Final Fantasy VI: Yeti Attacks!

I’ve finally reassembled the whole team. Actually, I’ve done more than that: I’ve picked up a couple of extras. In fact, I have more characters now than are mentioned in the manual. Mog the dancing moogle, who showed up only briefly in the first half, is briefly described there, to document the basics of his dancing abilities (which hardly need documentation, really — it’s not as if they made a DDR-like minigame or anything out of it, intriguing though it would be to try to combine such a thing with ATB combat). His yeti friend is another matter. The presence of a yeti doesn’t come as a complete surprise, because I recall hearing the miners of Narshe talk about it back at the very beginning of the game, and I remember wasting some time hunting for it. But that it joins my party? That was unexpected.

I suppose the reason it’s not mentioned in the docs is that, unlike Mog, there’s no special interface associated with it. In fact, the distinguishing feature of the yeti is absence of interface. You can’t give the yeti equipment, or teach it spells, or even give it orders during combat: it is, in effect, always berzerk and naked. It’s like the Barbarian class from previous games taken to its logical extreme. This makes it the simplest of all the characters to play, and therefore the least interesting. I doubt I’ll be using it much, unless I have an urgent need for more melee power, which it’s got in spades.

But I really don’t think that’s going to happen. Maybe it would have been useful to have a yeti around when I made my assault on the treasure cave where I picked up Locke, but I tackled that cave and the yeti’s lair in the wrong order. Once you have an airship, the game doesn’t much try to force you to do things in a particular order, but there’s definitely an optimal sequence. There are soft walls, and, because of a misunderstanding on my part, I forced my way through some of them prematurely. The result was a nice bit of power-leveling, but now that I go back to the places where I should have gone first, I’m finding them tediously easy. But that’s a risk in any CRPG with an open environment — I remember having a similar experience in Planescape: Torment, for example. Anyway, I think I’m past the point where mere brute muscle is an asset. Everything I meet is either much less powerful than my party, in which case I don’t need the yeti, or a boss, and best handled with judicious use of spells or special powers that the yeti doesn’t have.

And ultimately, this isn’t a yeti’s world. It’s far too genteel. I’ve seen the game described as steampunk, but that’s not quite right: it’s a century or two early for that, fantasy-classical or even fantasy-baroque, with major set-pieces built around things like an opera house and a private art collection. Even after the apocalypse, the men tend to wear long dress coats and tie their hair back with ribbons. A hairy, slope-browed man-beast is somewhat out-of-place, lumbering through the elegant and tastefully-appointed mansions here. But then, of all the playable characters, the only one who’s fully at home in this environment is Edgar. Everyone else is a misfit or outcast of some kind, and several of them have animalistic qualities: a feral child, a girl who transforms into a beast, a moogle. Once again, the yeti is just an exaggeration of something that was already present.

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