Forget FF7, Final Fantasy VI demands a remake

Magitek memories.

If the rampant success of Final Fantasy VII Remake wasn’t enough, we now have a beefed up PS5 version on the way, a new story DLC starring Yuffie, and two recently announced mobile spin-offs in the pipeline. We’re in a state of FF7 mania and while it’s easy to get caught up in it all, we’re hoping that Square Enix will know when to apply the brakes before steering fans into an all too familiar state of fatigue.

With Final Fantasy XVI also on the way – due to launch exclusively on PS5 in 2021 – Square Enix have a full slate, but that hasn’t stopped us from greedily plotting in our heads what other dream Final Fantasy projects we’d like to see. Namely, a remake of Final Fantasy VI.

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Compare notes with other long-time fans of the series and in most cases you’ll find that everyone has their own personal, wildly different FF rankings. While some simply adore XV and staunchly defend XIII, others will still obsess over the PlayStation era Final Fantasy games of the late 90s, some preferring the 2D classics.

My love for those earlier entries in the series has been rekindled, mainly thanks to the recent mobile ports that weave in some welcome quality of life improvements. Despite owning a copy of the game for more than 20 years, it was only days ago that I dethroned Kefka and saw the Final Fantasy VI through to the end.

Read more: How does Final Fantasy portray its strong female characters?

For those who have never played FF6 – or even seen it in action – it’s a bizarre game even by Final Fantasy standards, dialling up every aspect of the beloved JRPG in terms of story, presentation, and enriched gameplay.

There’s a steampunk theme running throughout as a maniacal emperor seeks to conquer the world and claim its long hidden magical powers. In typical JRPG fashion, there’s a misfit band of rebels standing in his way who manage to thwart this goliath threat despite overwhelming odds. Final Fantasy VI is ripe for a remake, if only to see its rogue’s gallery of characters embark on this adventure once again.

As in most FF titles, each character belongs to a specific class that ultimately dictates their role in combat. Our leading lady, Terra, is a power magic-user who can enter a trance to amplify her spells. Meanwhile, Locke can steal items, Celes can absorb enemy spells, and Sabin even has fighting game-style inputs for his special moves.

Beyond the core cast of party members there are several optional characters, bringing the total to fourteen. Having access to the full roster allows you to experiment with so many different advanced playstyles. For example, Strago is a Blue Mage who can learn new spells by encountering certain monsters, whereas Gogo’s “Mimic” allows them to copy the player’s previous party command.

Juggling fourteen potential party members meant that some of them played a secondary role in FF6’s storyline, despite having their own dialogue exchanges and side quests. Together, they presented more of a circus troupe than a conventional warband or adventuring party – quite fitting, considering their arch nemesis is a crazed clown-like killer.

Another smart gameplay revision in Final Fantasy VI was its magic system and the “Espers”. By hitting story milestones and completing optional dungeons, you will collect Magicite crystals imbued with the power of god-like beings. Each character can equip one Esper at a time, being able to summon the power within while also learning any linked magical powers.

To top it off, levelling up with certain Espers equipped would grant a bonus stat increase. Although there was an advanced layer of depth to Final Fantasy VI’s character progression, it felt like less busywork than other games, such as FF7’s Materia system.

This would be SquareSoft’s last 2D mainline Final Fantasy game, sporting the series’ most dynamic, twisted visual sprite work. Seeing the original artwork reimagined almost thirty years later would be an incredible treat for FF6 fans, as unlikely as it seems.

A 3D version of Final Fantasy VI does exist, though only as a small CG demo. While impressive for its time, it’s hard to imagine that a fully 3D version of the game could capture such a distinguished style using primitive tech. With that said, this game might have switched places with Final Fantasy VII in terms of impact and fan adoration had it been the first 3D FF game.

The chances of a remake are slim, though the idea of modernising Final Fantasy VI has been discussed numerous times. After remaking both FF3 and FF4 for the Nintendo DS, it was assumed that Square would carry on this trend with FF5 and FF6. Remakes for these two latter games were being considered for the Nintendo 3DS though it’s likely Square haven’t looked back since focusing their attention on FF7R.

A gorgeous reimagining of Final Fantasy VI’s heroes, by Dave Rapoza.

An ideal remake for Final Fantasy VI would see the beloved JRPG brought to life again in an art style closer to the drawings of artist Yoshitaka Amano. The turn-based combat would remain, yet with some modern flourishes. FF6’s battle system still holds up yet certain aspects could be streamlined, expanded, and sped up. It would also give the developers a chance to rebalance certain characters, making some of the weaker, less popular party members more viable.

Almost three decades after its Super Famicom release, there’s a surprising amount of untapped potential in Final Fantasy VI waiting to be discovered. For now the fan favourite JRPG remains in crysis, like a dormant Esper, but one day we may see this genre-defining classic reawaken.

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Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualShock at this point.

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