Alas, this was written in the dark days of my writing ignorance, kept now only for posterity. For a better article (a relative comparison, I assure you), click here.
Final Fantasy VI (or Final Fantasy III as it was known at the time on the SNES) was an epiphany for me. I never realized before that games could have stories, let alone ones as engrossing as this. I remember in 1994, going over my friends house and him showing me this game he rented. Up to this point, The Legend of Zelda was the most complex game story wise I’d play. Which unless you were paying attention, you could completely miss it.
FFVI is a RPG (Role-Playing Game). You control a group of up to 14 characters, taking up to four into battle at a time. The rebels you control band together to fight a tyrannical empire. Each character has their own story, background, and reasons for fighting. The first, and arguably main character is Terra, a half Esper. Esper’s are a different race of people, who bring magic into the world. The empire is trying to harness and control their power, killing them in the process.
Unlike many different RPG’s, FFVI is a two player game. One play controls the characters out of battle, while you can assign characters to each player in battle (2-2, 3-1, 1-3). For us, this made the game even more fun. Many games of this type give you a group of characters to use, but limit you to only 3-5 for battle. This makes it easy for a few to languish, never to be used. Not so with FFVI. Many times there are multi-group battles. Where you need 4-5 different groups (each comprised of at least 1, up to 4 characters). No game I’ve played since has ever done anything like this.
Two particular moments still stick in my head to this day. The first being the split scenarios. Early in the game the small group splits, needing to head in different directions. You’re given the choice of which of the three to play. After you complete each part, you pick from the remainder until all three are finished. The road leads to the same point, but the freedom of choice was amazing.
Spoilers for a nearly 20 year old game. The second was the world of ruin. Halfway through the game, you confront the main villain in what is billed to be the final conflict. Failing to stop him, he destroys the three goddess statues which kept the world in balance. From there you escape, while one character, Shadow, holds off the pursuers. A 5 min timer counts down your escape. Fail and the game ends. The secret was to wait to escape. With 5 seconds to spare, Shadow returns to escape with you. Leave too soon and he’s gone for good. Upon escaping the world is torn asunder, with your group scattered to the winds. From there you start to recollect them. Only a handful need to be found. It is entirely possible to not find them all (or the two new hidden ones), and still beat the game (good luck). Again, showing how open ended the story could be, molding it to the player.
I was completely enthralled. Sadly, it was years before I acquired my own copy. Thankfully though, this game opened up the door for many others, like Chrono Trigger. I can honestly say this game changed my life, not only showing me a different side to games, but seeing all the possibilities for stories and delivery.
Has a game ever changed your life? Sick of video games and rather I talk about something else? Comment or tweet!
And of course, the opening.