Friday, July 2, 2010
Inexplicable Video Game Review: Final Fantasy III / VI
Everyone (and by everyone, I mean nerds) has a favorite Final Fantasy game, or if you're like me and you've played all of them multiple times, a grouping of games that you tend to prefer. However, I will say that there is a clear winner to me when it comes to being amazed and wowed by a game - Final Fantasy VI, the second American release for the series on the Super Nintendo.
A note to those casual gamers and light fans of the series - The numbering and naming makes little sense. All of the games are called Final Fantasy, which is comical because we're into a 13th installment now, and the first game came out in 1987. The first game came out for the NES then, followed by two more NES games that weren't released in America. Therefore, the next American game was called Final Fantasy II, even though it was really the fourth installment, and came out for the SNES. Square then inexplicably skipped releasing the fifth game in the states, and the sixth was released instead... and called Final Fantasy III.
Things finally got to "normal" with Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation, but this is a relative term with Square. Past games were ported for release on new systems, and the American numbering system was completely abandoned. Also, all of this applies to just the main series with the numbers - There is still plenty of chicanery going on with Square's side games. For example, there is a tactical RPG called Final Fantasy Tactics that I love. What was the successor to that game called? Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, since it came out for the Game Boy Advance. There is also the incredibly shitty Final Fantasy Mystic Quest that's final boss can be beaten by Cure spells, spin-off games from the main series like Final Fantasy X-2 and Final Fantasy: Dissidia, and legitimate Japanese series (Seiken Densetsu and SaGa) that were slapped with the Final Fantasy label for the initial American releases (Final Fantasy Adventure and Final Fantasy Legend).
Basically, Square is pretty fucked up when it comes to naming. However, getting back to the topic at hand, Final Fantasy VI definitely made the biggest impression on me upon its initial release. The tight but flexible gameplay and bright, colorful visuals in a genre normally known more for text helped separate it from any other game of the time. While the story tends to get overrated - II has a much better narrative - the characters are pretty distinct, which is impressive when 14 of them are playable.
I'll add that my most vigorous complaint about the game comes with people who insist that it is non-linear. Yes, the second half of the game is open-ended when it comes to recruiting your party, but hints are still offered about a preferred order, and you HAVE to recruit at least Celes, Edgar and Setzer. (Stupid effing Setzer.) It's not like there is another ending, and the order you recruit people in has no effect on dialogue, except for minor instances. Also, unless you have a craving for a more difficult game, you're going to recruit at least 12 character anyway to beat the final dungeon.
One thing I've loved about the game is how many bugs and little tricks are in it, many of which have only been recently discovered. For example, did you know that you can make the entire game crash by having an empty party? Did you know that if you only have three party members, you can recruit Shadow in Kohlingen and bring him to the opera? (Note: He leaves, of course.) Did you know you can play large portions of the game without Celes? And if you have the GBA version of the game, you can easily maximize your character stats via a level reset glitch.