.  We don't learn anything else about the guy.  Not only that, but we learn that his only motivation is that he loves destruction.  I don't know about you, but I like my bad guys to have more to them than a thirst for destruction, but that's just me.  This kind of antagonist has potential, and I feel they got that right with Kuja in IX.

Usually Final Fantasy games don't do THAT much different to stand out from the rest in terms of battling, but I feel that this game does a good enough job with finding ways to make this one stand out.  The first thing this game manages to do is have the largest playable cast of any Final Fantasy game so far by including 14 main party members and 2 temporary party members.  Besides having each character with their own backstory and personalities, each one has their own special thing that makes them stand out from the rest. They also have their own Esper times which indicates how much time they have to AP grind to learn magic.  Not counting the temporary characters, here's a summery for each one:

- Terra:  She's your typical all around character.  She has the largest selection of equipment, best stats all around, and has the Morph ability.  This ability causes her to transform into an Esper for a short amount of time, and her magical powers shoot through the roof.  This isn't something you want to spam since the duration is built on the amount of AP you obtain, and it maxes at 255, but it makes her an amazing boss killer.  So feel free to make her a fighter or a mage.  Though, it's best if you make her both since she gets the best equipment in the game.  For Esper time, she can't start learning magic until the 2nd half of the World of Balance, but you can get her very early in the World of Ruin to catch up.

- Locke: Your residential thief, but you don't want to say that to his face.  He has the highest speed in the game, decent attack, and can equip weapons that nobody else can.  They either have beautiful damage multipliers, or special abilities that can really screw enemies over in the right situations.  You wont be stealing much with him, and he's the closest thing to a pure fighter this game has.  For Esper time, you have him for a majority of the World of Balance.  Sadly, he's more than likely the last person you get in the World of Ruin. 

- Edgar:  A king who loves to flirt with as many women as possible.  He isn't to great with physical attacks, but he can use tools that really pack a punch.  He starts with a crossbow that destroys just about everything except bosses in one hit, and can upgrade to boss killers like a chainsaw or drill.  Sadly, you get these midway through the World of Balance, and they are his best tools.  This really kicks him in the nuts come the World of Ruin since he falls behind.  At this point, either make him a Dragoon or don't use him at all.  He has great Esper time since you have him for a majority of the World of Balance and the World of Ruin.

- Sabin:  Edgar's little brother, and the monk of the group.  He has awful equipment which makes him a glass cannon.  However, his special ability called Blitz allows you to put in a sequence of buttons as if you were playing Street Fighter, and pull off very powerful attacks.  He obtains more from leveling up, and as a rule of thumb:  Only use the even numbered attacks, and don't bother with the odd ones.  Not only that, but when you get the airship in the World of Ruin, make sure to learn his final Blitz ASAP.  There are 2 exceptions to the rule of not using his even attacks.  Use Pummel when fighting Vargus, or Cactuars when AP grinding, and make sure to Suplex the Phantom Train.  Yep, the mother fucker can suplex a train.   One thing to keep in mind is despite most of these looking like physical attacks, the game treats them as magical attacks.  So make sure to raise his magic stat instead of his attack stat.  His Esper time is like his brother's.  Great in both worlds.

- Cyan:  An old Samurai who has incredibly high attack, but the rest of his stats are garbage.  It doesn't help that he is the slowest party member.  This guy's special ability called Bushido has him stand still while a bar fills up very slowly, and the numbers 1 through 8 are placed on the bar.  When you press the A button when the bar reaches a number, he will perform a special attack based on the number.  As stated, the bar fills SO SLOW.  It's as interesting to watch as paint drying.  On top of that, but not only does this prevent your other party members from performing an action, but the enemies can still do whatever they want.  So your best bet is to just stick with the first attack of Bushido.  To make up for this, there is a semi broken combo with him, but he can't even have that since other party members can use it better.  So yeah, Cyan is all around a useless character.  Arguably the worst not named Umaro.  He has average Esper time in the World of Balance and the World of Ruin.

