Final Fantasy VI

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A thousand years have passed since the devastation of the War of the Magi, and the Esper1 race that brought humans the destructive powers of magic was supposed to have vanished from the world. This the age of mechanical technology — and of an Empire that seeks to expand its power through the revival of magic and the development of 'Magitek' war machines. And now an Esper has been discovered in the mines beyond the northern snowfields, frozen in ice and possibly still alive...

Command to the Empire Force in particular.

Commence to launch the attack on Narshe2, the Coal Mines City.

Released in 1994 on a 24-megabit (three megabyte) cartridge, Final Fantasy VI was the last Final Fantasy game to be released for the 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System ('SNES',or 'Super NES', for short; and 'Super Famicom' in Japan); Square3 would go on to develop other games for the platform, but for the next Final Fantasy game the world would have to wait for the 32-bit console generation. Final Fantasy VI was the last of the traditional two-dimensional Final Fantasy installments before the series' plunge into partial 3D and the CD storage format, but it also anticipates the science fiction aspects of Final Fantasy VII and VIII by letting the aspects of Western fantasy — the castles and dragons, the mages and knights — that had inspired its forebears begin to fade from their former prominence, and introducing high technology to exist alongside them.4 Final Fantasy VI has since moved to 32-bit form itself, in a conversion for the PlayStation that includes bonus image galleries and a bestiary, and enhances the game's presentation by making use of the CD format's ability to store pre-rendered video sequences. There was talk of a conversion to the PC by Eidos Interactive, but Eidos and Square drifted apart, and the conversion was cancelled. Most recently, a conversion to the Game Boy Advance has been announced.5

Final Fantasy VI, which many regard as the best RPG of all time. Final Fantasy III (as the Western version is known6) is an absolute phenomenon — the storyline, which is concerned with the resurgence of magic and the devastation that ensues, is incredible, the graphics at the time were unfaultable, and the music was the best ever to grace an RPG. All RPG fans should make it their goal to play this classic.
— From an article on the history of the RPG in Issue 5 of the now sadly defunct Total Control.
This was... the first game in which we could see the clear guiding hand of director [Yoshinori] Kitase towards a more dramatic and mature tone. Final Fantasy VI addressed issues such as suicide and teen pregnancy, and handled them in a mature manner.
— From the retrospective essay Coming to America, written following the success of Final Fantasy VII.
The theme of Final Fantasy VI is love in all its forms — romantic love, parental love, sibling love, and platonic love. [The producer, Hironobu] Sakaguchi asks the player, what is love and where can we find it?
— Chris Kohler, in Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games gave the World an Extra Life.7

A few of the characters of Final Fantasy VI did in fact enter the world of three-dimensional games when Square used them to create Final Fantasy VI: The Interactive CG Game8, an experiment in making Final Fantasy work in 3D that became a trade show demonstration. Controlled by describing shapes with a mouse pointer, and running on a Silicon Graphics workstation, the demo was a battle scene in which the characters Terra, Locke and Shadow fought against a giant golem. Fans have also sought to resurrect the setting, both for the usual 'fanfiction' (including an amateur novelisation and film script) and for amateur spin-off games. Projects that have been attempted include an unofficial prequel for PC by a group called Fierce Legends Software: Final Fantasy VI: Forgotten Story, set during the War of the Magi. Such a thing has been tried before, but Final Fantasy VI: The Day After, worked on by a group called Square History, only got as far as a very short demo. Another project has produced a pseudo-sequel for the RPG creation system Sphere: Kefka's Revenge, starring the deranged character Kefka.

The Game

For Final Fantasy VI, [Hironobu] Sakaguchi and team had grand plans. First, they would use a completely new graphics engine, allowing for larger characters and far more detailed backdrops, many of which were drawn as cohesive paintings rather than assembled from small square 'tiles'. And the gameplay would merge the two extremes of the series. It would be a more touching human drama than ever before, but within that framework the player would have the power to customise each character's powers and abilities.
— Chris Kohler, in Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games gave the World an Extra Life.


