As a huge fan of RPGs, I have played and replayed many titles in the Final Fantasy franchise. Somehow, even with its many releases on multiple platforms, I have never played more than a couple hours of Final Fantasy VI. Admittedly, I didn’t even try to play it until many years after its initial release and that may have been a contributing factor as to why it couldn’t hold my interest. With how many people hold this particular entry in the long-running franchise so close to their hearts, I can’t help but feel I’m missing out and so I’ve decided there’s no more messing around. It’s time to buckle down and finally beat what so many consider the greatest Final Fantasy and I invite you along for the ride as I document each day I play. Without access to the original SNES version, I’ll be playing the remastered version that was released for the Sony PlayStation.
As the game open, the player is provided the backstory for this world. Basically, magic was a destructive force from long ago that scorched the world. Since that time magic has been lost and the world entered a type of industrial revolution. The Gesthal Empire, using their technology (most specifically their Magitek Armor) are looking to revive magic and tighten their grip on the world. To this end, they have a young woman under their control who mysteriously can use magic. I’d say this is a slightly typical storyline for an RPG but bearing in mind that this is an older game, I’m sure this type of story was very fresh for its time. The opening also does very well what most Final Fantasy titles achieve by really nailing the atmosphere of the game. The town of Narshe is dark and what seems to be some type of steam-based technology sends puffs of the vapor into the air as you make your way through fighting their soldiers and dogs. Being an introductory section of Final Fantasy VI, this area can be a little boring otherwise as the enemies don’t provide much of a challenge as you overpower them in your Magitek Armor. Thankfully, it’s a pretty short section and the story moves along quickly as you encounter what is known as an Esper, a type of magical being familiar to Final Fantasy fans, in the mines below Narshe.
I don’t want to spoil anything for those that decide as I do to finally play this title, so I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as I can and just say the event in the mines with the Esper lead to the mysterious girl Terra being nursed back to health by an old man in Narshe. He tells her the soldiers of Narshe are looking for her and she must head back into the mines to escape. She descends into the mines alone and without her memories only to be cornered by the town’s soldiers. Enter Locke, a thief (or treasure hunter as he likes to be called) who is ordered by the old man to follow Terra and help her get to a resistance group called The Returners who defy the Empire. Locke enters the mines after Terra and encounters a large number of Narshe’s soldiers but is assisted in the battle by the Moogles, another Final Fantasy staple. I’ve played this part before and I really dislike it. You have to command three “units” two of which are all Moogles and the third which includes Locke. It isn’t a difficult part of the game just a little annoying that I try to complete quickly by clearing a path through the onscreen enemies and make a run for the commander to end the encounter. With these enemies defeated it’s time for Locke and Terra to head to the Kingdom of Figaro to talk with King Edgar and ask for his assistance.
Here is where the game really opens up. You find your characters on the world map and make your way to the desert area where Castle Figaro stands. On the way, I encounter a few random battles of fairly easy enemies such as rabbits and scorpions but what strikes me the most as I head towards the castle is the music that plays on the world map. Music in many Final Fantasy games is top notch; really sets the mood, and the music here does not disappoint in the slightest.
We make our way into the castle and head for the throne room where King Edgar is waiting for us. Edgar seems like a good guy and fancies himself a ladies man who, unfortunately for him, doesn’t seem to be catching Terra’s romantic interest. Regardless of this, my time at Figaro is short as agents of the Empire arrive and attempt to burn the castle to the ground in search of Terra. Edgar and the people of Figaro are prepared for this type of eventuality and he, along with Locke and Terra, escape the castle riding chocobos, another welcome Final Fantasy classic. Upon their escape, the castle is revealed to be a type of submarine that can dive below the desert sands in time of danger. The castle does just that as Terra, Locke, and Edgar stay one step ahead of the Empire for now.
The party heads to a nearby cave that leads to a town called South Figaro in search of the leader of The Returners, a man called Banon. Inside the cave are a few enemy encounters and chests to collect. Edgar has an ability in battle called “Tools” and his default equipment under Tools is an auto-crossbow that does some fairly high damage to all enemies onscreen and this is a very welcome ability as I do a little money and experience farming in the cave.
Once I leave the cave I head into South Figaro to shop for some better equipment and encounter a few events. I learn of a martial arts master named Duncan that lives in this town and his son Vargas who was made by Duncan to train in martial arts and that Vargas resented this training. I also learn that in order to find Banon, I have to cross Mt. Kolts, a mountain to the northeast of South Figaro. I head in that direction on the world map and save my game before progressing any further.
In previous attempts to play FFVI, I have made it here before. As a matter of fact, I’ve made it a little further than this but have never been able to beat the boss on Mt. Kolts. For this reason, I stop here on day one and I’m going to make sure I’m aware of the best strategies to use on the mountain. Up to this point, however, Final Fantasy VI nails all the parts of the best Final Fantasy games out there. The music and atmosphere is excellent and Terra, Locke, and Edgar have already built a rapport with each other in their short time together that’s made an impression on me. I care about what’s going to happen to them. That, plus my interest in the overarching story will keep me playing. Check in again tomorrow for day two of Kev Plays Final Fantasy VI and see if I finally make it off this mountain.*
*literally and (most importantly) figuratively – Editor