The Final Fantasy series is still today one of the most important if not the most important and successful Japanese role playing game series in the West. The release of Final Fantasy VII in North America and Europe  back in 1997 has been one of those events that have changed the gaming world forever, introducing many gamers to the role playing game genre. A lot of time and quite a lot of games have passed since 1997 and the Final Fantasy games have gone from being a console exclusive series to being pretty much everywhere, something that allowed more gamers to enjoy the series.

The iOS ports of classic Final Fantasy games have also been quite successful. Starting from the first game of the series and ending with Final Fantasy V, each port introduced some new features that allowed even veterans to find yet another reason to play through some of these all time classics. Now that Final Fantasy VI is out on the App Store, iOS gamers have the chance to play through around half the series on the go.

Final Fantasy VI is considered by some gamers, myself included, as the highest point reached by the series, thanks to a well executed plot, interesting setting with steampunk elements – something new at the time – , great and diverse character roster and one of the most hated villains of the series, the madman Kefka. Trying to explain why the game’s story and characters are so great in just a few words is pretty much impossible, as everything changes and evolves incredibly quickly, with the game’s events being incredibly varied and allowing many of the main characters to truly shine. The story ultimately turns somewhat predictable, to be honest, but its charm is truly undeniable and its fast pacing makes the game a real joy to play.

The several playable characters all come with a special ability that no one else can use. Edgar can use Tools in battle, Sabin use his unique Blitz attacks, Locke can steal, Cyan use his Sword abilties and more. The abilities are so varied and useful and the cast so balanced that the game can be completed with pretty much any combination of characters. The customization features come into play with the Esper system, which allows characters to learn magic spells and enjoy some level up bonuses, and the Relic system, which allows characters to equip two different accessories which bestow special abilities, change battle commands, increase stats and more.

Speaking about the iOS port of Final Fantasy VI, the game has received a major overhaul in the user interface, with menus getting completely changed from the original release, much like in Final Fantasy V iOS. The new menus look quite confusing in the beginning, especially if you’re used to the old ones, but it’s actually quite easy to get used to them in no time. Among some the changes and addition of the iOS port are a new objective bar, auto battle option and overall increased battle speed, additions that make the game more suited for being played on the go. Sabin’s Blitz attacks have also been changed and can now be performed with the some simple touchscreen QTEs.

The most controversial aspects of the iOS port are the graphics. All the locations have been touched up and look significantly better than the SNES/GBA releases. The same cannot be said about the sprites, which frankly look smooth but somewhat off. It’s almost like they have been hammered in the game without even seeing if they looked good in the game’s context. This problem is even more evident in battles, where monster sprites have only been smoothed with some graphical filters, without being completely replaced with new ones.

Final Fantasy VI on iOS is the same game we all have loved so many years ago. The gameplay formula has been left intact, with just a few additions and changes that don’t impact it too much but actually make playing the game on the go a really smooth experience. The graphical changes, however, are not for the better, as they actual damage this port a bit. It’s still Final Fantasy VI, though: one of the best role playing games ever released.

iTunes link: Final Fantasy VI

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