Developer: Square Enix | Year: 2007 | List Price: ~$49.99 | Buy from Amazon
Remember in February when I posted my first impressions on Bravely Default and said I’d never played a JRPG before? Well Bravely Default sold me on the genre and several weeks back I went to a used game store and got Final Fantasy VI Advance for $50, which was a pretty steep price but better than any online solution I could find. (I also got Chrono Trigger DS, which I’ve just started, so look out for that review soon!). I’d always been interested in the hype surrounding Final Fantasy, so I looked up the ones available on any platform I own (basically meaning I through VI) and then looked up which was supposedly the best out of those titles.
It was a toss-up between this and Final Fantasy IV on DS, but having tried that one once before and having been annoyed by the strange 3D graphics and slow interface (I wonder if I should try that title on GBA, any thoughts?), I decided to go with VI on GBA. And wow! What an experience! I completely understand why some consider this one of the best games of all time. Since I’m currently working at a residential summer camp, I didn’t have much free time in the past few weeks to get much playing in, but I still found Final Fantasy VI eating up my breaks, because for some reason, the world is so engrossing.
The story is interesting, all of the characters (possibly barring 2 secret ones which aren’t given much backstory) are likeable, relatable, and memorable, and the gameplay throws just enough into the mix to prevent it from being too dry over its 30+ hour quest. Instead of me throwing too much banter at you, why don’t we break this game down?
Design: 10/10 Final Fantasy VI’s story focuses around an ensemble cast, none of whom can be really considered the main character but who are all given a unique backstory that makes the player care about their ordeal. The villian is also one of the most insane, power-hungry, and sadistic characters I’ve ever seen in a video game. Add to that a roller-coaster of plot twists and well-written dialogue, and you’ve got yourself the perfect premise for a video game.
Visuals: 8/10 The game is far from ugly, but it’s also clear this is a remake of a SNES game from yesteryear. The sprites are crisp and backgrounds still manage to be beautiful, but this in no way pushes the limits of the GBA’s hardware.
Sound: 9/10 Final Fantasy VI’s soundtrack was composed by Nobuo Uematsu and I’d be hard-pressed to find a track I dislike. I particularly enjoy the use of motifs to represent each character. By the end of the game, just hearing each character’s theme is enough to remind you of the part they played in getting you to the end of the story. I saw some complaints that this GBA remake simplified some of the tracks, and listening to the SNES source material online, I can see what folks mean, but it’s not as dramatic as some make it out to be.
Gameplay: 8/10 The tried-and-tested JRPG formula shines here, with not much else to speak of except for the Active Time Battle gauge, which was new for me but not new for the time. It certainly prevents you from sitting for minutes at a time plotting your next move, which is possible in a true turn-based RPG, but towards the end of the game I found myself bored with the endless random encounters. I just wanted to progress the story, and so I followed a walkthrough for the second half (not recommended as the best way to play, but I still had a good experience overall). I really enjoyed the boss battles, though, and they were really what kept me playing in what was a slightly slower endgame.
Value: 8/10 There’s not a whole lot to do after the main plot, but seeing as that’s a 30+ hour main quest, it’s hard to complain. I could still see myself playing the game again in a couple months or so, though, just to go through the experience again and perhaps experiment with different characters.
Total: 43/50 (A)
List Price: ~$49.99 | Buy from Amazon
Have you played Final Fantasy VI, on the GBA or elsewhere? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my thoughts? Tell us in the comments!
When the summer’s done, I’ll have far more time to play and review games, so watch out for a Shovel Knight and/or Chrono Trigger DS review in the coming weeks!