Annoyingly it didn't make it across to Europe though until eight years later, in March 2002, by which point it had gotten its proper title back again (and was ironically the sixth numbered FF game released over here anyway, after 7, 8, 9, 4 and 5).
I'll admit right now that I'm not coming into the game entirely clueless this time as I have actually finished this once before. Though I had my face buried in a walkthrough the whole time and I wasn't actually paying attention, so it'll basically be all new to me.
It mostly shows the character above leading a pair of soldiers through a high tech military base, where they all climb aboard giant bipedal robot walkers while the villain Kefka watches with villainous glee. No sign of any crystals though surprisingly; they seem to be sitting this one out.
It turns out that she's actually a sorceress captured by the Empire and given a Slave Crown to force her follow their orders. The orders in this case being to stomp through this snowy mining town and find an Esper, whether the inhabitants like it or not. And I'm guessing they don't much like it, as these two mummies are coming over to start some shit.
Also hey I've got Star Wars characters Biggs Darklighter and Wedge Antilles on the team! Uh, I mean Vicks and Wedge sorry, and sadly Vicks doesn't have a badass moustache like Biggs does in the film.
A FEW RANDOM ENCOUNTERS AND A BOSS BATTLE LATER.
Oh shit, it just vapourised Wedge and Vicks! They were my favourite characters so far (and basically the only characters seeing as the sorceress currently has her mind bypassed by a Slave Crown.) The Esper zaps her with lightning, there's an explosion, and everything goes black.
Fortunately a squad of these little white bat things called moogles have turned up to protect Terra from the wolf men (caves sometimes have wolf men in you see). Now I get a minigame where I have to switch between the different moogle teams and move them to engage the wolf man teams as they slowly walk up the level. If they meet I'm dragged off into a regular battle, except I'm controlling a team of moogles. A bit random, but whatever.
Uh, I mean he wants to recruit Terra for the resistance against the Empire because of her rare natural ability to use magic. Time to hightail it southward to Figaro.
SOME EXPLORING AND RANDOM ENCOUNTERS LATER.
Like in every Final Fantasy game so far, I march up through the castle in a straight line to the throne room to speak directly with the King. After he's finished giving Terra the finger, King Edgar explains that he's interested in her magic ability and that she should feel free to relax and wander about the castle. And then he and Locke leave the room and just abandon her here.
You promised you'd stick with me until I got my memory back, Locke! You bastard!
|Final Fantasy V (PSX)|
Though damn you can really see the massive improvement in art between the games. It's funny how taller characters and few extra tiles makes such a difference. There is one thing that bothers me about the art though (and probably exclusively me).
So I'm leaving. I'm walking out into the desert alone and I'm going to find something else to do.
FOUR LEVEL UPS LATER.
It turns out that Edgar was sitting in the room that he left me in the whole time. The one room I didn't think to look in, because I already knew he wasn't there. Except he was! AGH!
Well I can't say that I much enjoyed being left to wander around another fucking castle searching for the trigger for the next bit of plot. Though maybe I'm just suffering from castle fatigue after playing so many FF games in quick succession.
Unfortunately threats aren't Kefka's strong point. I mean sure he's quick to think up ways to make people suffer and he can deliver them very convincingly, but the purpose of a threat is generally to make people do what you want in order to avoid unpleasant consequences. Kefka is very fond of unpleasant consequences though, so before the King can even decide what he's going to do about Locke and Terra he finds his castle's already on fire and the three of them are forced to make a run for it.
As they make their escape, King Edgar reveals that he and Locke are both members of the resistance against the Empire and that their mentor Banon would really like to meet Terra because of her magical powers, as magic will be the key to winning the war against the Empire.
I like how that fluffy eyeball monster is just sitting there waiting for them to finish being crazy and get back to fighting. He looks so bemused by it all.
NPCs have to say a line when you press 'action' on them, that's the sacred JRPG rule. It doesn't have to be anything helpful, but they have to say something and this guy is blatantly breaking that rule, at least that's how Locke seems to see it. I was honestly wondering if the two of them were going to come to blows over this, until Edgar stepped in and defused it.