- Shadow:  He's your typical ninja with average stats all around.  You can recruit him at various points in the World of Balance, but the guy has a 1/16 chance of leaving after every battle.  On top of that, there's always a scripted point where he'll leave anyways.  So if you want to have an extra hand, go for it.  Don't think of recruiting him the 2nd time you get a chance.  You'll regret it.  Also, remember that when you are escaping from the Floating Island, WAIT for Shadow at the end of the dungeon.  This allows you to recruit him in the World of Ruin where he wont ditch you.  Anyways, Shadow's ability is Throw where he throws a weapon from your inventory at an enemy.  You lose the weapon so choose wisely.  The damage dealt is determined by the weapon, and most of the really good throwing weapons either cost a fortune or take forever to win them from battles.  So Shadow's potential is based on how much time and money you plan to sink into him.  If you're just going to use him for regular attacks, you're better with not using him at all.  Not only that, but he has an ability called Interceptor where he will randomly block an attack, and then his dog will randomly attack the enemy that attacked him.  Make sure NOT to have Shadow in your party when walking around the world map in the World of Ruin due to a glitch that can cause him to lose this ability forever.  He gets next to no Esper time in the World of Balance OR the World of Ruin.

- Relm:  An artist who has the highest magic stat in the game.  With that said, the rest of her stats are garbage.  So if you want to use her, you're only going to use her for magic.  Her special ability is Sketch which you NEVER want to use.  There is a point where it's mandatory to use, but besides that, don't EVER use this since it is such a broken ability.  I don't mean broken as overpowered, nor that it doesn't work.  No, I mean it can BREAK YOUR GAME.  It might soft lock your game forcing you to reset, and it even has the potential to DELETE ALL YOUR SAVED DATA.  So use her for magic and NOTHING else.  If you're playing on an emulator though, then by all means, see what kind of chaos you can cause with Sketch.  She gets so little Esper time in the World of Balance.  Unless you force yourself through one of the harder dungeons early on to get her ASAP, she has below average Esper Time in the World of Ruin.

- Strago:  This old man is your Blue Mage.  Blue Magic is an interesting thing introduced in V where you can learn abilities from different enemies.  How it's learned varies from game to game, and this game just requires Strago to see the ability used.  The things to note is that you need to know what enemies use the spells, you have to play the waiting game for them to use them, and most of them aren't even good to begin with.  Blue Magic has always been hit or miss in every game it appears in, and you're usually better sticking with regular magic.  So just use him as a regular mage like Relm.  His Esper Time is just like Relm's.  You get him at the end of the World of Balance, and can only get him in the World of Ruin when you have Relm.

- Gau:  Now this is where things are going to get interesting.  Gau is essentially Tarzan and he uses a special ability called Rage.  The way this works is there is an area on the world map called The Veldt.  On The Veldt, you can run into EVERY enemy you've faced in the game that isn't a boss.  While on The Veldt, Gau can use something called Leap where he leaves the party and the battle ends.  After a few battles on the Veldt, Gau will return and rejoin the party.  At this point, he will have the name of the enemies that you faced when he Used Leap, as well as when he returned in his Rage list.  By selecting an enemy from the Rage command, Gau will go into Berserk mode and use all sorts of abilities based on the enemy you picked.  Not only that, but whatever buffs the enemy that you picked would of had like Auto Protect or Auto Haste, Gau will now have them as well.  This makes Gau the character you have to spend the most time and research on, but if you go through with it, you now have arguably the most broken character in the game.  Especially since he's one of the only 3 members that can wear the Snow Scarf which is the best armor in the game.

Oh, you don't have time and you want to make Gau a god with minimal effort?  Well that's not a problem.  Time to introduce you to Wind God Gau. If you remember, I said Cyan had a trick to make up for being a sucky character, but other characters could do it better.  This is what I ment.  Sadly, this can ONLY be done on the SNES version.  At least for Gau and Gogo.  All you need is the Catscratch Rage, as well as the Merit Award and Offering Relics on Gau.  Equip him with Cyan's Tempest weapon and then use the Catscratch Rage.  Gau will perform up to 4 attacks, and due to how the Tempest works, he will have a 50% chance to hit ALL the enemies instead of just one.  The damage dealt per hit is usually random, but if you build up Gau's physical attack, it should do around 5000 a hit by the time you can perform this.  Just pray the enemy's don't absorb wind.  He has Esper time similar to Cyan's in the World of Balance, and like Terra, he's one of the first people you can recruit once you get the airship in the World of Ruin.  So he has great Esper time to catch up there.

- Celes: She's essentially Terra with slightly worse stats.  They can both use the same equipment and can both be built up as a fighter and a mage at the same time.  When it comes to special abilities though, Celes gets the short end of the stick.  Her ability Runic requires her to have a sword equipped, and she will give up her turn to negate whatever magical attacks are used before her next turn comes.  She regains HP from this, but not only is there no way to tell if the enemies are even going to use magic that can be negated, she can even negate your own magic making your other characters lose their turn.  There are a few times where this can be helpful, but you're better off not using it.  She has questionable Esper time in the World of Balance.  Since she's the main character in the World of Ruin, you have all the time in the world.

