Playthrough: Christmas in Narshe

Final Fantasy VI

In the Autumn of 1994, gamers across North America eagerly awaited the latest installment of the Final Fantasy series. With the surprise disappointment that was the non-release of Final Fantasy V, English-speaking JRPG fans had been waiting three years for a follow up to the 1991 release of Final Fantasy IV. Amongst the many people eagerly awaiting their copy was young(!) Caspius.

When, on October 11, 1994, Final Fantasy VI was released, it was met with critical and universal acclaim. Shortages of SNES games were unusual–but shortages of JRPGs were even more so. Yet copies of Final Fantasy VI were hard to find, with many retailers finding themselves in the then-curious position of needing to fulfill demand for a video game that did not feature Mario. Backorders stretched well into the following year thanks to a spirited holiday season. The game made the evening news. It was perhaps the first time in history that a JRPG gained the attention of the North American mainstream press.

Terra Branford

Eighteen years later, in 2012, the success of Final Fantasy VI has become the renown of Final Fantasy VI. Routinely featuring in historical “top ten” and “best of” lists, it was this year named by IGN as the number one RPG of all time. Re-released and ported to a variety of systems, it has continued to sell well despite its wide availability on the internet, having surpassed three and a half million copies sold. An announced DS remake was one of the most widely anticipated titles for that system, and when the project was placed on hold, questions were immediately asked about the 3DS instead. To this day, Final Fantasy VI continues to generate headlines. It is simply one of the most beloved games ever made.

Charting the history of a war which will reshape the face of the globe, Final Fantasy VI is ostensibly the story of Terra Branford, the daughter of a human and an esper, whose natural gift for magic attracts the undesireable attention of Gestahl, the emperor of a militarised and technologically-advanced kingdom. Gestahl’s lead researcher, Cid, has devised a means of extracting magical power from espers. This power is used to create magical machines and to give magical power to human beings. With magic at their control, and the military in the command of fearless and valiant generals, the empire of Gestahl seems unstoppable. One by one, the kingdoms and city-states of the world fall against its undaunted might.

Kefka Palazzo

As the story opens, a mind-controlled Terra and two soldiers are approaching the colliery town of Narshe where yet another esper has been found. But, the empire’s desire for the esper’s power backfires when the creature, frozen in a block of ice, dispatches the soldiers and breaks the mind-control, freeing Terra from the enslavement of Kefka Palazzo, one of Gestahl’s closest advisors. Her flight is aided by members of the Returners, a resistance organisation which seeks to enlist the assistance of espers in their fight against the empire. Kefka and the entire empire of Gestahl follows in pursuit, intent on regaining their magic-using secret weapon before she turns her power–and vengeance–upon her former captors.

The story follows Terra and her friends as they seek to overthrow the power of Gestahl, Kefka, and those who would seek to use might to enslave the people of the world. Along their way they will be joined by knights, generals, artists, gamblers, and TREASURE HUNTERS, all of whom have their own reasons for resisting the empire’s hegemony. Together, they will face down not only a militarised, magically-armed force, but also a power beyond their comprehension–a power which seeks to rule the entire world as a God enthroned, dispensing death from above without cause or remorse.

Only by uniting and together bravely resisting evil can Terra hope to find salvation for the world and peace for her own, torn soul. Embodying the hopes and prayers of humans and espers alike, the heroes must overcome their own personal struggles before, united, they can defeat the seemingly omnipotent powers which oppose them.

Character Ensemble

All areas of Final Fantasy VI‘s presentation have been praised since its release nearly a score of years ago. The music (composed by Nobuo Uematsu) is widely considered to be one of the greatest soundtracks ever written for a video game. Its orchestral arrangement–Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale–is still routinely used as an example of the finest in gaming music. The graphics, highly sophisticated for a JRPG of the time, employed numerous cutting-edge technologies: Mode 7 scaling, sampled effects, and highly-detailed environments, some of which are digital renderings of hand-drawn artwork.

Use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, tactics you are employing, and what you are getting out of your playthrough. Do you feel that the presentation of Final Fantasy VI has held up since its release in 1994? Are there aspects of the game that you would change, or that you would hold up as an example for modern game developers to emulate? How has your experience with other RPGs released after Final Fantasy VI changed your impressions of the game? Do you have any stories about your first experience? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below!

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game in four weeks. For the fourth and final week, the goal is to finish the game. Feel free to join in, even if you are behind on the playthrough. Anyone and everyone is invited to participate, regardless of game format, speed of play, or familiarity with the series. Tell your friends!

Without further adieu, it is our very great pleasure to invite you now to join the The Starlight Megaphone staff members, guests, and readers as we return to the snowy, northern plains in Christmas in Narshe: A Final Fantasy VI Playthrough!


  1. As SiliconNooB and I have already begun our playthroughs, I already have a number of comments on the game. (We discuss it on the podcast this week, briefly.) However, I want to give people a chance to comment before I weigh in on what I’ve experienced so far. So, let’s hear some answers to the questions above. And, also, what are your favourite party arrangements–and least favourite characters?

  2. Started playing a few days ago and am at the part where you get Sabin, not Sabin1001, and I must say that the open sequence of FFVI is probably one of the best in the entire Final Fantasy series.

  3. I feel that Zoltan’s arrangement is a very good one, and would encourage everyone to check it out.

  4. Before I get to playing the game, I’m listening to the soundtrack. And Oh My God, what a soundtrack. Serious masterpiece, beginning to end. The pieces are so evocative, listening to this is almost a playthrough in itself!

  5. This is my first time playing it, and I’ve decided to go for the GBA version. Was this a good choice? I’m considering paying for the Virtual Console version.

  6. @Kenjujuu: Virtual console by far. This game deserves to be seen and heard well. It’s a small price to pay for a much better experience.

  7. @MD: Yeah, I was thinking that. RPGs aren’t really made for handhelds, especially GameBoy Micros.

  8. @Kenjuju: You’ll have a much nicer experience on Wii VC than the GBA port with its ugly graphics and absolutely butchered sound.

  9. I need to finish up what I’m playing right now, then I’ll be joining the play through. Looking forward to this one as I never completed the game the first time I played. I’ll be purchasing mine from the PSN store.

