Final Fantasy VI: Advance – #MaybeinMarch #EndingtheJourney

Hey you! This is a part two to a post that was posted along with this one. If you have not read part one about the history between me and this game, go over and give it a read! If you purposely skipped part one just to read my reflections on it then enjoy! I won’t be upset that you didn’t read the first part. There will be some spoilers mentioned in this post.

Final Fantasy VI: Advance is a Gameboy Advance port of the same name that was released on February 5, 2007. I don’t remember the exact date I got my copy, but it must have been soon after release since it was not difficult to find. Final Fantasy VI: Advance was the same game that players enjoyed the first time, but with an extra dungeon and a polished translation. The sprite work resembles the original and all the familiar sounds are there. I haven’t played the original SNES version of the game, but minus the names of spells and lack of multiplayer, this is still pretty much the same game.

Booting up this game always gives me a shiver. The dark ominous clouds with lightning dancing around them with the angelic 16-bit choir never fails to get me in the mood. From the very beginning, the games states it’s story and atmosphere and never lets up minus some humorous moments that come at appropriate times.

Who Are You People?!

The game has a total of 14 characters, not including four that you can control but are not permanent stays. While you quickly figure out who your favorites are, each character has their own strengths, weaknesses, and complete story arc. You start off with Terra who has been controlled her entire life and questions her free will when she can finally make her own decisions. This complicates things when she discovers she is half human and esper; and makes her question if she is able to live a life as a human or esper. Locke is a thief treasure hunter who has a habit of protecting any woman that he comes across. It is revealed later that his failure to protect someone close to him leads him to this bad habit. Edgar and Sabin are twin lords of the kingdom of Figaro. After the death of their father, Edgar succeeds the throne while Sabin leaves as he views everyone’s reaction as heartless. You soon find that both brothers never stopped caring for one another and each of done their part to help the other. Cyan is a samurai of Doma who loses everything during an attack on Doma. He continues to be plagued by the thought of not saving everyone including his wife and son. Cyan is one of the characters that is inspiring since despite all that he is going through, he still has the will to fight and carry on.

Celes is a former general of the imperial army. Her amazing scene at the beginning of the second act shows how desperate the situation has become. Up until this point, she has had trouble convincing everyone that she is on their side, but then becomes the one to reunite everyone at the end. Gau is a boy raised on the Veldt after being tossed out as a baby. There is a scene that I had never seen before when he reunites with his father that made me both laugh and get emotional in a quick span of time (just another good example of balancing humor and tragedy). Setzer is the gambler in the sky with his flying casino. Setzer felt like a plot point just to get his airship at the beginning, but his determination at the end to keep sailing the skies helps brings his character full circle. Shadow is an assassin who quickly became the most tragic of characters in the party. I won’t spoil his entire story (you have to go out of your way if you want his whole story), but resolution at the end made me happy and miserable. Strago and his granddaughter Relm live in the village of Thamasa and have the ability to use magic. While Strago felt like the less develop character in my opinion, Relm would have been a close second until you learn about her backstory. Both characters are good with magic, but were underused in my playthrough. Finally, there’s Mog, Gogo, and Umaro. They were there and I only used Mog at the end. Nice extra characters to have, however they just join you if you find them.

Final party and order for final boss

Just going to fight this boss….and they’re dead!

The game was easier than I remembered. It is surprising what happens when you fight every battle and not run away from everything (glaring at my younger self). The first part of the game was never an issue getting past, but I always dreaded going to Zozo. Zozo is a town of jerks and giants that pop up everywhere. Dealing with the enemies here was always a pain, but now that I am older and wiser, I teared through the town. From that point on, nothing felt like a challenge. Boss fights were never an issue since I knew what to expect and I could plan ahead. The few deaths that I did encounter were mistakes on my part. The floating continent was were I got my first game over in the game and quickly became my first trouble area. This is also the first site where I had to stop and grind for a bit. Grinding doesn’t fell necessary in this game, but is a fast and easy process if you go to the right areas.

A few other difficult spots I encountered was the fights with Leviathan and Gilgamesh. Leviathan took two attempts while Gilgamesh took about three tries. Out of all the esper (minus Diabolos whom I did not fight), these two were the hardest for some reason. Leviathan was easier when I switch out some characters and gear, but Gilgamesh had to be dealt with after a second grind session. The last area that I had a bit of difficulty was the Cultist’s Tower. You can only use magic in this area, so I had to change my play style a bit since I relied mostly on physical attacks to this point. It is much easier than I gave myself credit for with the right set up. Have your party equipped with Reflect Rings and have the spell Osmoses and you have a nearly indestructible team. I only wished I learned about that soon rather than when I was fighting the boss; or that you can cast Berserk on someone for them to use melee attacks.

