Our Final Fantasy Countdown continues today! It’s been a couple weeks since we did our last Final Fantasy review, which was for the PlayStation Classic, Final Fantasy V. That was a great game, though some technical issues held the game back from really shining on the PlayStation Vita, especially with the more recent Mobile remake of the game. Those were unfortunate issues for holding back an otherwise great RPG. However, the period cycle is over and we are ready for a new review.
So far, we have given out reviews for Final Fantasy Origins, III, IV, and V. There are six weeks left until Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster releases, and four Final Fantasies left to review. The next one in the lineup is one of the fan-favorites from the Super Nintendo era. Straight from the world of the Espers comes the story of Terra Branford. The last of the 2D Final Fantasy games and renowned by many as one of the series’ greatest entries. Here is our official review of the PlayStation Classic, Final Fantasy VI.
Final Fantasy VI is a crucial point in the Final Fantasy storyline. It is one of the first games do deviate from the storyline revolving around crystals maintaining balance in the world. Final Fantasy VI is set in an unnamed world, which most people refer to as the World of Balance. Within this world, there is a history of a great war, known as the War of the Magi. In ancient times, there was a great war involved in using Magic to power machines and, at the end of the war, Magic was extinguished, and Espers, beings composed of Magic, disappeared from the world to an unknown location.
An Empire is rising in the present utilizing powerful technology, known as Magitek, and is on an agenda of world conquest. By chance, an enslaved Imperial Officer, a young girl born with the ability of Magic named Terra Branford, falls into the hands of The Returners, a rebellion. After bringing her out of the brainwashing the Empire infused her with, the Returners bring Terra up to speed on the world and she is left with questions and actions that may decide the fate of the entire world as well as allowing her to realize whom she really is.
The storyline of Final Fantasy VI is important to the franchise because not only did it break the tradition of having Crystals involved in the major plotline, but it also dived into larger parties of characters. While Final Fantasy IV also had a large cast of party members, Final Fantasy VI was the first to go deep into character backgrounds as well as keeping all of those characters around through the ending of the game, giving you access to them, whereas Final Fantasy IV did not do this for the main story.
It’s not a story that will make you start balling and crying your eyes out, but it is a well-written tale and is a story that every Final Fantasy fan should experience. It has some very emotional backstory for many of its characters, particularly Terra, Locke, and Celes.
The gameplay of Final Fantasy VI largely resembled the previous entries of the game, notably Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy V. It is an RPG where you are exploring a 2D World Map, encountering battles, bosses, towns, shops, and dungeons. This style of exploration is the same as its predecessors and most of the franchise, and does it well. Veterans of the series will be at home with the town, map, and dungeon exploration involved in Final Fantasy VI.
Each town has various shops, but they are not the same kind of shops as from our last review. When you reach a town or settlement, you will encounter an Inn, where you can restore HP (Health) and MP (Magic Points, used for casting magic). You will also encounter Equipment Shops, Item Shops, and Relic Shops. There are no Magic Shops, like in Final Fantasy I, III, and V. That is learned as you progress through the game and doesn’t require you to buy anything from a shop.
Relics are a big thing that is new for Final Fantasy VI. Along with slots to equip Weapons, Armor, and Accessories, each character is permitted to equip two Relics. Relics are sort of like accessories, but they don’t increase your stats. Not directly, at least. Relics are special pieces of equipment that can be equipped by anyone and provides the character with a special bonus. These vary from relic to relic. Some relics allow your running speed in towns to be doubled. Others increase Magic damage, or allow you to hold a weapon with both hands and double its attack damage.
Battles are done mostly the same as the previous titles. You have a party of characters and participate in turn-based battles. The game using the Active Time Battle system that previous games also use, having time bars until each character can perform a command. Commands that each character can do are also a unique point in the game. Unlike Final Fantasy III and V, where anyone can do anything, there are set commands for each character. Only Celes can use Runic Sword. Only Sabin can use Blitz. Only Mog can use Dance.
Another unique part of the game is the Esper and Magic system. Despite everyone having unique commands, anyone in your party can use Espers and Magic, once you unlock them in the game. As you progress the game, you will come across Espers that can be equipped (one per character). Espers are basically Summons. While equipped, a character can summon that Esper once per battle to do magic damage.