Like other Japanese console role-playing games, Final Fantasy VI places the player in control of a party of characters following the twists and turns of the storyline through the game's world: talking to passersby, trading at shops, solving puzzles and fighting wandering monsters. As they gain combat experience, characters become more powerful and gain new abilities. Combat is initiated at random intervals except where battles are dictated by the game's plot, and use the Final Fantasy series' 'Active Time Battle' (ATB), introduced in Final Fantasy IV, to add a time-sensitive aspect to what is basically a turn-based, menu-driven system in which friend and foe take it in turns to perform various available offensive and defensive actions. Unusually, Final Fantasy VI allows two players to share control during combat. As always in the Final Fantasy series, the unfolding story is the most important thing, although a lot of detail was lost in the translation process owing to cartridge size limitations, since English, and particularly nuanced English, takes up a lot of space. The translation that ended up being used was the third attempt, having been cut down from an initial effort that turned out to be 50% over budget; in Kohler's appraisal, though, 'each character's back story felt complete, even if it actually wasn't'.

Each major playable character has his or her own special combat abilities as well as a basic physical attack and (with the exception of Umaro) the ability to use items. Most characters lack any natural ability to use magic, but once the crystalline substance known as Magicite is acquired characters can 'equip' Espers, consequently learning spells by gaining combat experience and being able to summon Espers to their aid during battle, providing some of the game's most visually impressive moments as its most spectacular powers are unleashed. Characters who are near death become capable of especially powerful physical attacks; this idea was developed into the Limit Break system for Final Fantasy VII. Characters can acquire additional abilities, or improve the statistics representing their combat prowess, by equipping items known as Relics.

Some battles are made more dramatic by their settings: a battle against fish while falling down a waterfall, for example, or a fight against a moving train. Occasionally players are called upon to take control of three different groups of fighters and move them around a maze-like battlefield, spreading out in order to block the multiple groups of enemies that advance on an important character who must be protected at all costs. There are also a few battles fought using the Empire's Magitek armour and its built-in weaponry. In the game's less combative moments you may find yourself memorising an opera score, or rushing around a building trying to win over as many people as possible in a strict time limit.


Like earlier games in the series, Final Fantasy VI is essentially a tile-based game; that is, its environments largely consist of various image 'tiles', laid out so as to resemble a continuous environment, but saving memory by drawing a few basic tiles multiple times. Characters move 'above' floor tiles, and collide with, or sometimes move 'behind', wall tiles. This is viewed from an isometric perspective, and battles keep this viewpoint, although they use continuous background images instead of building them out of basic elements; some of the 'field' areas also incorporate such images in the background, though they're essentially static paintings.

Final Fantasy VI does, however, have a few tricks up its sleeve, in the form of the SNES's built-in sprite scaling and rotation capabilities. All three SNES Final Fantasy games make use of Mode 7 image rotation, but Final Fantasy VI exhibits perhaps the finest use in its opening credits, in which isometric scenes give way to a view from behind three Magitek vehicles as they make their way through falling snow towards the city appearing on the horizon. Meanwhile, the World Map on which the party travels between specific locations may be basically isometric when you walk on it (although even here Mode 7 is used to make scenery appear slightly larger at the bottom of the screen than at the top), but get on the back of one of the ostrich-like yellow birds called chocobos and you watch distant locations grow gradually larger as you approach; board an airship and you can watch the ground fall away as the ship and viewpoint rise together. Unfortunately the technology has its limitations: images that look prefectly lovely at a suitable distance become terribly pixellated when their scale is increased as they draw close to the 'camera', and the fact that the images being manipulated are two-dimensional gives rise to some very flat-looking mountain ranges and a frankly odd-looking tower (although there is a scene in which, thanks to sprite scaling, the scenery comes directly at one as the viewpoint moves through a tunnel).