  10. I played a hacked rom of the SNES version that fixed all bugs, restored censored stuff and used the GBA font and current FF terminology. Nice stuff and quite superior to my GBA copy with that crappy music. It was back on September before the playthrough was moved so still fresh enough to join in the discussion.

  11. One thing I remember vividly about my first playthrough was stepping into the world map and hearing Terra’s Theme for the first time. I stood there for a long time just listening to it.

  12. I’m going to be starting my playthrough tonight. My SNES copy is with my brother, so I’ll be playing the PS1 Anthology port. From what I remember, the loading times that plagued Chrono Trigger weren’t a problem here. I’m pretty sure the PS1 version is identical to the SNES version, same music and without the GBA version’s censorship (correct me if I’m wrong).

    It has been too long since I’ve played this game, so I’m very excited for this. As you all have already mentioned, the soundtrack is glorious. I don’t want to type out half a dozen or more individual tracks, it’s just amazing from beginning to end. My favorite is probably “part 3” of Dancing Mad, the bell gives me shivers.

    I remember Nintendo Power used to have some kind of monthly challenge, where they post a game with some score/time that they wanted readers to beat, take a picture of the achievement, and mail it in. For this particular game, it was to defeat the final boss with all of your characters in “imp” status. I decided to take it one step further, and did it with one character solo as an imp. Took a lot of power leveling, but it’s still one of my proudest gaming accomplishments to this day. I never mailed in the picture, but I think I still have it around somewhere.

    Sorry for the long post. Time to get started!

  13. Looks like I’m the only one playing the GBA version, then. I honestly haven’t noticed the music quality difference that much. It’s lower quality, but I can’t really notice the difference as much. Also the font they used for the GBA FF ports is terrible.

  14. Just made it past the raft part. Edgar’s Noise Blaster tool is really good, unlike a lot of status effect magic it almost always works. With enemies constantly beating on each other, I don’t have to burn through as many tonics and cure spells.

    I was wrong about the PS1 port being identical. A lot of the sound effects are different, for the worse in many cases. The howling winds of Narshe sound more like television static. The battle transition is different. There is a brief load when opening menus and using skills like Sabin’s blitzes, but it’s nowhere near as bad as PS1 Chrono Trigger. I do like being able to sprint with the O button without having to buy Sprint Shoes and waste a relic slot on them.

    Battle system is as fun as I remember it. Fights are engaging and quick. You can just button mash through, but they end quicker with appropriate skill usage. Ni No Kuni is going to be my next RPG purchase, and I hope its battle system has those qualities.

  15. I’m playing through the PS1 version on my PS3 and the load times aren’t terrible. I just picked up Gau and have beaten the other two parts of the split. It’s probably my least favorite of the storylines at this point because I hate not having a dependable magic user. So far, I’m really enjoying the nostalgia of playing it again for the first time in probably 5 or 6 years. I’m trying not to over-level like I normally do just to see what the game plays like. As DefChaos pointed out, some of the sound effects are a little off, but overall, it’s really not too bad.

    Tl;dr: So far so good.

  16. Going back to Pierson’s observation, it seems like what Final Fantasy did most consistently from FFVI-FFIX is make outstanding openings. I started FFVI a little too early for the playthrough, so I decided to hold off and play FFVII until the playthrough officially started and I was reminded how much I adore Midgar. I think it’s my favourite 5-10 hours of Final Fantasy ever. Pierson is right to praise FFVI’s opening, I think FFIX’s opening is right up there, and even FFVIII’s opening can fool one into thinking the rest of the game might be good. The tone is set so vividly. The player knows everything they need to about the world, they care about characters AND it’s action packed. And Narshe is just such a cool place to start a video game.

    And to DefChaos’ points, especially with recent discussion about FFIX’s horribly slow battle system, FFVI is brisk and very enjoyable. Each character feels so distinct which I find so impressive in a 2D SNES turn-based RPG.


    @Blitzmage: The in medias res opening of FFVI is, for my money, up there with the other two great openings of VII and IX, both of which began with the same style. You are dropped, in each game, straight into the middle of a pre-existing circumstance which the character knows about and which you do not, and you must learn your way through it. It’s a standard Final Fantasy approach, and one which is done extremely well here in VI.

    @SN: Well said. Anyone who hasn’t listened to Zoltan’s soothing stringèd version of Searching Friends should go do so now.

    @KenJew: GameBoy MICRO!? Awful! VC or PSN, STAT!

    @Imi: Hopefully you will finish this time. I very much want this to be the grandest and most-completed of all the playthroughs. (admittedly, not a high bar…)

    @Epy: I would do the ROM-hacking if only I could get it to run perfectly on my PSP. Currently, there’s slowdown at the beginning of every battle, though the rest of the game runs fine. This would be bearable if the slowdown were not so awful, but it is, so that’s a dealbreaker. I’ve been playing on VC instead.

    @DefChaos: The soundtrack to FFVI is rightly considered one of the greats, and the individual sections of Dancing Mad are all up there as greats-among-the-greats. It’s a phenomenal delivery by Uematsu, and probably one of the two most solid soundtracks in terms of coherence of musical composition, top to bottom, that he ever did, with the only real competitor being FVII.

    @Deimosion: Playing the GBA version and saying it looks all right (especially when you have it blown up on a computer monitor) is impossible to understand–it is as if, in a desperate attempt to be as contrary as possible, you have chosen the worst way you could possibly experience the game just so you can have the smug satisfaction of telling everyone else that they are mistaken. But having played all three versions side by side, I can assert (with the support of many others besides) that the GBA is absolutely and categorically inferior–and not minimally, but significantly so. A search will turn up comparison of the graphics, and as for the soundtrack, I am absolutely agog. I can only conclude that you must be as deaf as a post, or possessed of the least sophisticated sense of audio appreciation since Rebecca Black decided to record her ‘favourite song based on a day of the week’.

    @DefChaos: The Noiseblaster is an excellent tool to get through that section, since the Pterodons can kill Banon if they use Fireball on the party and get lucky enough to deal sufficient damage to one-shot him. Keeping them confused mitigates that significantly (and they then use Fireball on all of the enemies instead). If Ni No Kuni has a battle system as good as FFVI’s, we may all rejoice.

