Square Enix has just released Final Fantasy VI on iOS, following on from its Android release last month. If you have any interest at all in the series, or in Japanese role-playing games, you should buy it.
Final Fantasy VI is a true work of art. Originally released on the SNES in 1994, it was the pinnacle of the 2D Japanese role-playing game era. While The Secret of Mana and its Japan-only sequel may have had fancier graphics, nothing could touch the sixth instalment of this long-running franchise for sheer scale and depth.
The story – with multiple central characters and a plot that draws inspiration from sources as varied as steampunk, Star Wars and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – is light years ahead of what most games of the time had achieved. The limited expressive palette of the 2D sprites was more than compensated for by the script and Nobuo Uematsu’s masterful soundtrack that expressed emotions through music that the graphics at the time simply couldn’t convey.
With highlights like the opera house scene (make sure you remember your lines!) and a truly maniacal villain in the form of Kefka, an Imperial general with an almost literal God complex, this is a game that keeps on handing out treat after treat the more you play it.
There’s a valid argument that games like this don’t play out quite as well on mobile devices as they did on a 16-bit console connected to a TV, but you’re really not going to get any better than this when it comes to a remake of a classic jRPG – there simply isn’t a better game to remake.
Square Enix has refined its approach to mobile ports over the years, and our initial experience of the iOS version here is that it’s a joy to control, particularly during fight sequences. The redrawn sprites may not be to everyone’s tastes but they’re better than if the developers had just reused the pixellated originals. Among the other small concessions to the modern world is the addition of iCloud saves in the iOS version.
At $15.99 or local equivalent, it’s not exactly cheap for a 20-year-old game, but this really isn’t any old game – it’s a true classic, a piece of video game history. If you’ve never played it, now’s the time.