“The idea was to transform the ‘Final Fantasy’ characters at the time from mere ciphers for fighting into true characters with substance, who could evoke more complex feelings in the player”. It was a huge success. The individual tales told of love and loss, leaving the player awash with sympathy and admiration for each hero. Indeed, some of the scenes for Cyan and Locke actually proved more emotional than the most dramatic moments in the game’s main story. Praise indeed when you remember that ‘Final Fantasy VI’ has probably the largest plot twist in any Super Nintendo game; the complete failure of the heroes to prevent global destruction.
The literally world changing twist would have had none of its punch were it not for the villain at the centre of ‘Final Fantasy VI’. Kefka is a largely unknown quantity for the first quarter of the game, initially portrayed as rather weak and frail comedic minor character; a court jester you barely even notice let alone pay attention to. The fact that this horrific villain was there all along without you really registering makes him all the more intense and threatening. Unlike most adventure games, Kefka is not an evil God or some intelligent life form from space. He doesn't even have a dark commanding presence, or a threatening physique. He is not 10 feet taller than the protagonists or decked in armour wielding a sword the size of a building. He is memorable simply because of his unflinching cruelty and because half way through the game he achieves his goal and destroys the world.
Echoing the shift from light world to dark seen in ‘Link to the Past’ it’s a stunningly bold narrative choice by the writers, skewing the second half of the game in an exciting new direction just at the time when the player was beginning to feel comfortable. Many games have various narrative outcomes at the game’s end. When I first saw the events unfolding before me, I was convinced I had done something wrong and was witnessing the “bad end”. Normally if this happens whenyou’re playing a game your only option is to try the game again from the start and hope that better choices lead to a better narrative resolution. What makes the twist in ‘Final Fantasy VI’ so exciting for a seasoned JRPG player is that it forces you to deal with the consequences of action. You have to make your way in a post apocalyptic wasteland that you caused. You did not appreciate the threat coming from the game’s central antagonist and now you must make things right. It’s an existence beyond the ‘game over screen’ that most games would have ended at.
The opera scene is one that’s adored by many. Super Play wrote at the time that “there have been few gaming experiences to generate the amazement that the opera scene in ‘FF[VI] does. You will ... surely swoon as the characters actually start singing! Yes, really!”
He has a unique ability called ‘leap’ which allows him to learn offensive manoeuvres during battle. The problem is that there are hundreds of enemies in this game and Gau can learn an ability for every single one. Not all of these enemies attacks prove useful to the player though and you don’t what each enemy skill can do until after you have learnt it. Even using a guide and knowing in advance which are the most powerful or useful skills is of little use, since finding the appropriate enemies in the Velt seems entirely random. Ultimately the process is too unpredictable and frustrating. For me made Gau an interesting character, albeit one that I would never have the patience to use. Others though I know enjoy this Gau character and would criticise me for overlooking him. If anything by drawing attention to this flaw I have also highlighted the game’s versatility. I may dislike one character but that really isn’t a problem since there are 13 other ones I can pick from that each play differently. Indeed, it’s the battle system and equipment customization that really sets ‘Final Fantasy VI’ apart from the huge berth of generic JRPGs released by others to cash in on the it’s prequels popularity. Through choosing a character they get on best with, a player can really tailor the game to suit their own taste. Indeed, with various ways to further customise a preferred character’s unique fighting style (using relics and magis) you would struggle to find a method of play in battle that didn’t suit you.
At no point did I feel under powered or stressed that all my characters may die before I’ve even had a chance to save them or the game. Yet if I choose to spend an hour just wandering around to add a few levels to my team, this time spent always had a noticeable effect on their stats.