Final Fantasy VI (also known as Final Fantasy III for its initial North American release) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Released in 1994, it is the sixth title in the mainline Final Fantasy series. Set in a fantasy world with a technology level equivalent to that of the Second Industrial Revolution, the game's story focuses on a group of rebels as they seek to overthrow an imperial dictatorship. The game features fourteen permanent playable characters, the most of any game in the main series.
It was ported by Tose with minor differences to Sony's PlayStation in 1999 and Nintendo's Game Boy Advance in 2006, and it was released for the Wii's Virtual Console in 2011. The game was known as Final Fantasy III when it was first released in North America, as the original Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy III, and Final Fantasy V had not been released outside Japan at the time (leaving IV as the second title released outside Japan and VI as the third). However, most later localizations used the original title. Final Fantasy VI was the first game in the series to be directed by someone other than producer and series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi; the role was filled instead by Yoshinori Kitase and Hiroyuki Ito. Yoshitaka Amano, a long-time contributor to the Final Fantasy series, returned as the image and character designer, while regular composer Nobuo Uematsu wrote the game's score, which has been released on several soundtrack albums.
Final Fantasy VI was released to critical acclaim and is seen as a landmark title for the role-playing genre; for instance, it was ranked as the number one RPG of all time by IGN. Its Super NES and PlayStation versions have sold over 3.48 million copies worldwide to date as a stand-alone game, as well as over 750,000 copies as part of the Japanese Final Fantasy Collection and the North American Final Fantasy Anthology. Final Fantasy VI has won numerous awards.
Final Fantasy VI takes place on a large, unnamed world. During the course of the game, its geography and landscape change due to various developments in the game's plot. During the first half of the game, the world is divided into three major continents and referred to as the World of Balance. The northern continent is punctuated by a series of mountain ranges and contains many of the locations accessible to the player. Most of the southern continent has been taken over by the Empire, while the eastern continent is home to a large patch of land called the Veldt where monsters from all over the world can be found. Halfway through the game, the world's geographical layout is altered, resulting in its three large continents splitting into several islands of various size situated around a larger continent at their center. This altered layout of the game's locations is referred to as the World of Ruin.
In contrast to the medieval settings featured in previous Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy VI is set in a steampunk environment. The structure of society parallels that of the latter half of the 19th century, with opera and the fine arts serving as recurring motifs throughout the game, and a level of technology comparable to that of the Second Industrial Revolution. Railroads and steamships are in use, and a coal mining operation is run in the northern town of Narshe. Additionally, several examples of modern engineering and weaponry (such as a chainsaw and drill) have been developed in the Kingdom of Figaro. However, communication systems have not reached significant levels of development, with letters sent by way of carrier pigeon serving as the most common means of long-distance communication.
A thousand years before the events of the game, three entities known as the Warring Triad initiated a conflict that would come to be called the War of the Magi. This quarrel grew to catastrophic proportions, unleashing magical energy into the world which transformed afflicted humans into espers—magical beings who themselves were used as soldiers in the war. Eventually realizing the horrific calamity wrought by their hands, the Triad returned free will to the espers and sealed their own powers, becoming stone statues. Their only request was that the espers ensure their power remain locked away so it might never be used again. The espers carried their stone gods to a hidden land, sealing both the statues and themselves off from the realm of humans. The concept of magic gradually faded to legend and myth as mankind built a society extolling science and technology. At the game's opening, the most advanced nation is the Empire, a cruel and expanding dictatorship led by Emperor Gestahl and his clownish general Kefka Palazzo. Approximately eighteen years before the events of the game begin, the barrier between the espers' land and the rest of the world weakened. Soon after, Gestahl takes advantage of this and attacks the espers' land, capturing several of them.
Using the espers as a power source, Gestahl initiated a research program to combine magic with machinery and infuse humans with magical powers, the result being a craft known as 'Magitek'. Kefka became the first experimental prototype of a line of magically empowered soldiers called Magitek Knights, drastically impairing his sanity. Magitek innovations have allowed the Empire to supplement its forces with mechanical infantry, armed with Magitek-powered weaponry. At the opening of the game, the Empire is on the verge of rediscovering the full potential of magic by reopening the gateway to the world of the espers. However, Gestahl's military dominion is opposed by the Returners, a rebel organization seeking to overthrow the Empire and free its territories.
Like previous Final Fantasy installments, Final Fantasy VI consists of four basic modes of gameplay: an overworld map, town and dungeon field maps, a battle screen, and a menu screen. The overworld map is a scaled-down version of the game's fictional world, which the player uses to direct characters to various locations. As with most games in the series, the three primary means of travel across the overworld are by foot, chocobo, and airship. With a few plot-driven exceptions, enemies are randomly encountered on field maps and on the overworld when traveling by foot. The menu screen is where the player makes such decisions as which characters will be in the traveling party, which equipment they wield, the magic they learn, and the configuration of the gameplay. It is also used to track experience points and levels.
The game's plot develops as the player progresses through towns and dungeons. Town citizens will offer helpful information and some residents own item or equipment shops. Later in the game, visiting certain towns will activate side-quests. Dungeons appear as a variety of areas, including caves, sewers, forests, and buildings. These dungeons often have treasure chests containing rare items that are not available in most stores. Some dungeons feature puzzles and mazes, which require the player to divide the characters into multiple parties.
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