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  -Part 1 :: [10.29.04]
  -Part 2 :: [01.29.05]
  -Part 3 :: [03.22.05]
  -Part 4 :: [09.21.06]
  -Part 5 :: [06.04.12]


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"Selphie asks why the president's car in the model looks so shitty. 'Yeah, Rinhoa made it. That's why. We bought everything else at the gift store,' Marty helpfully explains. 'Oh...' Zell replies, 'I thought some kid made it. The paint job sucks, too.' Of course you can't tell this by the level of the graphics. Still, I really enjoy that everyone is ragging on Rinhoa."
     -Jeanne, Final Fantasy VIII Part 4




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Final Fantasy VI : Part 1
By Sam
Posted 10.29.04
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4
Listen up, fanboys and fangirls! Before we get this recap started, I should tell you that as of this writing, I have only very recently beaten Final Fantasy VI. Yes, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. The horror! If you guys really want to, I give you permission to form a lynch mob and come after me with pitchforks and flaming tree branches for my blasphemy against RPG fandom. I know, I know, I deserve your wrath.

To the point, I'm telling you this for two reasons: 1) so you understand that I'm not writing these recaps under the warping influence of childhood nostalgia, and 2) so you don't send me emails or write message board posts to tell me I could have killed X boss with Y item or gotten Z relic if I had visited town A. Take it easy on me--I beat the game the first time with the help of a mediocre (at best) walkthrough from GameFAQs and the less-than-helpful advice of two FFVI fanboys, one a dirty, sinful cheater and the other a provider of heinous and damaging misinformation.

Basically, a good rule of thumb is if your post/email can be summed up "You did this part the stupid way, you should have done it THIS way," then just don't bother. All you'll serve to do is annoy me.

However, Ryan (the aforementioned Dirty Cheater Fanboy) has agreed to recap this game with me, and since he's practically the prototype of a rabid, frothing FFVI fanperson, you may feel free to direct such emails and posts at HIM, as he's got the friggin' game memorized and therefore should know better.

Well, that's quite enough pre-recap announcements, so let's get to the game.

Oh, but wait, there's an FMV to contend with first! Yes, I am playing the Anthology version of the game, purely so I can recap the opening and ending cinematics. Believe me, I'd much rather NOT waste half my life waiting for the PSX to grind its way to the main menu or overworld map, but how could I live with myself if I omitted these tacked-on, pointless FMVs?

Anyway. The movie opens up with a pretty, tinkly, wholly depressing piano tune, which plays over a short montage of all the game's characters. Well, that's not quite accurate. It's more a montage of all the game's cool and angsty-looking characters, so the movie can achieve the proper level of brooding seriousness that this one hundred percent non-goofy game deserves. Thus, the stuffed animal Moogle, the freak in all yellow, the old man with a mohawk, the Abominable Snowman, and the half-naked mullet-sporting teenager are all left out. See, these characters would have totally pooched the moody ambience.

As for who makes the cut: first, there's an aloof fellow in a Flik-esque blue bandanna, looking pensive and serious, which he so actually is in the game. Following him we see a waify albino "man" with bad silver hair simultaneously piloting an airship and zinging tarot cards at enemies, looking for all the world like Anne Rice's take on Gambit. Not that Anne Rice would ever do something unoriginal. After Waify Vampire Guy we cut to a dark corridor filled with pearly white ghosts, all fighting against a blue-skinned ninja. Whew, there's a ninja. Now I know this is a Japanese RPG and not one of those icky American ones that all those stupid people play on their stupid gargantuan XBoxes. Yay Japan!

Then there's a skinny blonde girl, first looking helpless, and then running down a corridor in a white dress, interspersed with shots of two fruity blond men on a moonlit night, one of them flipping a coin. I'm sure this is meaningful to someone, even if that someone is very much not me. The blonde girl looks on thoughtfully in the snow, as a group of mechanized black armor things kill people with extreme prejudice. Blondie, back in her white dress, throws a bouquet of roses off a balcony while one of the mechs fires a laser. See, this is why I hate montages. Nothing makes any goddamn sense.

Speaking of not making sense...are you guys trying to tell me that Blondie is actually two separate people? Because I'm not buying that shit at all. They look exactly the same. Skinny. Pale. Blonde hair in a ponytail. I mean, sweet Jesus, these girls aren't even related, let alone twins, so is it so much to ask that in a montage of characters there could be a tiny bit of distinction between them? Oh, wait, my prayers have been answered--one of them has a little circlet on her forehead. Thanks, Square.

Marvel at the diversity!
 

At the appearance of the Squaresoft logo, the music shifts to Ultra Sinister Mode. I'm sure that's a complete coincidence. The camera follows three helicopter-like contraptions that make no mechanical sense into a large city, where they fly into a large structure which, up close, resembles a bronzed Death Star. Originality all over the place so far in this game.

Inside the Death Star, some heavy iron double doors fly open and three figures emerge into the hallway beyond. Two of them are generic-looking military types in ugly armor. The third is a woman with the twiggiest fucking legs I have ever seen. I would wonder how legs this thin could possibly support the weight of a human body, but then the camera zooms out to show me the rest of her, and she's so anorexic that the legs are probably sufficient. And she's not only in desperate need of a hearty sandwich, but she's also dolled up like a French whore in a skimpy red mini-dress, red ankle boots (ooh, '80s chic!) and red fishnets. Since Twiggy here is wearing a circlet, she must be Blonde Girl #2 from the montage. It's all coming together for me.

As Twiggy and her two male escorts walk down the corridor, there are more shots of some other characters from the montage. One of the fruity blond guys sits on a throne and stares at the camera with creepy dead eyes, while the other fruity blond guy meditates outdoors. This one is shirtless, muscular, and looks almost exactly like Guile from the Street Fighter series. Sadly, supposedly these two are identical twins, and yet unlike Twiggy and her unrelated blonde soul sister, Dead Eyes and Guile Wannabe are very easy to tell apart. I guess identical genetics pale in comparison to Yoshitaka Amano's blonde girl fetish.

