1) After the announcement of the SNES Classic, I’ve seen a few people grumble about Final Fantasy VI (hereafter referred to as its SNES title Final Fantasy III/FFIII) being part of the lineup instead of Chrono Trigger (CT). That’s what inspired me to make this list; while both games are popular, it’s no secret that CT gets a lot of internet love. I'd like to show why the SNES Classic pick of FFIII is for the best (although, yeah, I would’ve liked to see CT in addition to it).
2) I’m aware that CT is highly beloved here (currently #2, it seems), so I’m stepping into the lion’s den in a way. Read it with an open mind! And for those wondering, nostalgia doesn’t really play a part in this debate—I bought both FFIII and CT for the SNES on the years they released (’94 and ’95). I loved ‘em.
3) Despite the length of this Top Ten perhaps pointing to the contrary, I’m not psychotic—CT is highly beloved by me as well; in fact, it’s my third-favorite RPG and gets one of my highest ratings, a 9.7. I’m not going to arbitrarily hate on it just to make a point!
4) FFIII is my number one RPG and I feel it’s unappreciated. This feature is not meant to be a hit piece on CT so much as essentially a manifesto of why I enjoy FFIII so much. A manifesto! Now you've gotta read it.
5) There will be SPOILERS for both games! I’ll black out the biggest ones but there's still quite a bit of info here that'll spoil both games if you haven't played them yet. Play them!
6) It’s a long one, folks! Sit back and get ready for quite a bit of prose written about two 20+ year old RPGs! So pop some popcorn, crank up this orchestral FFIII medley while you read, and enjoy!
Back when I was introducing my buddy thefly to the SNES’s terrific library (much of which he missed out on as a kid), I was excited to see what he thought of my top RPG, Final Fantasy III. Naturally, he preferred it to Chrono Trigger, but that’s beside the point. Unlike most SNES epics, we were able to enjoy playing through the story together via its simple but effective multiplayer mode. Simply choose who controls which character via the in-game menu and you’re on your way. This drop-in/drop-out mode worked great and gave buddies a chance to strategize in tandem. I’ve also played it with my brother and wife, and it’s a great little feature every time.
CT has no multiplayer. Sorry!
FFIII’s cast repeatedly gets pushed to their breaking points. While much of FFIII is adventurous, funny, charming, romantic and sweet, this is a game that doesn’t shy away from sadness, despair, hopelessness and yes, death. There’s a real sense of the world and the characters’ lives being at stake. Numerous people get killed via magic, impalement, illness, poison, or by being swallowed up by the earth. Parents lose their children, other children lose their parents, yet there’s always hope for these characters in the end (often via other people who fill in that missing gap in their lives).
What’s more is that the apocalypse actually comes in FFIII, and you have to deal with it directly. The first half of the game is spent on the brink of war with an otherworldly force, and the second half is all about a dying world clinging to hope. Your team of heroes is in constant danger, whether due to the world teetering on destruction or due to their own inner demons that may or may not drive them to suicide (yes, this happens to multiple main characters).
Why is this important? Because it only makes the relief of the victorious moments more rewarding, and the game’s ending (which I will get to shortly) ultimately satisfying. There’s real suspense about what will happen to the cast and this world.
CT kind of makes death this thing that you can just reverse. The biggest twist in the game—Crono’s death—feels kind of cheap when you can just warp back with a Macguffin and an inexplicable Crono-shaped doll and make it never happen. Beyond that, Lavos just doesn’t feel like that much of a threat. I mean, it’s nice that the party wants to save the distant future from getting devastated, but it’s so far removed from their time period that it’s hard to really connect on a personal level with them. This isn’t Biff Tannen turning Truce Village into a dump; it’s something their children’s children’s children’s great-grandchildren will never even come close to dealing with. And besides maybe Frog, few of the characters ever really get put through the ringer the way Terra, Locke, Cyan, Celes and Shadow do.
