Final Fantasy VI Advance - hands-on

Late 1994 saw the release of the Japanese Final Fantasy VI (as Final Fantasy III, don't ask) on the Super Nintendo. It was so far ahead of what players were used to getting in their RPGs in terms of story, scope, and customization that it became the definitive role-playing title of the generation. It didn't achieve the phenomenal success of Final Fantasy VII, but FFIII gained a devout fanbase - something that wasn't too common for games before the popularity of the Internet.

Twelve years and six installments later, Square Enix is bringing Final Fantasy VI back to the GBA. Does FFVI still hold its appeal? We take a look at the Japanese release and give you the scoop.

In FFVI's world, magic died in a cataclysmic war... or so people thought. Magical power has been rediscovered by the Emperor Gestahl, who desires to unite the world under his rule. The Empire's scientists have created magic-powered war machines to help achieve that end. Their newest weapon is Terra, a girl with natural magic abilities. When she is freed by rebels, Terra realizes that she has the power to save the world... or destroy it.

The most notable aspect of Final Fantasy VI is its "ensemble" approach to storytelling. Instead of focusing on one main character, the primary point of view shifts from character to character. The size of FFVI's main cast is also the largest of any FF game to date. With a total of 14 unique playable characters ranging from a career "Treasure Hunter" to a rampaging yeti, you're bound to find a favorite.

Equally memorable are the game's villains. Among the assorted monsters and nutjobs you'll be facing are Ultros the octopus, the beastly Atma Weapon, the sky terror DoomGaze, and Kefka, a clown-faced Imperial general who's a few French Fries short of a Happy Meal. But not everyone on the enemy side is a jerk. The honorable General Leo and the researcher Cid are good-hearted men who want to help the world. Can the forces struggling for peace and prosperity overcome those who crave chaos?