Not even the eight dragons, which I thought was going to take a while, were a challenge. I purposely left them for last since the last two are found in the the final dungeon. Even the one in the Cultist’s Tower posed little threat to me. It might have had something to do with the set up I went with and how overpowered I was.

Customize To Perfection

Party stats are determined and influences by several factors. Each character’s individual stats give you a general idea on each character’s focus area (ie. Terra, Celes, and Relm have higher magic stats than most, while Sabin, Locke, and Cyan have high strength). The beauty of this game is that you can change the way characters improve stat wise if you choose so. That comes from the beauty of the magicite system. Magicite are espers in their pure form. Assigning magicite to characters allows them to learn magic. This makes it possible to have all your characters learn all magic and form a league of superhuman spell casters (if you so desire). Whats more, some magicite will increase a stat for each level that character gains. The stat increases cover HP, MP, Strength, Stamina, Magic, and Speed. Stronger espers will reward higher stat increases if you have them equipped. So if you are worried one character has less HP than the rest, equip them with an magicite that increases their HP when they level up. I enjoyed the magicite system since it is simple to understand and does not require any special gimmicks except you have to have it and equip it.

Another helpful tool are relics. Each character can equip two relics. The abilities of relics come in a wide range from the Hermes Sandals that increase your movement speed to Ribbons that negate all status effects. Simple relics can be bought in relic stores, but the more game breaking ones can only be found in dungeons. There are even relics that certain characters can only equip that changes their commands, stats, or grant buffs. For example, equipping the Brigand’s Glove to Locke will change his Steal command to Mug. With the combination of weapons, magicite, and relics, the player is able to create interesting and devastating teams.

Here are some examples of the setups I would employ:

Sabin: Tigerfang – Dragon Claws (Holy) + Genji Glove (Equip weapon in both hands) – Gigas Glove (increase physical attack by 25%) + Raiden/Gilgamesh (Strength +2)

Shadow: Ichigeki (occasional one-hit kill) – Kageuni (can cast Stop) + Genji Glove – Master Scroll (allows person to attack 4 times; with Genji Glove equipped, person will attack 8 times) + Raiden/Cactuar(Speed +2)

Terra: Zantetsuken + Ribbon – Gale Hairpin (reduce MP cost by half) + Valigarmanda (Magic +2)/ Crusader (+50% MP)

Locke: Gladius + Thief’s Bracer – Brigand’s Glove + Cactuar/Lakshmi (Stamina +2)

Everyone else I mixed and matched to fit needs during the final dungeon. Celes and Relm mimic Terra a lot when I was switching them out. The sheer power of Sabin and Shadow carried the team when I was grinding everyone to level 50 and when I had to split the group into three teams. Shadow’s multi hit set up helped with quick dispatching of enemies. The downside was that his attacks were weaker due to the multiple hit, but once he hit level 60 he was hitting for around 1,500 per hit. Due to Sabin’s set up, he was hitting around 6000-8000 per hit. This made leveling up the rest of the team a breeze.

“There is a reason why oppose rhymes with dispose”

I’ve talked this entire time about the game and never mentioned Kefka! Okay real quick. Kefka is one of the most evil, twisted villains in video games. He destroys the world just because dislikes life and hope in the world. No grand scheme or mommy issues, just pure chaos. Not even Chaos from Final Fantasy I was this chaotic and his name is freaking Chaos! The closest that come to him made are the Cloud of Darkness and Exdeath since they wanted to return the world to the void. While they planned and schemed, Kefka was just like “Imma destroy everything because why not.” I know that it is not the full reason why and it could have been because of his mental stability due to the magical experiments done on him. Since he was the first one to undergo the magical experiments, his humanity was shattered due to the process being incomplete. Even with that tidbit of knowledge, you never feel bad for him and the player’s feelings toward him remains constant throughout the game. Maybe they wanted to create a villain with no redeeming qualities to add to the bleakness of the narrative. His final boss fight and music accompaniment are works of art. Dancing Mad will never cease to be amazing.

Kefka’s Pecking Order

Final Fantasy VI is an amazing game that’s only challenge is how prepared you are. I had the advantage of playing this game over and over to know what I was expecting and how to deal with it. For newcomers, the choices that you can make can feel overwhelming due to the number of characters at your disposal. Every character counts since you need to use 12 out of the 14 for the final boss fight. Every playthrough is never quite the same since the player has the ability to main different characters and utilize different strategies. That is one of the main reasons why this game is regarded as a favorite among the fans. To wrap this really long reflection post, I was going to leave a video of me fighting the final boss, but the audio got unsync during recording. I’m still debating if I will put this game over Final Fantasy IX, but for the time being they will both share that number one spot.

