Final Fantasy VI: Replaying a Timeless Classic

Final Fantasy VI: Replaying a Timeless Classic

The world could use a little balance

Alex Legard

Written by for Retrospectives on

Final Fantasy VI has left one heck of a legacy and it's still thought of as one of the greatest games of all time by many SNES and Final Fantasy fans. It even appeared as the final speedrun in SGDQ 2018 which took roughly seven hours.

Final Fantasy VI screenshot 1
Emperor Gestahl wants to claim the power of magic; that can't be good!

As I'll get to in a little bit, Final Fantasy VI is very different to most RPGs I've played. It utilises the Active Time Battle system and while this didn't originate in Final Fantasy VI, it's interesting to see it being used in future Final Fantasy games like X-2, XIII, and XIII-2. I didn't like the ATB system at all in some of these games while in others, I thought it worked out well. For example, I really didn't like it in Final Fantasy X-2 and I'm not really sure why. In the case of Final Fantasy VI, I didn't have any problems with the battle system at all. Sure, it can be daunting when you have a ton of different magic spells and items but when you're going through the menus; time seems to slow down anyway. You don't have many spells at the beginning of the game so you get plenty of time to become accustomed to the few spells that you have without worrying much about time pressure.

Most Final Fantasy games have a lot of interesting nuances to their battle systems and Final Fantasy VI is no different. Every enemy you face is unique as some have high magic defence, others have high physical defence, and many have elemental weaknesses that you can take advantage of. Some monsters can inflict annoying status ailments that can be a pain so thankfully, you can lessen the annoyance by preventing them with certain useful relics. The difficulty is not too steep on a typical playthrough if you don't run away from many battles but you can thoroughly challenge yourself by trying to complete it on a lower level than normal. Speaking of which, I'm amazed by Puwexil's SGDQ run because of how low of a level he was for the first half of the campaign.

Final Fantasy VI screenshot 2
You get the airship twice and each time, the world opens up to you

Final Fantasy VI's story is classic but I don't want to get into it much because it's best if you experience it for yourself. It's separated into two halves: the first half (known as the World of Balance) is fairly linear and contains some fantastic storytelling while the second half (the World of Ruin) is where the game world opens up as you can suddenly access a whole bunch of new areas but the difficulty curve can get a little frustrating if you visit them out of order. By the time you reach the World of Ruin, all the major characters have lost something important to them so there's a clear theme of loss but that turns to hope once you assemble to take on the final dungeon.

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Final Fantasy VI naturally has a great progression system since you start with one character (Terra) who can attack and use a few simple spells. You slowly meet new characters and learn new spells which increases the options that you have in battle. A quarter of the way through, you gain the ability to use magicite which summons an esper to aid you with a special attack. Espers are exceptionally strong but you can only use them once per battle which I think is a great way to encourage you to use different attacks.

Final Fantasy VI screenshot 3
Some towns (like Mobliz) aren't doing so well in the World of Ruin...

What I enjoy most about Final Fantasy VI is the feeling of victory that you get after taking out strong enemies. The campaign is quite long and the story is awesome so it actually feels like there's something at stake. It helps that there are many visually distinct bosses including the final boss, the phantom train, and a certain ninja that you need to defeat in Zozo. I can still remember these simply because they looked so unique. It's very satisfying to beat a boss that was giving you trouble as well as complete the first half of the story only to reach the World of Ruin. Finally, taking out the final boss and saving the world feels fantastic but what feels even better is beating the purple octopus Ultros for the fourth time... don't ask.

My only gripe is how frequently you get into random encounters. Exploring a difficult dungeon then getting into a battle for the 100th time can drive you up the wall. Luckily, the encounters can be mitigated with special items like smoke bombs or Molulu's charm.

Final Fantasy VI screenshot 4
Atma can't hit me if I fly with Palidor! Haha!

Final Fantasy VI is the most challenging game that I've beaten on the SNES classic so far. At 41 hours, I played it longer than my brother and I played The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past combined and we both completed that game 100%. Final Fantasy VI simply doesn't get old. In fact, it's still tickling the back of my brain, urging me to play it again.

In the end, Final Fantasy VI is one of the best RPGs that I've ever played. If you enjoy RPGs at all then you should definitely play it. For the record, I would recommend this SNES version because I have no idea what the Steam or mobile versions are like.

Gameplay video for Final Fantasy VI 4:55
Final Fantasy VI Trivia

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