Final Fantasy VI

And it’s about time to break this one out, I think: the last Final Fantasy to play before I catch up to where I came in with FF7. 1At least, until I get a system capable of playing FF3. The Jobs system from FF5 is gone again, replaced by a plethora of playable characters, each with their own class, and each with a special ability comparable to the Job skills. If there’s ever a point where you can swap characters into and out of the party at will, though, I have yet to reach it. There’s a point I’ve reached where the party splits up into three groups and you can choose which group to follow, but you ultimately have to play through all three scenes, so you’re really only choosing the order to play them in.

The premise as described in the initial cut-scene was kind of intriguing: it sets up a Magic vs Technology scenario, but with magic, not technology, as the threat that throws everything out of balance. There was a vastly destructive mage war, followed by a thousand years without magic, and now a certain General Kefka is rashly trying to reawaken the old powers in order to help his empire take over the world. Unless he has a personal agenda, of course, and is just using his position in the Empire to pursue it. Kefka’s a cackling, hand-wringing sort of villain, and it won’t be surprising at all if he turns out to be a thousand-year-old wizard or something.

The thing that bugs me about this is that the premise is almost completely ignored by the game mechanics. We’re promised a world in which magic is all but unknown, and then immediately find that the imperial army is heavily based around something called “magitek”. As far as I can tell, the only difference between magic and magitek is that magitek doesn’t use mana, which would seem to make it preferable to magic proper. Similarly, a lot of the monsters are capable of producing what third-edition D&D would call “spell-like effects”. I suppose the implication from the backstory is that magic has the potential to be much more powerful than sufficiently-advanced technology. But right now, I’ve got this genuine mage in my party, someone considered valuable enough to the Empire that they’re sending armies to hunt her down, and she’s not all that. Yet.

1 At least, until I get a system capable of playing FF3.

4 Comments so far

  1. Merus on 17 Nov 2008

    Oh, this is going to be interesting.

  2. Gemma on 18 Nov 2008

    The Empire is trying to rediscover magic for its own use, IIRC, hence Magitek. But magic’s not familiar in the wider world.

    Soon after the triple-scenario sequence is the first point where you can choose your own party. After that, there are some scenes for which the story requires you to use certain characters, and others in which you have freer choice. The second half of the game ends up being very nonlinear and you can play it much in any way you like.

    I’m a fan :)

  3. malkav11 on 19 Nov 2008

    The thing that always annoyed me about this system of having a huge cast of playable characters and picking certain ones to actually use is that the design nearly always makes it impractical to actually use later characters unless you’re forced to. I pretty much inevitably wind up with a core party that’s as close to my starting party as the game allows and never experiment (unless a later character is both appropriately levelled when added *and* obscenely powerful). Meanwhile, when they started fixing this, such as in FFX where your characters can be swapped out instantaneously in mid-combat, they also started stripping characters of their gameplay uniqueness. The sphere grid system in that game means that after a while the primary differences between characters come in their limit breaks (and Yuna’s ability to summon). What I wouldn’t give for FFX’s swapping with FFVI’s strongly differentiated characters.

  4. Mark on 29 Nov 2008

    Oh wow, it’s going to be interesting watching a person play this with virtually no spoilers.

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