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Final_Fantasy_6_(SNES)_-_Angry_Video_Game_Nerd_(AVGN)

Final Fantasy 6 (SNES) - Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN)

The Nerd: Below dark clouds, lightning, ominous organ music, and then, ready for it... ready for it... Final Fantasy III. When you saw this fiery font, emerging from your CRT TV, burning across the room to your flannel couch and heard those epic chords ringing out across the wall, papered walls of your wood furnished living room, littered with Fruit Roll-up wrappers and Sunday newspaper comics, you knew, you were about to play a Super Nintendo game that was truly "Super" and unlike anything that came before. Right away, you're told of an ancient war that reduced the world to a scorched wasteland, and magic simply ceased to exist. Now, machine energy is on the rise, but there are some who would enslave the world by reviving the dread destructive force, known as magic. Can it be, that those in power are on the verge of repeating a senseless and deadly mistake. Now that's taking video game storytelling to a new level. Kind of goes above and beyond, go rescue the princess or some shit.

The Nerd: The main story opens on a snowy peak, we're introduced to two soldiers of an empire and Terara, who's under their control. The soldiers are named Vixs and Wedge, or Bigs and Wedge in the Japanese version, a Star Wars reference. They're search of an elusive magical being known as an esper, who they have reason to believe is hibernating somewhere in the icy caves. They mentioned that before Terara was under their control, she had fried 50 of their soldiers in under 3 minutes. It already raises many questions and builds mystery. Are you enthralled yet? This is some good shit. The three march into the snow in their Mech suits, known as Magitech armors as we realize, we just watched a pre-edit sequence to a video game. We watch them trekked through the 3D winter wonderland with those Mode 7 graphics and that emotional cinematic score, as we anticipate the adventure that awaits us. We are about to play the greatest video game of all-time.

The Nerd: That's right, we're doing this. And what better time, because I think of this as a winter break type-of-game. I remember the time off from school and also, there's something about the cold downcast melancholy state the game embodies. Also, with the holiday season, I thought I'd give myself a little bit of a gift. You know, 'cause last time I played one of the worst, most fiery hellish games of all time, but now, I play it's winter/polar opposite.

The Nerd: But with good games, sometimes there comes a different kind of trauma. Let me tell you a little story here. As you probably know, this is not a game you just pick up and play for 20 minutes before you hop on the school bus, or even a couple hours after you've done your homework. This is a game that you chip away at over several months. It's a work in progress, a hobby of sorts that you invest yourself in. This is a game you catch up on while you're sick. It was the longest, most all-consuming game of its era. It came out in '94, but sometime I'd say by the summer of '95, I had finally made it to the final area: Kefka's Tower. The finale was in sight, my heart was pounding, my pulse was racing, I was approaching the end of the most epic gaming experience of my life. All of a sudden, the game froze. Yeah, the screen broke up into glitchy colors, through decades of foggy memory I'd say it looked something like this. I had never seen anything like that happen before, nor have I ever seen anything like it since. The game restarted or I had to reset, I can't remember which. The opening scene replayed which shouldn't happen, so that was a bad element. So nervously, I waited until I got to the first save point and there, sure enough, all my save data was erased.

The Nerd: True story. I was definitely an angry Nerd that day, especially for a kid with no real life responsibilities, no family support, nothing like that, no! Having your Final Fantasy game erased was a big fucking problem! And that was how my childhood experience with that game ended. And in almost 30 years since, I never again attempted to beat the game, I just could not bear to invest myself in it so deeply again. It's like losing a pet and then deciding to get another pet, only to one day again face the inevitable. That was fucking sad, I'm sorry. But that theme of loss is commonly cited as being a big part of the game's storyline, and now that so much time has passed, maybe it's time to give it a shot again. Because, I'm going to do it, this is my second chance. I'm going to complete my childhood.

