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?
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.