Truth be told, I’ve only ever REALLY played a handful of Final Fantasy titles over the years.
- Final Fantasy VII, which I’m determined to finish prior to the remake being released
- Final Fantasy IV, which I stopped playing last year because I got stuck at an enemy and need to grind to beat and just don’t have it in me
- Final Fantasy I, which I beat a couple of years back, albeit it was the Game Boy Advance ‘Dawn of Souls’ version
- Final Fantasy X, which I…well…maybe I’ll try and play that again some day. Maybe.
But the one I’ve played over and over and enjoy more than any other game, EVER, is Final Fantasy VI.
I wrote about it a couple of years ago and thought it would be appropriate for this week on the Skirmish Frogs calendar.
The 131st episode of 1 More Castle’s podcast (cleverly dubbed ‘1 More Podcastle’) has resonated with me on a very personal level this week, and has flooded me with a number of wonderful emotions.
A listener submitted an e-mail asking about video game soundtracks. I thought about that as I listened to the team discuss some of their favorite tracks. At first, I went back to the usual culprits when thinking of video game tracks that I enjoyed; Blades of Steel, Mega Man 2, Bubble Bobble…and that was just the NES.
I was also known to play a role playing game or two during my time, and really enjoyed some of the tunes composed in a number of 16-bit gems: Breath of Fire, Secret of Mana, Lufia…
…but there was another I adored above and beyond them all.
Final Fantasy III. I mean, VI.
There was, and still is to this day, a number of different reasons to enjoy this iteration of Final Fantasy on the Super Nintendo. The multitude of characters and the amazing detailed personalities and back story that came with each one….the story and plot that never got stale and always kept you looking forward to what was coming next…the multitude of challenges and strategy thrust forth from the game…
But the soundtrack. DAMN, that soundtrack.
As soon as I hear any track from that game, I’m instantly taken back to being a kid. That’s almost a cliched statement from anyone who has fond memories of a favorite game, but there’s no other way to put it. As much as I enjoyed Sabin’s blitzes and Edgar’s autocrossbow, I’ll never forget the songs that begin when entering Cyan’s castle for the first time, or anytime you come across the ever-so-dark and mysterious Shadow.
About 15 years ago, I burned a CD (with the help of my friends at Napster) that was full of tracks from Final Fantasy VI. I would drive around the mean streets of the city with my Moogle music and have it pumping from the factory speakers of my 1999 Chevy Cavalier.
Damn, it felt good to be a gangsta’.
In all seriousness, the music would put me in a good place, regardless of the mood I was in. It reminded me of sitting down and watching my brother and his friend play it for hours and almost peeing my pants when Terra went racing through the sky as an Esper, releasing that haunting 16-bit screech.
(NOTE: I wrote about that as being part of games that creeped me out. Read it here. When you’re done this, of course)
Through hours of gameplay, my brother and I would constantly pass the controller back and forth with him entering the code to unleash Sabin’s Aurabolt, while I would carry on with the rest of the fight, stealing potions with Locke and absorbing magic with Celes’ sword. We would spend hours playing the game, trying to get as far as we could each weekend before having to return the game back to the store and hope like hell it was available for rent the next weekend, AND, that our save file was still on the cart.
I even sat down one time to try and develop my own Final Fantasy Dungeons and Dragons type of game, spending hours handwriting enemy stats into a notebook and trying to handcraft individual scribblers that would encompass information and become my own ‘Final Fantasy’ Dungeon Master guides.
It was because of this that I drove my brother crazy with my insufferable love for the game. I would hum the songs on the 20 minute walk to school, or would constantly ask him who his favorite character was in the game and then attempt to pry out of him every single detail as to why he enjoyed that character so much. Eventually, he got tired of me and yelled,
“Would you talk about something else?! All you talk about is that STUPID game!”
It became clear to me on that day that he didn’t share the same love for Final Fantasy that I did.
It was only a few years after that when I was cruising around listening to Gau’s theme and irresponsibly daydreaming about living the life in South Figaro. My love for Final Fantasy was deep.
Last year, I set out to complete the game, attempting to finally see the entire story through. I don’t have much shame in following walkthroughs with retro RPG’s these days. My time to invest in long RPG’s is limited, so sometimes I just want to see the story through. However, when I began my quest to discover Terra’s past, I wanted to see it through fully with no walkthrough and no help.
I’m happy that I did.
I completed the game and brought peace to the land, and it was as fulfilling and satisfying as I always imagined it would be. Watching the group of characters sail across the sky in their airship, free from Kefka’s hold on the world…damn, it was good.
So, when the conversation came up on 1 More Podcastle, it took me back. In fact, I went digging through some old CD’s and found the soundtrack I had created 15 years prior. All week, I’ve been listening to the 23 tracks and enjoying each one to its final faded tune. That’s when it hit me.
Holy poop. After all these years, I’ve never known. Until now.
Final Fantasy VI is my favorite game of all time.
I’ve never said a bad word about the game, and never with any intention to do so. I enjoy so much about the game. All of the characters, the storyline, the gameplay, the music…and even after completing it, I would go back and play it time and again.
I’ve always had a tough time trying to identify my favorite game of all time. And it’s an answer to a question I’ve never been able to come up with.
Huh. Who knew?