Final Fantasy VI Talks Part 2: Choose A Scenario…Kupo!

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A Thief’s End

DG: Speaking of new characters, our final campaign choice leads to Locke, who has been sabotaging the empire in South Figaro. I gave you little to no info about how to escape from this town. Please explain to me how you managed to get up to the jail cell, and how you learned what to do. Because, for me, the first time was a bit of a logical nightmare.

MB: I made my way through the hills! I kid. By the end of the last section, I was a bit tired but I was still going through Locke. Initially, I knew I had to do something to get by the kid, but I couldn’t find where to do that at. So I tried to look around for the right clothing. I beat one of the guys in the MagiTek suits. I started walking around and still nothing.

Once I finally died, I actually began to walk in the bar and realized one of the guys in there was the only person I had not spoken to. So I did, he tried to fight me, and the rest is history. I stole his outfit, then I walked around until I found the next guy and then I saw another merchant and I took his clothing. Took me about 40 minutes of walking around and battling to die and start over, but I felt good about finishing it.

DG: Yeah, for me, finding the guy in green on the walkway near the top-left section was a very hard task. It does serve to bring a little levity to a tense scene, where we can see the effects of the Empire shift beyond just getting rid of enemies to taking over their towns entirely.

We also see Locke go into hero mode again, with the daring rescue of Celes. A turncoat against the Empire she, too, uses magic. However, unlike Terra, she has a special Runic ability that protects the party from magical attacks. Locke, always the helpful adventurer, agrees to take this former General and bring her to the safety of friends in Narshe.

When you see this pattern appear over and over again, what does that suggest to you about the character of Locke? Is he trying to be a “Fedoral Nice Guy,” or do you think there is something more complicated to his story?

MB: I have not decided yet. Thus far, it seems he’s being genuinely helpful, but it also seems like he’s falling in love with each of these girls. Which makes his actions a bit unsavory for me.

Is there something more complicated for him? No idea at all. I try not to think too much about the future in a game. Waiting with baited breath for what’s next is something I reserve for Batman v Superman trailer and hype.

DG: I’ll let the game illustrate for itself on that question.

Speaking more to the escape, it’s the next few rooms that remind me how well 16-bit games handled 3D puzzles in a 2D environment. There are quite a few chests hidden in this area, including a staircase down to a Ribbon that prevents the user from all status ailments, including zombification.

Were you the kind of player to scout for all items before moving on, gun through and find cursory items at a glance, or observe something in between the two camps?

MB: I usually observe a happy middle. I try to get a chest if I see it and I go in as many directions as I can, but I also do not push the boundaries if it looks like there is one in a first playthrough of a game. I think I did run into a good amount of things, though I am not sure I have the ribbon you speak of.

I did get lost in that puzzle however. I did not realize you could walk in the spaces you could not see in those walls. It was a very well disguised puzzle that way. So, it took me forever to finish this section.

DG: Thankfully, the home stretch is fairly straightforward, with a run through the South Figaro Cave back to Narshe.

War On The Empire

And with that, we come to a close in the narrative rift. Exiting this daring step in the story, what are your thoughts on the design concept overall? How did you prefer them? What would your suggestions be to improve the balance of the three, if any?

MB: I like the design of splitting a game up between a mix of protagonists at different points. I do not think enough games exercise this form of narrative construct, but I think whenever I see it happen it is almost always welcome. The last game in modern times that used a similar split, though in a different way, I played is The Last of Us.

So I think that is good company to be in for games using such a functional narrative design. That said, we probably could have used a bit more of a mix of action in the non-phantom train sections. The middle bit could have been toned down a bit as well or broken up a bit more as it did feel much longer than the other sections when playing it.

I liked the longest path the best with its mix of stealth and action and a larger cast of characters than the others. At the same time, I am not sure I would ever want to actually partake in that long of a broken off narrative section before getting on with the main plot if all three were that long and diverse.

So I like the concept, The king’s brother’s path is the best and most interesting one from a mini arc perspective. I could see myself enjoying a lot of games more if main characters and mini-arcs switched up more often.

DG: I agree. Even more enjoyable is when the party splits up, but together. That comes up again, as Banon and the Returners try to convince Narshe to join them and fight against the Empire. Arguments fall short when Kefka brings a sizeable force North to the tundra, where a coincidentally-designed battleground lays ahead between the two sides of this conflict.

I split my parties like this:




My reasoning was that Sabin, Edgar and Gau can each target multiple enemies, while Terra and Locke can do the same while healing their parties. Edgar and Cyan were in the position with fewest battles, so I just gave them potions.

Locke’s party is crucial, as you can steal a Mithril Vest from the lancer dude protecting Kefka. But, more importantly, it feels like an almost canon group. How did you compose your lineup, and what do you think about the fallout of the battle?

MB: So I did not think too clearly about this. I had one super group that stomped through everyone in the king, Gau, and Locke. Then I had split the healers up with the rest of the fighters. It wasn’t a very good formula once the enemies got harder. I ended up running through most of the fighters with my one supergroup, which made it so now I have a bit of an imbalance in leveling of characters with some a bit higher than others. Not by much, but in games like this once a character gets ahead, it is almost impossible to have others keep up as the story splinters off.

It worked out really well with that one supergroup though. For instance, the knight protecting Kefka took me all of three attacks to beat and one of those attacks was stealing the mythril vest. When I did reach Kefka, he beat me the first time due to poor management on my par. The second time though? Took me maybe 6 turn to beat him, which is not that long considering how many battles led up to that point.

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Post-battle, it was kind of weird. For all of the mysteries in this game, I had not even been wondering too much about what is seemingly a magic creature entrapped in a crystal. It never occurred to me it would play much of a role. So when it begins calling out Terra, the whole scenario was just weird. I do not know how else to describe it, especially since she goes flying off around the world screaming like a banshee. This is one of those things that plays infinitely better with a 16-bit art style. This would have been really weird to happen in a more modern art style. I mean, imagine that sequence with voice acting.

Random musings aside, I like where the story has proceeded to go next with the search for Terra. I am not sure what the future of the game holds, but I am invested nonetheless.

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