    @DCS: The load times honestly aren’t so bad. It’s better without them, of course–but not so much better that it is worth entirely sacrificing the presentation for (a la the GBA port). If portability is necessary, then the PS1 version is best. But, if one is only going to play it on the television, I heartily recommend the VC version instead, just because the small corrections in the PS1 version do not outweigh the convenience of the speed of the SNES version (though having a dash key–and a double dash key if the Sprint Shoes are equipped) is a nice extra, and worth having.

    @Ethos: Narshe is my favourite opening city in any video game, surpassing even Midgar. The atmosphere, and the reasons to keep returning, are a perfect example of absolutely inspired design choices. DEVELOPERS TAKE HEED; THIS IS HOW IT IS DONE.

  18. I suffered my first party defeat during the Serpent Trench in Sabin’s story when I let my party HP drop a little too low and was subsequently wiped out by an enemy’s all-party attack. Lost about 45 minutes of progress that I wasn’t expecting to lose as I’ve never run into any trouble there before. It was a little irritating…I guess I have just become too pampered from today’s games and their constant autosaves and checkpoints. I agree with DanChiSao that having some kind of magic user during that stretch would have been nice, but it is still my favorite of the 3 storylines regardless. The scenes in Cyan’s room at Doma and at the end of the Phantom Train are really gut wrenching.

    About to defend Narshe and my 3 parties are as follows:
    Boss Group – Celes (to absorb magic), Terra (healing), Sabin (damage)
    Enemy Group – Gau (Rage as Hazer – free Bolt 2 castings), Edgar (to confuse enemies while Gau works)
    Backup Group – Locke, Cyan. Parking them in front of Banon in case I lose track of an enemy.

    @Caspius – I agree about the soundtracks. When I opened my game case last night to start playing, I found a FF5 & 6 sampler CD that had come with my copy of Anthology that I didn’t even know that I had. Score!
    FF4 is a personal favorite of mine along with those 2. It is not quite as layered as FF6 nor FF7, but I absolutely love it regardless.

  19. Finally listened to the arrangement, well done, TLZoltan!

    Just beat Ultros on the raft, I forget who said it and I’m too lazy to check, but I might try and do the same as whoever said it and not over-level. Although we’ll see how that goes.

  20. Oh, and I never mentioned this and I like how people are mentioning it, so…:
    I am playing the PSN/PS1 version on my PSP Go.

  21. I like how the distinguished Zoltan pulled a surf-rock vibe out of that song, and would further like to hear if he has done or will do something similar to other Uematsu (or maybe Mitsuda) tunes.

    I’m playing the VC version on a tv with good picture and sound (much better compared to my early 80’s tv I originally played it on in the mid-90’s). Not wanting to prejudge what the intentions of someone playing a gameboy version are, but I’m hazarding the guess that some people aren’t as devotedly enamored with this game that they want to lavish it with the attention I and others feel it deserves. One may be new to this, or less than 100% interested. That’s fine, after all it is an old SNES game; a product of its time. That may be the difference between someone who sees it as a classic and someone who had the experience of playing it as the Greatest RPG Ever To Come Out. I am a bit jealous of @SN though: it sounds like the Vita imparts a special extra niceness.

    I can’t count what number playthrough this is for me. Out of many replays from the beginning (partly because of renting it several times, mostly because I love the beginning), I’ve only beaten it once. It took a while to appreciate it fully though, I didn’t outright own FFIII (as it was known only as then) until after Chrono Trigger which I liked better. But eventually I was able to see it as a complete work of art. I think the opera scene exemplifies this: it shows in miniature what the work is as a whole. And it’s just lovely.

    I left off with Locke just after rescuing Celes.

  22. I just got into the playthrough (as my console of choice died, I have had to use an alternate means of playing the game), and the introduction was as high quality as expected from the reputation. If not for work in 6 hours, I would certainly delve deeper tonight. One issue I am having is the translation is already revealing itself to be poor. Seeing the word moglie was a facepalm inducing moment (and then it happened a dozen more times). I am looking forward to getting more time into the game though.

  23. @Kobold: None of the official English versions of the game mistranslate Moogle as Moglie. What on earth are you playing?

  24. Sounds like a rom hack. No official release of FFVI misspells ‘Moogle’.

  25. “Going back to Pearson’s observation, it seems like what Final Fantasy did most consistently from FFVI-FFIX is make outstanding openings.”

    I would broaden this observation somewhat.

    I believe that what FF managed to do most successfully in installments VI-IX is to present stunning cinematic setpieces which still allow for player interaction and agency.

    The opera scene in VI. Tifa’s escape and subsequent bitch-slapping of Scarlet in VII. Defending Garden against an airbourne assault in VIII. Taking part in an on-stage sword fight in IX. – to list but a handful of such instances.

    With the release of FFX this design philosophy was drastically dialed back; the game allowed some control during dream sequences, but that was about it to my recollection.

    By the time XIII was released every last moment of flash, spectacle, and narrative exposition was delivered through non-interactive cutscenes. The cutscenes, such as they are, are certainly pretty – yet CG animation is so abundant these days that such baubles are far less likely to wow an audience who could just as easily watch any number of Pixar films. The game marks us as spectators, and thus are we expected to view reams of turgid and static show-reels of SE animation which are starkly delineated from the gameplay component of the game.

    To its credit, XIII-2 allows players to engage with the visually sweeping opening battle in Valhalla. But to memory, that highpoint was the only such interactive setpiece of the game (I haven’t finished it though).

  26. @Lusi The more I play, the less the load times bother me. It split second delay on Sabin’s blitzes is almost amusing at this point. Like he’s charging up just a bit more before the attack.

    @DefChaos I had one defeat so far, too. It was on the river when one of the pteradons hit the other and the second one fireballed my whole party before I confuse it again. There are a few spots in the game where there’s a little bit of luck involved, but for the most part planning trumps all.

    When I was younger and first playing the SNES version, I never spent any time on the Veldt so I completely missed the usefulness of Gau. It wasn’t until I was replaying it in college that I first realized that he’s a beast if you get the right rages. In the past, I typically used parties of Terra, Edgar, Sabin and rotating fourth of Locke (with capture), Gau, Setzer or Gogo.

