Final Fantasy VI is a classic for a reason. It has everything: lovable characters, a twisting story, tons of gameplay variety, and loads of player customization. It helped create and popularize many game mechanics that you still find in games today. The iOS port doesn’t make any drastic changes to the gameplay or story, but it does tweak other elements of the game, in ways both good and bad.
The most noticeable change that many old-school gamers won’t appreciate is the revamped art. I have no idea why they redrew the character sprites and much of the game world to make it look smoother and less 16-bit. The new graphics lack some of the charms of the original game, and it can be jarring if you’ve played the game before. Even still, I didn’t get hung up on the graphics. Sure, I’d prefer the original art, but I still got swept up in the story, characters, and music as I always do when I play this game.
While we’re harping on the negatives here, I also wasn’t impressed with the virtual D-pad, which makes it tough to move your character with any kind of precision. This isn’t that big of a deal, because careful movement isn’t called for most of the time. Still, basic movement takes some getting used to.
But enough with what’s wrong with the game. Square Enix has put a good deal of work into translating the combat controls to the touchscreen. Now each member of your party has their own combat menu that rises gradually from the bottom of the screen. When a menu reaches its full height, it goes “live” and lets you command that character. This doesn’t change the way combat occurs, but it’s a smart UI tweak that works very well on touchscreens.
They also added a button that lets you automate battles, which is nice when you’re not feeling all that pumped about fighting a bunch of random enemies in Zozo, or when you’re grinding to teach your whole party meteor and ultima. There’s also a help button that tells you where to go next if you forget, which is very useful in a game this size.
Not much else has changed. The music is some of the best ever written for a game, with catchy, memorable tunes playing just about everywhere you go. The story shoots off in dozens of surprising directions, and the character customizability– thanks to almost anyone being able to learn any spell– is very freeing. You could easily spend 50 hours exploring the nooks and crannies of this game without getting bored.
RPGs don’t get much more classic than Final Fantasy VI. Whether you’ve played it before or not, this iOS version delivers where it counts. It’s a fine port of an incredible game, even if not everything turned out perfect. Wait for a sale if you want, but even if you buy it now, chances are won’t regret it.