Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (20.10.18) - 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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Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (20.10.18) - 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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Re: 342: Final Fantasy VI

Post by duskvstweak » August 14th, 2018, 3:44 pm

In 2000, I had already had my Nintendo 64 for a few years, been a PC gamer since Commander Keen and was impressed with screenshots of what the PS2 was capable of. And yet, when I finally got around to playing Final Fantasy VI, my first Final Fantasy, my first J and non-J rpg, I was still knocked over by the quality. The pixal graphics were gorgeous and expressive, the music was atmospheric and memorable and the characters stuck in my mind whenever I wasn't playing the game.

Really, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't realize I could use summons until the last quarter of the game, my main combat party consisted of characters I thought were cool, which changed on a regular basis and had nothing to do with stats! Looking back, I still can't believe I beat the game, though my strategy of double casting Ultimas for half the cost seemed to do the trick.
Honestly, it's too difficult to put everything I love about this game down in words. The characters were a surrogate family while my own house was going through a divorce, the music finally got me listening to game soundtracks in the outside world, the strategy guide was massive and, with it's beautiful artwork, a constant read for me.

It's still my favorite Final Fantasy and one of my favorite games period, one that I go back to every few years, probably because it's one of my favorite stories, feeling like the Lord of the Rings or the Star Wars of video games.

I started and stopped this post many times and looking back at this one, I still failed to give the game any sort of justice. Final Fantasy VI is special, the combination of story, pixel art, music and gameplay make this something that sticks with you. It's a masterpiece.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (20.10.18) - 342: Final Fantasy VI

Post by Mr Ixolite » September 3rd, 2018, 11:18 am

I find that the plot of FFVI takes a while to get going, with too many return trips to Narshe, but it does eventually get exciting, especially when it reaches the floating continent. But this is where my investment stops. Simply put, I find the world of ruin boring. It was a ballsy, ambitious move, but it also makes the narrative momentum come to an abrupt halt. The game becomes episodic as it tasks you with re-recruiting people you just finished recruiting, and theres not much of a sense of urgency. Part of the fun of the first half was that both the returners and Kefka were being pro-active, but in the World Of Ruin everyone seems to be just sort of minding their own business – including Kefka, whos cooped up in a tower, offscreen.
Not helping matters is that I never found the World of Ruin that ruined; the games color palate was already pretty muted, and theres still a fully functional Opera house. Thus, when everyone goes to fight Kefka, it feels less like a last-ditch effort to save the world, and more like “eh, might as well”. It reminds me a bit of my relationship to current open-world games, though unlike something like Skyrim I did beat FF 6 once, even if I’ve never been compelled to do it again.
I am aware that the nature of the World of Ruin was intentional as FF VIs main priority was developing its massive cast, but I just don’t think said cast is placed in that interesting a story. This combined with the sheer number of party members, made me care about only a handful of them.

Replaying FFVI in preparation for your podcast, I was surprised how dull I found the first stretch of the game. Not so much because the individual characters’ abilities are more limited than in some of the other games, but because said abilities are quite overpowered. For a good chunk of the game, it feels like every battle was a matter of waiting for Edgars Auto-Crossbow.
The overall difficulty of the game (and series) has taken a sharp drop, but things do get more interesting once magicite gets introduced. However, I found this system flawed as well. First you need to wait for the system to get introduced, then you need to equip an esper, then you need to grind, and then you get the magicites’ abilities. As a result, the system discourages experimentation and casual swapping, in favor of sticking it out with a particular esper. On the flip side, once you’ve learnt a spell theres no restrictions at all, and every learnt spell can be used from then on. On the surface this is fine, but it makes characters risk becoming clones, as the most useful espers will be continuously swapped around between characters -especially early on. Theres simply no reason not to teach every character cure, raise, and so on.

Being the7th game in the series I played, I just don’t think Final Fantasy VI could ever have lived up to the hype of “best in the series” for me. Though undoubtedly revolutionary for its time, for me later games had it beat in terms of setting, characters, story, music and even villain, and its immediate predecessor trumped it in pure gameplay terms.
Ultimately, I feel Final Fantasy VI is an OK game, which is a bit like saying The Godfather is a decent movie.

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