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Matt's Video Game Reviews (9)

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Dragon Quest XI: Echoes... N/A
Assassin's Creed Odyssey 4.5/5
Final Fantasy VI 4/5
The Legend of Zelda: Br... 4.5/5
Tobe's Vertical Adventu... 3/5
Valkyria Chronicles 4 5/5
Papers, Please 2.5/5
Divinity: Original Sin 5/5
Firewatch 3.5/5

 

Final Fantasy VI   PC (Steam) 

Lessons Learned, Finally    4/5 stars

Final Fantasy VI (released as Final Fantasy III for the SNES in North America) is regarded as one of the best RPGs of all time, especially by devoted fans and critics of the genre. I remember renting it in the 90s, but never finishing the game before its due date. Growing up, most of my exposure to video games came through the rental store, one weekend at a time, and rarely did my parents buy my brother and me games. My memory is fond of the SNES release, but I also don’t recal too many details. Fast forward over twenty years, and I have finally finished the game.


This last decade I have been interested in playing through the early Final Fantasy games, all re-releases of their originals. I played FFI and II on iOS, FFIV on the DS (using a GameBoy Advanced cartridge), and FF VI was played on my phone. DISCLAIMER: this is a review of the iOS version (same as the Android one), a remake released in 2014. The mobile FFIV is based on the 2006 GBA remake of the original.


In 2015 the same version that I played was released on Windows PCs. Since then a pixel remaster of the original has come to Steam in 2022. That’s a lot of remaking to talk about, so the game better be good. Again, my review is strictly of the mobile version/Windows port from 2015, not of the remaster or the original. I mention all of this because, frankly, the 2014-2105 release was poorly executed on many levels.


Story


5 out of 5


FF VI is a perfect story. There is a central conflict of good vs. evil. The rising action is full of twists and turns, hopes and disappointments. The protagonists fail and fall down, but they return to find redemption. The story builds to an exciting climax. It has all of the elements of a great story, and is one of the finest examples of video game development. It is, simply, art.


The characters are complex, entertaining, motivated by love, friendship, money, loyalty, etc. The antagonist is one of the most evil, hubristic, enemies in any game, disregarding life for the sake of it. He is motivated by and finds fulfillment in ridding the world of happiness and joy. He is a true manipulator, a bad guy of bad guys.


The iOS version of the game told the same story with the same characters, so I had no complaint in enjoying the art of the game. Any gamer interested in plot, character and story, should play FFVI. The story alone makes it worth it.


Presentation


3 out of 5


Presentation is where the remake of the original has gone astray. Graphics were blurry, especially the characters. Dungeons were redesigned and it was hard to distinguish elements of the levels. Honestly, it was quite angering at times because the visual cues and game elements looked so different from the original. After finishing the final dungeon, I went back to watch a playthrough of it on the SNES, just to compare. The difference was shocking. It wasn’t even the same game in its presentation. And it was much for the worse. For example, in the last level teams of characters need to stand on floor tiles to open passageways. The SNES clearly identified these routes with distinct graphical assets, however the redesigned version made all the assets look so similar that it was nearly impossible to tell where to go. The final level looked like a pile of poo.


The graphics of the 2014/2015 remake were redone by Kazuko Shibuya, a graphics designer involved in the series from the beginning. However much of the character art was so different from the sprites on screen that it was jarring. For a good overview of the graphical problems, see Lars Doucet’s article about the 2015 PC port . It is a thorough overview of all problems and complaints of fans.


Gameplay


2 out of 5


Mobile ports of games designed for a controller suck. They are hard to maneuver. There is constant accidental input. I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally resized the mini-map when trying to walk around. Often I became frustrated with navigating maps and levels, and a few times I was tempted to throw my phone through a window. Battles weren’t as bad, but still it was no fun. Moreover, the menu redesign was less intuitive than the SNES and poorly implemented. The lesson everyone should learn is that GAMES DESIGNED FOR A CONTROLLER SHOULD NEVER BE PLAYED ON A TOUCH SCREEN DEVICE, unless...


The game did improve when I paired any controller device to my phone. Initially, I used a controller that made my iPhone kinda like a Switch, but I finished the game using a trusty Xbox-style controller with an adapter to hold my phone. These devices made the gameplay tolerable. I sure that the original would have been delightful, but I was too committed to the mobile game. The second lesson to learn is that everyone should PLAY THESE GAMES USING AN EMULATOR or the original hardware. It would have been far better if I would have bought a retro handheld emulator for $80.


Overall


Mobile (Android & iOS/Windows PC port from 2015): 4 out of 5, not an average


Original SNES version 5 out of 5


Final Fantasy VI is an excellent game. I’d recommend anyone to play it. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to play it on a mobile phone. There are countless ways to play it other than the way I did. As for the pixel remaster on Steam, I’m not sure. But there is a much cheaper and better way to play it thanks to RetroArch

 

 


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