The Final Fantasy series is famed for its soundtracks, created by composer Nobuo Uematsu; Final Fantasy VI is blessed with some immensely atmospheric music, even in MIDI. It even features an opera scene, although the lyrics are not fully voiced. (Including a song with full vocals in a Final Fantasy game was reportedly an ambition that Square hoped to realise in Final Fantasy VII; in fact, it took them until Final Fantasy VIII.) Sound effects are nothing remarkable, but the man called Kefka does have a distinctively maniacal laugh.

One of the game's three accompanying soundtrack albums (the others being the regular soundtrack album and a Piano Collections album) was May 1994's Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale, recorded in Italy by the Orchestra Synfonica Di Milano and the string ensemble Archi Della Scala. And the opera track did acquire full vocals; 'Aria De Mezzo Carattere' was sung by Svetla Krasteva.

Major Playable Characters

The main characters who can join the player's party can mostly be equipped with Relics and Magicite, and have individual special abilities. The character classes, which are given in the Japanese original but not the English version, come in alternative forms because there are multiple lists knocking around on the 'Net, and not all the differences between them can be put down to translation ambiguities. Please note that references to 'the original Japanese' refer to what the game's creators are reckoned to have intended their characters to be called; the term is not meant to imply that this is exactly what you'd get if you transliterated the Japanese script. (In most cases it isn't, thanks to the way in which Japanese phonetic scripts work.) The lines in italics are those used to introduce characters in the game.

Locke, Mog, Relm, Strago, Terra and Umaro have a cameo in Secret of Evermore, Square's experiment in having an RPG developed in North America.

Terra Branford

Class: Magic Warrior/Magitek Knight

A mysterious young woman, controlled by the Empire, and born with the gift of Magic......

An enigma even to herself, Terra is the first major character to appear in the game — as an instrument of Imperial power, riding in Magitek armour and kept under control with a 'slave crown' that prevents conscious thought, but said to be a sorceress who destroyed fifty of the Empire's Magitek troops in under three minutes. Her ancestry, the source of her magical abilities, and how she came to be in the Empire's control are all unknown in the beginning, even when she has been freed from unconscious slavery; later on a further mystery is added when she becomes able to transform into a strange, glowing form. All that is known is that she is one of the few characters with a natural ability to cast spells, and that the Empire wants her back.

Terra is the Latin word for 'earth' — although in the original Japanese the character's name is actually Tina; presumably this was felt to be insufficiently exotic for Anglophone players' tastes.

Terra's appearance is not entirely consistent; in the game her hair appears to have a greenish tinge (or blue according to another school of thought9), but in Final Fantasy SGI, in the concept artwork produced by Yoshitaka Amano, and in the video introduction produced for the PlayStation edition of Final Fantasy VI, it is clearly blonde. (Perhaps the green hair was intended to distinguish her from Celes, another blonde character.) Final Fantasy SGI also gives her a somewhat more revealing costume than the concept artwork and the PlayStation video.

Shrines: Whisper; A Vision of Hope; Lost Dreams; Magitek Empire (Terra and Celes).

Locke Cole

Class: Adventurer/Thief/Treasure Hunter

Treasure Hunter and trail-worn traveller, searching the world over for relics of the past...

He's the spiritual descendant of the thief class in the first Final Fantasy game, but don't let him hear you say that. He is, he insists, a treasure hunter — who just happens to be able to steal items from enemies during battle10. But Locke is an honourable thief; although that's not to say there's no guilt in his conscience. His experiences years ago with a girl named Rachel ended unhappily; and having clung so tragically to one woman, he now seems in danger of becoming attached to Celes.