The Nerd: When this game first came out, it was the most expensive game I ever bought with my own money. It was close to eighty bucks, when most Super Nintendo games were closer to sixty. I distinctly remember walking into KB Toys at the mall, with my saved up cash. I remember the clerk agreeing that it was overly pricey. But to be fair, he said this game takes like 5-to-8 months to beat, which back then was a big deal. The manual was almost like a whole D&D book, full of character stats and information. It even came with a double-sided map. Final Fantasy III was the biggest game of its time. Also, I just got to say, I know, I've been calling it Final Fantasy III because I'm playing the Super Nintendo version and that's what it's called. Of course, the Super Famicom version is called six (VI) which we all know is the true sequential number, but back then, I had no idea, and neither did anyone else I knew. Not until seven (VII) came out on PlayStation, and I was like... what? How did we get to seven (VII) already? Now, everyone knows the story. I even covered it way back in my Chronologically Confused episode, the mix-up has long been cleared, everyone calls it six (VI) now. But the cartridge still says three (III). The title screen still says three (III), every time I played it still says three (III), I tried giving it the finger and telling it, "fuck you! You're wrong!" But the game, still says three (III). Fact.

The Nerd: So what made this game different from other fantasy adventure games, like Zelda? Well, everything. This was the first RPG I ever played. My first glimpse of it was at a friend's house. I remember seeing the battle screen and wondering, why are the characters just slashing at the air? Why are there a bunch of numbers popping up? I wasn't used to this more automated luck-based fight system. What is this I thought? Some kind of flashy board game turned into a video game? I actually wasn't that far off, having already owned those those role-playing board games like Hero Quest and DragonStrike. I wasn't fully aware how far back it's history went with D&D. I didn't know RPGs were a thing, but after Final Fantasy III on Super Nintendo, I sure as hell did.

The Nerd: Anyone who's played the game knows how it works. But basically, you build up a large ensemble of heroes. You travel through towns, caves, and dungeons. Collecting items, fighting monsters, meeting people, gaining spells, and abilities and steadily advancing the storyline. On paper, it's like your typical adventure game, but one of the things that made it so extra special for the time, was the massive amount of weapons and accessories to equip yourself with, and all the magic and skills to learn. Once you start acquiring the Espers, you can assign them to characters so they can learn certain spells as you go on. This all gives the player the freedom of customizing your characters, however you see fit and trying out different combinations of abilities. Speaking of customizing, just the fact that you can name all them was a fresh concept. Sure you could do it in games before, but not with that many characters. There's also lots of parts where the characters split up into multiple groups. So you get to pick who goes in each group and who leads.

The Nerd: The characters are really the core element of why this game was so groundbreaking. Never had there been such an amazing ensemble, all with their own unique personalities and rich backstories. The camaraderie of these characters really shines through. It's all about building the team, it's Wizard of Oz, it's Lord of the Rings. Over the course of the adventure, you come to know them, almost like real people. And the fact they can achieve this with little pixelated sprites and minimal graphic technology, is a major accomplishment. Passion always comes through in spite of limitations. There isn't even a clear main character, they all seem just as important. If I had to pick one, I'd say Terra, whose father was an Esper, which is where her gifted magical abilities come from. Much of her story is about trying to find her identity and place in the world. Having fought on the empire side through mind control, she now tries to rectify that by fighting alongside the heroes. Celes, or Ceris, also used to be on the empire side and has been genetically powered through magic. She eventually turns against the empire. Locke is a thief or treasure hunter as he prefers who's bitter after his girlfriend was killed by the empire. He eventually has a romantic, yet complicated relationship with Celes. Edgar is the King of Figuro, who pretends to be in alliance with the empire, but is really on the good guy side. And on top of that, his entire castle is set on fire. So he's also had his share of tragedy, he's a little bit sketchy though. What the fuck?

