The Definitive 50 SNES Games: #2 Final Fantasy VI

Click here to view our list of the Definitive 50 SNES games. Links to each video and write-up are included.

Kefka’s cackling laugh. Ultros’ amusing flair. Terra’s tragic past. Celes’ post-apocalyptic struggle. Locke’s roguish charisma. These are but a miniscule sample of all the memories which flood back to me every time I think of Final Fantasy VI.

It’s arguable no finer role-playing game has ever been made than this jewel of the Super Nintendo’s library. Sure, the gameplay isn’t as smart or revolutionary as other titles, but within its medium, its characters are some of the most memorable portrayed, its settings some of the most hauntingly beautiful displayed, and its music some of the most enchanting heard.

Released to North Americans September 30, 1994, Final Fantasy VI went on to be re-released on the PS1 and GameBoy Advance, and is now available on the Wii’s Virtual Console. It takes second place on the list of Definitive 50 SNES games.

Final Fantasy VI is the story of half-human half-Esper Terra Branford, who escapes from the control of an evil empire, and ends up joining a group of rebels called The Returners. It’s there that she meets the noble thief Locke, the lady charmer King Edgar, and a host of other unforgettable heroes.

In the process of taking the fight to power-hungry Emperor Gestahl, Terra and crew witness the rise of an ever more insidious and crazed villain, Kefka. This clown-like menace goes on to tear apart the world itself for no reason than nihilistic glee. It’s this act which leaves his few would-be adversaries scattered. From there, its up to the heroes of the game to reunite and take down the ludicrous figure.

Final Fantasy VI plays like many of the RPGs of its time. That means there is plenty of menu navigation, grinding, and random encounters. Sure, those mechanics may seem pretty tired by today’s standards, but they were never so finely done as in this game. Menus are quick and well organized, such that grinding is more a relaxing pastime than a chore. It helps that enemies are grotesque and memorably drawn.

Still, there’s no doubt that it’s the story and characters which have kept Final Fantasy VI in the minds of fans since its release. The title gave us some of the most iconic moments in gaming history, and its place as one of the must-plays will endure as long as there are video games.

Check back next week for entry #1 on the Definitive 50 SNES games.