The spelling of his name in the English version (as opposed to the original 'Lock') invites the theory that Locke is named after the philosopher John Locke, famous for his writings defending empiricism and government by general consent. Of course, locks also have an obvious connection with thievery; and Final Fantasy games frequently feature characters who keep their feelings, or their pasts, locked away. According to one source 'Locke' can also be a name meaning 'forest'. 'Cole' is an English surname reckoned to be from the Old English for 'black'; apparently it is also a variation on 'Nicholas'. We may as well go all the way and note that the Oxford English Dictionary offers a variety of uses for 'cole': a term for cabbage or for brassica in general; 'a word of unknown etymology, and even of uncertain existence', appearing to refer to conjuring tricks, juggling and the art of the card sharp; a variant of 'coal'; a verb meaning 'cut off, kill, slay'; and a verb meaning 'hollow out'. One would imagine that 'Old King Cole' is not widely known in Japan, and that the same probably applies to Nat King Cole, but you never know...

Locke's appearance is more consistent than Terra's, but hair that appears greyish in Final Fantasy VI is definitely brown in Final Fantasy SGI.

Shrines: Marauder; Renaissance; Two Worlds, One Destiny (Locke and Celes).

King Edgar Roni Figaro

Class: Machinery/Engineer

The young king of Figaro Castle, ally to the Empire11, and a master designer of machinery...

An unwavering opponent of Imperial expansion, his nobility compromised only by a certain lecherous streak, Edgar rules the region of Figaro from his desert fortress, Figaro Castle. Not afraid to get his hands dirty in the fight against the Empire, he can use a variety of tools (most of which have to be purchased) as backup weapons, including a chainsaw and a poison gas sprayer.

The name 'Edgar' is apparently derived from two Anglo-Saxon roots, one meaning 'happy' or 'prosperous', the other 'spear'. Possibly King Edgar is named after the English King Edgar of Wessex. The Final Fantasy Compendium suggests some possible operatic links. About all that has been suggested about Edgar's middle name, Roni, is that it may be based on Ronnie/Ronald — which may share a common origin in 'Reginald' with Sabin's middle name, Rene. Incidentally, Xenogears, a Square RPG for the PlayStation, has characters named Roni and Rene.

Shrines: Undercover Blond; Toss of Fate (Edgar and Sabin).

Sabin Rene Figaro

Class: Monk/Karate

Edgar's twin brother, who traded the throne for his own freedom...

Edgar's brother has opted for the life of a martial artist (the Monk class having existed in Final Fantasy games since the beginning), and spends his time training in the mountains under his master Duncan or living in a small house near the town of South Figaro. A tough physical fighter, Sabin ('Mash', or 'Mashe', in the original Japanese) can unleash an array of martial arts moves when joypad buttons are pressed in the correct sequence, in a system loosely borrowed from the beat-'em-up game genre (and more fully developed for the character of Zell in Final Fantasy VIII). He can, however, be a little rash.

The name 'Sabin' is thought to be derived from Sabine (Sabinus in the Latin masculine singular), as in the famous rape of the Sabine women. Although goodness knows why, if that's so, such a name should have been chosen to replace the likewise opaque 'Mash', which presumably is meant to refer to Sabin's martial arts prowess. (The Japanese word mashu has been suggested as a source, but not with much confidence, since it means 'evil influence'; in any case, the katakana script used to write the character name Mash(u) suggests a non-native origin.) The Final Fantasy Compendium contains a theory to the effect that the name is in fact 'Matthew' rendered in Japanese. 'Rene' is a French name derived from either Reginald or Renatus.

Shrines: Tiger Break; Toss of Fate (Sabin and Edgar).


Class: Assassin/Ninja

He owes allegiance to no-one, and will do anything for money. He comes and goes like the wind...

A man who comes and goes as he will: a ninja, clad in black, with the dog called Interceptor by his side. A successor to the ninja class in the first Final Fantasy, Shadow can throw some items at his opponents, and Interceptor will occasionally appear during battle to protect him. They're a cold and solitary pair — although Interceptor is ready to respond to the kindness Relm shows him. Elements of Shadow's past may be disclosed in dreams if the party sleeps while he's a member. There are five known dreams; rumours of two more are notorious.

