In Part I of this mini (SNES CLASSIC MINI AM I RIGHT HAHA i’m sorry) series about my adventures with my new favourite console-slash-emulator-thing, we learned that I really, really like A Link to the Past, am terrible at Super Punch-Out but rather like it, and think that Super Mario World is one of the better Marios to ever be a Mario. Part II took us on a journey of no progress whatsoever, with me having stalled at Punch-Out and left Zelda just slightly too long to be able to go back and remember what I’m meant to be doing. On the other hand, though, I did start Super Metroid, and Other Half Hannah and I finished Super Mario World and got started on Yoshi’s Island.
So where are we now?
FINAL FANTASY VI
Yeah, I’ve started another new game without finishing the previous ones. And, to be honest, the only thing I’ve really been playing since writing Part II is FFVI. I am going to be referring to it as the sixth instalment, by the way, even though it was released on the SNES as FFIII and the Classic sticks to that numbering.
Here’s the thing about this snazzy little console. Most of the games on it are probably from before I was born. FFVI came out in ’94, so I was somewhere between not born and a bit under one year old; I’ve been a person-who-plays-games for a pretty long time now, and I try to play diverse titles from all eras and genres, but there are so many games in the world that I just haven’t been able to play a lot of things that I really ought to have given a shot by now. Having the SNES Classic makes 20+ of those games (and I’m considering TOTALLY LEGAL WAYS of having even more on there, once I’m done with most of the ones already represented) instantly accessible in a way that really just makes it so much simpler to decide to play one, if that makes sense. Like, if I’d wanted to play a game from a bygone era before the Classic, I’d have had to go through a buttload of hassle for each specific game; I’d have to already want to play that game enough to go to trouble to be able to access it. Now I’ve just got a bunch available, which means I can go ‘oh, hey, FFVI‘s there, I like Final Fantasy, why haven’t I played this yet? Balls to it, I SURELY SIMPLY WILL DO SO’.
And so it is that I, a 24-year-old feller who’s been playing Final Fantasy games for about half my life, am finally coming to play FFVI for the first time ever. I knew a few things about it just via cultural osmosis, but I’m going in almost entirely blind, in practice.
And good Lord, it’s shaping up to be a good game.
Anyone who’s played it will surely know what I mean when I say simply: that opening. I only needed to turn on the game and watch the opening credits to feel like this is a game I won’t be forgetting in a hurry, one I could quite well lose myself in (in a good way). It’s very simple, as I guess the hardware necessitated: three people, each in some sort of mecha-armour thing, walk across a landscape while Nobuo Uematsu’s sweet music plays. I can’t even explain why it’s effective, or what it’s actually effective at, I just know it gave me some unquantifiable sense that this was going to be a good story.
I may not be very far into that story just yet, but I’m liking what I’ve seen. As amnesiac-possible-Imperial-soldier-lady-with-green-hair Terra (who can use magic, by the way, which the opening establishes hasn’t been seen for centuries or something like that), I’ve encountered the thief – er, TREASURE HUNTER – Locke, wandered to the city of Figaro (it’s definitely no bigger than a city, it’s just a castle, but for some reason it’s got a king) and met His Highness Edgar – and heard tales of his twin brother Sabin. Then I witnessed the entirety of Figaro turn into some sort of steampunk submarine castle thing and swim away under the sand, escaping from peculiar clown-feller Kefka. (Which, to my delight, caused him to react with the famous ‘submariner’ quote.) Of course, I knew already that Kefka’s a jester or something and that he’s the villain of this game. I wasn’t expecting to encounter him quite so early, though, and his role at this point is kind of ambiguous. He waltzes into Figaro to tell Edgar that the Emperor isn’t happy that Figaro’s harbouring Terra, or something like that – yup, there’s an Emperor and somehow Edgar’s still a monarch of a tiny castle village thing – and then sets fire to the castle. Luckily, it can do the aforementioned subsandmarine thing. Anyway, Kefka at this point comes across as a lackey to the Emperor, potentially someone who might be a midgame boss before we get to the Big Bad behind him, but I already know that’s not what goes down, so I’m interested to see how Kefka develops from here. He is already creepy as heck, I’ll say that about him.
Gameplay-wise, I’m mostly just mashing ‘fight’ and healing when I need to, which is working for me so far. It’s an active turn-based system, though I’ve set my configurations so that enemies will wait their turn rather than attacking while I’m picking my next move; I might change this at some point, but I’m still getting used to it for now. I don’t expect to be hugely surprised by any of the battle mechanics, although I was impressed by one detail: when I decided to make Terra use magic when fighting alongside Edgar and Locke, they reacted with total astonishment at seeing her do it. The game didn’t force me to use magic (although I expect that the vast majority of players will have spotted they had Cure and used it during the battle, which would have been easy to get to low health in), so it felt organic that I acted and my party members reacted. I don’t necessarily expect to see many more story-during-battle moments like this, but it was a cool little touch.
I’m also vaguely aware that FFVI has a pretty big roster of characters; I hope they don’t all get introduced too quickly, since I already feel like I don’t reaaaaally know who Edgar and Locke are as people. (Nor Terra, in fact, but she’s a special case because right now she doesn’t know who she is either.) I do like Locke’s humour, as well as what I know about Edgar and Sabin’s backstory looking like a pretty well-thought-out take on the whole idea of being chosen for monarchy whether you like it or not.
Anyway, from what I’ve seen so far, I trust this game to be a good one. I can only apologise to literally all the other games on the SNES Classic, which will have to wait until I’m done with this one for me to get back to them.