 
AAAAAAH!!!

After Twiggy's boy toys open another set of double doors, all three of them are engulfed in a flash of white light. Close-up on Twiggy's eyeball, so we can see her iris flash from green to bright red. And the Circlet of Distinguishment, so crucial already in my impression of Twiggy, is actually the cause of this Mary Sue-like eye color change! Is there anything it can't do?

The soundtrack hits an evil chord as the screen tells me, "Command to the Empire Force in particular." It appears that the ninja, all the Japanese names in the credits, and the general lack of sense-making weren't big enough clues, so they had to throw in a line of bizarre Engrish for insurance. The Engrish Text God continues, "Commence the attack on Narche, the Coal Mines City." Another shot of the black mechs, letting us know exactly what has command to the Empire Force in particular. I think.

This neatly segues to an evil clown in a lab looking at a large canister of red Nyquil. Oooookay. The clown watches as the cough syrup infuses itself into the mechs, now being piloted by Twiggy and the Pips. There's some shaking and popping of valves and blasts of steam and that sort of stuff as the mechs gear up. The clown looks on approvingly, and I notice at this point that he has a very festive feather sticking out of his well-combed blond coif. This, combined with the white pancake makeup, bright red lipstick and garish red robe, convinces me beyond any doubt that our clown is straight as the day is long. So very heterosexual.

The mechs move ohhhhhh sooooooo slooooooowly out of their holding pens as the music goes into a crescendo. After a while, someone on the production end deduces that this video will go on forever if they show the mechs actually moving all the way out of the room, so the screen fades to white and we get the Final Fantasy VI logo. It's even spelled out in katakana above the English lettering. Japanese. Got it.

What country is this game from, again?
Umm...that one place. You know, with the cartoon porn and the raw fish.
America. It's in English, you fool.
Germany, hence all the people with blond hair.
It's from the Gaia, duh! OMG FINAL FANTASY IS REAL!!!!!!!!!!!11

 

The actual opening screen for the game isn't nearly as "exciting" as the FMV, though the music is trying its hardest to be titillating, with that Nosferatu-meets-2001: A Space Odyssey feel. 16-bit lightning blares all over the damn place and we get another shot of the FFVI logo, this one a lot more pixellated and without the katakana.

After pressing start and selecting New Game and all that, I'm unceremoniously shoved into a large, steaming pile of exposition. Dammit, and I just bought these pants. Ruined. With the aforementioned Coal Mines City of Narche as a backdrop, the Back to Normal English Text God begins his spiel. "Long ago," he starts, "the War of the Magi reduced the world to a scorched wasteland, and Magic simply ceased to exist." Yes, Magic is so important that it needs to be capitalized, and will be for the rest of the game. Deal. "1000 years have passed... Iron, gunpowder, and steam engines have been rediscovered, and high technology reigns..." I'm assuming the Text God means they reinvented the latter two, unless one day they just found a bunch of gunpowder and steam engines sitting in an ancient pyramid.

The background changes to a large metal structure, probably the in-game version of the FMV's Death Star. "But there are those who would enslave the world by reviving the dread destructive power known as 'Magic.'" The sky behind the Death Star is a deep blood red, which, if I remember my Cheesy Legolas Lines™ from Lord of the Rings, signifies that "blood has been spilled this night." Most likely by the totally Sweet and Pure folks residing in the Death Star. That clown guy sure looked like a real sugar plum.

"Can it be that those in power are on the verge of repeating a senseless and deadly mistake?" the Text God asks me rhetorically. At least, I think it's rhetorical, because otherwise I would have to shout at the TV, "Of COURSE they are, or this game would be REALLY FUCKING BORING."

With that for your brains to chew on, the Text God and his Bucket o' Exposition make a gracious and silent exit, leaving us with three mech-encumbered sprites, standing on a cliff. It's supposedly Twiggy and the Pips, but Sprite!Twiggy has pale green, rather than blonde, hair. This is either because the game designers are trying to fuck with my head, or they realize that we have to tell the girls apart somehow and therefore are actually doing me a favor. Pip #1, named BIGGS, says, "There's the town..." Pip #2, WEDGE, adds, "Hard to believe an Esper's been found intact there, 1000 years after the War of the Magi..." And you guys believed me when I said the exposition was over. Ha ha. Also, those of you familiar with the game will note that this marks a change from the SNES version, where Biggs was "Vicks." I don't know what's worse: the Star Wars fanboys complaining about how the SNES version fucked up the extremely important Trilogy reference, or the Old School FF fanboys complaining that the new version made any changes to the script whatsoever.

Biggs and Wedge wonder as to the state of this Esper, and then postulate as to why they have this freaky green-haired broad with them. "I heard she fried 50 of our Magitek Armored Soldiers in under 3 minutes," Biggs says, practically pissing himself. Wedge assures his colleague: "Not to worry. The [Circlet of Distinguishment] on her head robs her of all conscious thought. She'll follow orders." I can't help but picture our heroine getting zapped by the Circlet (real name Slave Crown) and immediately running to the kitchen to bake pies, fold the laundry and fetch the guys a couple brewskies.

 
Wow, better than my microwave!

Biggs gives the order for them to move out. We get to watch the mechs--excuse me, Magitek Armors--move at the speed of tectonic plates some more while the credits roll. Right around the time I notice a streak of gray in my hair, the trio reaches Narche. The town seems to be deserted. Wedge suggests putting the freak girl in front, since her life is obviously of less importance than those of the two generic guys with identical status portraits.

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