The Nerd: Sabin is Edgar's brother, who leads the royal life to be free. He looks like Guile and his blitz moves use similar button commands to Street Fighter. Cyan is a samurai-type character. His town's water supply was poisoned by the main villain, Kefka, killing almost everyone including his wife and son. Shadow is a more mysterious type of character, a ninja assassin, an outlaw vigilante. He has his loyal dog by his side and he always comes and goes unexpectedly. The best is when he swoops in to help during a key battle. Gau is sort of a tarzan-type character, living in the wild raised by animals. Maybe that's why he scoots on the ground. Ugh, like when your pet leaves those shit comets. There's also Setzer, the Han Solo-like gambler with the fastest airship, which happens to be called the Falcon. There's the little kid Relm and her surrogate grandfather Strago, there's Goggo with the power of mimic, and Umaro, the brute yeti who's so physical, he actually throws the other characters. Heh. Look at that. And my favorite is Mog. What's his deal? Well, um... he's a moogle. I don't know, I-I just love this guy, so fucking cute. So with all these characters, it really shows how far games had come by that point. Long gone were the days when it was just pick the guy or pick the girl, now it was so much more than that. And those are just the playable characters, we can't forget Kefka.

The Nerd: Kefka is possibly the greatest video game villain ever conceived. He suffered from an experimental magic infusion by the empire, which made him go insane. After rising the power, he's become a psychotic tyrant who is hellbent on senseless destruction. He backs it up with cynical pessimistic ideology making statements like there's no point of clinging to life when everyone must eventually die. The dude is messed up. Kefka has caused so much turmoil and given all the characters their own individual reasons to consider him a mortal enemy. Despite ripping the world apart, he brings these characters together with a common goal. So the game is very heavy on characters and story and that usually is the most discussed aspect of the game. As far as the actual gameplay goes, it's innovative as well. But does it have some flaws? Sure, probably. But in this context, they are forgivable, especially given how pioneering this game was.

The Nerd: The random encounters on the overworld screen can get a little annoying, and the leveling up and grinding can sometimes feel monotonous, even though the combat screens are so strangely addicting. Leveling up to MAX can not only take an insane amount of time, but can also make the game too easy. Also when you're in a town, sometimes people can get in your way. Come on! Come on! Move your ass! Uh- Come on, dude! Come on! Get out of my way, you fuck! Aaaawwww!!! Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Come on, out, of, my, way. Walking in general can feel a little clumsy, you can't go diagonal. SquareSoft later corrected this with Chrono Trigger. Man, now that's a fucking good game too. Hmmm... maybe that's the other greatest game of all-time. The movement is much smoother, I also like how you can see all the characters following you. But in Final Fantasy, they all sort of combine into one character, I never understood that. You know, one time I was working at a convenience store, and this guy came in and then, he like split up like-like his body like divided into four people. Yeah, turned out he was with his family.

The Nerd: It is cool that the game shows you how much time you've put in, although I don't know how accurate that is, because it's possible to leave the game on while you're not playing. Also, why does it tell you how many steps you've taken? Are the characters wearing an early version of a step tracker for fitness? One of the things I hate is whenever there's a boss or enemy that has a fatal attack that nukes your entire party. So you have to time it with a life three spell or anything to revive at least one member or something to avoid it. This doesn't feel like strategy, it feels almost like a cheat. When the game is unfair, you got to be unfair. I am aware that sometimes it's possible to get soft-locked. Yeah, it's rare, but say for example one character dies and the other one in the party has paws casted on him, situations like that can really suck because now, you lost a whole lot of progress.