It has been suggested that Shadow may be named after one of the ghosts from Pac-Man, since the character Clyde also shares his name with a Pac-Man ghost. However, that's true only of the English version of Pac-Man; the ghosts' names in Japan are completely different. Of course, Shadow's name suits him well enough anyway.

Cyan Garamonde

Class: Samurai

Faithful retainer to his family's liege, with the courage and strength of a hundred men...

Pledged to defend the King of Doma, Cyan (originally 'Cayenne', as in the type of pepper) is a swordsman with a keen sense of honour and chivalry — at times painfully keen. His sword attacks can be very effective; however, the more effective the attack, the longer it takes to charge up.

Cyan is, as you may well know, a shade of blue — and Cyan's armour is in fact a bluish tinge. 'Garamonde' is presumably a variation on 'garamond', a type face along the lines of one designed by Claude Garamond, who died in 1561.

If your computer has it (and your browser isn't set up to override it), this sentence will be displayed in a Garamond font.

Shrine: Steadfast, Strong and True.

General Celes Chere

Class: Rune Knight/Magitek Knight

Product of genetic engineering, battle-hardened Magitek Knight with a spirit as pure as snow...

An Imperial general turned against her former liege, Celes can use 'Runic' swords to absorb magical attacks in order to protect herself and her allies. She also, as it turns out, has a good singing voice to complement her beauty and fighting abilities. Rescued by Locke from imprisonment by the Empire, she may be growing closer to him — or just more awkward in his presence.

The most common theory about the name 'Celes' seems to be that it is derived from 'celestial' or a related word, and therefore refers to the sky or heavens (Latin caelum, sky or heaven; caelestis, heavenly or celestial). Given that the Japanese language renders l and r identically, 'Celes' could also quite easily be 'Ceres', the Roman goddess of agriculture. 'Chere' is the feminine form of the French cher, in letter writing the equivalent of the English 'dear'. The Oxford English Dictionary says that 'chere' is an obsolete variant of 'chare' (a chore or odd job; see also the OED's entry for chare, char), 'cheer' and 'cherry'; also that it can mean 'loving', 'fond' or 'careful'. Perusal of a French-English dictionary also revealed chère, defining it as 'cheer, fare, living'. Just in case the speculation isn't wild enough for you — it turns out there are 'eyewear' and cosmetics companies called 'Celes', and that there was once a male junior bantamweight boxing world title holder from Japan called Celes Kobayashi. 'Celes' is also an existing surname, and the sonnets of Dr. John Celes can be found online.

Shrines: Concealed Heart; Magitek Girl; Carry Me Away; Pure Snow, Pure Heart; Crystalline; Two Worlds, One Destiny (Locke and Celes); Magitek Empire (Celes and Terra).


Class: Wild Boy

Draped in monster hides, eyes shining with intelligence. A youth surviving against all odds...

Living wild on the Veldt, a region of the World Map to which monsters migrate from all over the world, Gau is a boy with a limited speaking ability and an unkempt appearance. But he can learn to mimic the abilities of monsters; take him into battle on the Veldt, order him to leap at the enemy, and he'll disappear for a while. When he rejoins the party sometime later, he'll have learnt the abilities of the monsters he's encountered, and in subsequent battles can choose to mimic any one of them.

Gau's name apparently refers to the sound he makes when excited, though this doesn't apply to the English translation. Perhaps, too, it was supposed to be reminiscent of Final Fantasy II's Gus, who also had limited powers of speech, but was close enough to the natural world to communicate with animals. A theory noted by the Final Fantasy Compendium derives the name from 'Gaul'.

Setzer Gabbiani

Class: Gambler

A blackjack-playing, world-travelling, casino-dwelling free spirit...

Owner of the only airship flying in the world (the other one having crashed tragically), Setzer12 is a gambler13. Accordingly, when using his special combat ability you put your faith in random numbers, and get a random attack; if you're unlucky enough it'll actually backfire. Equipped with the right Relic, Setzer also has the ability to throw coins at the enemy as a makeshift weapon — if you really want to throw your money away. A rather compulsive character, when he first appears he's attempting to abduct an opera star for whom he's fallen.

