Look up the opera scene in Final Fantasy VI on YouTube and you'll find comments like, "One of the most touching moments in video game history," “Such an iconic scene,” “I had tears in my eyes,” etcetera etcetera. I have one question for those people: Why?
exactly how this scene comes about -- our heroes need to find a way to
get to the Evil Empire. They decide to seek out this rich dude (Setzer)
who owns the only airship in the world. They find him at this operahouse
wooing some broad named Maria, who's playing the lead that night's
show, and plans to kidnap her so they can elope (or something). Some
villain conspires to mess things up for some unexplained reason. To
protect her, you switch Maria out for Celes, a sorceress in your party
to happens to look almost exactly like her. Celes agrees to perform
opera accordingly and does so.
strange because the opera seems like it should be this big sweeping
emotional moment (the music is undeniably fantastic), but it's not at
all. The words behind what she's singing have no meaning. She's merely
filling a role. She's not singing about anyone but the character in the
opera. There's not even any read-between-the-lines meaning anywhere. In
fact the entire scene isn't significant in the slightest to the main
I will give credit where credit is due: this game shows the right way
to do quick-time events, particularly here. You fight your way to the
villain up in the rafters while the show continues below. While Celes is
singing the opera, you have to make sure you select the right lines or
you'll get booted out. Also it has to be mentioned again that the music
here is fan-freaking-tastic. So at least there's that.
otherwise, this scene is the perfect demonstration of how impressive
this game can be to the point of self-indulgence. The scene is amazing
on the surface, the music is as good as it gets, but it doesn't mean
anything. It's just there because some developer thought, “Wouldn’t it
be CRAZY if we had an opera scene? That’s unheard of!” It’s there for
the sake of being there.
that basically explains the point of the entire game. The story is
gigantic – the depth in the narrative makes Chrono Trigger seem like an
episode of DuckTales – and would definitely benefit from some editing, a
more concise direction and something resembling a main character (Terra
and Locke come the closest, but Terra isn’t even playable for a big
chunk of the game and Locke is almost useless in battles), but I get the
feeling the developers did not give a damn. It’s huge for the sake of
being huge. There are many, many playable characters for the sake of
having many, many playable characters. And so on.
inherent problem with having such a massive story is the minimal amount
of effect that you as a player have. The way the game lets the
narrative unfold essentially deems the player as nothing more than a
gopher. All you’re doing is running your party from one long story
sequence to the next (with a few battles in between of course). The game
basically encourages you to do this too, by switching up your party as
often as possible so you can see every scene. Sometimes it was pretty
tiring and frustrating as you’re sitting there reading forever and
waiting to actually do something. There’s too much out of the player’s
get me wrong, a huge part of what makes Final Fantasy VI unique is the
narrative - there aren’t many other games on the SNES that had me
playing for hours just to see what happened next. It has one of the
all-time great video game villains in Kefka, who is truly one screwed up
character. There are just as many laugh out loud moments (when you meet
Gau, random Kefka stuff) as sappy moments (could they lay it on any
thicker with Cyan’s backstory?), and some of it works and some of it
doesn’t, but it has a very satisfying ending.
battle system is incredibly detailed featuring all sorts of cool stuff
like customizable magic, formations, relics, special abilities (one
character has you input sequence of Street-Fighter style commands to
execute attacks, another has a weird set of tools to choose from,
another steals things, etc), not to mention tons of items and equipment.
It’s extremely well done, holds up over time really well and is by far
the most enjoyable part of the game. On the surface, it’s the best
battle system for any RPG on the SNES.
only criticism of the battle system is that it isn’t very balanced. The
game really encourages you employ all sorts of tactical maneuvering
with formations and equipment and whatever, but guys like Sabin, Edgar
and Cyan are so powerful you can wipe out any enemy with the same
attacks over and over regardless of what else you do. Compare this to
Chrono Trigger or the Lufia series where the enemies match your
increasing experience and abilities stride for stride, and the battles
remain difficult without becoming frustrating. As fun as the battle
system is for FF6, I never once felt I was in danger of even coming
close to losing. All of the strategy seems like it’s for naught.
aside: I completely understand how someone could become obsessed with
this game. There’s an overwhelming amount of special abilities you can
obtain for certain characters, there’s collecting all the espers,
there’s having each character learn every spell from each esper, plus
there’s stuff like the Colosseum, an ingenious idea where you can bet
items on battles to win better items that are otherwise unobtainable.