The Nerd: Let's talk about the abundance of attacks and spells. First of all, the characters all have their own special abilities. Cyan has sword tech where you charge up and attack, Shadow throws weapons from your inventory, and has his interceptor move, Mog has all the crazy dances, Edgar has tools like a drill and a chainsaw complete with a Jason Vorhees mask. I don't use his bio-blaster that much, but I love how it looks. Strago has the lure ability to learn the enemy spells, and because Setzer is a gambler, his moves are based on a slot machine outcome. Gau has rage where he uses the enemy attacks, Sabin has the blitz moves, like I said. It can suck when you mess up the button command, but these moves are some of the most powerful in my experience, especially the Bum Rush. But my favorite might be the Suplex. I mean, the dude can pick up an entire train, that's hardcore. As I already mentioned, you can teach all the characters spells with the Espers, but also you can use the actual Espers to cast massive spells of their own. There's some amazing psychedelic graphics here. It does things you wouldn't even imagine were possible on the Super Nintendo. I remember when I first saw this stuff I was like, what the hell? It seemed like my TV screen was melting. Then there's the more comedic Esper spells like Cat Rain. Yeah, just a cartoon cat that comes by. The design of the enemies is a work of art in itself. They differ from the tiny pixelated hero characters since they're so detailed and can be very large. Take a look at Atma, is that thing intimidating or what? How about Chupon, Poltergeist, Behemoth, Doom, or Hades Gus Colossus, that's metal as fuck. Final word on the graphics, with all the spells and enemies, it's a marvel to look at. It's some of the best stuff to come out of the SNES. But it doesn't stop there, the sound effects are amazing and the music by Nobuo Uematsu sounds like it could have been the score for a major film.

The Nerd: There's been lots of great video game soundtracks up 'till this point, but this took it to a whole new level. Some of the best music is featured in the opera scene and speaking of that, this is one of the most memorable scenes. Fans have praised it for its storytelling and its epic nature, there's no denying what an ambition achievement this was for gaming, but the actual gameplay, my god! This is the most tedious part. So basically in the story, you're Celes, taking the place of Maria, an opera singer. The whole thing is a scheme to trick Setzer to get him into your party. But anyway, what sucks about it is you have to remember the song lyrics, which you find prior to that. But if you mess any of it up, you have to start all over again. And there's about 30 minutes of a stretch where you can't save the game. As a kid, you did not want to get called to dinner or get interrupted in any way, or god forbid have a power outage. Back then, before auto-saving and sleep mode and before the internet existed as we know it today, we would often get stuck and had to ask friends to share information on how to get through. Not even Nintendo Power offered much help to this game, I mean, how could it?

The Nerd: But let's talk about one of the game's most pivotal chapters of all. It happens after Kefka opens the gate to the Esper world, which causes a major geological event where the entire island becomes the floating continent. The group drops from the airship onto the island and proceeds to embark on a massive dungeon-like sequence, navigating through an elaborate and unstable maze of crumbling areas and teleportation holes and fighting all kinds of difficult monsters. The fact that I have to gloss over this part of the experience says so much about the importance of what happens next. At this point in the game, you've played for so long, you would be more than satisfied if this were the final confrontation. Doesn't it seem like it? Kefka kills the Emperor, officially making himself the head villain and he unleashes the power of the gods. If this were an Indiana Jones movie, this is where the villain would be destroyed by their own recklessness. It has all the formula of a classic confrontation that would be followed by a final peaceful resolution, but no.

The Nerd: You race a timer to leave the continent and when you reach the edge to leap back onto the airship, you're given the option to wait for Shadow, or else you permanently lose him. As if you're not already shit your pants, this guy makes you run the timer down to almost the last possible fucking second. After this, we witness a global catastrophe unlike like anything before in a game. The ground rips apart, people fall into earthquakes, the airship is torn in half, everyone is scattered and lost and then we're met with a black screen, with a simple line that resonates so much. "On that day, the world was changed forever..."

The Nerd: Imagine playing this as a kid, back in the day, before the internet as we know existed and we didn't know what was going to happen next. I mean, this could be the ending, it could just be one big miserable downer, or... we could be nowhere near the end. Celes awakens on a small deserted island being cared for by Cid, who's like a parental figure and has a lot of history with the Final Fantasy series. Anyway, after she gains consciousness, Cid succumbs to his own sickness and you need to care for him by catching and feeding him fish. He can either live or die which doesn't change a whole lot with the outcome of the game, but if he dies, you witness the most depressing scene of any game I've ever played. Celes goes to the top of a cliff, reminisces about Locke and how everyone's gone, and with nothing left in her life, she tries to end it all. Looking back, this is the darkest and most shocking thing I've ever seen in a game that was played by kids. But, Celes survives, finds out Locke is still alive, takes a raft and embarks on a new quest. By going in such a dark place, the game is able to make a point that no matter how bleak things seem there's always hope. When you think about it, this is why Kefka is such a relevant antagonist. Because he thinks life is meaningless, he uses his own trauma to spread despair and bring down all the others. He tries to make all the other characters give up. Do you want to give up after how far you've come? Hell no!

