Final Fantasy VI (III) Review


Back in my recent Honest (Not Completely Nostalgia-Biased And Hyperbolic Beyond Belief) review of Chrono Trigger, I openly admitted, with quite a bit of critical-analysis proof to back me up, that CT was indeed nowhere even NEAR as good of a game, let alone RPG, as people said it was, despite still being a great game in its own right. I also very opinionatedly stated that it was indeed numerous light-years behind Final Fantasy VI, another legendary Square Enix title that came out literal YEARS before it.

Well, let me just get this out of the way right now; to me, the phrase "vastly better" can mean anything from a 3-point difference in review score to a half-point difference depending on what the actual REASONS for said differences are, so tell me; seeing as how I actually gave both Chrono Trigger AND Undertale solid 9/10 scores in my previous reviews, what score do you think this game is going to get? (It might end up being the same score, actually; I'm afraid we'll just have to see later, unfortunately...)

Anyway, let's get straight to the absolute MOST overrated aspect of this entire flipping game:

STORY: Again with the "not quite AS overrated" comparison; you see, while the storyline in Final Fantasy VI is admittedly nowhere near AS overrated as the one in Chrono's really only marginally more complex overall in terms of villain motivations and how "good" and "evil" are defined in it.

Without spoiling TOO much about the game's plot, you play as Terra, a young medival-wasteland-dwelling social outcast and very-clichedly-revealed secret magic princess who gets sent on a squad expedition into the mountainous, freezing-cold mining site known as Narshe so that she can...mine the essence of Ether from it? Honestly, I can't even remember.

Over the course of her adventure, Terra meets a wide variety of friends, all of which have shockingly fleshed-out personalities even by today's standards of video games, let alone for the time (again, seriously, take note of that, future Chrono Trigger developers). However, we all know what we REALLY flock to this game like a bunch of mindless nostalgia-blinded sheep for, and that would be a certain creepy carnivorous crossdressing clown called...wait for it...WAIT FOR IT...

Kefka Palazzo, part-time civilization-destroyer and full-time blatant ripoff of the Joker; basically, his existence (more specifically childhood, which he is still very much IN, mind you) as a whole was the result of a tragically failed experiment to see whether or not prolonged and excessively forced exposure to the power of Ether actually WOULD positively affect a person's mental development (well, NO DUH, of course it turned out horrifically; what did these idiots honestly expect?), and after being banished from human society for being too unabashedly, unapologetically guano-insane, he decided that he would enact his revenge...BY DESTROYING SOCIETY!

No, seriously; at its core, that's LITERALLY all there is to the plot of this at least 30-hour-long game. Don't be fooled, however, as much like the Joker himself, Kefka and especially his motivations behind being the genocidal maniac that he is are both quite a bit deeper than they might initially seem; in fact, at least somewhere around 50 or so incredibly tragic, eerie and/or shocking plot twists into the game, he teams up with the world's biggest and nastiest political con artist to completely RUINATE the entire world that the game takes place in with a GINORMOUS laser beam of, granted, the CT developers definitely took note of THIS, as well as mostly every other aspect of FFVI's storyline besides character depth (not counting Frog and occasionally Magus), but FFVI did it not only first but also considerably better in numerous ways.

In conclusion, this is yet another game whose storyline you just have to experience for yourself.

SOUND: Do I really even have to explain here? I already mentioned in my Chrono Trigger review that FFVI's soundtrack is EASILY evenly matched with that game's, and believe me, that was NOT an exaggeration; heck, in quite a few places, I'd say it actually has even BETTER music than CT (although CT's music is indeed one of remarkably few things that can even begin to compare to golden-age Final Fantasy's, so it really shouldn't feel too bad about that in all honesty).

Remember the "strange, funny and heartrending" ad campaign for Mother 3? Well, this game is very much the embodiment of that description, thanks in roughly equal part to Kefka and its music. Seriously, I literally cannot name even a SINGLE song in this game in which the instrumentation and mood-setting DIDN'T absolutely make my jaw drop to the floor and back.

Basically, without even mentioning the legendary (and also stupidly overhyped) opera-house scene, this game's soundtrack is the type of thing that you will ONLY find in games like this, Xenogears, Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Trigger, Undertale and Mother 3, and honestly for good reason.

GRAPHICS: Absolutely beautiful; in fact, I can actually name quite a few ways in which this game amazingly looks considerably even BETTER than Chrono Trigger, with the most obvious examples being the painstakingly, meticulously detailed battle backdrops and the breathtakingly stunning (for the time and system, at least) faux-3D Mode 7 overworld.

Actual character sprites, however, PROBABLY could have used a bit of work, and while the enemy sprites certainly are staggeringly more visually DETAILED than Chrono Trigger's, the fact that CT's are actually animated like real living things makes just as big of a difference as you would think, if not perhaps even more so. Overall, character-detail-wise, CT definitely beats the living tar out FFVI in this department, at the very least.

GAMEPLAY: Eh...while I do personally find this aspect of FFVI to be infinitely better than it is in most RPGs (including Chrono Trigger and especially Earthbound), it still has quite a LOT of issues if you look hard enough. The game has numerous parts where you can actually very easily get yourself permastuck if your characters aren't properly prepared, and as great as the combat system is, it still plays like basically any other RPG (and overall is still WAY too easy, just like CT).

Just like in Final Fantasy VII, there are also a LOT of permanently and EXTREMELY easily missable things in FFVI (most notably saving Shadow, the game's resident ninja assassin, from seemingly certain death in the Floating Continent so that he can later join your alliance in the World Of Ruin) that are also INEXCUSABLY important in determining the player's chances of actually finishing the game (so yeah, definitely giving another bonus point to CT just for not having that coca-mamie, asinine bollocks featured in it).

However, the REALLY important thing to note here when comparing this game to Chrono Trigger (besides the fact that this game CLEARLY did the whole "real-time turn-based combat" paradox first and still wasn't even the first game OF its series to do it) is that this game, at least assuming that you're not planning to exploit all of its ludicrously numerous and outrageously game-breaking glitches and spam tactics to the absolute maximum, is actually a CHALLENGE.

(In fact, I take back my previous statement; this game is actually quite a bit too HARD at times, which is exactly why I myself chose to just completely skip the "legendary dragon" fights and probably the World Of Ruin's cultist tower altogether and go straight for the main ending.)

Yes, the random battles are annoying, but again, literally at least something like TWO YEARS prior to Chrono Trigger, that's what Earthbound was for; also, in my opinion, it adds a far better sense of overall scale to the adventure, at least when viewed from an artistic standpoint.

OVERALL: Is this game a work of godlike high art that belongs in a museum? Yes, and in its own right, so is Chrono Trigger, at least as far as literal artistic graphical design is concerned. Yes, the storyline is ridiculously overrated in both games, and the gameplay nowhere even remotely near as good as it should be, but in conclusion, I'm going to give this game a 9.5/10, whereas CT got a 9/10.

Overall, adding up both scores and dividing by 2, the FFVI/CT duo gets a collective 9.25/10.