- Setzer:  The wondering gambler of the party, and he's not all that good.  His weapons suck, he has below average stats, and his special ability called Slots isn't all that useful.  If you can manage to get Triple 7s, then you instantly win the fight, however, this is almost impossible to get without cheating.  There are so many other ways to quickly end fights without needing to cheat.  Not only that, but there's an outcome that will instantly kill you party leading to an instant game over.  If you want to use Setzer outside the few mandatory parts, then you're only using him as a meat shield and nothing else.  He has below average Esper time in the World of Balance.  Since he's one of the 3 mandatory characters in the World of Ruin, he has really good Esper time there.

- Mog:  Gotta have the cute Moogles in Final Fantasy, and this guy is one you can recruit into your party.  He has average stats, and his ability called Dance causes him to attempt a dance to perform a magical attack.  Odds are the dances are going to fail, and they suffer from the same problems as Blue Magic.  You have to know where to learn the dances, most of them aren't very good to begin with, and most of them are outclassed by regular magic.  Mog only has 2 redeemable qualities about him.  The first being that he's another member that can equip the Snow Scarf, which makes him a bitching defensive mage at best.  The other being he has a relic called the Moogle Charm which prevents random encounters.  So if you're going to use him, it's going to avoid random encounters completely.  When it comes to boss fights on the other hand, there are better options.  Mog has below average Esper time in the World of Balance.  When it comes to the World of Ruin, he's like Terra and Gau.

- Gogo:  Since there's no way to tell what Gogo's gender is, I'm going to call Gogo an it.  Anyways, Gogo's special ability is Mimic where it will perform the last action that a party member has performed.  On top of that, if you go into Gogo's status menu, you can choose whatever abilities your other party members have aside from Morph, and give them to Gogo.  So if you wanted, you can have Gogo with Mimic/Blitz/Rage/Sketch as its commands.  The downside to being able to do literally anything?  Gogo's equipment SUCKS.  I stated that Sabin has crappy armor, but even his armor puts Gogo's equipment to shame.  Let this sink in.  Gogo's best equipment is bought at a store.  On top of that, Gogo can't equip Espers so it can't get any of those lovely level up bonuses.  Gogo is still a very interesting character, and can really screw things up if used right.  Remember Wind God Gau?  Now have Gogo Mimic that shit.  Sure, everything Gogo does will be weaker than what the others can do, but it's still beautiful to be able to copy damn near anything.  If I have any other gripes with Gogo, it's that you have to go through a dungeon with a falling ceiling section, and getting crushed is an instant game over.  Why is this in a turn based RPG?

- Umaro:  Moving on from a character that can literally do anything, this guy can literally do nothing.  He has decent stats over all, but he's in constant Berserk status.  So you can't control the guy.  On top of that, this guy can't equip Espers so he can't use any magic outside battles.  For an even bigger kick in the nuts, this guy has a Snow Scarf equipped, but you can't take the damn thing off, nor give him any equipment.  To put the final nail in his coffin, the damage he does can't compare to ANYTHING that ANYONE can do.  So just get this guy for the Esper in his room, and leave him on the airship so he can rot there for the rest of his days.  This guy is the worst party member of the game.

Whew, that's all fourteen party members accounted for.  You might be asking if the game does anything to justify having this many party members, and you'd be correct.  There are 3 times in the game where you will have a group of these guys together, and you have to break them into smaller parties for an event.  For example, Kefka's tower requires you make 3 groups, and each group is to consist from 1 to 4 party members.  So make sure to choose wisely on who you want to group together.  There's also a point early on where the party gets split into 3 smaller parties, and each one has their own scenario.  You have you complete all of the scenarios to progress with the game.  What's with this game splitting the party apart with the number 3?

Now to explain how Espers work, and this is the most tedious part of the game.  After finding Terra knocked out at the end of Zozo, you obtain some Espers that you can equip to party members.  Each member can only have 1 Esper on at a time.  Let's look at Ramuh's status screen:

Name(Ramuh)        Learn Rate      Skill
-Bolt:                       x10            0%
-Bolt 2:                     x2             0%
-Poison:                    x5             0%

At level up:     Stamina +1

Here's how this works.   You equip someone with Ramuh, and they now have the ability to summon Ramuh once per battle.  The spells a person can learn while Ramuh is equiped are Bolt, Bolt 2, and Poison.  After a battle, you obtain AP, or as this game calls it, Magic Points.  The game multiplies the amount of Magic Points you obtain by the Learn Rate, and the result is added to the spell's Skill.  Once it reaches 100%, the character learns that spell.