The Nerd: Even though you've lost everything and now have to find where your friends have gone, collect all new items, and explore the transformed landscape, which is now called the world of ruin. This idea was not a brand new concept. Zelda: A Link to the Past had a similar idea with the light and dark worlds. But the way it's done here is entirely different and more relatable. As you go on, all that talk of the previous world and how things used to be makes so much more sense as an adult. As a kid, how are you supposed to reminisce on the good old days? You have to grow up and experience life first. So for that reason, what I'm trying to say here is that not only does this game hold up today, it's actually better as an adult. Geez. All that talk of how the world went to shit is eerily similar to what happened in the spring of 2020, when it wasn't even possible to function in the same way or do the same things, but we made that climb back. We restored, we're fucking back! And likewise this game gives you that feeling of building back, because now you have to play the rest. In the words of Rambo, nothing is over. In the words of the Angry Video Game Nerd, we're only halfway through the fucking game!

(Montage of the Final Fantasy VI game continued as the Nerd transitions month by month, up until Halloween. He surprises, happier, shocked, and sighs in for a bit on playing the game for too long. Next, we see Terra in-game, walking up the longest stairs possible.)

The Nerd: Look at all the stairs. Look at all these fucking stairs! Wait a minute, I'm having a flashback. When we get to twenty, tell me, I'm going to throw up. So once you've gained back all your characters, leveled them up enough, learned enough spells, and build up all your resources, you can make the call and go to Kefka's Tower. You divide into three parties, the choices you make are crucial because each group is going to be taking an entirely different path. You're going to have to survive through many battles, so unless you spend enough time grinding, you might end up with one party that's way weaker than the others. So hopefully, you have their powers spread out wisely. This is it. The final challenge, and the place where my game glitched. Remember that theme of loss? I loss my whole fucking game and now, it's time to get it back.

(Montage continued at Kefka's Tower)

The Nerd: Let me ask a question, have you ever walked into a bathroom to fight a monster? Yeah, he's right near a toilet! That's a real shitty battle. Kefka's Tower is an endurance, you'll be begging for a fucking safe spot and have many close calls. Oh man, I hope it doesn't glitch again or anything else happens.

(Montage continued at Kefka's Tower, as the Nerd about to beat the game. Meanwhile, we hear some wind and gust sounds outside during at a winter snowstorm, as the Nerd's room knocks out the power. The Nerd is shocked)

The Nerd: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Just kidding, I have a battery back up. Yeah, it's all good. (Lights turn back on at the Nerd's room) Oh hey, look at that, the power's back on already. Okay, all right, Let's beat this game quick.

(Meanwhile, Santa Claus arrives at the Nerd's room.)

The Nerd: Huh? Santa?

Santa Claus: Merry Christmas, Nerd! Merry Christmas! There's nothing I love more than filming skits!

The Nerd: Hey Santa, I'm a little busy right now!

Santa Claus: Are you still playing that game Nerd? Why that was last year, wasn't it? (He trips over the wire outlet as the Super Nintendo shuts off) Oh-oh!!!!!

(The Nerd is surprised and shocked, as the TV goes black while the game is off. Then Santa is about to get up miserably.)

Santa Claus: Ho, oh well you could use a break from that game anyway, right Nerd?

The Nerd: You know, you're right. I could use a break. (The Nerd goes to Santa and pats his shoulder on the back) Santa, Santa!

Santa Claus: Oh, come sit on my lap, little boy!

The Nerd: Well actually, I'm going to sit you on your fucking lap! (The Nerd punches, elbows and repeatedly kicks Santa Claus) You take a fucking break!

Santa Claus: (scoffs and angrily as The Nerd kicks him) YOU'RE.... GETTING.... COAL....FOR CHRISTMAS.... NERD....!!!