Espers also help your characters grow. Each Esper has a set of Magic Spells, both offensive and defensive, tied to it. When equipped, you can learn these spells by participating in battle. Each battle will earn you a certain amount of Ability Points. Once you gain enough to learn a spell, it is considered yours and you will be able to cast it at any time, give you have enough MP to do the casting.
Another uniqueness about the game, that I mentioned in an earlier section, is the wide roster of characters. In Final Fantasy VI, you will be able to recruit and choose from many characters. Terra, Celes, Locke, Edgar Sabin, Shadow, Gau, Mog, and more. There are enough playable characters to make several parties, and they all can be made available to use in the game. Final Fantasy VI is the first game in the series to utilize this feature that all future games would also utilize.
With different characters also adds a uniqueness to progressing through the story. In various sections of the game, the party will split into groups and you will be able to choose a scenario and play them out, in any order, leading up to when they meet again. This is interesting and adds a bit of freedom to the game, giving you the option of whose story section you want to do first, second, and third. Granted, you have to do all of them, but you can choose the order.
I always feel a little odd writing about the controls of these old Role-Playing Games, because they control so basic. Most RPGs like this don’t use anything but the D-Pad and Face Buttons. So, what’s there to review? Well, Final Fantasy VI breaks that tradition and adds some more controls to the mix. It doesn’t add a lot of controls, but a couple that its predecessor was missing.
Movement is done with the D-Pad, and Selecting and Going Back are done with X and Circle, respectively. That is the section of the controls that anyone who’s played a game like this on a PlayStation console before could easily predict. The L and R buttons, however, were added to the mix. When you are using an ability that can target either one enemy or the entire group of enemies (or allies), you can press L or R to toggle between these two settings. L sets it for the enemy party and R for the ally party.
Other than this, there’s not a whole lot. Triangle opens the menu and you can pause the game with the Start Button. You can also assign the corners of both touch screens for buttons, if you want to go that route with things. But, for the most part, it’s a simple control scheme.
This is the section anyone who has heard anything about the PlayStation version of this game is looking at. Not only how the game looks, but how it plays and sounds. We will not lie in saying that the PlayStation version of some RPGs, particularly Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy V, have some issues with Load Times as well as audio. Some of these issues are still present in Final Fantasy VI, but they’re not as much so as its predecessor.
Visually, Final Fantasy VI looks the same as it does on any other system. The sprites are drawn and look mostly crisp and clear. There are some pixels here and there, but the same could be said of the Super Nintendo or Game Boy Advance versions of the game. A uniqueness it adds is the simulation of 3D. in some sequences, you see “behind” a vehicle, and a 3D-like perspective of the 2D planes. It looks pretty pixelated and grainy in all version of the game. At the time, though, it was the simulation of 3D before the series did any true 3D games. It was neat, though confusing at seeing the map at that perspective.
One thing Final Fantasy VI has up on Final Fantasy V is the audio. While Final Fantasy V used a degraded, MIDI version of its original soundtrack, Final Fantasy VI does not. The music in this game is the same exact files and sound quality that you will hear in all other versions of the game.
Here’s the issue with how the game plays: Load Times. This was present in Final Fantasy V as well. When you go through the game and want to load the menu, a town, a battle, or something else, you may be waiting awhile. Now, when go into a town or a new room in a dungeon, there are no issues. Here are all the load times that we found:
Enter a Room/Town – 2 to 3 Seconds
Enter/Leave a Battle – 7 Seconds
Enter/Leave the Menu – 6 Seconds
As such, you need to be patient to be okay with this. If you’re used to playing other versions of this game, these load times may seem unacceptable. If you’re a newcomer to the game, though, they won’t seem so bad. Regardless, a gamer will need to be patient with this game to deal with them, especially if you want to stop and grind for levels or magic.
Final Fantasy VI is a fun RPG and one of the fan favorites of the franchise. The Vita version has the same issue with Load Times as its predecessor and there are some that state it has crashed on them, so it does have its array of technical faults. If you can look past this, you can enjoy what some say is one of Final Fantasy’s best entries and one that took the bold step of bringing a female Main Character to the mythos.
The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Final Fantasy VI a 6.5/10