    At any rate, I’ve just arrived in Jidoor which means I’m getting close to my favorite scene (and song) of the game at the Opera House.

    Also I was remiss in not listening to Zoltan’s version before, very cool!

  27. It appears that in my rush to get a version to play I grabbed a translated version of the Japanese game as opposed to the original American release. Since I didn’t get very far (and enjoyed the beginning/would like to not have to see the word Moglie again) I am going to make the switch and start over.

  28. Now I regret not naming one of the characters “Moglie”.
    I’ve only been to the Veldt once before (in my playthrough LAST Christmas in which I got the closest to completion), and I definitely didn’t take advantage. I should guide it up this time for that part.

  29. Fucking weaboos….

    I suppose the term ‘Moglie’ is just so fucking cannon or something…

    They cling to their utterly ridiculous literal translations like Dan to his horribly overblown fullscreen GBA emulation.

  30. I for one have just switched to the SNES version, and it’s so much better. Do it, Deimosion. Give into peer pressure.

  31. Beat Locke’s story, and I’m at the end of the Ghost Train now. Now that I’ve (almost) beat the game once before, the thing I’m appreciating most is the music. It helps that I’ve played a lot of it on piano in the interim as well. Mystic Forest is so effective and Ghost Town is so creative. Nobuo really understands telling the story with music.

  32. Forgot to mention that I love how easily Cyan gives up on the phantom train. “Didn’t you know? This train takes souls to the other side! … … Whelp! I’m ready to go!”

  33. “Muscleheads? Hate ’em!”

    I finished up Terra’s scenario, now I’m on Sabin’s.

  34. @Deimosion: Every time you’re on the podcast, you need to say, ‘Think a “bear” like me could be of any help?’

  35. Made it thorough the Magitek facility. I had forgotten how bad the mine cart escape looked, and it’s even worse on a big TV. I’m going to spend a little time at the Veldt to get a few more new rages and then collect some things I missed. I don’t want to get too far ahead of the pace.

    Man, I really like Celes’ theme, even though I didn’t really like her character very much the first time I played it back on the SNES. I think it might be my most frequently played song on Theatrhythm (either that or Sunleth Waterscape).

    @Ethos Yeah, a guide helps. If you get the right rages from the Veldt, Gau almost feels unfair. He was one-shotting everything in the Magitek facility for me. I may have to put him away for a while though if the game gets too easy.

  36. @DanChiSao – Celes’ theme might be my favourite track. It’s definitely up there. She was my favourite character on my first (incomplete) playthrough, so I’m curious to see my opinions on character this time.

  37. About to go through the opera house events. This is one of the parts that I’ve been most excited to replay. I’ve listened to the Distant Worlds recording of the opera quite a few times and it is phenomenal.

    I was almost wiped out while climbing in Zozo. I (stupidly, I admit) had hired Shadow as my 4th party member, and he bailed on me about half way up. The boss there threw knives and killed off 2 of my characters and I likely wouldn’t have made it without the chainsaw.

    @DanChiSao – Gau can absolutely be a powerhouse, I normally don’t use him not because of any deficiencies as a character, but I just don’t like not being able to dictate specific commands when I need to. Same goes for Mog. If I remember right though, I think you can use those two during the ascent of Kefka’s Tower in the World of Ruin, then you have characters that can use physical attacks where you otherwise couldn’t. I can’t remember for sure if it works like that but I’ll be sure to give it a try when I make it that far.

    The main thing about fighting on the Veldt that bothers me is that you gain zero XP there. What gives?

  38. *I said Kefka’s Tower, but I meant the tower of the Cult of Kefka, where you can’t issue Fight commands.

  39. I’m going to guess… Caspius’s favorite team is CELES EDGAR CYAN MOG. I just got Gau, and am going to build him up after reading the comments. I didn’t payed much attention to him before. Thanks!

  40. I’m going to guess Edgar/Sabin/Cyan/Mog.

    My own personal favorite is…hmm. Probably Edgar/Sabin/Terra and er, hrm. Can’t honestly say I have a favorite.

  41. @Deimosion: Wrong!
    @Blitzmage: Wrong!
    @SiliconNooB: Wrong!

    Wow, this is fun! It’s like having three different Mels working for me!

  42. I’m FINALLY ready to participate. Because I’m always busy with some kind of awesome project, I considered not joining this playthrough. But then I realized that if I don’t play it now when lots of fun people are playing it with me, when WOULD I play it? So I’ve been putting some time in and I’m up to Locke’s scenario. I’ve already finished the other two. I’m enjoying it a lot more than I expected to.

    I’ve beaten the game before and used to find it hard but actually, the only part I’ve found really hard so far is the mountains where you meet Sabin. I think you HAVE to grind up a couple levels to make it past the boss. What were your strategies for that dungeon? But aside from that, I’ve noticed that the balancing with experience points is SUPERB! Once you get Sabin, the amount of Experience you get is enough that you can grind levels if you really want to work at it, but it’s not enough that you could really over-level, nor be under-leveled. It’s great for the challenge. I will say that a lot of games that I play do this well though.

    They look fine to me still. Some are quite pretty.

    One of the best. Artistic with great music and it has freaking MECHS! Who wouldn’t like that intro.

    I think the creator of Xenogears said it best when he said that he one day realized how good music is very important and that it can make or break a game sometimes. This one really makes it better.

    Very balanced and in my opinion, there is NOTHING more important than that to a battle system. I agree that it is pretty fast which is nice. I also love that every character has one ability that makes them unique in battle. They got this aspect totally right in this game and totally wrong in FF10.

    Favorite Team:
    Not sure yet but so far I like Shadow, Terra, and Cyan. I LOVE counter attacks! Shadow’s dog freaking counter attacks! Cyan’s level 2 sword tech is a counter attack!

    Thanks a lot for the kind words regarding my remix. One person said that they’d like to hear other remixes I’ve done of this type. Well, I haven’t done any more pretty ones like that one but I have a good heavy metal remix of the “Overture” from the Opera House. You can hear it here.

    I’ll post more in response to others in future posts.