The OCD-collector gamer type would be in hog heaven here.]
I’ll remember Final Fantasy VI for its wealth of creativity in battles,
the incredible soundtrack (second to only Super Castlevania IV on the
SNES) and its huge story, but I’ll also remember it all feeling kind of
hollow. It’s merely an exhibition in game design, albeit an impressive
* * *
Now, the underlying genius of Chrono Trigger is
how balanced it is in every aspect of the game. The enemies are never
too easy or never too tough or unfair and there’s no need to level-grind
at any point. As you level up, gain experience and learn spells, the
enemies match your strength. The boss fights are perfectly done - each
one feels like an event.
Not like Final Fantasy 6 which more often than not seemed to say,
“Welp, here’s another boss for ya,” out of nowhere. Magus, Black Tyrano
and Lavos in particular are really built up as big deals. I really like
in particular how you have to take out Magus’ underlings (Slash, Flea
and Ozzie) before you face him.
of the best things about Chrono Trigger is how it gains momentum the
more you play it. By that I mean the fact that not once is there a “Now
what do I do?” moment. Even after the game splits off into several
different side-quests, it remains very straight-forward telling you what
to accomplish. Again, balance is the key word here, balance between
linear and open-ended storytelling.
of accumulating just strength and experience points like most RPGs, CT
rewards you with combo attacks with your teammates. Some of these are
flat out awesome and powerful as hell, like Ice Sword 2, Falcon Arrow,
Delta Force and Arc Impulse [or what I refer to as Finnish Flag Attack]
while some are laugh out loud funny like Poyozo Dance, which is this
spastic nonsensical spell involving a stuffed animal, or Frog Flare, a
giant exploding frog which looks like something out of Monty Python.
Accumulating these attacks is fun as hell, and it keeps the momentum of
the game going.
also contains one of the most ingenious inventions in gaming, the "New
Game +" option. After you finish the game, you can go back in time as
often as you'd like with the same stats, gear and weapons and try
beating the game from a different point in the timeline. There are 11
different endings you can achieve (most of them are well worth it,
especially the one with messages from the development crew - “Get a
life!”) which puts the replay value through the roof.
characters themselves are a strange dynamic group, all distinctly
different, some cliched and some not (at least not yet): our silent
hero, the runaway princess, the nerdy tech-geek, the robot, the
cavewoman, the talking frog and in a neat twist you can play as one of
the main villains for a good chunk of the game. Each character has at
least a couple laugh-out-loud moments, even the ultra-serious Magus.
(“You got whacked cuz you're weak.”)
aside: one strange bit of trivia about this game - the developers gave
the English translators exactly 30 days to translate the entire game.
Because they were crunched for time, some of the translators were pretty
slack so we ended up with lines like that. They “fixed” that in the DS
version by doing a more direct translation and as a result most of the
humor was missing.]
particular aspect I don't think can be overstated is the main villain,
Lavos. Rarely in a game, especially in an RPG, does a boss actually come
across as invincible. Lavos is like the Terminator: it barely says
anything, you can't reason with it, it can't be stopped, it won't be
stopped until you are dead and everything is destroyed. And by the way,
it lives in the center of the Earth draining its life for all its worth.
The final battle music is absolutely perfect and gives me chills to
this day, and I've finished this game at least 25 times.
was released very late in Super Nintendo's run, allowing programmers to
maximize everything the SNES hardware was capable of, and damned if
they didn't succeed in doing that. This is about as technically
advanced, in terms of overall length, visuals and sound, as any SNES
Trigger is truly the total package: It's got a great sense of humor.
It's never boring - you never truly know what's going to happen next.
There's a crazy amount of depth in both the story and with items/gear.
There’s tons of replay value. The music is top notch, with memorable
themes created for each major character and for certain events of the
game. All those factors add up to this: Chrono Trigger best game the
SNES has ever produced.