Review: I’ve spent a lot of time gushing about this game here. I ranked it my second favorite RPG I’ve played and my friend nibbish and I counted down the Top 20 moments. So this review will have a bit of a different flavor.
When COVID-19 hit in March, I started craving nostalgia and comfort. I decided to play this one more time but experience it in a whole new way. I downloaded a ROM and hacked it with the Ted Woolsley Uncensored Edition. This is a highly professional hack that not only restores much of the original Japanese flavor, it keeps some of the more delightful Ted Woolsley translation (Wait, he says. Do I look like a waiter?) while punching it up with the needed fierceness of the original script (You vicious bitch!) while also fixing all of the major bugs.
And then I committed to playing each character to their uniqueness. As any fan of this game knows, once you reach a certain point you can homogenize the characters to game-breaking levels, creating nothing but Ultima gods. This time, I forced myself to explore Final Fantasy VI to its fullest.
Locke: I decided to steal every special item I could get my hands on.
Celes: I learned where Runic can be really helpful
Strago: I learned all of his Lores (it’s just too bad he comes to the party so late)
Setzer: I got the Fixed Dice early and enjoyed the hell out of them
Relm: I used the fake moustache quite a bit, just for the fun of it
Edgar: Turned him into a dragoon and eschewed most of the tools after a while
Shadow: Took advantage of the throw command
Mog: Also turned him into a dragoon
Sabin: Lived and died by the damn blitzes
Terra: Used morph whenever I could
Gogo, Umaro, Cyan: Yeah, they still suck, but I did try to play with them more often for variety
And finally we have Gau. I had made several attempts in my teens and twenties to get a full rage list, but I always ran out of steam. This time I motivated myself by actually using Gau whenever I could and learning his rages beyond just Stray Cat. I never appreciated he’s one of the game’s strongest characters. In the battle with Ultros in the Opera House, I laid waste to him in two rounds with Gau at the helm. And in the World of Ruin I got the Tyrannosaur rage early and used that to plow through many battles. But I also played around with the list, learned some support rages, and just had fun trying out the whole character. I do have to admit I didn’t complete my rage list; I was seven short when I gave up and just decided to win the game. But my desire for a full rage list has finally been sated. And then at the end of the game I turned Gau into a wind god because I had never done that before either.
Beyond that I committed to getting every item in the game. I accomplished all of that with the exception of the Cursed Helmet, which requires insane luck using metamorph which I didn’t have the patience for. The fun part of this quest was using the coliseum ten times more often than I ever did before. I attained weapons and armor I never used on any playthrough and it was a blast to pimp out my characters in different ways.
I committed to only having Terra and Celes learn Ultima (and most of the powerful spells) and also used more support spells than I ever have before, strategically planning out battles rather than just use elemental spells every time. I also was more intentional about relic use, focusing more on defense than offense.
Of course, with all this preparation and grinding I was able to breeze through the game without much difficulty, though I did die a few times (including twice to the damn Tonberry). But with the exception of my first play back in 1995, I enjoyed this run more than any other. I immersed myself in the music and fully appreciated Fierce Battle and Dancing Mad. And even with all the preparation, I still lost several character battling through Kefka’s tower. I was at no huge risk of dying, but it was nice to actually have to try.