Before I go on, it's worth pointing out that I might be the closest thing to an accredited Final Fantasy VI scholar that you're likely find.
I've played through FFVI ten times across five separate releases, and on the right-hand side of my ribcage is a stylised tattoo of the FFVI logo.
Also, as you might infer, I'm just on the unhappy side of 30.
As such, I'm here to tell you to ignore the outcry from the nostalgia-obsessed old guard (of which I am a member) over the graphics and changes in this port - Final Fantasy VI for Android is a great game that should be judged on its own numerous merits.
Yes, I prefer the beautiful 16-bit sprites and the gritty feel of the original iteration, and this port isn't perfect - but it's still a great chance for players young and old to dive into one of the best JRPGs ever made.Uncharted Terra-tory
Of course, I was a bit nervous about how Square Enix would handle Final Fantasy VI’s mobile port - and the fact that an isolated typo popped up in the first few dialogue boxes didn't assuage these fears.
Still, my concerns melted away as soon as I heard the first few notes of Nobuo Uematsu's iconic "Terra's Theme" playing over the familiar opening cinematic of Magitek armour marching gloomily through the snow.
For those unfamiliar with Final Fantasy VI, the story follows a young girl named Terra who's used by an evil empire (more on that here) as a tool of subjugation and genocide.
With a little help, Terra quickly slips her captors and takes up with a group of heroes called The Returners - a plucky band of rebels who seek to end the empire's thoughtless exploitation of magic.
An epic saga soon unfolds that spans across two worlds, 14 playable characters, and almost every emotion a human being is capable of feeling.
FFVI is also the first Final Fantasy game in which Uematsu's music takes centre stage - literally - and it's as crisp, clear, and evocative in this port as it ever was.Locke, stock & barrel
Moving past the setting and music, Final Fantasy VI continues in the tradition of FFIV's turn-based active-time battle system, which should feel familiar to fans of JRPGs.
Each character has a class rigidly assigned to them but, happily, there's a rich amount of customisation available thanks to the innovative Esper/magic system and the variety of abilities imparted by Relics.
Great care has been taken with the Android port to make it feel at home on mobile devices, and while purists may complain (loudly) about the addition of the unobtrusive objective bar and an auto-battle system, both are very welcome additions.
In battles, everything about the combat system on a touchscreen just seems to make sense - and while there's a noticeable lack of a tutorial, the best solution is to simply experiment and try tapping around. Chances are good that you'll figure everything out intuitively.
Sabin's Blitz techniques stand out as a great example of how FFVI does a lot right with its touchscreen interface.
In previous versions, you executed Blitzes by entering familiar fighting game combos on the D-pad. This time, you're confronted with a slick overlay that shows the eight directional arrows and a big 'ol fist to tap when you're done. It works an absolute treat.
Unfortunately, someone in the localisation department forgot to include the commands for Sabin's Blitz inputs in the ability menu (an oversight that will hopefully be fixed in a later update). It smacks of a rush job.
If you're curious, Suplex / Meteor Strike is now Upper Right, Upper Left, Down, Up, Fist.
And yes, you can still use it on the Phantom Train.A new Relm to discover
Putting nostalgia aside for a moment, I spent hours on the original Super Nintendo version backtracking when I dropped a plot thread, and I often outsourced the routine random encounters to my younger sibling.
To address these annoyances, Square Enix has added an optional objective bar and auto-battle settings. When you factor in a handy quicksave feature and a more active ATB gauge that lets you quickly switch between characters, you'll find a lot to like in this latest iteration of Final Fantasy VI.
But despite the new additions, it's still the great game you may or may not remember from 1994.
Elixirs are still hidden in clocks, Celes is still an unexpected beast in combat when outfitted correctly, and the opera house ranks as one of the most evocative and inventive scenes to come from JRPG to date.
And - hey - the new battle background screens look pretty spiffy.
In other words, Final Fantasy VI on Android captures everything that made the original memorable and fun back on the Super Nintendo - it's just been updated to play on a more modern platform.
There are a few minor faults along the way that holds
it back from earning a place in our Platinum Award hall of fame, but you shouldn't let the new art style distract you from this otherwise rare gem of gorgeous storytelling and high adventure.