It’s one of the most beloved games in ‘Final Fantasy’ history, and takes this belovedness to strike an odd balance of being relatively unknown. It also has a confusing number, seeing as it was the third ‘Final Fantasy’ to be released in the US, but the sixth to be released in Japan. So, to avoid utter befuddlement, allow me to say that I will just be calling the game ‘FFVI’ for the rest of this article.
So yes! ‘FFVI’ is the this week’s Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s ongoing column about the best of sci-fi from the days of yore.
But first let me get a little personal. I will never forget the first time I played ‘FFVI’, or really ‘FFIII’, because that was what it was when I found it. I had just purchased a used SNES from Blockbuster when they realized renting game consoles was no longer profitable, but rent games still was (that didn’t last much longer though). I rented ‘FFVI’. I’m not really sure why, but it had a glowy sword on it and I really liked my NES copy of ‘The Legend of Zelda’ at the time. And really, because it had fantasy things on it and, I hate to say it, sometimes people don’t change. I liked fantasy when I was a little girl. I like fantasy now.
I was twelve years old and had never played an RPG in my life. I liked my games with ‘Ditty Kong’ and ‘Rescue Rangers’. Basically, if it wasn’t a side-scroller, I just wasn’t interested.
So I got home, popped in the game (well, took it out, blew on it, then popped it in again), and started reading. And reading. And reading. And I never set the game controller down until I finished the game. Coincidentally, if you’re wondering why my mom never let me have another video game console in the house until as a senior in high school, this is probably the reason why. She credits me getting through high school to this.
You can’t blame her though. I never moved from the television screen. I played boss battles over and over and never got frustrated. My legs came near atrophy. It was simply the most amazing piece of work I had ever seen.
And it still is. Even with slightly outdated battle scenes (that are still the basics for current games like ‘Pokemon’, to be fair), and graphics that are just never really going to be as good what we have now (and yes, I’m including the amazing ‘FFVI’ repackage for the PlayStation), I still love this game.
The very premise of magic versus technology and magic infused technologies intrigued me as a little girl, and the execution of it impressed me when I was older. It was also one of the earliest examples of steampunk that I had ever been introduced to. In short, everything about it was new, creative, and fun. And as I just said, it still is.
Unfortunately, the plot is far too complicated to get into, but I will describe it as a fantasy/steampunk epic that involves incredibly complex characters (which was somewhat diminished by the lack of emotional range 16-bit allows), and an increasingly changing world. It has psychotically evil villains, geo-political implications, and protagonist-on-protaganist drama. I really don’t think anyone could ask for anything more out of the story. But the long and short of it is that 1,000 years ago, powerful beings called Espers existed, and their very being caused a war as their remains (called magicite) granted its users strong powers. The Espers went into exile, and the world returned to some semblance of peace. Their re-entrance into the world of politics via a series of complex plot points starts you off on an amazing journey that no one who has played the game has ever forgotten.
I’m not kidding when I say that. It consistently ranks as one of the top console games ever made, a serious feat taking into consideration that it’s an SNES game from 1994.
Fortunately for us, FFVI has been rerealesed several times on several consoles. So if you’re interested in picking this title up, it’s available on the SNES, Playstation, Gameboy Advance and is now on the Playstation Network at the WII store. If you’ve played it, play it again. If you haven’t played it, what are you waiting for!?