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Final Fantasy VI (Part 1)

Posted in Game Analysis with tags , , , , on December 15, 2011 by pixeltheater

For a long time, especially during the 90s,  if you were talking about compelling video game narratives, you were talking about Final Fantasy. The series pioneered the art of cinematic video game storytelling like nothing else. 1994’s Final Fantasy VI is, in my humble opinion (and I know some may disagree), the greatest of them all.

(If anyone’s wondering why the box says “III,” it’s because at the time, only two Final Fantasy games had been released in North America (the first one, which obviously had no number, and the fourth, which was called “II”). To maintain their American numbering continuity, the sixth entry was labeled “III” in the States. By the time Final Fantasy VII was released in 1997, the world of video games had become flat enough to the point where publishers could use the actual Japanese numbering and not confuse us Americans. Stateside re-releases of the fourth and sixth entries (on the Playstation, Nintendo DS, etc.) retained their actual numbers as well. Got it?)

I distinctly remember being a child and watching my older brother play Final Fantasy VI for the first time. As an inflamed Figaro Castle submerged into the desert sands to foil Kefka’s evil plot, I exclaimed, “It’s like a movie!”

What I meant, in my youthful enthusiasm, was that the storytelling, although still using text rather than spoken dialogue, had an ambitious cinematic flair that no game before it had been able to achieve.

What makes the sixth iteration particularly remarkable is that I cannot, off the top of my head, think of another RPG that features a genuine ensemble cast. As in, there is no one protagonist. Each of the game’s characters are so memorable and well-developed that it makes you roll your eyes whenever another game forces you to play as Generic Hero Guy.

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