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Final Fantasy VI (Old Ver.) (PC) artwork

Final Fantasy VI (Old Ver.) (PC) review

"Perhaps the first Steam achievement says it best: 'Customer Appreciation: Thank you for purchasing the game!'"

I donít envy Square-Enix. Things must have been simpler when they were just Squaresoft. Relatively speaking, of course. Yes it makes a whole lot of sense to make bank on a tried and true classic, but were they able to retain the spirit of the original? Letís have a look, shall we?

News of FFVI as a mobile port was met with uneasiness by the fans. Even though itís not called a remaster, thatís what we got. Scaled up enemies, prettier backgrounds and world art... and then those sprites. Oh dear. None of the fans expected that, and the port has received mixed reviews for that, and several other very valid reasons.

In 1995, Final Fantasy III won over the fans by bringing new mechanics, visuals and overall depth of gameplay no one had seen before on a console. Squaresoft set the benchmark and standard for future RPGs, and there was no looking back. Well, maybe a little looking back. Good gravy, did they really put us through an opera? Yes they did, and perhaps itís a little melodramatic, it was a curious experiment and generally well received.

Final Fantasy VI (Old Ver.) (PC) image

Squaresoft threw everything in this bag, as if they were trying to see what would float. An airship? Try a flying casino! Then a racer. A chocobo? Iíll raise you a dancing moogle! A white mage? How about a fighting monk with street fighter combos who can cast Meteor? A wise-cracking painter girl? A tool wielding King who is the friendlier side of death? How about a harlequin who controls the source of all magic? Other RPGs may have been doing some of this stuff, but I didnít notice, and no one else I knew did either.

FFIII (the original North American release) introduced fourteen characters, multiple party mechanics, an incurable list of subplots, more visual effects than thought possible, and over 80 hours of adventuring to do. Also, Kefka. That laugh! While the localization was touch and go at times, the incredible visuals are a testament to the technical wizardry of Squaresoft. It is still the definitive version, in my not so humble opinion, and many fans agree.

Final Fantasy VI (Old Ver.) (PC) image

There have been some changes Iíll stuff in the ďum, whatĒ bin for your perusal. These are changes applied to all editions of this port, including the GameBoy Advance. For one: Sexual references. Didnít know FFIII had them? In 1995 the localization team did Nintendo a solid and changed them. For instance, everybodyís favourite octopus apparently canít avoid making an ecchi reference at Terra in combat encounters. So, thatís okay, but a guard beating Celes unconscious isnít? Um, what?

Technical hurdles, and ... um, freedoms? ... are another peculiarity of these ports. The SNES release was a true tour-de-force, showcasing scaling, shifting and distortion tricks typically reserved to the European Demoscene. All without additional hardware. It just does things the GBA and Mobile ports canít pull off, even with modern hardware at their disposal. I get there are reasons for that, but thatís beyond the purview of this retro-review.

Iíll say this about each one: The GBA version is at times too slow, and the mobile too fast. Run around Mobliz some time and tell me you donít feel the lag as the GBAís hardware is strained to its limit pushing 12 channel audio in addition to large maps and loads of wandering NPCs. Meanwhile the Mobile edition seems to run ahead of you. In combat youíll be wondering, ďwhy canít I attack that enemy?Ē Itís because the math has already been done and the battle is over. The rest? Hey, thatís what weíre here to discuss, because the Steam version is the Mobile edition.

Final Fantasy VI (Old Ver.) (PC) image

Consequently there are a number of design choices that make a whole lot of sense for Mobile, but almost none for PC. Limited screen resolutions are among them. You can play fullscreen at a host of resolutions that are presumably smartphone friendly, but 1080p is not an option. The closest youíre going to get is 1360 x 768 pixels, a standard for laptops. Thatís where those black bars come from: The game isnít going to do 16:9 thanks to its original 4:8 layout. Controllers are supported, but youíll be configuring yours via the included launcher. Yuck.

Layouts that make it easier to play on a touchscreen are clunky and unnecessary on PC. And why did they sample the music from the PSX version, anyway? Couldnít they have used a nicer soundfont? On the subject if ďwhyĒ, what is up with those sprites? I donít understand why they donít match the character portraits. This was the chance to get that right! Was it necessary altogether to turn the entire cast into chesty-looking children?

Final Fantasy VI (Old Ver.) (PC) image

I was totally repulsed by the new sprite artwork. So much, in fact, that I didnít pick up the Steam edition until just last year, and I didnít even give it a serious look until a week ago. It still weirds me out to see high resolution characters running around with so few frames of animation. It jusí ainí natural! Coming back to this seminal, benchmarking title is jarring from a nostalgic perspective. That is, I donít get nostalgic, and thatís missing the target wholesale.

Perhaps the first Steam achievement says it best: ďCustomer Appreciation: Thank you for purchasing the game!Ē Er, youíre welcome? Now can I have a more consistent port? Here I am a dyed in the wool enthusiast of Moogles, Espers and Epic Steampunkery. I mean, Final Fantasy VI has it all: Magi and Machines, Hard Knocks and Hardware, Street Fighters and Psychotic Villians... yessir! Hereís the thing, though. Under all the botched design lies one of the top rated RPGs in gaming history.

Final Fantasy VI (Old Ver.) (PC) image

This is a story told in epic prose, although character motivations seem a little daft at times. Weíre not talking Shakespeare, and its true that subplots can be... thin. However, once youíre swept up in this novel length adventure, youíre going to want to find out how it all ends. To this day I have never seen a finer epilogue on this console or any other. Thatís nostalgia talking, and thatís what this game should be drawing on, except that it doesnít. See how I keep coming back to that?

This was a game so expansive that it would crash on the SNES occasionally thanks to the sheer girth of the compressed data crammed into 4MB (64Mb) of storage. But letís not forget the amazing soundtrack that is one of Nobou Uematsuís more experimental works. It is here he demonstrates his comfort with dance music, sweeping orchestral themes, comical introductions, and world shaking boss encounters. Uematsu is a master in his element, here.

Final Fantasy VI (Old Ver.) (PC) image

Iím not a great fan of Yoshitaka Amanoís style, but I do appreciate the personality he brings to the canvas with his exaggerated, flowing, painterly style. His character designs are deliciously evocative of each individualís personality, and adapting them for screen presentation has left a sour taste in some playerís mouths. Yet, FFVI wouldnít be the same without the elemental focus he brings to the production.

While this Mobile/PC port may be an uncomfortable amalgamation of styles, it does retain the epic storytelling that compelled us to complete it over twenty years ago. Itís easy to forgive the imperfections in light of what it accomplished, and what it offers to us. This is the RPG that every ďMakerĒ wants to be when it grows up. Itís just too bad they cut so many corners with this oddball adaptation. Iíd suggest picking it up on sale, because at its core it is a top-tier RPG.

hastypixels's avatar
Community review by hastypixels (September 14, 2017)

At some point you stop justifying what you play and begin to realize what you're learning by playing.

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