  43. This is the thesis of these playthroughs: “…I realized that if I don’t play it now when lots of fun people are playing it with me, when WOULD I play it?”

  44. Also TLZoltan, you make a lot of other good points. At first I thought the game was too easy (even accounting for the fact that I tend to grind more than most), but now I think it does one of the better jobs of utilizing the “wear down” technique. Which I am a fan of. Each battle is not terribly long or difficult, but enemies do enough damage that I have to keep my eye on health and inventory.

  45. Edgar, Cyan, Mog, Terra? I and bit behind on my playthough, going to try and catch up a lot over the next couple of days. I finished Cyan/Sabin and just started Locke. I was impressed about how sad the phantom train (and how those events played out). I thought it was very well done.

  46. Great guessing so far, but no one has been right just yet.

    Speaking of wrongness, where’s Mel? Is he not participating in this playthrough? How disappointing. I was so looking forward to his favourite party being Umaro, Strago, Relm, and Gau.

    I’m at the World of Ruin, still, having played ahead as mentioned. I’m very busy with end-of-term work this week, but after that, it is clear sailing, so I’ll be commenting a lot more next week as I am playing the game.

    Please, feel free to use this comments thread as a sort of notebook whilst you are playing. If something strikes you as interesting or funny, type it in the comments and press SUBMIT, then we can all think about it, too. Also, as always, interesting comments get mentioned or read on the podcast where they are also discussed.

    And, finally, keep on guessing. A prize for the winner!

  47. @Caspius: Celes, Edgar, Sabin, Mog?

    @Deimosion: You did the quote on the podcast! Hilarious!

    Does anyone else buy equipment for characters you’re not using yet, so that they’re ready when they come back in, or just wait until they’re back? The little bit of leveling I do, such as right before the Magitek Facility where I’m at, fills my coffers enough that anything bought which ends up outdated doesn’t take away too much gold.

    My team as it stands: Locke (with Genji Glove and Atlas Armlet and back-row weapons for now), Celes (who does magic well and Runic can be life-saving), Edgar (who can whup one enemy with Chainsaw or finish multiple off with AutoCrossbow), and Sabin (Same as Edgar with AuraBolt and Fire Dance, respectively). I used to use Mog in my main team, and like to see if I still will.

    Man, I’m glad did this game, I love it more every time.

  48. @Caspius: Celes, Edgar, Cyan, Sabin?

    @Matt Dance: I bought equipment for characters ahead of time during the party split, that way I had a full team with the best equipment possible during the defense of Narshe. I haven’t been doing that since then, but when I buy new weapons and armor for my current party, I double check that the old stuff isn’t something that be an upgrade for someone else before selling it. I like your party setup a lot, very solid.

    I wish Shadow was available more often, as I was finding shurikens to be one of the best single target sources of physical damage, aside from the chainsaw. They’re dirt cheap too. The Skeans are pretty strong, but by the time they start to become cost effective, Magicite gives access to comparable elemental magic. And I agree with The Legendary Zoltan, few things in this game fill my heart with as much joy as seeing Interceptor counter attack.

    As much as I love Cyan’s character, he probably won’t be in my main group consistently. Dispatch is really good, but I don’t think any of the other Sword Techs are really worth waiting on. The level 8 one is really strong, but you can go through several turns for your other characters instead of charging that. I wonder if Haste would negate some of that waiting.

    Does anybody else like Ultros? I like him a lot, the encounters with him become increasingly ridiculous. The first meeting is pretty normal, just an octopus boss on the raft level. Then you see him at…the Opera House??? And eventually you fight him in the AIR. Too funny. His dialogue is pretty funny too.

  49. @Matt&DefChaos: Wrong, but close!

    It’s interesting to see how no one has even mentioned one of the characters I love best!

  50. Why is everybody guessing Cyan? Did Caspius confirm that one and I missed it? And has nobody guessed Setzer yet? I’m behind on the rules.

  51. @Def: It’s surprisingly solid. The Magitek Facility was the easiest it’s ever been, and they’ve been beating the bosses in 4 turns or less. Of course, many years of RPG experience has helped to know what’s most useful.

    FF6’s system is relatively simple but very balanced and versatile. I like how it takes the pressure of by letting everyone learn Cure and Life spells through Espers, in a pinch, but some characters are better magic users and all have unique abilities none of the others do.

  52. I just got through the battle after the party reunites but before Terra turns into an Esper (and I am subsequently about to go look for her), and I must say that I think that was the first battle in the game that I didn’t particularly enjoy playing through it. I don’t know precisely what it was…. though having one group be Gau, my least favorite character and Sabin (I like Sabin as far as his character goes, but find the blitz input to be easy but tedious, particularly because I am playing on a keyboard), so a solid 1/3 of the battles were relatively unpleasant. I like Celes a good bit so far though, character wise and the way she plays. I do find I am tiring of Cyan and his reactions to recent events (even if to this point his reaction to his family boarding the Phantom Train was probably my favorite piece of story to happen so far), though I suppose one could excuse his reaction to Celes, as he didn’t see her getting beat up like we did.

  53. @Lusi: Edgar, Cyan, Celes and Setzer?

    I spent the weekend putzing around in the airship, collecting things I missed on my way through. I haven’t played again until today. Now, I’ve set off to pick up Mog and learn some of the dances now. I should probably get back on track, though, so I can retain my place of honor for staying on pace.

  54. @DCS: A good guess, but wrong!

    Alrighty, time for a little write-up of some things I’ve noticed.

    1) The battles are very quick, especially compared to the PS1 games, all of which are much slower than FFVI. In fact, these battles are the fastest until FFXII, which is a relief. FFXIII spoiled me forever so that long random battles are now viewed with intense dislike.

    2) So far, no one has managed to guess my choice party, however everyone has included Edgar in the list, which is correct. Some other clues: a) all of the characters in my ideal party have been guessed, though not all at once, and b) only one character in my party is female. Given the guesses so far, and the earlier information I gave, it should now be possible to figure out my party (I think).