Setzer and the Blackjack make a cameo appearance in Final Fantasy Tactics. The Final Fantasy Compendium suggests that his name may mean 'typesetter' or have something to do with a German verb used in gambling.

Strago Magus

Class: Blue Mage

An elderly gentleman, pure of heart, and learned in the ways of monsters...

An elderly man living in a remote part of the world, Strago (known as 'Stragus' in Japan14) is a blue mage; that is, he learns how to cast magic by seeing it cast, and can therefore sometimes learn enemies' abilities. (The role of blue mage was one of the 'jobs' characters could perform in Final Fantasy V.) He's a decent soul, more protective of his granddaughter Relm than she'd like. In his youth he and his friend Gungho fought a monster called Hidon15, but they never managed to defeat it.

'Magus' is a Latin word (though not of Latin origin) that became 'mage' in English.

Relm Arrowny

Class: Pictomancer/Artist

In her pictures she captures everything: forests, water, light... the very essence of life...

Strago's young granddaughter (and whoever might her father be...?), Relm is an artist who can draw pictures so vivid they come alive; faced with an enemy she can draw its likeness and produce a phantasm to fight for her. However, complex-looking enemies do give her trouble (and in the original version of the game this ability was notoriously buggy, and could even corrupt saved games). Her kindness is such that she's able to form a bond with Shadow's dog Interceptor.

Shrines: Thamasa's Painter; Relm's Little Itty Bitty Shrine.


Class: Moogle

Human-loving, fast-talking, street-smart, SLAM-dancing... Moogle...

Moogles are a staple of the Final Fantasy series: cute, rotund creatures whose language largely consists of variations on the word 'Kupo!' Moguri, their name in the original Japanese, is widely believed to be a combination of mogura ('mole') and koumori ('bat'), and they do indeed resemble pale moles with bats' wings — and red pompoms protruding from their heads. Mog is a largely optional character, and if you find him when he's in dire straits you'll be able either to save him or to acquire a powerful Relic. Those who do the decent thing and save Mog won't be disappointed; he's a more capable fighter than he looks (and conveniently, unlike other Moogles in the game, will speak to you in human language). By fighting on different forms of terrain he can learn new dances which he can then perform in battle (if he doesn't trip up) to invoke the powers of nature.


Class: Mimic

Shrouded in odd clothing, this a man...? ...a woman...? ...or should we ask...?

The 'master of the simulacrum' is perhaps the most enigmatic character in the game; fans have constructed hypotheses identifying Gogo with several 'missing' characters who can't necessarily be presumed dead, and even with a U.S. politician called Adlai Stevenson, but s/he continues to defy analysis. (Is there really a hidden cutscene, or is that just another wild rumour...?) The FAQ seeks to dispel theories about Gogo being any female character by pointing out that in the original Japanese s/he referred to him-/herself with the masculine pronoun ore — which just makes the line quoted above even more bewildering. The situation is rendered still more perplexing by the existence of another Mimic called Gogo... in Final Fantasy V. Whether Square actually intended them to be the same character remains unknown.16 (There are also references to a Gogo in Final Fantasy IX.) Given that Gogo's special power of mimicry lets him/her repeat actions performed by allies, perhaps the double inclusion was an ironic touch.

As for the name, Chambers' 20th Century Dictionary suggests two uses of 'gogo' or 'go-go'; in the first, it's 'used loosely as adj. active, alert to seize opportunities.' The second refers to go-go dancing. Gogo in Japanese means 'afternoon', but a connection there seems implausible.


Class: Snowman/Sasquatch

Admirer of bone carvings, as strong as a gigas, a yeti pal with muscle!

While wandering through the snowy region behind Narshe you may happen to notice a yeti briefly appearing in the mouth of an inaccessible cave, but only later on can you get him to join your party. Yetis, rather stronger than intelligent, are inclined to listen only to moogles, and even Mog isn't going to stop Umaro being essentially berserk in battle. Consequently Umaro isn't very popular among players.