Sabin's got his own unique special attacks, called Blitzes, each triggered with a different combination of button presses like the special moves in a fighting game. I remember first time around it took me forever to get them to work, but it made perfect sense this time. You just input the moves after selecting the 'Blitz' command, while the arrow's pointing at Sabin. Maybe they should have thrown a button input box on screen at the appropriate time to avoid any confusion.
The leader, Banon, explains that he's interested in her magic and that she should feel free to relax and wander about the cave. Aw crap, not this again.
I suppose I just have to go and talk to all my party members to make Banon reappear. Or maybe not, who knows? Being able to walk around freely and chat to people is a whole lot less fun when it's mandatory.
TIME PASSES, URGE TO SNAP GAME RISES.
But yeah obviously the game wasn't going to continue until I came crawling back them and I soon ended up joining a crack team taking a wild river rapids ride to that snowy mining town to investigate the Esper from the start of the game. If Banon falls in a battle I lose, so I'm making sure to fight as many battles as I can along the way to level him up before the inevitable boss fight.
LATER, AT THE INEVITABLE BOSS FIGHT.
So now I have three parties to play as: Terra's team racing towards the mining town, Locke trapped in an Empire occupied town, or Sabin floating down a river. I'll go with Locke first, because why not?
Locke's scenario seems to based around going through every building and entering every room until I stumble across a way to get past the Empire's guards to the to the next area of town. And then I get to do it again, and again, and again.
MEANWHILE, IN SABIN'S SCENARIO.
Then to make things even more complicated, this new character called Cyan has just found that his wife and child have been poisoned by Kefka and has sworn revenge! So the three of them soon join up, and steal a ride.
Oh by the way that enemy I'm fighting is supposed to be in the exact same vehicle my guys are driving. The same one from the CGI intro too. The game just doesn't give a fuck about art consistency sometimes.
(Still, bloody good pixelwork in my opinion.)
Oh by the way, Sabin LOVES to throw himself off waterfalls and into rivers. He must have done it at least three times by now. Well I suppose it is the fastest way to travel (aside from a ghost train of course.)
Don't worry, the train survived in the end and the ghosts on board all made to the afterlife. We didn't doom every human who is and ever will be to be trapped on this plane, fated to wander the world in spectral form for all eternity and never know rest. Though we came pretty close there.
I think I'd better turn this off now, before anyone else tries to join my team and drag me through another cave.
Final Fantasy VI is definitely the best looking of the six 2D FF games, and a clear step above FFV in graphics, but the story's all over the place so far and it loves to come to a dead stop until I've found the right plot trigger NPCs to chat with. I suppose Square had the expectation that RPG players are naturally eager to run around talking to every NPC they can find to absorb every fact they can, so there'd be no harm to making it mandatory at certain points. That way the developers could make sure that players have received all the plot critical information before continuing with the story. Personally though, when I get boxed into an area I get impatient and start skipping through dialogue so I can get back to the game.
The gameplay appears more or less the same as in the other SNES FF games, except a little more polished perhaps, and it seemed fine to my untrained eye. The addition of unique skills without a resource cost, like Edgar's tools and Cyan's swordtechs, helped make random encounters a little less monotonous, though I still found myself holding back on magic until boss fights to conserve my limited mana. Which is a shame I reckon.
Oh and the way it kept passing along the protagonist role made it hard for me to get attached to any of the characters as if they were my character. FFIV also mixed up the party frequently, but at least that was clearly Cecil's story: no matter who else joined the team I was always playing as Cecil. This seems to be mostly about Terra so far, but she's just as likely to suddenly turn bright pink and fly away from the player's control as any of the characters. Perhaps even more so!
If the story had stuck with the one team, or been more obviously split between parallel storylines like FFVIII, I may have enjoyed it more. But as it is it just felt like a stream of loosely connected ideas with no focus and I couldn't get invested in any of it.
Anyway, that's what I think about the first few hours of Final Fantasy VI, aka. Final Fantasy III, but feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think and explain how I'm wrong about everything. Opinions are welcome.