For many gamers, Final Fantasy VI was the best entry in the greatest generation of gaming- the Super Nintendo era. With this in mind, Square Enix stepped back in time and retrieved this classic role-playing game and threw some future clothes on it to get it ready for the iOS generation— with surprising results.
Final Fantasy VI presents the tale of Terra, a mysterious young woman with control of the long-lost art of magic. While she tries to come to terms with the power inside her, a war rages against the Empire, a tyrannical regime hellbent on conquering every country on the planet. She's joined by a huge cast of colorful allies, like Locke, the semantically-obsessed treasure hunter, Edgar, the ladies' man/king/engineer and Celes, the cold-hearted warrior. Gameplay elements aside, Final Fantasy VI's story and wide cast of characters are two of its strongest points, and these have held up over time. The story twists and turns in ways that are breathtakingly clever today, and were mind-blowing upon its initial release. Even the most genre-savvy of RPG fans will likely find themselves surprised by the originality of FFVI's story. Its characters, too, come to life in a way that few video game characters ever do. This large cast of vibrant personalities all come with in-depth backstories and character arcs with the kind of detail you typically only get in novels.
Final Fantasy VI mixes elements of exploration, puzzle-solving and turn-based combat together to comprise a bulk of its gameplay. As you progress through the story you'll traverse countless dungeons, making your way through their sprawling layouts and figuring out their many idiosyncrasies. You'll also spend quite a bit of time locked in combat. Initially, you're limited to choosing your party based on the characters handed to you by the story, but as time progresses you get some flexibility in terms of who among the large cast you'll be taking with you. Each character can be customized a bit using the Magicite system, allowing you to pick and choose the abilities they'll learn over time and how their strength, magic power, and other statistics will grow. Each character also has a unique skillset that, for the most part, only they have access to. Treasure Hunter Locke can steal items from enemies, the stalwart Celes can redirect magical attacks and absorb their power and muscle-bound Sabin inputs special attack commands like something out of a fighting game (a system which had to be somewhat overhauled for touch-screens, but still works nicely). These abilities are fun to use and unique, giving each character a distinct flavor and allowing you to customize your party makeup based on the way you choose to fight.
Now, so far most of this review has gushed about Final Fantasy VI iOS, and for good reason— for the most part, this is one of the greatest games of all time. There are a few changes, however, that weren't for the better. While the original Super Nintendo title had a gorgeous, almost hand-drawn look to its monsters, backgrounds, spell effects, and characters, here everything looks as if its built using an ancient version of RPG Maker. That's not to say the visuals are bad per se, but they're just less striking and less visually appealing. Fortunately, the sound fares far better. Final Fantasy VI's score is arguably one of the best in video game history, and every note hits the pitch-perfect tone and rhythm it did nearly twenty years ago.
The touch screen controls work well, for the most part. Things flow nicely in combat, but you will probably have the occasional hiccup where you're trying to target one foe and instead target another. Since the game allows you to choose whether combat keeps moving while you're in a sub-menu, or pauses instead, having to wrestle with the touch controls a little bit isn't really a problem. These controls don't fare quite as well when you're walking around in the field, however, as you'll probably misstep quite often, and in a game filled with random encounters, extra steps means extra battles. Final Fantasy VI iOS's script translation has been updated from the revered Ted Woolsey-penned interpretation, and lacks some of the charming quirkiness of the original. Dialogue like "Son of a submariner," and "He's slit his mama's throat for a nickel," have been changed to less-colorful variants. It's not something that'll detract for new fans, but the lack of these fun, odd little lines does suck just a tad of the life out of the dialogue. While the iOS port did create some new issues, it also brings some new bonuses with it that were added to the Game Boy Advance port but weren't present in the original game, like additional Magicites, hidden bosses and extra dungeons. You also get some nice conveniences like a bestiary, achievements, iCloud saves and a quicksave function.
No matter what form it's in, Final Fantasy VI is one of the best games in the history of the medium, with its fast-paced battles, humongous world to explore, fascinating characters and bold, original story. This iOS port may look a little different, but its soul is the same, so for anyone who hasn't experienced this legendary game (or hasn't experienced it in a while), it's a must-have addition to your iOS collection.
This review was completed using a purchased copy of Final Fantasy VI on iOS.