Sport & Auto
- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the last 2D entry in the "numbered" Final Fantasy series, so it's hardly surprising that Final Fantasy VI has followed its predecessors in getting an expensive, visually overhauled iOS remastering. What is surprising is how engrossing it still manages to be, two decades past its prime and with a purist-infuriating new look. Final Fantasy VI's leap to touchscreens is hardly flawless, but it's nonetheless impressive, and it's an easy way to slip into a true classic of '90s console role-playing games.
Considered one of the high-water marks for its series' storytelling, Final Fantasy VI assembles a cast of surprisingly well-developed characters around an amnesiac young woman, who's being sought by a sinister empire for the strange, magical powers she wields. It's not a unique setup, but the narrative distinguishes itself by leaping straight into the action with little exposition, and then jumping almost seamlessly from character to character while it gradually establishes its world.
There's a resistance movement to help, minor villains to fight, and a psychotic clown behind it all — and for a 20-year-old game, the story takes some shockingly dark turns. But its real strength is in its 14 memorably diverse heroes (including an engineer-king with a mobile castle, a wilderness-dwelling feral boy, and an old wizard with a supernaturally talented artist granddaughter) and their often-tragic backstories, which are explored organically without ever fully putting the brakes on the overarching plot.
From a gameplay standpoint, not a whole lot has changed since 1994; you still divide your time between exploring a huge world and getting swept up in random, quasi-turn-based battles against bizarre monsters (which usually have zero relevance to the story). Every Final Fantasy adds its own touches to the formula, though, and FFVI's is its unique approach to the way its characters develop. Each of the heroes comes with a unique skill — Locke the thief, for example, can steal items from enemies during combat, while gambler Setzer leverages a magic slot machine that yields unpredictable results. Each can also learn any of the game's magic spells simply by carrying pieces of Magicite (stone-like objects that can summon powerful "Esper" monsters to attack during combat) long enough to master the spells they have to teach. It's a system that offers a lot of freedom to customize your fighters (or just to make everyone all-powerful, if you've got the time and patience).
The iOS version also brings a few improvements to the table; when exploring, for example, you can now tap a "?" button for a reminder of what you're supposed to do next (useful if you leave the game and come back days later), as well as adjust the size of the onscreen map for a better idea of your surroundings. In battle, each character now has a separate action menu that rises slowly from the bottom and activates when they're ready for their next move, giving you big, easy buttons to tap and letting you instantly switch your focus between heroes. If that proves tedious, there's a fast-forward option that simply keeps repeating your last move, which is useful for grinding through the more repetitive, low-threat random battles in a hurry.
Not all of the enhancements are so helpful. The virtual-stick controls for simply walking around the world feel loose and imprecise; most of the time, that's at worst a minor annoyance, but every so often the game actually demands precision or speed. On those rare occasions, moving a few steps in the wrong direction or getting hung up on furniture for a few seconds suddenly becomes a serious setback. (An MFi controller might help this, but despite requiring iOS 7, FFVI doesn't support them.)
Then there are the graphics. For all the flak it caught initially, Final Fantasy VI's iOS makeover is both fairly minor and weirdly inconsistent. Onscreen characters now sport a smoother look, speech bubbles are accompanied by high-res character portraits, and the environments have gotten a crisp visual upgrade while staying (mostly) true to the look of the 16-bit originals. The monsters seem like an afterthought, though; as good as everything around them looks during combat, your enemies have a fuzzy, chunky quality, as if they were simply blown up and blurred in Photoshop to match the new screen resolution. For better or worse, though, the visuals become superficial once you're engrossed in the gameplay and story — and fans can at least rest easy in the knowledge that FFVI's iconic music hasn't been tampered with.
The bottom line. Despite the strangeness of some of its surface-level changes, Final Fantasy VI has aged surprisingly well, and holds up beautifully on iOS.
iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running iOS 7.0 or later
Remarkably enjoyable and easy to dive into despite its age. Sports new enhancements that keep it from getting tedious or confusing. Makes excellent use of iCloud for transferring saves.
Visual makeover is unevenly applied, and the characters' smooth new looks have already infuriated fans who wanted the game in its original form. Awkward exploration controls. No MFi support.