A Lesson in Gaming History: Let's Play Final Fantasy III/VI (Blind)

I love video games. I think they’re fantastic. I’m going to school to make the things despite knowing that the industry is a hellscape that chews up idealistic programmers like me and spits them out. You’d think I’d have done my homework on them.

You’d be wrong.

In fact, growing up, I missed out on what I’d describe as a truly awful number of titles that people now describe as classics. Early innovators like Super Mario 64, inventors of a new genre like Super Metroid, and any number of others slid completely by me while I was busy with Goldeneye slappers-only matches and prox mines on Facility.

I intend to remedy that. In fact, not only do I intend to remedy that, I intend to remedy it in the most public and hopefully entertaining way possible- I want to chronicle my experiences with these games and every dumb thought and comment I make. I want to compare notes with people about these experiences, crack jokes about the games with people who love them, and hopefully come out the other side with a richer experience for myself and a fun thread for everyone else.

Everything has to start somewhere, though, and we’ll start with…

Final Fantasy III, or more properly VI, is one of those games that I’ve always heard about but never sat down to play. Commonly showing up on lists of “best Final Fantasy of all time,” “best RPG of all time,” and “best game of all time,” I can’t say I’ve been actively avoiding it so much as simply procrastinating. References to it show up constantly in other games, not just in its own series, and its music and designs are unavoidable even for me.

I came into Final Fantasy late. My first try at the series was Final Fantasy VIII, which I picked up a used copy of at a then-EB Games at the local mall.

The first disc was broken, and crashed at the dance. I’ve never gone back to it. That might happen later.

I wound up invested heavily in the series through Final Fantasy XI of all things, and have since played I, IV, V, X and X-2, XII, XIII-2, and XIV. I’ve managed to dodge that most popular core- VI, VII, and IX- for more than a decade completely unintentionally.

Time to fix that. Let’s Play Final Fantasy VI, and get the first of our object lessons in gaming history.

Update 1


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?


Oh, my.

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:

(I reloaded.)

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!

Oh man, I’m into this. I’m liking your insights so far and I’m definitely gonna follow this.

A name for Terra? Well, I’m boring and would just fix the case from TERRA to Terra.

Oooh, a blind LP of the classics. I first played III/IV on the GBA and loved it, and I hope you enjoy the blind trip down this classic as well.

Glad someone found Vicks and Wedge’s deaths funny, I found them terrifying. What kind of creature possesses enough power just to make a guy disappear like that? And he had to take the armors out as well! I like the magitek armor. It’s cool.

For names, I just say keep the defaults. Maybe make them all lower case, but that’s it. Naming characters in story driven works like FF doesn’t really work for me. I’d rather use the canon names.

I apologize for the delay. I didn’t set a schedule because I know for a fact it’s going to be whenever I can- I’m attending an accelerated program and, well, you know.


Terra it is.

This is apparently impressive. How many of these slave collars has this dude removed from people?

Meanwhile, outside, trouble’s brewing.

Big trouble. I appreciate that these folks have a serious issue with the only surviving member of the death-squad that just rolled through, instead of just being chill with her, but surely the presence of an Imperial slave collar would prove that she maybe wasn’t acting of her own volition.

Now I don’t have a huge issue with this, given that Terra is clearly powerful enough to handle herself, but I’ll point out that sending the amnesiac girl into the mines that are full of dangerous (or at least theoretically dangerous) wild creatures might be a little questionable.

Into the cave we go, after a tense encounter crossing the bridge.

I see we’ve moved on from bothering poor Phoenixes. Good.

Sleeping Bags, it turns out, are the lowest level Tent items in this game. Seems a bit exposed to the elements, but given Terra can conjure flames with her mind, maybe I’m just silly.

Speaking of things Terra can do with her mind, they gave me Antidote (or Antdot) nice and early, and I appreciate that! Status healing abilities are very important.

Ahh, farts.

Ahhhh, butts.

One quick fall, and, well… at least we’re away from our attackers?

Terra, at least, is no action hero. Still, after having the crown removed, this cannot be good for her head.

My God, I was right, she’s gone Sepia.

