Final Fantasy VI Review (iOS)
Final Fantasy is perhaps the most widely-known, and on the whole, widely-acclaimed Japanese role-playing series ever created. While opinions vary vastly on newer entries, such as the Final Fantasy XIII series, the general consensus is that Final Fantasy VI is one of the greatest RPGs ever made. Now Square Enix has re-released the game (along with the first five entries) with updated graphics, sound, and gameplay. While the changes made for this remake have been hotly debated, I was able to jump into Final Fantasy VI completely unbiased, as I’ve never played the game before this iOS iteration. Originally released in 1994 — a full 20 years ago — the game holds up quite well today, and most of the changes made seem to be for the better, at least in regards to a mobile audience.
Since iOS devices sport a much-higher resolution display than the old CRT TVs that we played Super Nintendo games on, the character sprites, portraits and backgrounds all needed to be redrawn for this re-release of Final Fantasy VI. Some have said that the new look appears more flat and less detailed than the original, but in my opinion they’re viewing the original with rose-tinted nostalgia glasses on – it looks almost exactly like the original, just with a cleaner look in higher definition. I suppose maybe it would have been better to go for a more modern look that more closely echoed the concept drawings, as modern devices can certainly handle a lot more detail than you’ll see in this game. But it’s obvious that they wanted to keep the classic SNES look, and I believe they’re achieved that – and many of the redrawn backgrounds and portraits are gorgeous. It’s just that sometimes they look so good that the retro-style sprites feel almost out of place.
There are plenty of positive changes to the gameplay, at least when looked at as a mobile reincarnation. The fast-forward button for battles is appreciated, as it significantly picks up the pace and makes level grinding feel like less of a, well, grind. Quick saves are a godsend for a game like this, as the actual save points are found once only every hour or so, which obviously does not work for an on-the-go, pick-up-and-play experience.
The world map’s size can now be changed, and there’s now a hint system that can be enabled for those times where you feel totally lost, or haven’t played in a while and forgot what you were doing. iCloud implementation is similarly welcomed, as your saves can be uploaded and downloaded from the cloud at any time. Knowing that your many hours of questing are safe from things like a broken or lost iPhone should make users less hesitant to invest many hours into Final Fantasy VI.
One change that irked me throughout my playtime was the use of a virtual joystick for movement. This interface just does not feel responsive, and even felt a bit laggy. This is a game that feel like it needs a proper d-pad like the original SNES controller had, so if you plan on spending 30 or so hours with Final Fantasy VI, you may want to pick up a compatible controller like the SteelSeries Stratus.
While I won’t spoil any of Final Fantasy VI’s story here, suffice it to say that this is one of the best stories I’ve played through in an RPG. The music is absolutely amazing, and sounds better here than in any previous incarnation. Nobuo Uematsu crafted a masterpiece with this soundtrack, and Square Enix has even added an option to play any of the game’s tracks through a jukebox system on the menu.
Fans of the original game have probably already made up their minds about Final Fantasy VI for iOS, but from my purely objective standpoint this is a solid modern update to a gaming classic. Square Enix has successfully refined the gameplay, visuals and save implementation for the iOS market, and a whole new generation of gamers can now experience this seminal game’s emotional story and iconic soundtrack.