It begins with a title shot.
Then another, more exciting title shot, accompanied with ominous organ music and one of the more dire Final Fantasy themes I’ve heard so far. None of the games I’ve played have taken such a bleak tone, especially not out of the gate.
I’m immediately curious what that means for where this game is going to go.
The stakes are fairly immediately obvious. Still, if it’s taken a thousand years for someone to come close to reviving magic, that’s actually pretty impressive. I had been under the impression for a long time that Final Fantasy 7 was the series’ first dip into a setting with relatively modern technology. It turns out that 6 was there first, paving the way with an interesting sort of industrial revolution meets mini-battlemechs style. I like it, but what I really want to know is if this was a big shock or even a big deal when it first came out. It seems like a huge departure from even FF5.
I do appreciate that 6 at least proposes that some kind of technological advancement happened in those thousand years, too! RPGs have a nasty habit of having 10,000 years of recorded history in some form or another and yet they’re still basically living in Medieval-tech times, albeit sparkling-clean ones.
So Vicks and Wedge are, presumably, 6’s contribution to the recurring Biggs and Wedge cameos. I’m willing to chalk up Vicks instead of Biggs to being the fault of someone I’ll point out later.
…I’m sorry, what?
You know that Mitchell & Webb skit about “Are we the baddies?” The one with the meme gif that I’m not going to repost here. Yeah, how do you not have that conversation at this point? You’ve got a device in your military called a slave collar that you’ve used on a girl so you can, presumably, weaponize her. He’s so cavalier about it, too!
This is in the first minute and a half or so of the game. So I guess I was right about the tone, huh? Yikes.
The music continues. This is an extremely good use of the SNES’ hardware, between Mode 7, the music they got out of the sound chip, and scaling back to a relatively limited palette to create the moody march through the snow. I’m invested already just on the premise, and the hope that these two behelmeted morons get theirs, but it’s hard to overstate how well-constructed this shot is.
You remember how I was going to point someone out?
I have nothing but respect for the hard work of Ted Woolsey. The dude was responsible for some seriously good games getting their chance to show up in the States and Europe, ones I actually have played, such as Super Mario RPG and Chrono Trigger. Translating anything is hard, and he translated reams of text that lacked strong context in English. Hell, he’s still in the industry, working with Undead Labs on the State of Decay series.
He also had to make some interesting decisions, simply because of space (Woolsey’s on the record as saying approximately 25% of his final translations had to be cut from each script due to the difference in verbosity between written English and Japanese) and because of cultural transmission. His translations being less than literal worked in their favor, and knowing that he did FF6 actively makes me more excited for it.
And if you didn’t know about him, now you do. I’m prepared for this to have some real fun lines because of him. Back to the show.
Well it’s nice to know you’re a brave soldier in service of whoever.
I immediately checked out the menu. “Relics” sounds like it’s going to be interesting, especially since it’s separate from gear. I can’t mess with Wedge or Vicks’ equipment or abilities, but ??? there has Fire and Cure and some basic FF gear. I’m sure her being able to cast spells at such a level that she fried a bunch of dudes in walker-tanks will become important soon, given that magic shouldn’t exist, huh?
A little further into the village and this dude says what I’ve been thinking this whole time.
Aw man, do I have to fight someone’s guard dog first? Or at all?
Turns out these walkers do pretty well at one-shotting opponents, so at least the pupper didn’t suffer. The game’s doing a great job of making me dislike Wedge, Vicks, and whatever their military is, though.
Ah, an evil empire? I can dig it. Also, it’s good to know this is a remote town, which helps explain why it took so damn long for someone to dig up the Esper. Whatever that is.
I ran into a few more apparently-scripted groups of enemies.
I get that you’re passionate, but yelling loudly about the place you need to protect when the enemy doesn’t really know what part of town to head for isn’t the best plan.
These mammoths are really neat sprites, and I appreciate the ragged look of the guards. Once again, it’s not like it’s too hard to blast through with the Walkers, so the way the poor guards look really adds to the boot on human face feeling.
Inside the mine, it’s the first save point in the game! Sparkly and blue. I’m not above savestating when I need to stop playing, but otherwise, it’s these suckers all the way.
I’m also not above Fast Forwarding, but that’s because I’m impatient.
A few non-scripted encounters later, the group encounters a gate.
Oh, cool, you’re gonna blow it open with the fire-laser or something, ri-
So despite the end of the war being a thousand years ago, folks seem to recognize an Esper on sight. What the hell are they in this game, summons, or what?
So Whelk is a pretty straightforward boss that seems to serve as a tutorial for the Active Time Battle system. It hits like a sock and takes plenty of damage (especially from ???'s Tek Missile) but has a completely obnoxious gimmick. Because ATB runs constantly, at various times Whelk will- with no real warning- disappear into its shell.
If you try to attack while it’s in its shell, it retaliates for 30-50 to each party member.
Waiting bosses are annoying in action games, but in a game like this it just feels boring. More importantly, it feels punishing- queued abilities go through no matter what, or at least I’m not aware of how to cancel them, and Whelk can disappear when you have multiple abilities queued up. Since you don’t get any warning before it does it, and you can’t see enemy ATB values, it forces you to slow down (good) by imposing an arbitrary punishment if you happen to input a command when Whelk is about to vanish (bad). That meant that, because I expected there to be a little warning before it vanished, my first encounter wound up like this when two queued abilities hit the shell instead:
It’s not really that big of a deal, though, especially because Whelk doesn’t really have that much health. Throwing out Tek Missiles and being a little more cautious, attempt 2 saw more success.
Fuck you, you annoying asshole.
So, that’s an Esper. Seems to be frozen solid. We could surely just pick it up and-
Not gonna lie, at first I thought he was talking to the Esper here.
Turns out, he’s talking to her. Oops.
Man, two dead assholes already. Good. Fuck you, Wedge. He simply fades out, which is kind of hysterical in a way.
Vicks joins him shortly after.
This is pretty fucking cool. Again, putting the SNES to good use!
Good morning, Sunshine. It took me a second to realize, when the guy over there stopped moving, that I wasn’t stuck in a cutscene and was expected to move.
This dude seems to know an awful lot about these Slave Collars. But he did remove hers, and it stands to reason he’s probably the one who hauled her into the bed after the incident in the mines, so…
Our first character!
So “Terra” here needs a name. I’m torn! On the one hand, it’s easy to just go default names for everyone. But on the other, if you guys want to vote… have at it. I’ll be patient. Honest.
Final Fantasy 6 is now underway!