(The Nerd puts his Santa hat back on and comes back on the couch. And then, he looks that the game has eventually erased all of it's save data)

The Nerd: Oh, and erased it all too? Oh, what the fuck?! Oh, no! That's it! No, no, no, no, no, no, no! I'm not letting this go! I'm going to beat it right here, right now!

(Speed up of the game playing for another chance, angrily and excessively by the Nerd, up until where the last part it left off.)

The Nerd: Anyway, now that I'm back, I made it through Kefka's Tower. The three parties reach the final area and regroup as one full ensemble for what can only be the climax. (Scoffs) I've done it. I've made it to the final battle. Kefka gives a cynical speech about the meaningless of life, while the heroes counter telling of what they've learned through the the course of their adventure, and the things they hold dear to them. Friendship, family, love, freedom, all their stories have come together in a satisfying way. And then, Kefka calls for the greatest power of the universe. Standing on top of fiery peak, he says he'll create a monument to non-existence. This is when you start to wonder, why this wasn't written as a stage play or feature film. Next, you determine the order of your characters fighting and then, it's on! Holy shit! It's Satan! What else could it be? And if this wasn't enough, after he's defeated, the screen quakes and scrolls upward as you must face a whole tree of bosses. It's like bosses growing upon bosses upon bosses! Motherfuck!

(The Nerd continues in excitement, more shocked and surprised, midway playing to the final boss)

The Nerd: OH MY GOD!!! What is this all supposed to be anyway? It's like you're fighting renaissance art. It's as if Michelangelo's the last judgment came to life and tried to kill you, and the haunting choir and organ music gives it an epic, biblical effect. Some have even said the three tiers of bosses represent hell, purgatory, and heaven. Dude, if you have to fight hell, purgatory, and heaven, you better just call the day. Yeah, and we're not even at Kefka.

(Kefka briefly re-appears as the final boss once more, as sunlight shining through in over the in-game's battle screen)

The Nerd: OHHHHHHHHHH MYYYY GODDDDDDDDD!!!!!! This is not Kefka as you'd expect. After becoming so familiar with that clowny little sprite, now he becomes a wicked angel, floating against a golden cloudy sky, blasting with heavenly light beams! They went above and beyond to make this the most epic final boss in gaming history! And I can't stress enough that if you're not leveled up properly and have enough life three spells, you're just going to get wiped out in one hit.

(The Nerd continues in excitement, shocked and surprised, then epileptic over flashing red lights on the screen, while the Nerd extremely scares itself and gets back on the SNES controller)

The Nerd: I'm going to do it... I'm going to do it... I'm going to do it... I'm going to do it... (Terra makes a final blow over a blue orb explosion as Kefka finally defeated. The Nerd surprised and shocked once more as he beat the game) Ah! I did it! I DID IT!!! After almost 30 years, I finally beat Final Fantasy III! (or VI.) When you first hear that defining crackle and see Kefka wither away into ashes, it's a feeling like no other. You just beat the greatest game of all-time! And then, you get a cinematic ending that goes on for over 20 minutes. Just sit back and enjoy, because for everything you went through, they knew when they made this game, that you fucking deserve it.

The Nerd: Another bucket list item checked off. It was worth going back and reclaiming that magic. I feel nostalgia is that it's most powerful this time of year. The magic of the holidays hearkens back to a more innocent time. The game itself is about characters who are literally trying to reclaim magic from a bygone era, and I can say the magic inside this cartridge is still strong. On the top tier of the Good-Ass scale, there's a few levels. Games that are "Good like Robin Hood", "Dope as a Kaleidoscope", and "Fuck Me Through the Fucking Ceiling!!!"

The Nerd: This was the first gaming masterpiece of it's kind. There's only room in life for so many games to make such a lasting impression on you when you're a kid. And for me, this is it, this is one of those. And now, I feel a sense of closure that I finally completed it having taken... whew... almost 30 years. But now, now that's finally done, guess what?....THERE'S SIXTEEN OF THEM!!!

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