in recent times i’ve realized that i’ve become really, really bored with turn-based RPGs, so much so that the thought of taking on another one becomes rather disheartening. i’ve cast enough fir1, lit2, and cur3 spells to last me a lifetime. but final fantasy III for the SNES (a.k.a. final fantasy VI) is another one of those games that’s so universally praised that i knew i would have to play through it at some point, so despite not having finished FF2 (i.e. FF4) i finally forced myself to sit down and start in on it.
and it actually wasn’t so bad. in fact, i’d even say that the first half kept me reasonably well engaged. having avoided reading anything about the game the climactic event that occurs at the 1/2way point was fairly surprising and pretty notable. there were also a few distinctly memorable events, such as the opera scene and celes’ “leap of faith”. the characters are entertaining, and it’s interesting that each has his/her own special abilities, although rather too many of these specialized abilities are pretty much useless.
the second half was less interesting, however. this nostalgia-avoiding reminescence at gamespite.net puts most of the blame of the second half on the game’s espers mechanic, which enables any character to learn magic:
- “[I]t’s hard to really care about the characters once you get so far into the game. Until the World of Ruin, the characters are all distinct in some manner, each with their own skills and the little bit of magic they’re able to learn. … the characters in Final Fantasy VI lack significant distinction as they all eventually become walking death-machines, each with the same magic. Their individual skills, so useful at the outset, are frankly useless in comparison. After a certain point, it’s just hard to care about making a unique team anymore; all of the characters’ original traits are soon destroyed by a broken magic system where anyone can learn anything.”
this is an interesting observation, but not my main complaint. the second half of the game has a somewhat interesting setup where your party is scattered to the winds and you have to find each person one by one and re-recruit him/her. but the bit-by-bit pacing gave the whole sequence a feeling of being just a series of sidequests rather than an actual story, especially since you’re revisiting previous locales. (although the world map’s geography changes, the towns are still pretty much the same.) the writer at gamespite likens this second half to an early version of a sandbox game, and comments that it feels “like a single-player MMORPG in a very empty world”. i’m not quite sure i agree with his assessment, although i do agree with his comment that “after a certain point in the World of Ruin, there’s really nothing left to do but grind for levels, items, rages, lores, and the errata that’s hard to find interesting as an adult.”
i also have some less-than-minor quibbles, such as how tedious it is to collect even a fraction of the rages/lores let alone all of them, and the fact that you have to use so many characters for the final dungeon that you probably never really would use otherwise (and as a result a number of them are probably significantly underlevelled). in the end this was an enjoyable game for an RPG (haha) and although it didn’t become a great favorite i have grown fond of most of the characters, particularly my main man gao as well as mog and umaro. i’m clearly never going to be a huge final fantasy fan, but after this experience i won’t mind playing through more of the main series. i’m definitely on the lookout for more-unique RPGs for the future though. hmmm … foreshadowing … … … ?
finally, final fantasy links. FF RPGs have a zillion links online, but here are a few of the more noteworthy ones:
- this is the FAQ that i found the most comprehensive and useful, although it’s rather bloated.
- pretty good game site at ffcompendium.com including a copy of the game script, lores and rages FAQs, and high-res images of the world maps
- another good game site at rpgclassics.com: has a ton of images, including enemy sprites
- entry at wikipedia
- endings at vgmuseum.com
- PDF of manual at replacementdocs.com