Final Fantasy VI is a Timeless Masterpiece (Part 2: Presentation)

Final Fantasy VI has been released across multiple platforms over the years. From its original SNES release to a GBA version to the modern Pixel Remaster version, there are plenty of ways to play this game. And all of them bring something new to the table for the presentation.

Like the mobile port a few years back. That one was unique because it decided it would look like fucking garbage. What a bold decision!

Oh, God, Kefka, what have they done to you?!

Before we dive into the various ports, however, let’s talk about how Final Fantasy VI expanded on the style that’s been built across the SNES era of the series. Through IV and V, we saw the environments and characters of this series slowly expand, becoming more interesting, detailed, and beautiful.

VI puts both of them to shame. Stylistically, visually, this game is amazing! The usual medieval fantasy aesthetic of the series has been blended with steampunk sci-fi. This isn’t just the first step towards the aesthetic the series would take on for years to come, it still manages to look incredibly unique even today!

All of the character sprites are much larger and more detailed than they were in previous FFs. Gone is the chibi. Now the characters are taller, more detailed and varied, and animate much better than before. From Edgar’s little finger waggle to Cyan’s incredulous faces to Shadow and his adorable dog, each character in this game has a wide and varied set of sprites and animations.

Just look at how the light hits the clouds in the background!

The backgrounds are a particular highlight for me. This game has got some pretty damn good looking scenery! Whether you’re in a vast snowy field, a green plane, or an otherworldly continent, every environment is richly detailed and interesting. It feels like the game is playing over a series of paintings!

Even the soundtrack is a cut above the rest! Final Fantasy games always have good music, that’s a no-brainer. But the OST of VI is one of the best in the series, as well as one of the best in all of video games! From the opening theme’s church organ all the way to the massive suite that is Dancing Mad, the music in VI is a masterpiece through and through!

Legit, let’s talk about Dancing Mad. As much as I absolutely love One-Winged Angel, Dancing Mad is probably my favorite final boss track in any Final Fantasy game. This seventeen-and-a-half minute long suite so perfectly manages to capture what you actually feel while battling Kefka.

In its first movement, it captures awe and terror; you are facing down a demonic god and the track is letting you know it ain’t gonna be easy. Come time for the second movement, the dread is combined with a sense of horror, perfectly complimenting the sudden and disturbing change in Kefka’s appearance. The third movement takes on a more holy vibe, as the players face the mad god’s third form. It has an angelic purity, but there’s still that twisted undercurrent.

Then we reach the fourth movement. Here, everything is combined into one. The awe, the dread, the beauty, the divinity, all of it captured in a fast-paced, hectic tune that perfectly captures the madness of Kefka. As this final movement progresses, the tune only picks up in tempo, becoming faster and faster and louder and louder as the battle crescendos. It’s jaw-dropping to listen to!

As for the actual graphics, this is where things start to vary between ports. Not too dramatically different; the same core elements are always there, just with a few minor changes or adjustments. Each version is recognizably Final Fantasy VI.

Except, again, for the mobile version. That one just… dear god, that was really what we were stuck with for years!

This is from the GBA port. Pretty damn solid stuff. Just look at how messy Banon is!

The SNES and GBA versions are more or less the same, graphically speaking. The only real difference is that the GBA version adds character portraits to the dialogue, so it’s a bit easier to keep track of who is talking and when. Both are incredibly solid even today.

The easiest port to get your hands on at the moment is the Pixel Remaster. Unfortunately, this version of the game isn’t a one-to-one port of the original or even the GBA version. Rather, it’s a version of the mobile port that I keep complaining about, but they changed the sprites to actually resemble the original style.

Because of this, you’ll see a few instances with actual 3D models. Such as the Opera Performance with Celes, one of the most iconic scenes in the game. In this version, they made it a 3D sequence and even added voice acting to her singing! I like this just fine, and the singing itself was very well done. But I can’t help but wish we had simply gotten the original version.

While this port is still pretty good, there are some minor differences that kind of irk me. For one, everything just looks a bit too… clean. It’s hard to explain, but the newer version feels a lot brighter. It still looks solid, but the colors don’t quite pop as much as they used to.

You know what? It’ll be easier just to show you. Below, I have two images. The first is from the original SNES version. The other is from the Pixel Remaster.

Personally, I still prefer the look of the older games. Again, the Pixel Remaster isn’t bad; it’s a massive upgrade over the original mobile port. Still, it kind of makes me sad that a lot of the original charm is going to fade to time.

Or modders will put it back in there. That’s probably what’ll actually happen.

That aside, Final Fantasy VI still looks and sounds pretty damn good. Sadly, the best looking versions of the game are lost to time. If you’ve still got a SNES or GBA cartridge around (or you’re willing to hoist the black flag), you can still experience those! But for anyone going the easy route with Steam, they’ll get a good but not as incredible version.

Thankfully, the actual gameplay mostly remains untouched. Which brings us to part three and the end of this massive review.

See y’all then.

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