Given that Umaro lives underground, it's arresting to note that there's a Japanese verb umaru meaning 'be buried or surrounded' (or 'overflow'), but quite probably that's coincidental.

Other Playable Characters

Some characters aren't fully fledged, permanent members of the player's party, but can still be controlled when the story permits. They have fewer options for development and the changing of equipment than the main characters, but possess their own special abilities.

Biggs and Wedge

Class: Imperial Soldiers/Magitek Knights

Several Final Fantasy games (and another Square game, Chrono Trigger) have characters named Biggs17 and Wedge (after members of Rogue Squadron in Star Wars), and in Final Fantasy VI they make their first appearance — as Imperial soldiers, escorting Terra through the game's opening scenes. Their abilities are those of the Magitek armour they ride in, which essentially offers unlimited use of a few basic spell-like abilities.

The Moogles

Class: Moogles

Mog isn't the only moogle you get to control; early on in the game you get your first taste of combat with multiple parties, guiding Locke and some Moogles around in three groups in order to see off Imperial soldiers.


Class: Priest

The leader of the Returners, a group dedicated to opposing the Empire, Banon (originally 'Bannon', or 'Bannan', or 'Banan', depending on which source you use) is a character who must be protected; luckily his healing prowess is second to none.


Class: Ghost

Most ghosts are hostile; some will talk to you or sell you things; and a few will even join your party. Their combat experience is variable, but they are all known as '??????'. They have the ability to possess enemies during combat.

General Leo Cristophe

Class: (Great) General

Only very briefly playable, this powerful fighter has a strong sense of honour that seems at odds with the intents driving the Empire's war machine. His Shock attack is positively devastating in combat. He sees Emperor Gestahl as his liege, but Kefka, who doesn't share General Leo's desire to minimise bloodshed, is another matter. You're no doubt already aware that 'Leo' means 'lion'.

Major Non-Playable Characters

The two most important non-player characters are surely the two figureheads of Imperial expansion: the aged-looking Emperor Gestahl ('Ghastra', or 'Gastra', in the Japanese version18) and his deranged lieutenant Kefka ('Cefca Palazzo' to the Japanese19). While the former is simply out to increase his power, the latter positively delights in malevolence — the exact opposite of General Leo. A more virtuous servent of the Empire is Cid Del Norte Marguez; tradition demands that a Final Fantasy game shall have a character called Cid20, and in Final Fantasy VI 'Cid' is the name of the leading technical light in the Magitek development project.

One character who makes several appearances — and has to be fought several times — is Ultros, a purple octopus21 who takes a particular dislike to the game's heroes. He makes cameo appearances in the Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon games. Locke's lost love Rachel22, on the other hand, is important because of the effect her memory has on him, rather than as a character in her own right. The same is true of a woman named Daryl23, the memory of whom lurks behind Setzer's personality.

Related Web Pages

Although less of the Web is devoted to Final Fantasy VI than to later games in the series, there are still some excellent resources around. Though chances are you'll still end up perplexed about whether there really was a Paladin Ring in versions of the game produced before 31st November, 1994. Please be aware that these sites are swarming with spoilers.

