Interview: A Childhood Gaming Experience, Final Fantasy VI
In this article, I interview a friend, Matty, about what his favorite game is. He spins an interesting tale about a game he first played as a child, and has gone back and completed several times since. Spoilers for Final Fantasy VI follow.
Me: Well, I guess the important question to lead with is what exactly is your favorite game?
Matty: I would have to say that that would be Final Fantasy VI.
Me: That is undoubtedly a classic. Why would you say that's your favorite game?
Matty: Well, I first played it as a kid, and I found that it had an extremely powerful story. It's about a rather large group of unlikely heroes who band together for different reasons to save the world from an evil despot, who also happens to be a clown. It's also one of the few stories where the villain wins. The bad guy, Kefka, actually does end up completing his goal or restoring magic and using it to destroy the world, then ruling the remains through fear. He does eventually go down, but not before he gets what he wants.
Me: So it's just the story? What about the gameplay features?
Matty: Well, of course to have a good game it has to actually play well. Though the story is why I fell in love with the game, the gameplay is also a lot of fun. It was the last two dimensional Final Fantasy game, so it was sort of the end of an era, and they went out with a bang. The game had a huge map for it's time, that was fully explorable once you got an airship, but other than that is was pretty standard RPG fare at the time.
The combat was Final Fantasy perfected. There were so many playable characters that you could have a party setup for any conceivable situation. Not only that, you could pick from our favorites and there were several very unique skills. It gave you a lot of options when it came to taking out your enemies, basically. You also sort of had to use and level everyone because the final boss involves 12 of the 20 party members.
Me: What about the sounds in the game? Did you like the music at all?
Matty: Well, Nobuo Uematsu did the compositions for just about all of the Final Fantasy games up until X, and I don't think he ever missed a beat. The music in FFVI was definitely always good and always fitting to the moment. It sets a really good atmosphere. That said, it's not my favorite of his work, but it does suit the game it's in nicely.
Me: So you said earlier you started playing it as a kid. Final Fantasy VI is a long and hard game, especially for a younger child. Did you finish the first time through, or did you come back and play it again?
Matty: I definitely didn't finish it the first time through. I got mad at the game after Kefka blew up the world and my party got split apart. I didn't want to have to go find everyone again, and basically straight up quit right there. I came back to it a couple years later, after having been a bit disillusioned by Final Fantasy X, and endeavored to finish it this time. I did, and I'm glad I did because the final section of the game is wonderful, and the final boss is a great challenge. Then in a bout of nostalgia, I decided a few years later to go through again with a guide and do a 100% completion play through. That took a really long time and was extremely difficult, but it was still a lot of fun. I've played through a few times since, and while it's not as fresh, it's still a great game.
Me: Final Fantasy VI is a rather old game. Going back and playing it now, do you have trouble with the 2-D graphics, or does nostalgia keep you running with it?
Matty: Well, it definitely helps that it's been re-released a few times with some added graphical polish and content, but yeah, it does get a little harder each time because it looks so bad now compared to some f the beautiful and expansive worlds we have in gaming now. But the story and characters are still great, and the strategic battles of the Final Fantasy series always keep me entertained.
Me: Well, that's about all the questions I have for you today. Thank you for your time and for a great story.
Matty: Not a problem at all. I like talking games.