1. Vector

Deep breath

Finally, you reach the headquarters of the Empire where Gestahl resides. An, aw man, the fucking music. It’s simultaneously creepy and depressing. Go ahead and remind yourself why Nobuo Uematsu is a goddamn genius.

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2. Phantom Train

While escaping reality, Cyan and his moody friends come across the phantom train, which acts as the RPG version of Charon on the River Styx. Cyan decides it’s worth a shot to try and find his recently murdered family and plop a couple of phoenix downs on them while they’re still just mostly dead.

At first the train seems really creepy, what with all the ghosts implying that you’re never ever ever leaving.

FFVI: No Escape from the Doomtrain

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5. Introduction

I popped in Final Fantasy VI for the first time on Christmas Day, 1994. The Super Nintendo wasn’t entirely new to me, but I had played mostly Super Mario Kart, so I wasn’t prepared for the brilliant music and graphics that hit you during the introduction. And then, right when you’re settling in, you start to wonder. Is this girl with the green hair one of the good guys? Am I killing innocent people?

And your little dogs, too

It was exhilarating to have my expectations for a video game story flipped upside down. It’s not just that you are forced to kill innocent people; you absolutely destroy them with a strange power called Magitek that shoots elemental lasers from your body suit. Who are these bad guys I’m fighting for, and what power do they yield? Without much exposition, it sets up how bleak the situation is for whatever heroes you wind up playing as.

It all culminates with a boss battle against Whelk (aka Ymir), your first test in the game. Ultimately, he’s not very powerful, but you can make the battle much longer than it needs to be if you don’t plan your attack. Time your attack wrong and he’ll absorb your pesky lasers and come back with a powerful attack that nearly destroys your party. If I recall, I almost lost to him my first go round.


My mind was sufficiently blown, and I spent a good part of the next two years of my life married to Final Fantasy VI.

6. Divide and Conquer

Several times during the game you are asked to split your party up into groups of three or four in order to win a long battle or take on separate tasks. The first time is right near the beginning, when Terra is passed out and Locke has to protect her with the help of the Moogles. It requires long-term strategy, a rarity in video games.

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Play With the Prose VII–Challenge 1: Bret Highum

This will be my fourth Play with the Prose contest. I’ve made the semifinals once and the finals twice, but remain a bridesmaid. This time around we have 17 contestants. The moderator’s prompt this season is to write like previous contestants. There may even be a week where other people have to write like me! While that seems bound for lots of in-jokes, the themes should be general enough.

There will be 12 challenges, I think. Top 8 make the playoffs. This might be the strongest group of writers yet. Wish me luck.

The first challenge was to write like Bret Highum. Or specifically, about an emotionally repressed redneck.
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7. The Death of Doma

After Leo gets mysteriously called back to Vector, Kefka engages in some not-so-subtle foreshadowing for the player. What’s particularly great about this scene, however, is how truly evil Kefka comes across in such a short time. He tells one of his soldiers that he doesn’t care if the Empire has prisoners in Doma; he wants everyone dead.

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8. Edgar Rigs a Coin Toss

In many early RPGs, you started at the castle. The king was just the king and he gave you money. Here, you start in a somewhat shady town and then head off to the castle. And the king has feelings. And we learn about them in an incredibly effective cut scene that not only develops two important characters, but sets up another significant plot point with Setzer later in the game. Briefly, we learn that Edgar and Sabin’s dad, the former king, was likely murdered by the Empire. Sabin’s pissed about the local apathy towards this and wants to run away and fight. Edgar wants to as well, but feels a strong responsibility to his people, even if they are naive and oblivious. So he makes a proposal to soften tensions with his brother.

Smart dad!

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