Hey all, Ozma here with a little opinion piece! This will contain spoilers for Final Fantasy VI so if by some miracle you’ve eluded the game you can consider yourself warned!
Just a short while ago I was watching my flatmate play his newly obtained midnight release ‘Collector’s Special Super Ultra Edition’ of Assassin’s Creed III. Slowly the smile vanished from his face as he hunted animals, danced across trees and watched his uncharismatic character get upset or take credit for a civil war battlefield victory.. “I thought these games were meant to be about climbing and killing people” I thought, but then it hit me that the series (at least with this installment) has suffered what I like to call ‘Content for the sake of content’. Further and further I pondered to myself and realized that it is exactly what RPGs seem to suffer from lately, from The Elder Scrolls to Final Fantasy XIII, the former having fetch-quests galore with bland characters and the latter’s side-quests being nothing but often unrewarding monster hunting. More and more games came to my mind but think I thought something else: “What game actually had proper side-quests anyway??” and the one that stuck-out in my mind the most was Final Fantasy VI (it was in the title, I was probably going to mention it).
Final Fantasy VI could well be the most popular game in the franchise and is often competing with its big brother VII for the top spot, and is an icon in not only Final Fantasy, 2D gaming or the SNES, but in gaming history. I’m more of a VII guy myself personally (heck, I prefer IV and V over VI), but I do realize just what VI did oh so right, and more importantly what games could learn from it.
When playing Final Fantasy VI, you don’t go “Oh I’mma take a break from the story and do side-quests” like with a lot of modern titles – you simply play the game. The side-quests are blended into the game seamlessly as to not break them apart from the main story and events to the extent that one could argue they’re not side-quests at all (excluding the additional dungeon added into the Advance release). The biggest example is the entire World of Ruin section, where the world opens-up to the player free to explore, riddled with secrets and atmosphere. This begins heroine Celes’ journey across the planet to find her lost friends and company, but also to free the oppressed people by new Nazi-esque ruler Kefka.
The side-quests themselves are perhaps the ‘meat’ of the game, who else felt a sense of relief and hope to counter the otherwise dreary bleakness the world provides upon finding Locke safe and sound? Or a sense of total power when obtaining the strongest espers such as Crusader or Bahamut to knock that darn Kefka with?! Even that is barely scratching the surface here, we have Cyan and Shadow’s dreams, Umaro, finding the eight unsealed dragons, Setzer and Daryl’s lost romance, and the piecing together of Gau’s tragic abandonment. All of these side-stories not only add to the characters and their relationship with the cast and player but never feel tacked-0n or excessive. Each of these examples are rewarding emotionally or at the very least provide worthwhile compensation suited for the time and effort, this combined with its stellar cast of memorable characters provides an amazing RPG experience of which in my eyes has been lost in today’s generation.
Do you agree/disagree? Feel free to comment here or on the Facebook page!
Thanks for reading this slight ramble and sharing any thoughts.