Final Fantasy VI arguably perfected the 2D Final Fantasy formula. Ahead of the series' shift to 3D graphics in Final Fantasy VII, the sixth instalment delivered previously unparalleled drama through breakneck plot pacing and a diverse cast of interesting characters. The storytelling that's so often revered in titles like Final Fantasy IX owes its identity to what Square was able to achieve with Final Fantasy VI.
This game is overflowing with memorable moments as a ragtag group of heroes make a stand against an almighty empire. Every scenario offers something new, whether it's a freshly introduced party member, a distinct environment, or a crazy boss fight. Final Fantasy VI simply never lets up, and it's still an absolute joy to play through almost 30 years after its original SNES release.
It's an immaculate example of expert pacing in an RPG. While parts of the game can feel like they're a bit limiting in how linear they are, it's hard not to appreciate the ambition. At various points in the adventure, the story jumps between characters in completely different situations, and it's a narrative technique that works to great effect in terms of world building, and establishing unique character relationships.
Gameplay is married so tightly to these scenarios as well. Each party member has their own set of specialised skills, which are often emphasised during key story moments. The game does an impressive job of introducing a lot of new characters and giving each of them a real purpose, both in and out of combat.
However, things like party composition and character customisation don't really factor into the experience until much later in the game. As such, outside of boss battles that feature unique mechanics, the title's turn-based encounters can feel a little samey sometimes as you make repeated use of certain abilities.
Still, it's so hard to fault Final Fantasy VI. It's a thrill ride of an RPG, and remains one of the most brilliantly paced instalments in the entire series. Combine that with such an endearing cast, deeply engaging gameplay, some amazing sprite work, and a stunning soundtrack, and you've got an all-time classic.