Some fans may grow anxious when they learn that their favorite classic is being remade. How much should the developers change? What should remain unchanged? Final Fantasy VI is the latest game by Square Enix to receive a new paint job. There will be fans who are pleased with the changes; others are sure to be displeased. Me? I’m too busy reliving my childhood on the go.
I’m sure that most readers will have played Final Fantasy VI, but I’ll give a brief summary for potential newcomers. An evil empire is trying to turn the espers (summons) into magicite, so they can infuse their technology with magic. Terra is an amnesiac girl who is the only one capable of casting cast magic naturally (everyone else requires an infusion), and she joins the Returners to put an end to the Gestahlian Empire’s nefarious plot.
So yeah, if you’re familiar with any modern Final Fantasy games, you still should feel at home with this one. What you need to know is that Final Fantasy VI’s greatest strength is its characters. You’re free to use whichever character you choose—each has their own motivations for fighting the empire as well as their own unique abilities. At the latter half of the game, the characters become separated, and you need to gather them for one final battle. It’s completely optional to retrieve these characters, but it’s totally worth it so you can shed some light on their past and motivations.
Square Enix also included an updated translation in this version. Overall, the translation is much improved. Although I never found the Ted Woolsey translation to be too problematic, I do agree that the line “he’d kill his best friend for the right price” sounds much better than “he’d slit his momma’s throat for a nickel!” Afterall, there are no nickels in Final Fantasy VI. I believe they lifted the new translation straight from the GBA version, so you may be disappointed if you were looking forward to a third translation. Otherwise, it’s up to par, barring a few cheesy pseudo-medieval lines.
Speaking of changes, you may notice some questionable choices in the new presentation. Specifically, players may be disappointed by the new sprites. Each character has received a custom sprite lift, but they’re the models used in Final Fantasy Dimensions and Final Fantasy V (mobile version). These oddly barrel-chested sprites looked fine in the other two games, as they were more vibrant with its color palate. Final Fantasy 6 can be vibrant; however, it uses a darker color scheme, which makes the cutesy sprites appear out of place and a slightly blurry at times–some of it can be fixed through screen configuration. They still keep the same animations as the previous game, so I stopped minding a few hours—I was able to resume my daily intake of nostalgia.
The rest of the game received a light touch-up—one that requires some side-by-side comparisons to truly notice. Navigating the world looks considerably smoother; however, the game still retains some slight jagged, pixelated edges to retain the SNES feel. I especially appreciated the smooth battle graphics, and the final boss’s battle screen is gorgeous. Enemy sprites look largely the same, although if you look up videos on YouTube then you’ll see that they’ve improved the shading of each sprite—I almost wish they had used this approach with the protagonists’ sprites. The only other issue I had was that I would ocassionally experience some slowdown. But the game looks clean, and the changes shouldn’t offend the fans.
Final Fantasy VI’s controls adapt well to the touchscreen, although there are a few minor hiccups. Players can now move in all eight directions as opposed to four (this can be changed through configuration), and they can make the virtual joystick appear anywhere they apply their thumb to. The problem is that it’s a bit too sensitive. Expect to trigger a few more random battles than you had intended while attempting to navigate a narrow corridor.
Thankfully, the menu-based combat is intuitive as possible for touchscreens. Each character is given a slot to scroll through for attack, magic, abilities, and other commands. When a character’s slot rises to the top, he or she can choose their commands. All of the commands are big enough for my meaty thumbs, and they were organized nicely. Longtime fans will want to know if this affects Sabin’s abilities in any way. Not only is it totally possible to pull of Sabin’s Blitz moves, but it’s even easier than before because you can simply tap a diagonal arrow. I did have some issues with targeting by tapping enemies, and I sometimes encountered a delay when I selected an ability.
The mobile version of Final Fantasy VI will cost you $15.99 on the app store. It’s a steep price considering that some companies are putting out full length RPGs for a dollar (or free, but there may be in-app purchases). Still, you’re going to invest at least 40 hours into this quest, and they even included the Dragon’s Den from the GBA version—not to mention Square Enix put in some effort improving the graphics and making sure the battle system would work on touchscreens.
So it’s not the most significant remake. The sprites look funny, but you can and will become accustomed to them. The rest of the game looks cleaner, but it’s not a drastic overhaul like in DS remake of Final Fantasy IV. Nobuo Uematsu’s soundtrack remains as epic as ever, but they didn’t even attempt to remix. However, it doesn’t really matter because Final Fantasy VI is still one of the best in the series.
This review is based on the digital copy of Final Fantasy 6 for iOS provided by Square Enix.