Lets say a battle awards you 5 Magic Points.  Bolt's LR is x10, so 5 x 10 = 50.  The Skill this person has for Bolt is now 50%.  If another battle gave 3 Magic points, that would be 30%, so the Skill is now at 80%.  Once it hits 100%, the person learns Bolt.  As for the Stamina +1, some Espers have a stat bonus that's given to the user when they level up.  In Ramuh's case, it's 1 extra point in Stamina when the holder levels up.

This is where the game's biggest flaw comes from.  After you obtain the ability to equip Espers, you'll be getting more Espers like wildfire.  Because of this, you're going to find yourself constantly stopping dead in your tracks to make sure that your mages have all the spells you want them to know, and it can take hours per grinding section.  It's an RPG so grinding is to be expected, but you'll find it happening frequently, and it gets draining.  It's also tiring to make sure folks have the proper Espers to give them the status boosts you want.  If you look at the character list, the best characters cut out for mages are Terra, Celes, Relm, Strego, and Mog.  So if you want to avoid spending hours upon hours on end raising Gau, you still have to raise these guys.  It doesn't help that some of these characters don't have that much time to actually work on them. 

With the grinding aspect out of the way, I have to tip my hat for the soundtrack.  Next to IX, this is my favorite soundtrack in the series.  I may not be a fan of Terra's theme, but the game has a bunch of fantastic tracks that make up for it.  Dancing Mad is still my favorite final boss theme period.  Another thing I have to give this game credit for.  During serious events or during battles, the characters will just stop and start shooting the shit.  The stuff they come up with is so silly, and it always brings a smile to my face.  Be it Ultros coming out of nowhere and Locke breaking the 4th wall asking the player what else he's going to run into. 

If there's one thing I can say that isn't for everyone, it's the World of Ruin.  The World of Balance had Terra as the main character, and here is where all the plot and most of the character development comes from.  Once you enter the World of Ruin and Celes becomes the main protagonist, all of this just stops.  Like I said at the start, the 2nd half of the game is literally just you building up your army to confront Kefka.  Hell, if you want to, you can go straight for Kefka with just Celes/Edgar/Setzer.  It's very possible as I've done it once, and if you want to try it out, then good luck.

The play through I did for this review reminds me why I loved the game so much as a kid.  Sure, it has a lot of serious moments, but there are also those random silly moments that make you smile.  Ultros is an amazing comic relief character, and even though I don't think too highly of him as an antagonist, Kefka steals the show and makes me laugh with his lines.  Then again, that's the point of a clown.  Despite how grim things get, I always think back to the Opera scene which has always been my favorite part of the game.  It's a beautiful scene, and I had such a fangasm when there was a reference to it in Undertale.

With that said, Final Fantasy VI is a game that is beloved by many, and I can't deny the quality.  I can't recommend it to everyone considering the direction they took with the World of Ruin, but it's still a very fun game with a bunch of silly moments.  Not only that, but I can imagine the first hour or so being a turn off for some due to just how slow you move until you get sprint shoes.  But trust me, it gets better when you obtain them.  If you do decide to play this game, make sure you have Sabin suplex the Phantom Train.  It may be a bug, but my god it is so satisfying when you just think of it.  You're not just lifting the front car, but all of the passenger cars and slamming them in the ground for massive damage.   Just don't go abusing something like the Vanish Doom bug.  This game is easy enough to where you shouldn't need to use that to progress with the game.  Now if you're doing that to grind a certain Behemoth for Magic Points in the World of Balance, then that's ok.

When it comes to differences between ports, there isn't much I can say.  The PS1 port has worse sound effects and load times.  The GBA port has a few extra dungeons and optional bosses, but none of them are really worth it.  If you're going to play this, play the SNES version.  I'd suggest using an emulator though so you can fast forward through any grinding you may end up doing.  You're looking at a roughly 20 hour game jumping up to around 35 with all that grinding, so speedup will help get rid of the pain.  Also, keyboards REALLY help with Sabin's Blitz.  If there's one thing I can't stand, it's that sometimes you swear to god you put the commands in, but the game says you didn't. 

Now I'm just rambling.  I love this game to death, and I'm glad I got to replay it.  The grinding sucks, but it's an RPG so it's to be expected.  At least it isn't as bad as say post game grinding in X.  I wouldn't classify VI as my favorite, but I still highly recommend it.

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