Final Fantasy VI: Advance

Developer:
TOSE

Publisher:
Nintendo

Genre:
JRPG

System:
Gameboy Advance

Date Started: 2/15/2020
Date Ended: 3/5/2020
Total Playtime: 50 Hours
Difficulty: Normal
Number of Game Overs: 8
Magicite Obtained: 30/31
Dragon’s Defeated: 8/8
Friends Reunited: 14/14
Items Accidentally Bought at the Auction Because I Fell Asleep: 2

My Personal Rating: S

Thanks for reading!

DanamesX

#maybeinmarch More Like “I Will In March!” – Final Fantasy VI: Advance (The Setup)

Last month, Kim from Later Levels invited us to participate in Love Your Backlog Week. It was a fun event for all of us in the community to show off our shame prize collections and take time to evaluate it. A question that was asked of us was what was one of the oldest games on our backlog that has gone unfinished. For me, that honor went to a little unknown game called Final Fantasy VI.

My original game cartridge with custom case I made!

This game and I have been through a lot. I picked this up sometime after it was released on the Gameboy Advance. I knew absolutely nothing about this game or what it was about. It was another RPG to add to my handheld collection. I was not prepared for what I was getting myself into. My brother and I got instantly hooked on it. There was something about the story, combat, and world that keep us coming back for more. For as much as we played it, it soon lead to a defect that we were not too unfamiliar with.

One day when booting up the game, I noticed that both of our files were missing. We have had games in the past that would lose our data, but we had methods to attempt to revive them (no one told us blowing into the cart can do more harm than good). After several attempts and no results, we were left contempt to just start all over again (it really was no big deal to us at the time). The headache did not stop there however. We noticed that if we drop the game on accident, our data would be erased. If we took it out of one Gameboy and put it in another, there was a chance the data would erase. If we gave it the slightest tap, it would sometimes erase our data. This soon turned into a frustration and fear of playing it in the event our data would just be erased. We couldn’t trade it in for a different copy since by that time it became a hard to find game for cheap; and us country boys didn’t have money just laying around. We counted our losses and just lived with it.

Enter the age of emulation! We here at Tales of the Backlog do not endorse emulation for your all of your gaming needs. While it is nice to be able to play hard to find games through the practice, pirating games should not be an option and it takes away support from the developers and their lives. If you own the game however I see no problem since you already showed your support. Please support the official release! I was introduced to emulation when I first started college and it blew my mind at the time. I mostly stuck with Gameboy Advance games since they ran better on my crappy laptop. It was then I got the idea to emulate Final Fantasy VI this way so that I could finally finish it. I already owned the game so I felt less guilty for doing so. Finally I could get past the world of ruin and confront Kefka in his tower!

Yeah, no.

My laptop decided to die on me and take everything with it. Are you kidding me! Is this game cursed or something!? I’m almost convinced that no one has actually beaten this game. I did not try to emulate it again since the ROM site I had used shut down and I did not want to risk getting viruses on my new laptop. So years pass since the last time I attempted playing the game. There was the Steam version of the game, but I would rather sell my soul than play that version.

I would not test the game again until the Super Nintendo Classic was released. Loaded on the device was Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy III in the U.S). There it was. Right there in front of me in a playable state, but I couldn’t do it. If I was going to play and finish this game, it was going to be the copy that I have had the longest. I decided then that I would attempt it again to beat the game. I tried to get my wife to play along with me since we were doing a thing were we would play the same game side-by-side. She attempted to play it once, got as far as the first split and gave up (I still love her). To her advantage, she had never played a game using the Super Nintendo controller and it was weird for her. I thought a good remedy for this was to get the Final Fantasy Anthology for her to play on the Playstation, but her interest faded a long time ago (I played Kingdom Hearts 2 for you!!!). Back on topic, with this being a solo show I decided to go an extra step in the experience.

Introducing the Gamecube Gameboy Player! I always wanted this accessory when it first came out, but finding the device and disk together these days can be hard and expensive. I lucked out by obtaining both from an online store that I frequent for less than $100 USD. The game plan was to play the game using this and never eject the cartridge until I had beat the game. A noble plan. I was surprise to find my data from the last time I played still there when I started the game. I decided why not since it was not too far into the game. Upon playing the game on my 32′ HD TV, I knew the quality wouldn’t be the prettiest, but darn it I am playing this game. Halfway into the game I came across something that I did not know I had the tools to. I had bought a VGA to HDMI converter two years back and completely forgot about it. What I didn’t know however was that it was an upscaler and I could connect it to my Elgato HD60 S (finally an excuse to finally use it!). A tweak and two there voila! I can now record my footage and get video evidence that I have beaten this game legitimately!

This is a long post (not as long as part II) and I haven’t even started to talk about my thoughts on the game. There will be a second part to this post that goes into my thoughts and stats while playing the game. It will go up at the same time as this one so no having to wait! I am so happy that I could finally finish this game that I had to share the adventure that me and this game have had up to this point.

Thank you for reading and I hope you also read Part 2!

DanamesX