Final Fantasy VI
This is the sixth game in the Final Fantasy series, and the last one to be released on the Super Nintendo. (Don't let the III in the title fool you, Squaresoft just changed the numbers to hide the fact that US never got FF 2,3 or 5.) In my opinion this is probably the best in the series. As with all Final Fantasy games, this game has no relation to any of the previous games. You start the game as Terra, who has been kidnapped and controlled by the evil empire (why are the empires always evil)? The fun starts when you and two other soldiers (Biggs and Wedge, who make their first appearance here) invade the town of Narshe. Terra is freed of the empire's control and you set off on a journey to overthrow this evil empire that is trying to enslave mankind.
This is a standard RPG, as with all the previous Final Fantasy games, of course it has its own unique features that make it so much fun. In towns and dungeons you view the game from a standard 2-D overhead view, just like the previous 5 installments. Battles are fought in a 2-D side view where your characters are on the right side, and the monsters are on the left, nothing new here either. What has been changed is the world view. Instead of the standard 2-D overhead view, you see a neat Mode 7 view (it's sort of a 3-D view but not really).
The menu interface is fairly basic and simple to use, but rather versatile. The menu also has a config option that will allow you to change the window background color, the text speed, as well as other stuff. It lets you customize the controls to the way you want them, a nice feature that a lot of other games don't have. The menu takes up the entire screen rather than just a part of it, this allows the game to show a lot more info on the screen, as well as give you more choices. You get to see a portrait of each character as well as their current stats, which is a nice feature. Also by pressing over you can easily change the row and position of each character. Overall it's a well-designed easy to use menu.
As you wander around you will randomly encounter enemies. You can't see the enemies until you encounter them, but that's standard for a Final Fantasy game. In combat you see your character on the right side of the screen, and the enemies on the left. For some strange reason the enemies are much larger than your characters (even a little tiny enemy is bigger), but again that's standard for Final Fantasy games; it allows the enemies to look meaner, as well as more detailed. At the bottom of the screen, you can see the current HP and MP of each character as well as a gauge showing when they will attack next. The game uses an ATB system like Final Fantasy IV, meaning it's not exactly turn-based. If your characters are faster than the enemies are you can get more than one attack for each attack the enemy gets.
There are a lot of options in combat too. There is the obvious fight command, but you can also cast spells, use item or defend. Each character also has their own unique command. Locke can steal items from the enemies, Shadow can throw items for heavy damage, Edgar can use special tools, etc. In addition you can summon Espers to attack the enemies. There is actually a lot of strategy involved in the combat (unfortunately the game is easy enough that you never really need to concern yourself with any strategy).
Being a Final Fantasy game, it has its own unique method of learning spells. To learn a spell you need to equip a character with an Esper. As you fight you gain AP, and when you gain enough you can learn spells from the Esper. These spells you have permanently now. Each Esper has its own spells it teaches, and some teach spells quicker than others do. Also if you level up with an Esper equipped, they will give you a bonus stat increase. Normally if you level up your stats do not increase (but since damage is based on level, you'll still do more damage). Depending on which Espers you have on at level up, you can make your character a more powerful fighter, or a more powerful mage, or something else. It's up to you, just don't ignore the level up bonus, as it can make a big difference.
The game also has a nice way to customize the characters, relics. Each character can equip two relics, and each relic has its own effect. There are relics that allow you to hold two weapons, make you immune to status change, reduce the cost of casting spells, etc. The relics are really where you can create a god-like character, some of the relics are insanely powerful. That's one of the best parts of the game, you can customize you characters for whatever situation you run into. (Although there are certain relic and spell combinations that are so powerful, that you'll never need anything else.)
There is a lot to do in the game as well. In the first half of the game it is highly linear, but there a quite a few different places you get to go to, and things to do. The second half of the game is very nonlinear. There a bunch of different areas to explore, which you can explore in almost any order or not at all.
There are a few programming errors and other strange things, but unless you're obsessive about it (like half the FF3 message board at GameFAQS, myself included), you probably won't ever notice. I have personally made it my mission to figure out exactly how this game works, and I mean everything in the game.
The difficulty level in the game is a little bit lacking. There aren't any particularly hard puzzles to figure out, and none of the boss fights are very hard either. A few of the boss fights may give you trouble the first time through, but overall it probably wouldn't be too hard to beat the game without dying on your first play through. In addition certain spells and relics are so incredibly powerful that it isn't too hard to make your characters so tough that they can beat almost any boss before it gets a chance to act.
I have personally easily beaten the game with levels between 11 and 15 (and that's not even a record). It's possible to make your characters nearly invincible. You could probably beat the game at level 1 (except you can't get that far at level 1). But still, on the first time through if you don't level up excessively it should provide some challenge (just not much).
The game has a lot of secrets to find. There are two secret characters, and lots secret items. Furthermore there are some areas in the second half of the game that can be tricky to find. You'll definitely want to play through again to find anything you missed the first time. Plus it's just fun to play through the game again. You might try beating it at a low level, or try to get all your characters maxed out. You certainly won't have a problem finding a reason to play through again.
I would have given it a 10 in graphics, but there aren't any animated monsters, but maybe I'm being picky. The game has incredible graphics for a SNES game (it has good graphics period). The characters are larger than in the previous FF games, and they are much more detailed, with tons of different animations. If a character is excited or sad, there is a different sprite for it. The character designs are all well done.
The outside of combat graphics are well detailed as well. I don't like the flat look of the Mode 7 graphics though. When you fly around in an airship, you see a 3-D view from behind the airship, but the terrain below still looks flat, the mountains don't look higher than the grass next to them. But that's always a problem with Mode 7 graphics, otherwise the graphics look excellent.
Despite the lack of animations, the monster graphics look quite good as well. Some of the bosses are huge and take up the whole screen. The monsters are really detailed, it's amazing that each monster has only 16 colors.
The only problem I have with the story is that it stops about half way through the game. You get to learn a lot about the characters in the second half, but the story doesn't change. Speaking of the second half of the game, there is a surprise twist about half way through that you don't see too often in games. It's rather interesting.
The story starts with Terra invading Narshe. Once you find Tritoch (a frozen Esper), Terra is no longer under control of the empire, and she decides to help fight against the evil empire that wishes to enslave humanity. As the game advances you get to recruit more characters to help in your fight, and each character has a good reason to fight against the empire. It's not like in some other games where you have no idea why the characters are doing what they're doing.
In the second half of the game, the story stays pretty much constant, but you get to learn a little more about each of the characters. Each character has their own background story, that helps bring the character to life. It's quite impressive.
The music in this game is excellent. Each location has its own music that always seems to fit the mood. From the spooky music in the Phantom Forest, to the futuristic sounding music in the Magitek factory all the music sounds excellent. Plus each character has the own theme music. My favorite theme is Locke's theme music, and the music when you fight the Atma Weapon, but I like all of the music in the game.
Overall Rating: 10/10
Why wouldn't you like this game? It has a good story, good gameplay, good graphics, and good music. There's Something for everyone. Unless you hate RPGs, then you should really check this game out. It is really is fun looking for all the secrets in the game, and you'll want to finish the game to see the excellent ending.<!/page>