When I was a kid, I was head over heels for Terra Branford. I think doodles of her and Final Fantasy 8’s Rinoa Heartilly covered every notebook I got my little hands on at school. To this day, she remains one of my favorite Final Fantasy heroes. But unlike Rinoa’s entry to the series, there is no officially supported version of Final Fantasy 6 that looks, sounds, and plays well.
Trying to parse which official release of Final Fantasy 6 is the best gets pretty messy. Rereleases of the SNES classic include versions for the original PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, and the infamous mobile/PC edition. I’m no expert on every single difference – having only completed the PS1 entry from the Anthology collection myself. So, when I tried to help a friend figure out how to play, we ran into a mess of long Reddit threads and YouTube videos debating the best way to approach the game. And honestly, even after scouring over those debates from series fans for hours, I still don’t have a good answer for anyone asking me how they should play Final Fantasy 6 in 2021.
I guess the responsible thing to say is, “please play an official release supported by Square Enix,” but it’s kind of hard to make that argument right now, isn’t it? The most accessible version is the iOS/Android/PC release, but I think most fans would agree it’s the worst choice you could make. If you managed to get your hands on the Super NES Classic, there’s always that port of the original experience, or you could try hunting down a GBA copy with the wonky sound. I got about halfway through the GBA version myself before putting it down because I actually preferred the PS1 port over it. However, there are some mods floating about for Final Fantasy 6 on GBA, which can apparently make it one of the best ways to play if you’re a series diehard.
And that brings me to my next point – it drives me mad when the best way to experience a game is through fan mods, which seems to be the case for Final Fantasy 6. I do love that there’s a group out there so dedicated to their love of a game that they fix it, but we shouldn’t be relying on the free labor of fans to make these experiences worth our money (unless Square Enix plans on cutting these folks a check).
I look at the mobile/PC version of Final Fantasy 6 and just feel gutted. The UI is messy, and if you aren’t playing on a touchscreen, it feels impossible to use, and the sprites are smoothed out abominations. I have trouble articulating what happened to the backgrounds, but it looks like someone zapped the saturation and contrast right out of them. It’s awful. So, when someone asks if they should pick it up, I give them a long spill on mods and how most of these versions can’t be played in their original states from Square without some level of disappointment.
It’s a shame, really. I’m no Square Enix elitist. I look back on just about every generation of Final Fantasy releases and find something to love about both the retro and the new. But these new versions of a retro game do it no justice, and I’m not sure what led Square to some of the decisions it made with recent renditions. Is the SNES version really that hard to drop onto PC? Could we not make that easily accessible on popular platforms like Nintendo Switch?
Final Fantasy 6 is some of Square’s best storytelling. Its world, the intrigue, facing Kefka, the painful nihilism, the ending, all of it. I’ve always loved it. So I’m begging you, Square, if you aren’t going to give Final Fantasy 6 the proper remake treatment, then at least give us a port that honors the original and is easily accessible on modern platforms.
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Andrea Shearon is a news editor at TheGamer who loves RPGs and anything horror related. Find her on Twitter via @Maajora.
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