Final Fantasy VI - the Blog! Part XVIII

on 5/14/2013

Everyone is once again gathered, and the assault on Kefka’s Tower begins. This is truly the moment the game has been leading up to. You get to split into three parties of up to four characters, fielding 12 total warriors on three separated paths. Each path interacts with the other in some fashion so you need to move in tandem to get through. One trouble with the number of characters is that unless you have played very carefully to distribute experience, there will be a weak as hell third party. I had to go through Kefka’s Tower three times and move the weak party to each path after it had been conquered already.

Completing the paths, you destroy each statue that had given Kefka his magic powers, but their removal does not affect Kefka. You must face him in the most epic battle Final Fantasy has seen. Ordering every member of the party, you begin a four part battle to the DEATH. The image below is just the final piece, the entire sprite is a work of art, the pinnacle of 16-bit in-game character design.

I was slightly disappointed with the final battle though. Because I had spent so much time turning the cursed shield into the paladin shield, my top team was able to defeat each part without dying, partially thanks to Life 3 being cast. This is not really the fault of the game, in Japanese RPGs you essentially set the difficulty by grinding levels or artificially handicapping yourself.

You manage to defeat the literal god Kefka became, and the credits play out as the party hurries back through the tower. They feature each character, and the music is a massive medley of every character theme. Humorous scenes take place as they help each other get out. TERRA’s power is weakening due to Kefka’s defeat, but the spirit of her esper father tells her to hold on to her human side, and she survives the ordeal. The world is then putting itself back together.

Looking back on the game as a whole, it is probably the peak of Final Fantasy. Researching it on Wikipedia shows that they set out to create a game where every character is the protagonist. This is what makes it special I believe, it never gets too attached to one person. It moves on from TERRA to each other non-secret character and they all get their moments in the spotlight. Doing this makes the game a bit more episodic than the usual Final Fantasy, and the extra storylines help keep you involved.

And finally, Kefka as the villain stands alone in Final Fantasy lore. He has no creed, no true followers, no real motive but destruction, chaos, and power. He recognizes how temporary existence is, the utter meaninglessness of it all, and he wants to destroy it. He has some fantastic quotes throughout:

Why do people insist on creating things that will inevitably be destroyed? Why do people cling to life, knowing that they must someday die? …Knowing that none of it will have meant anything once they do?

Life… dreams… hope… Where do they come from? And where do they go…? Such meaningless things… I’ll destroy them all!

I also just enjoy the fact that someone can write up an analysis of Dancing Mad as Kefka’s final speech. Final Fantasy VI blew away my expectations, and shows that classic games can stand up on their own without any nostalgia to cloud judgement. So I leave this series of posts with the opera scene touched up with the live orchestra performance, a cutscene without equal on pre-FMV consoles.