Yesterday on the bus in to work I made my way to the end of Kefka's crazy tower and put an end to his insanity. He was pretty easy. One of his four stages managed to kill off one of my characters, but only because of bad timing on my part. I had entered in the command which killed off the stage and then he attacked 10 times and killed Terra before it resolved. I didn't get a change to cast life on her.
I remember talking with James about this game many years ago and he was annoyed that you couldn't solo Kefka. One of the stages finishes off with an instant death attack that kept trying to resolve even if you dodged it. You could become completely invincible but would get stuck in an infinite loop as the boss stage would use it's death attack, get dodged, and then repeat. Turns out in the PSX version they changed the way it worked. He only tried to use it twice before giving up. Now, I certainly wasn't invincible and pretty much just got lucky that Setzer dodged it twice.
I was a little sad at how easy pretty much everything was, actually. Some of the fights right at the start of the ruined world were a little rough but I scaled much better than the boss fights did. I didn't even twink out very hard at all. I didn't switch in espers right before leveling to make sure I got optimal stat ups. I didn't grind out extra levels. I didn't even bother finishing off the paladin shield. Even worse, I didn't bother taking it off... Setzer kicked the snot out of Kefka even with a cursed shield on. My mages were casting flare or meteor instead of ultima because I took the ragnarok sword and didn't finish the paladin shield. In short, I could have been a lot more powerful. I'm a little sad that there was nothing to do that needed such an absurd amount of power.
I was feeling a lot of ennui with regards to finishing the game. It took about two and a half months to get done which is pretty comparable to what it took to grind out Final Fantasy IV. Don't get me wrong, I think both games are incredible even after all these years. I think the problem is just that I've played them so many times there really wasn't any exploring left to do and that's one of the great end game features of these games. FFVI in particular has so many little cutscenes you can find depending on who you have in your current party. Did you know Shadow is actually Relm's father? Wandering around with different party compositions was a ton of fun back in the day. But now? I didn't really have a great desire to watch Gau interact with his father again.
That said, this game has my favourite villain from any game. And thinking about it more, I think it actually has my top three player characters as well. Setzer, Locke, and Celes are all awesome in their own ways. I like me some Kimarhi, don't get me wrong, but I don't think any character in any game passes any of those three.
I love the battle system. Adding in something as simple as the 'pass' command which lets the active character skip their turn is such a huge improvement. I still think I prefer the more tactical system of FFX but as far as the ATB system used from IV through IX goes, this is a pretty good iteration.
The leveling system is pretty great, too. I like how just playing the game normally will get you plenty of spells and stat ups but that you can really twink out if you want. All that's really missing is a reason to twink out. An emerald weapon to go beat up, that kind of thing.
The music is fantastic. The graphics are state of the art for the SNES. You can really tell that this is a later generation SNES game and that Square learned from making FFIV and FFV. The sound in the PSX port was tinny which was annoying, but the original console game didn't suffer from that flaw at all.
Going into this whole marathon I was pretty sure FFIV was going to stay on the top of my heap. If anything was going to challenge it for supremacy I was thinking it might be X or VIII. But no... FFVI is the new king. The characters, character development, plot, gameplay, music... It's all here. This game is the complete package.