    3) The actual story is surprisingly general, and people have very stereotypical reactions to things. I seem to recall the game being a bit more in-depth than it is–the dialogue is especially trite. Part of this has to do with the constraints of the medium: there simply isn’t room for hugely detailed and sophisticated dialogue. The other has to do with the time of the game: in 1994, this plot was actually quite elaborate. At least there are hints of the political intrigue subplots that will later become quite pronounced (I’m thinking of Tactics as a game which really brings that to the forefront).

    4) FFVI is far, far, far easier than I remember it being, and I remember it being very easy indeed. Part of this is that I know every trick in the book, part of it is that I know where every hidden item is, and part of it is that Final Fantasy is generally pretty easy as a matter of course. But wow, this game is easy.

  55. Hmm…Terra, Edgar, Cyan, Sabin?

    I agree about the dialogue, it can be awkward at times, and in some cases is incorrect (at the banquet in Vector, if Cyan is in your party, General Leo refers to him as the liege to the king of Doma). But since it did come out such a long time ago, I tend to give it a pass. It’s not so bad that it takes away from the story, at least for me.

    One of the things the game does exceptionally well is concurrently develop so many different characters. There are a few like Gau that don’t get many scenes, but almost everybody else gets a pretty significant amount of time in the spotlight. It’s more of an ensemble/team effort than any other RPG that comes to mind at the moment. I don’t really look at FF6 as just “Terra’s story”, especially since she’s out of the action for such a long time.

    FF6 is not a difficult game, especially once you get to the point in the game where, thanks to Magicite, anybody can be a healer in a pinch. I am also making sure that when characters level up, they have an esper equipped that bump up their stats. I put Bismark on the more physically focused characters, and either Stray or Maduin on the magic users.

    How many steps has everyone taken in the game so far? I am about to go inside the burning house in Thamasa, with 30,543 (!) steps taken.

  56. @DefChaos – I’m with you and Caspius. When I finally gave the game a proper shake last year, I felt like the dialogue was – as Lusi put it – trite. Which surprised me based on the love it gets. And unlike when I replay FFVII and FFIX and get surprised at how strong the interactions are despite spotty writing, replaying FFVI has only confirmed the cartoonish dialogue. I do agree with DefChaos however in FF6’s ability to deftly juggle multiple characters. It gives FF6 a similar removed feel that FF12 has, but it’s distinct.

  57. @Lusi: Hmm…Edgar, Mog, Celes, and Setzer?

    @DefChaos: I’m at 37842 right now and I just finished the mountains after Thamasa. I need to pick up a few lore spells and then I’m off to the Floating Continent.

    I’m playing the PS1 version, and I’ve seen quite a few errors recently. Apparently they renamed the Memento Ring the Safety Ring, which is bad enough, but on top of that, they spelled it Safty. Also, in the cave between the Imperial Base, there were mislabeled treasure boxes. One said it had 20k gold, but only had like 200 or so. I know the game was buggy and had some typos here and there, but one would think that later versions would have FEWER typos, not more of them. I’m still enjoying the game a lot, but my older, more critical eye is definitely noting a lot more flaws as compared to when I played it a 15 years ago. I still love the battle system and the overall plot in general, but I have to agree with the recent comments that the dialogue does suffer quite a bit.


    Tune into the first podcast of 2013 to claim your ‘prize’! ;)

  59. Specific script issues notwithstanding, I find that so far I enjoy the balance between the serious moments and the more humorous/silly bits. I was brought up on Dragon Quest (which perhaps excepting V are all fairly generic storywise), so this story seems quite good relative to a lot of what I am used to. The observation that this game is easy does seem to be spot on, and I find this to be far less grindy when compared to what I am used to out of rpgs.

  60. I almost feel like Kanye when I say this but Final Fantasy 6 WAS the best Final Fantasy that they ever made…. Maybe one day they will make one better but the evidence so far tells me that it’s long passed… The song link also brings me back to a very nostalgic time and makes me cry. I loved this game. I can still go back and play this game enjoying every moment. I enjoyed min maxing my characters and playing with not only a moogle but a magi-tech witch. This game was Steampunk before Steampunk was ‘cool’. I don’t think I will ever feel the same way I did when I started playing this game and the main character was a girl. Even though it was greatly disputed I think Dissidia finally put that to rest and Terra is immortalized as the first female lead character.

    Even though we now have Lightning it was Terra who paved the way for this very strong female lead. While you may say that Terra wasn’t very strong you have to look at the things she did and how whenever the chips were down and her friends needed her, she came. Even though she did lose her way, eventually she finds the strength to fight again and protect the ones she loved. This was what endeared her to me. I always live each day hoping that it will be a better one. Hoping that I will be able to share my love and be loved.

  61. I always felt that Terra was the lead in the World of Balance and Celes was the lead in the World of Ruin. Celes was a stronger character and had more development overall in my opinion (moreso if you let Cid die).

    I’m sure everyone already saw it, but this seems fitting:

  62. I have reached the World of Ruin. I kept Cid alive, and also waited for Shadow when escaping the Floating Continent.

    I really like the theme that plays during the Atma Weapon fight. One thing that Final Fantasy games always seem to do well is have good “special boss” music. Jenova from FF7 and Four Fiends from FF4 are also really, really good.

  63. Made it to the World of Ruin with Shadow intact. I killed Cid off (on purpose). I guess I’m just a terrible person, but the resulting scene really feels like it adds something to the game.

    @Epy: I would gladly watch an FFVI anime and pay good money for a Blu-ray or DVD. I actually just saw this video for the first time about a week before we started the playthrough. The “Dancing MaDonald” that showed up in related videos afterwards was a little WTF though.

    And I agree with Epy that Terra is at least the prime mover of WoB, and it’s Celes for WoR. There is not a single “main character” per se, but they definitely hold the reins with regard to what moves the story forward.

  64. I’m all set and ready to head to the Floating Continent, so probably either tonight or tomorrow I’ll head to the WoR.

  65. While Celes takes a bigger roll on in the second half of the game you cannot beat the game without Terra showing up. Also as I said with Dissidia it solidifies her as the primary character. Even if the game was so good because it developed it’s characters as well as it did you can’t deny how central to the plot Terra was.

    I do agree that Celes has the most touching and sad story if Cid dies… she even attempts suicide. She dips so deep into depression she tries to kill herself which is more apparent in the Japanese version of course.

