It took me several years since buying it, but I finally decided to fire up the latest version of one of my all-time favorite games: Final Fantasy VI Advance. Review ahead.
Look, Final Fantasy VI is one of my favorite games of all time. When I played my first RPG, Final Fantasy VI (which I thought was Final Fantasy II at the time), my mind was blown. I sought out other RPGs, played more RPGs at friends' houses, and eventually found my way to Final Fantasy VI. And also Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, and Secret of Mana, but those are stories for another day.
So, Final Fantasy VI. I became friends with my eventual best bud David around 16 or 17 years ago in large part because we enjoyed the same video games, in large part FF VI. When I posted that article about the cast of characters in FF VI, he ended up arguing about it with me for over an hour afterward. Anyhow, this is one of my favorite RPGs and I'll try and keep this article short.
First, if you want to hear about the story and characters in Final Fantasy VI, check out my post on FF VI's cast right here. The gist of it is that Terra is a young woman with magic powers who was enslaved by the Empire using a device that robs her of free will. An accident occurs and Terra is freed from the Empire's control; she soon meets up with a group of freedom fighters rebelling against the Empire. From there, Final Fantasy VI's plot goes from military conflicts to ancient magical monsters to a near-apocalypse. It's an epic tale with a whopping 14 playable characters, and one of the best RPGs of all time.
Everything from the SNES version of FF VI isn't broke. The combat, using a refined version of the active-time battles from FF IV and FF V, is fast-moving. The variety of skill sets available to the game's 14 (fourteen!) characters is excellent, and the plot is fast-moving enough to keep players invested and on their toes. FF VI still has the menu management and random battles of other Japanese RPGs of its era and those systems can be a little clunky, but nothing is broke and I'd say that FF VI has aged better than most other 90s RPGs.
And part of why FF VI has aged so well? Nice, clean sprite-based visuals. They looked AWESOME in 1995, and very nice today. 90s sprites have aged far better than 90s pre-rendered assets and 90s polygons, and FF VI's great sprites and detailed environments and backgrounds look excellent on the GBA's small screen (and probably pretty good on a large screen). Regarding audio, FF VI is one of the best all-time. Uematsu's soundtrack boasts unique themes for each character, plus dozens of other memorable tunes. I'm not sure it's Uematsu's greatest soundtrack, but it's a contender. Outstanding musical score.
The Advance version of FF VI has a new translation and it's fine. I have a lot of affection for the original Woolsey version, but the new one is very good indeed, elaborating some of the vaguer stuff from the original translation and keeping a few of the more "classic" lines in place. Plus, FF VI Advance adds a super-tough bonus dungeon, a few new Espers, and some viewing modes like a bestiary. None of the new content is intrusive into the main story, and it's all there in good fun. Plus Diablos is motherfucking BROKE and it's a blast.
Look, if you like Japanese RPGs and you have a spare 25 or 30 hours, FF VI is a must-play. The Advance version's small fixes and new translation are very nice, and it's arguably the best version of the game. So I'll end it here. This is a short review, but I've done more than enough FF VI writing in the past month or two. So I'll let this go with my strongest of recommendations: if you haven't played Final Fantasy VI, you're doing it wrong.
Games Beaten: 2013 Edition
1. Persona 4
2. Pokemon White Version 2
4. Persona 4 Arena
5. Persona 3 FES: The Journey (NG+)
6. Hexyz Force
7. Persona 4 (NG+)
9. Tales of Vesperia
11. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
12. Final Fantasy VI Advance
13. Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4
14. inFamous 2 Evil Finish
15. Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis
Yeah, I know. I'm still behind on my 2013 goals AND behind on writing these reviews. As you can see from the list, I've already finished two additional games beyond Rain-Slick 4; hopefully those reviews will come in less than a week. I'm also hacking away at two other target games: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Metroid Prime. The plan is to finish those before August is over. Until next time, all.