Video game memories: Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VI (originally released for the Super NES as Final Fantasy III) is my favorite video game of all time. It is not the best game of all time, or even the best Square-Enix RPG of all time. Just a year later, Chrono Trigger came out and was in many ways better. But FFVI is still my favorite game of all time.
First, you had an enormous cast of characters. If you keep Shadow from dying and recruit everyone in the World of Ruin, you will have 14 characters when it is time to storm Kefka's tower at the end of the game. (I left Gau and Umaro on the airship as I went after Kefka the first time, because they could not be controlled.) This presents an incredible array of abilities and personalities, and some cut scenes are different depending on who is in your party. When I played Final Fantasy VII on PC, I was disappointed by the smaller cast.
Despite such a large cast, Square did a good job in making it feel like we knew each of these characters before the final battle, especially if we completed all of the side quests. From Locke's grief over losing his girlfriend to Celes' quest for redemption, this was the first role-playing game I played where the characters were more than just blank slates who would hit things really hard. I actually cared about what happened to them.
There were also iconic moments that did not feel forced. From Kefka committing genocide to bring the kingdom of Doma to surrender and the fallout from that, to the birth of a baby in Mobliz, to the supremely well-directed opera scene, this game was incredibly memorable. Kefka starts as a silly character trudging across the desert, becomes a truly vile antagonist, and then takes over the world and has to be overthrown. He is a thorn in your side almost from the very beginning.
There are some things that do not make sense, like why people are still using melee weapons when there are robots and machine guns and laser cannons. But this is to be expected: It is a mid-1990's RPG, after all. Kefka probably should have vaporized Celes as soon as she started gathering the characters together to take him down. But overall, this is just an amazing game. Best of all, you do not have to track down a cartridge for 25 year old console, because you can download it on Google Play, the Apple App Store and Steam. If you have the time, you should check it out.