    Meanwhile Terra is trying to find where she belongs- she wanders and struggles with her very being. She is lost in a world that hates what she is and at the same time uses her against her will. Terra’s story I think is even more sad and I can relate to her more being a bit of an outcast.

    Also consider that Celes is forced on you from the moment you reach the end of the Floating Content until you reach the shore from the raft off the island. From that moment on you are only required to obtain two more members of the game but every one you obtain makes completing the game easier. Lastly you could also say that due to the fact that they take Celes away for a fairly good part of the first half it’s made up for when they start you back with her.

    Every character gets pretty good face time and is balanced fairly well depending on the player’s choices.

    While I wish there was no dispute about Terra at all I do respect people for loving each of the characters because THAT is how you tell a story. You don’t put somebody on a mine-cart and push it down a hill. You have to let the person explore and find out exactly what they want to find out. If you do a good job then they will look for every event and line of text.

    FF6 despite it’s bugs and flaws that we have all learned and probably exploited a few times is still the best Final Fantasy. Some will disagree and say 7 or 9. Some weirdos will say 13. I say that for the story- the gameplay- the villian- the music…. you cannot find a better experience.

  66. It definitely comes down to taste and sensibilities. FF6, 7, and 9 are all as close to brilliant as games have come, but once you reach that tier, preference is what counts.

    I will say, however, that despite all the flak we’re giving the dialogue (and also what I consider to be a pretty wonky tone between serious and silly that I feel 7 and 9 strikes far more poignantly), there are a few great lines. “Here’s to a couple of confused adults” being one of them.

  67. Arguments for FFVI having a main character are feeble. Such rationales are no more persuasive than saying Yuna is the main character of FFX because her story is the most entwined with the story of FFX.

    FFVI has no main character.

  68. As confused as I am that SN and I have been agreeing so much lately, he is absolutely correct. FF6 is once again like FF12 in this way.

  69. I agree with SiliconNoob and Ethos. Saying that FF6 has no main character doesn’t take anything away from Terra as a character nor Final Fantasy 6 as a game. If anything, it highlights it as unique.

    I’m about to head to Figaro in the World of Ruin. The grey and yellow overworld isn’t very easy on the eyes, I’m already missing the greens of the World of Balance. I get that that’s what they were going for though.

    As for the recent discussion about dialogue, WoR South Figaro has some real gems in it, including “We may be thieves, but at least we have goals in life!” from one townsperson. :D

  70. Just picked up the airship and went to get Terra. Other than a moment of stupidity when I first got to the WoR (didn’t put Ribbon on Celes and got petrified when she was solo), the game continues to be pretty easy. And now that I have Sabin’s Bum Rush and the Bahamut magicite, I can sleepwalk the rest of the way more or less.

  71. Last year when I started playing this game, I REALLY got into it. It was the most I had enjoyed it by far, and it shot up my list of favourite Final Fantasys. I don’t know why it’s not sticking the same way this year. I’m FAR more busy in my life when trying to play it this time around, so I haven’t been able to just sit around and play it for 3 hour bursts like last year, so that might be contributing. The only thing I like more this time compared to last year is the soundtrack. The more you hear it, the easier it is to see the way Nobuo weaved in his themes throughout the OST.

  72. Kind of late in the game, but oh well.

    I suppose we can forgive them for the technology at the time, but the snes vocal patch on the opera song always reminded me of a cat in heat singing into a toilet bowl.

  73. NEXT CHECKPOINT: Liberate Mobliz and recover Terra. What optional content are people pursuing? Has anyone else been so callous as to not save Cid? Let us know in the comments!

  74. Fun fact: Celes, Edgar, and Setzer are the only required party members for the end of the game. As far as I’m aware, you can go to Kefka’s Tower as soon as you have the Falcon.

    That said, I plan on doing everything, including the GBA version’s bonus content. I saved Cid, of course! I did take the chance to let him die to watch the non-Woolseyfied version of the Celes suicide scene, though. I just got Setzer back, so now I’m off to get the Falcon.

  75. I’m sad to report that I’ve paid the karmic price for not saving Cid. My PS3 saw fit to crap out yesterday. I was taking a break, watching Full Metal Panic and it just shut itself off and I haven’t been able to revive it.

    I had Celes, Sabin, Edgar, Setzer, Terra, Mog, and Cyan and was cruising along nicely. (So I technically met the checkpoint, I guess…) I had picked up a few of the espers, too (Palidor, Tritoch, Bahamut), but it’s all for naught. I hope everyone else enjoys the ending of the game, as unless I can figure out how to repair it quickly, I probably won’t be finishing on time.

  76. @DCS: Noooooo~~~oooo~~~ooo!!

    I had the same thing happen about a month ago, though I was watching Netflix as opposed to Full Metal Panic.

    Does anyone else remember when video game consoles were built to last? I suspect that most of the NES and SNES systems that were built still work (excluding those which were destroyed in some way). My Atari 7600 still works, as does my Pong console. But I seriously doubt whether we’ll be able to say that about the current generation after the same amount of time has elapsed. Hell, even the PS1 era had significantly higher attrition rates. The PS2 was worse and with the release of the 360, all quality seems to have gone out of the window.

    How disappointing to think that, once my PS3 and PS2 inevitably fail, I will in future be faced with the expensive and difficult task of finding a replacement system–a necessity, given that ‘backwards compatibility’ is not something in which companies have an interest, either (it ruins their highly profitable plan of making us re-buy all the games we previously bought from them before).

  77. Sorry for falling behind. I only just got to Nikeah and cannot seem to find my way to the next place which I think is South to Jidoor but I’m not sure. My winter vacation just started so I plan to dedicate about 5 hours a day to the game until I’m caught up.

    You guys BLEW MY MIND on the podcast when you talked about saving Cid! I didn’t know you could save him! I thought Celes trying to kill herself was a mandatory thing. So, I’ll try and save him this time.

    Epy, that was a HORRIBLE video. Thank you for sharing it.

    There is indeed no main character in FF6 nor is there one in FF12.

