Also known as Final Fantasy III over in America, Final Fantasy VI remains an RPG classic from the SNES era. Released in April of 1994 over in Nippon, a couple of weeks after Nintendo’s remarkable Super Metroid (and some folks wonder why the SNES is hailed as the best games console ever! LOL! Noobs!), it was a radical game for the time which wrapped up many RPG game of the year awards. Good for it.
It’s since been ported, and remastered, across various other systems, including the Game Boy Advance and for Steam (where its beautiful 16 bit cartoony graphics were replaced with polygons). As Nintendo selected it for inclusion on the SNES Mini Classic, it’s provided us with a glorious opportunity to revisit the game and see if it’s stood the test of time.
Final Fantasy VI
As with many Final Fantasy titles, the plot is quite a complex mesh of dramas. It can be summarised as follows: In a fantasy world ruled by fantastical machinery, rebels attempt to quash an evil dictatorship. Into this, Squaresoft thrust in 14 playable characters (a bit over the top, frankly) in an ambitious attempt to land a classic RPG.
Is it a classic? Certainly at the time it was a major achievement and it’s still a highly enjoyable game to lose yourself in. There are niggling issues here and there (the randomised battles can get grating, particularly after the graceful brilliance of Breath of the Wild), but this is a fine effort which offers challenging gameplay and was a major attempt to deliver something grand scale and epic on the SNES.
Compared with Final Fantasy VII, considered by many to be the best installment in the series and released three years after VI on the PlayStation, it’s still an adventurous title. The graphics even often look as good as the ’97 classic, although Squaresoft ultimately took the series away from Nintendo due to the gaming giant’s decision to stick with cartridges (a mistake 20 years ago, although it has returned to them with the Nintendo Switch rather successfully).
With FFVII, Squaresoft wanted to work with CDs – over three of them, an epic 20 hours or so of gameplay is available if you play at a leisurely pace. Yet FFVI is a huge game which crams in around 15 hours of gameplay time. What it lacks, which is where Squaresoft wanted to try (rather jarringly) to enhance the experience, are the short FMV sequences of its successor.
At the time these were a major deal in FFVII, as FMV was all rather new. Now they just look a bit stupid compared to the real in-game graphics. As we’ve banged on about a lot before, these cutscenes now plague many AAA games like a nasty rash. Even the likes of the great Shigeru Miyamoto and Steven Spielberg (who likes his games, believe it or not) have stated cutscenes should be reduced as they’re awkward and ruin the flow of gameplay.
Thankfully, they’re rather short in FFVII, and you can see why Squaresoft wanted to try them out, but with this element lacking from VI this is where the game has an advantage of its much vaunted follow up.
Nobuo Uematsu composed the game’s, largely, excellent soundtrack. This being a Final Fantasy game from the ’90s, there’s one thing guaranteed – some banging tunes! The main theme is the best of the lot, we think, and particularly stirring as you wander about the map ready to save the world.
There are a few dodgy compositions which get tiresome after repeated listens, however, which can add to your frustration if you’re getting randomised attacks going on with a grating piece of music. It’s also not quite up to Secret of Mana standards, which was released a year earlier (true to its innovative form, Squaresoft did away with randomised battles in that game with largely better results).
With the release of the SNES Classic Mini, Final Fantasy III (as it’s called on the system, to reflect the initial American release, but it’s still VI don’t you worry about it) was one of the best received additions to the console, with Secret of Mana faring worse in critical assessments. We feel this is a glowing endorsement to its lasting legacy.
The Final Fantasy franchise is also still going strong, with the most recent being Final Fantasy XV (eh?!) which met with largely positive reviews. There’s also a Final Fantasy VII remake in development which looks… okay. We mean, massively souped up graphics, of course, but with the usual modern lashings of horrendous voice acting and endless cutscenes. It’ll be worth a look.