342: Final Fantasy VI

This is where you'll find threads specific to the games we're covering in Volume Six
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342: Final Fantasy VI

Post by JaySevenZero » December 31st, 2017, 3:28 pm

Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding Final Fantasy VI for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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Re: 342: Final Fantasy VI

Post by Craig » April 29th, 2018, 4:07 am

I was a teenager when we first starting seeing JRPGs coming to consoles in Europe, or at least becoming popular. Pokemon and Final Fantasy VII where huge hits like nothing I'd seen before. At the same time, emulators and the internet were also on the rise so hearing and playing these older huge games was like opening a world I had never seen before. I later bought the PSX port, but the load times were as baffling as they were annoying.

I never did actually finish the game, but the music has stayed with me ever since. Saying "Nobuo Uematsu is a bit good" is like going on Desert Island Discs and choosing "The best of the Beatles" - everyone knows this, but sometimes you've got to do it.

This music was part of my formative years. I would load up winamp with the soundtrack in midi form, stick on my headphones and be engrossed. It's as dramatic as it is playful. Unified as it is varied. Triumphant as it is harrowing. The piano collection based on these tracks is a wonderful album showing how the melodies and harmonies still shine while being stripped to their bare bones and later orchestrated versions show they can excel in their bombast.

But it's important to remember just how considered these tracks are in game. The careful use of soundfonts gives everything a sound which doesn't sound constrained by the SNES hardware, but rather leans into what it can do. Even with the unbelievable scope Uematsu had with leit motifs, opera and huge prog-rock influences (you can practically see Rick Wakeman in his cape playing the keyboard in the final boss music), the attention to detail is also astounding. Take for example the soundscape created in the percussion for "Narshe" - it includes a breathy sound which adds to the huge unease the track. It's unclear whether it's an exasperated sigh or a release of steam, playing into the themes of unrest and blurred lines between the biological and natural world. It's something that is unlikely to see in a soundtrack which must abide by hardware limits, but it's clear they went above and beyond to set the mood.

This soundtrack is also important for me as it set me on the track to making music myself. In those days of midi files for soundtracks, you could import these files into the music notation software, Sibelius. From here I would look at the tracks I enjoyed and stuck with me so deeply - why does this part sound so dramatic? How did they make this part stand out so much? What would happen if I changed this? I would be doing very basic music analysis on these tracks and using them to make my own (admittedly rip offs at the time!) I always remember spending a Sunday comparing Edgar`s theme and the Coin song - at it's core, they are the same, but I was fascinated in how and why they managed to portray such dramatically different feelings. This game helped me to look deeper into music and to consider harmony, texture and melody at an important time in my development.

I want to go back and finish this game one day, but the music will always brighten my day regardless.

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