1The term 'esper' normally refers to a being with extra-sensory perception (ESP), but in Final Fantasy VI the Espers are beings associated with magic of a spell-based, rather than a psychic, kind. In the original Japanese they are Genjuu — 'phantom beasts'.2The PlayStation video introduction from which these lines are quoted actually uses the spelling 'Narche', but 'Narshe' is used throughout the rest of the translated game.3Following a merger with Enix, another major Japanese producer of console RPGs, the company is now Square Enix.4Not that there was a smooth transition from stereotypical fantasy to stereotypical science fiction; the Final Fantasy series has always drawn on many sources of inspiration, and has placed airships in mediaeval worlds and swords and magic in industrial ones. However, there is a certain 'style' that manifested itself in the first five games in the series, that Final Fantasy VI began to turn away from, and that was consciously brought back for Final Fantasy IX.5A few new pieces of promotional art were commissioned from various artists for the conversion.6This is true of the original North American release on the SNES; not having released Final Fantasy II and III in the West, Square retitled Final Fantasy IV and released it in North America as Final Fantasy II, then repeated this practice when, not having released Final Fantasy V outside Japan, they caused Final Fantasy VI to become Final Fantasy III. However, subsequent Western releases of Final Fantasy games, including those of the first six, have used their proper names.7BradyGAMES Publishing, 2005; ISBN 0-7440-0424-1.8The demo used to be referred to as 'Final Fantasy X', but with the tenth installment in the series coming into being as Final Fantasy X this name has fallen into disuse. It's also comonly known as Final Fantasy SGI.9Possibly the fact that the Japanese word aoi can mean both 'blue' and 'green' has something to do with the confusion; but that's only a guess.10This is somewhat reminiscent of the 'treasure hunter' Ryle (Nigel in the West), the hero of Climax's Landstalker (a classic adventure/RPG game for the Mega Drive; follow these links for an article and a shrine), who was an adventurer with a tendency to adventure in the vicinity of pilferable relics.11This isn't going to last...12His name may have originally been 'Setzar'; sources differ.13Donald Richie's A Hundred Years of Japanese Film contains an interesting comment on the development of Japanese cinema during the 1920s and 30s: 'The popularity of the new jidaigeki [period drama] was such that the hero's role grew to encompass not only samurai and ronin [masterless swordsmen], but also itinerant gamblers (presumed the early ancestor of the present day yakuza, Japanese organised gangsters) and the various hoodlums who loitered outside society.' Perhaps Setzer is a distant conceptual descendant of these itinerant gamblers.14According to Sky Render's FAQ file on differences between versions this is only partly true: 'Stragos is listed as Stragus in the ending credits of the game, but all official books about Final Fantasy VI list his name as Stragos.'15As it happens, Hidon is also the name of a monster in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Square's penultimate SNES game.16The reality, of course, is that Gogo is Nighthoover.smiley - winkeye17The name 'Biggs' was changed to 'Vicks' in the original SNES translation, perhaps due to a translator's error.18Possibly from 'ghast', a sort of ghoul-like monster, or a verb meaning 'frighten' (as in 'strike aghast')? Surely not from 'gastric' ('of the stomach'), whatever the visual similarity. As for Gestahl... The Final Fantasy Compendium suggests a derivation from the German gestohlen ('stolen'). It also looks a bit like gestalt ('form, shape, pattern, organised whole' — perhaps most commonly seen in 'Gestalt psychology'), but that's probably a coincidence. Although it turns out that one of the major names in Gestalt psychology was Kurt Koffka... and 'Koffka' sounds like 'Kefka'! Such a link sounds too good to be true, and therefore probably is.19'Palazzo' is Italian for 'palace'. It's tempting to wonder whether, when Koshi Rikdo invented the fascist leader Lord Ilpalazzo for the satirical manga called Excel Saga, he wasn't thinking excusively of the Hotel Il Palazzo in Fukuoka. 'Kefka' sounds quite similar to 'Kafka', and Franz Kafka did indeed write some very strange stories, besides fantasising about the various horrific ways in which he might die. Shrine: Dancing Mad.20Cid is perhaps named after the Spanish word for 'lord', or more specifically after Rodrigo Diaz (1043 - 1099), a hero in Castile known as 'El Cid' (apparently after the Arabic sayyid, 'lord').21Apparently Ultros is based on an octopus who was the protagonist of the first game Square created, and his name comes from 'Orthros', the name of a toy octopus one of Square's programmers had as a child. Shrines: Seafood Soup;'Rachel' is a Hebrew word meaning 'ewe', but is a common enough name in modern English anyway.23Old English for 'darling', but conventionally a maculine name; perhaps originally 'Darill'.

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