Throwback Thursday - Final Fantasy 3 (VI): The Heartbreak of a Lost Quest
Editor’s Note – C.J. refuses to refer to Final Fantasy 6 with its actual title as his only enjoyment of the series was with this game in its SNES incarnation where it was released as Final Fantasy III (In the US we got games 1, 4, and 6 released as 1, 2, and 3.). He cares not at all about the fact that later we were blessed with the other games in the series that didn’t come to the US at first. He will obstinately refer to it as FFIII throughout the article, so do not confuse with the actual FFIII game.
Final Fantasy has had more impact on my life than any other video game. Had I known the longstanding effects it would have on my storytelling sensibilities and overall imagination, I would have played it even more. I may have even beaten it (but more on that later).
My childhood friend, Jim, brought Final Fantasy III for the SNES to my attention as an RPG that was arguably better than Legend of Zelda. He had beaten FFIII and absolutely loved the experience, so much so that he demanded I at least try it. Inasmuch as we were buddies, we had some divergent tastes, and I doubted that the game would be much fun. I had never really played turn-based RPG's, so this was a wholly unknown gaming endeavor.
I was skeptical when I first put the cart in my SNES...that is until I heard foreboding music by composer Nobuo Uematsu. I began a new game, and I sat through the extended opening credits sequence during the long walk through the snow to Narshe. The entire experience lured me. In a matter of 15 minutes, I was deeply invested in not only beating a video game but engaging an epic unlike any other I had known until that time.
Once I went through the game's prologue and began to meet even more characters, I was enthralled. This world was enormous. I may be wrong as far as digital square footage is concerned, but I felt the game was exponentially larger than Zelda. Whether traveling by Chocobos or the airship Blackjack, the world seemed to expand forever. I felt that with every new facet of the game, I was going into a new place that was still integral to the global world of the game. I only made it through 60% of the game, but I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the world I encountered.
If scale is the width of the game, then story is the depth. Up until that time, I had never engaged a story like FFIII. I realize that thousands of books then and scores of video games now rival this 16-bit cart in terms of their lore and writing, but given my exposure to media at that time, FFIII was an unrivaled masterpiece. The greatest aspect of the game was assembling my different band of characters, renaming them after friends and acquaintances in my life at that time, and watching their individual stories develop even as the larger, global story arc kept me captivated and invested hour after hour.
Given the way the game impressed me, one would think I would have played through it more than once, but I have not. I have never even beaten it. Long story short: family visited during the summer I was playing it, and someone deleted my game. I believe I was at 71%, and I will admit to you, I was simply too heartbroken to re-invest in the epic at that time. I had spent an immense amount of time leveling my characters, developing my perfect sub-teams, and playing through certain challenges again and again to reach that length, and to have it disappear in an afternoon, well, it just broke my heart.
Now, twenty or so years later, I still do not know how the game ends...
I do not know what became of Terra, Celes, or the Espers.
For all I know, the villainous Kefka won.
And given the responsibilities of adulthood, I foresee no possibility of being able to invest the time, energy, and effort to fight my way through the world of this game and ultimately beat it.
Maybe when I retire in 40 years....
--Old School C.J.