So this is a flashback, clearly designated by the Flashback Color. We finally have an antagonist, and it’s what I’d call FF6’s second-best-known contribution to the FF enemy canon. Kefka, here, seems like just another one of the empire’s Bad Guys who happened to be in charge of Terra.

I’m interested to see how that escalates.

Did you really need Terra for this? The armor can use Fire Beam no matter who’s piloting it, as demonstrated in the intro. Ah, well…

A few things here.

First of all, Gestahl is kind of ridiculous-looking. He looks like a dog.

Second, wow, this isn’t even remotely trying to be subtle. The animations as the crowd cheers are still vague thanks to the 2d sprites and the angle, but they’re lifting a single arm in unison to Gestahl. I’m mostly surprised that 1994 Square was willing to put the animation into the game, given the similarities to a certain real-world salute given to a certain leader.

Maybe I’m just seeing things.

We’re back to the house again.

One thing that Square got progressively better at as they mastered the SNES hardware was giving the sprites personality and the ability to emote. I love it, personally.

Default names, fixed cases.

I got a legitimate chuckle out of “Semantic nonsense!”

How long was Terra unconscious for that everyone, including Locke (who was apparently not even in town for the attack) knows who she is?

The Resistance needs your help, Han.

I wonder if this took a little more convincing in the Japanese text.

Blessedly, FF6 doesn’t make me take Locke there manually. Dude just drops in (heh) on Terra, still out cold on the stone.

Aw, beans.

Awww, bean soup.



I love moogles. One of my early FF games was actually FF Tactics Advance, so those moogles- combat-capable short humanoids- will always be the baseline I judge all other moogle incarnations by. It’s shocking how often they just wind up as plush toy looking doofy mascots with no real capacity to do anything.

So needless to say, I was extremely pumped when not only were these moogles ready to fight but ready to show up in force.

This introduces a new mechanic, one I haven’t actually seen in the other FF games I’ve played. The concept of controlling multiple parties at once, swapping between them in the same area, is really clever. It lets them neatly avoid having to give you more than four party members while still giving you control of a larger group.

Also, it’s a solid 11 moogles armed to the teeth, so I’m pretty ready for that.

Party One

Locke gets teamed up with three moogle friends of his own. Locke himself comes with Steal and does respectable damage

Party Two

One of these moogles is legit just named Mog, something that shows up in later Final Fantasies (13-2, I’m looking at you.) Nice.

Party Three

Kamog is the clear standout here for names.

All eleven moogles kick complete ass. They do very respectable damage and they’re cute as hell to boot.

The mechanic in this segment is actually sort of interesting. For those who don’t know, you have to move one of the parties down to the guard at the bottom, while using the other two parties to defend the still-unconscious Terra from the groups of guards moving up toward her. It’s a clever thing, and I really like how inventive it feels even now.

Sup, asshole.

This dude is mostly a straightforward fight, from my experience. Locke stole what I seem to recall was a Mythril Knife from him, and the moogles laid the smackdown. Not much of a boss.

Hell yeah, moogles.

Locke hitting the switch shakes the cavern, opening a secret exit on the world map that I forgot to screenshot. This also wakes up Terra, finally.

Terra’s confusion here is kind of great. Locke’s pretty straightforward, after all.


We’re released into the town again, sort of.

What the hell is a fourth wall, anyway?

An attempt to head back up into the town results in a guard nearly recognizing Terra, at which point Locke helpfully reminds the player to go south to Figaro.

Upon entering the world map, I checked out our party. Seems pretty alright. Terra’s got Fire, Cure, and Antdot, and her physical attack right now is no slouch. Locke also hits respectably hard, and can Steal. Time to set off!

On the way South, I ran into these, and I just have to say how much I love this sprite. I love it. A lot.

A good distance south, in the middle of a desert, it’s Figaro Castle. We’ll head inside next time, and find out why Locke was sent here with Terra.

I’m trying to keep the updates to a reasonable size, between 80 and 100 images. If you think that’s too low, which is totally reasonable for such a huge game, please let me know! Either way, I’ll see you next update!