    My biggest “problem” right now is what to do with the relics. I want to do awesome things like give someone a gauntlet to two-hand a weapon and the relic that increases “fight” damage and just use the fight option but then I wouldn’t be using tools, stealing, blitzing, or any of those things. I kind of feel like there are actually too many possibilities. It can only be a good thing, I guess but it makes my decisions so damn hard.

    Caspius, why do you say that Mash and Tina are the correct names? Is it because they are the names in the Japanese version? If so, then why do only FF6’s Japanese names matter? You don’t do that for every JRPG, do you?

    All in all this game is actually much better than I remember it being. I want to do some crazy stuff like try solo character challenges and stuff. Hahaha.

  78. @DanChiSao – That really sucks. :( I’m sorry to hear it.

    I’ve had exceptional luck this generation – I don’t own a 360, and the PS3 I bought in early ’09 is still going strong. I did have 2 PS2s die last gen before buying a slim that I’ve never had trouble with. My original DS model had the R button go bad, after which I got a DS lite that still works just fine. None of my older systems have gone bad, I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

    Back on topic, my progress this week has slowed down a lot. I shouldn’t have any issues making the checkpoint, as I’m in Daryl’s Tomb right now.

  79. After Sabin and Setzer, I got Cyan, Terra, and Gau (in that order), and about to face Sr. Behemoth. Dirt Dragon in Mt. Zozo was the first difficult battle in the game. Just read that Cid is on a timer for his health to fall, but saved him as always because it’s a fun mini-game. Also, the World of Ruin is a lot more interesting than I remember – actually a really good second act to the game. Chrono Trigger’s optional late-game content, by contrast, is kind of silly compared to FFVI’s, which is more serious and character-building. Most of my characters are full of magic by now, too, and are around level 30. What levels are you guys?

  80. This is the first system (console or handheld) I’ve ever had die. My PS2 and everything older still work just fine, all the way back to the NES. I’ve had this PS3 since 2008, and it’s seen pretty regular use. Among my gaming friends, I was probably the luckiest; I think my PS3 lasted longer than anyone else’s. You’re right, though, systems just aren’t made to last anymore. I was fortunate enough for it to happen when I wasn’t in the middle of a review, but I have to figure out what I’m going to do with my Ni no Kuni review coming up quickly.

  81. Deimosion is absolutely correct; you are only required to have those 3 in your party. Terra will join you automatically if you fight Kefka making a full party of 4…. But this is uber hard mode. Anyone up to the challenge?

    Meanwhile I would also disagree about 12… The main man (as he so often claims) is Balthier. While my own argument for Terra is somewhat taken down by that I can also say that Vaan IS the main character of Revenant Wings. Balthier says so. I will agree to disagree on this either way…

    Another comment down the line contrasts Chrono Trigger to FF6 which involves seeking out your friends to save the world. Which is a compelling reason to do all the technically optional content. I don’t think a game has ever done what FF6 has done in a long time. “Right so you have to save the world- here is a map and an airship have fun.” Only MMORPGs really do what FF6 did then. Difference of course is that MMO’s content has more or less gates to the content including huge difficulty curves. FF6 lets you go at your own place and doesn’t exactly hold your hand- it lets you look and explore an entirely new world. Everyone knows my opinion of the game but it’s still no less interesting that they did what they did. FF8 and 9 made me sad as well on this aspect. They gated off content from previous chapters and didn’t allow you to explore. I understand there were technical limitations but it doesn’t change how crappy that was…

  82. At the end of the third week (is it the end of the third week?) I have the Falcon and am doing some exploring with Mog and Umaro before going to get Terra.

  83. The final week is wrapping up! Now is the race to complete the Floating Contintent and to end Kefka’s reign of terror. Post your end-game thoughts here!

  84. I have finished the game. I killed Kefka using the four party members indicated above.

    The end of FFVI is increibly long, especially for an SNES game. And most of it is NOT credits, unlike modern games, where the length comes from listing the thousands of people who did eyebrow details and facial mapping.

    That said, it didn’t feel too long. The character vignettes at the end were especially nice. That’s a touch I would like to see more often, and it makes sense in the first FF game where characters are roundly developed, with complex backstories, individual motivations, and their own personalities, all at once. Ask yourself. ‘What is Kain’s personality?’ or even, ‘What is Bartz’s personality?’ and one will likely draw a blank–not so with most of the characters in FFVI.

  85. I have to live vicariously through the rest of you, so what are your end-game parties looking like?

    I was shooing for something like Terra, Celes, Gau, and Edgar. For fun I thought I might play around with a minimum control party like Umaro, Gau, Gogo and Mog for a bit, though.

  86. @DCS: That sounds like a Deimosion-oriented challenge. Perhaps he will take on Kefka with that as his main party. (I suspect it would still be easy.)

  87. @Lusi, DCS I’m probably going to go Edgar/Terra/Sabin with either Relm, Strago, or Celes as my last character and the other two and Mog acting as my first three backups. Then again, Locke can steal some nice stuff in the final battle. Since I’m playing the GBA version and plan to do the extra dungeons, getting some of that stuff would be nice.

    All that I have left to do now in the story is Kefka’s Tower.

  88. Oh, and because I’m curious: what are everyone’s setups for the final dungeon? I’m assuming most people who recruited every character are leaving Umaro behind; I personally will probably also leave Gau behind.

  89. The last time I beat the game I believe I got everyone and then used them to some extent. Also, HAPPY 100TH COMMENT!

  90. Umaro is good for a Laugh at least… Who doesn’t love a Yeti using you as a human projectile? Okay… everyone. Still it would be funny to have an entire automated team of Gogo, Gau, Umaro, and Mog.

    As for me my Final party usually consists of Terra, Mog, Gogo, and either Relm or Celes. (Relm because of her MASSIVE base magic stat.)

    The only thing I think missing from FF6 was the manga cut-scenes of Phantasy Star 4 that brought PS4 to life…. Still they did an AMAZING job with the tiny little sprites we were given.

  91. That’s interesting. I actually prefer sprite animations to manga cut-scenes.

    By the way, the opera house is the most genius thing in gaming along trying to march in the parade in FF7. LOVE IT!


    Let’s hear your final comments, find out who has finished, and relate our favourite moments!

  93. I finished the story, and I liked the game a lot more this time than I normally do.

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