FINAL FANTASY VI Review
- Story and combat system still shines today
- Essence of the original is preserved, despite cosmetic changes
- Quicksave feature is practical and useful
- It's Final Fantasy VI
- New visuals may upset some purists
- Battle menus and virtual stick are a little fiddly
Though probably not the definitive Final Fantasy VI experience, this iOS version succeeds in preserving the essence of the original beneath its cosmetic alterations.
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In a world where magic no longer exists, a girl with hidden powers awakes. Pursued by enemies who would use her ancient skills for evil, she unites with a band of rebels, and finds herself fighting for her life - and the fate of the world - against the tyrannical reign of the Empire.
So much has been written about Final Fantasy VI over the years that it's difficult to avoid retreading old ground when discussing it. However, considering its one of the most highly regarded RPGs ever made, it was only a matter of time before Square Enix buffed up its crown jewel for the App Store.
The question is: does the iOS port live up to the impossibly high standards of the original?
The answer: mostly.
First off, this isn't one of Square Enix's 3D remakes. Just like Final Fantasy VI's turn-based combat, old-fashioned text scrolls, and random encounters, the 2D nature of the visuals has been preserved. However, the art style has been reworked to be noticeably softer and less blocky, presumably in an effort to excite a 21st century audience. Whether you approve of the reskin will depend on your personal taste, and fondness for the original graphics. That said, even if you don't like the new look, it doesn't really detract from the experience.
The other big change is the overhauled battle menu. Instead of opening static windows and navigating items, weapons, and spells with a cursor, you must scroll through small lists of options with your finger. These columns rise up the screen as each party members' battle timer charges. We found the small menus and scrollbars a bit fiddly to navigate at first, something which initially slowed our progress.
The same can be said of the virtual stick which is used to guide your team around the game's various cities, caves, and castles. It takes some getting used to, but works as well as can be expected - though we would have appreciated an option to fix the stick in place to save dragging our thumbs back and forth.
Other compromises, such as the arrow prompts for Sabin's Blitz techniques, work better. The quick save function is also a welcome necessity, ensuring you don't have head to the overworld or find a save point every time you put your phone down.
However, though probably not the definitive Final Fantasy VI experience, this iOS version succeeds in preserving the essence of the original. Behind the new art and hyperactive menus, there beats the heart of a genuine classic, the pulse of which can still be felt throbbing though RPG design to this day.