The Combat Depth
During battle, CT’s characters can all do a basic attack, consume an item, use one of their 8 single techs or choose from 3-5 double/triple techs per character. It’s not a bad amount of moves compared to most RPGs, but…
There are a lot more options in battles with FFIII. You’ve got 50-something spells, 20-something esper abilities, 8 Tools, 8 Blitzes, 8 Dances, up to 255 (!!) Rages, 30+ Lores, and lots of unique commands like Steal, Sketch, Control, Runic, Morph, Mug, Mimic, Slot and GP Rain. You can target yourself for damage (like if you want to slap someone out of Muddle or Sleep). You can target the enemy for curative spells (which deal damage on undead, reveal Vanish, etc). There are items that cast spells when used, items that deal damage, and items that commence a random summon. You can switch between front and back rows mid-battle, with offensive and defense capabilities changing based on that. You can defend. You can Throw items at the enemy for one-time damage. There are Limit Breaks when your characters are low on HP for rare super-moves. One character’s dog occasionally fights for you. Via equips, you can have a Zombie on your team, a character with permanent reflect status, and a character who leaps in front of deadly attacks.
Last but not least, you have four party members instead of three.
This is a category where numbers are on FFIII’s side: it’s simply bigger. There are more playable characters, more towns, more dungeons, more enemies, more sidequests, and simply more hours of content in the game (howlongtobeat.com has it averaging at about 15 hours longer). Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind whenever someone makes this kind of point is “quality, not quantity,” right? I mean, we’ve all lived through the N64 era. But FFIII is a surprisingly filler-free experience; the plot keeps moving in the first half, and the second half’s sidequests all reward the player by fleshing out the backstories and arcs of the characters. By all accounts, this is a big game, but it doesn’t waste your time. Not to suggest that CT is tiny, but there’s simply less to do overall.
And now for the flip side of the quantity/quality argument!
Even the staunchest FFIII fans have to admit that it takes some serious chutzpah to go after CT's much-ballyhooed endings. After all, there are a dozen of them! But here’s the way I see it: outside of the fun development ending, only a few of them are more than glorified little bonus cutscenes, and even the full true ending feels a little light in content to me. At least, compared to the wrapping up of FFIII, which I feel ranks among the all-time greatest game finales.
What’s so good about FFIII’s mere one ending? It’s long and involved, using every one of the 14 playable characters for their own unique scene that wraps up their story. The music is masterfully composed, combining every song into a magnificent 10+ minute track (the longest non-looped song I can think of on the SNES). Character arcs reach their natural conclusion in this finale that doesn’t skimp on content. And after that, we’re treated to an equally lengthy credits sequence that wrap up the final loose ends with more terrific music. This ending has it all—one major character’s life hanging in the balance, another major character’s actual death, comedy, drama and romance all thoroughly blanketed in the story’s pervading themes of hope and love. It’s wonderful.
And on the note of numbers, FFIII technically has multiple endings because your final scenes are determined on which characters you saved and didn’t save.
CT’s accessibility is one of its strong points, but at times it’s a little too simple. Everyone’s Crono will be the same, everyone’s Marle, Lucca and Robo will all learn their abilities at the exact same pace in the same order, etc. There’s no real customization to the game outside of equipping your Accessories, of which you get one per character.
By contrast, FFIII’s cast doesn’t just come with their own unique abilities, but you can also customize them in a plethora of different ways. Via the Esper system, you can teach them a multitude of spells and adjust the way their stats grow when they level up. You can also equip up to two Relics per character, and this leads to all sorts of interesting combos (the infamous Offering + Genji Glove for eight-hit turns, Gem Box + Economizer for cheap spells out the wazoo, Dragon Horn + Dragoon Boots for repeated jumping, Sneak Ring + Thief Glove for a steal-heavy moveset, etc).
It doesn’t end there; every character can equip a variety of weapons and shields instead of being tied to a single type. Do you give your ridiculously powerful new Paladin’s Shield to one of your defense-heavy guys to make them a tank? Or do you give it to your weakest character to help bring up the slack? Who gets the Atma Weapon? Should Mog or Edgar get my strongest spear? Should Celes keep a slightly weaker sword over her flail in order to be able to use Runic? In CT, each character can use one and only one type of weapon; Lucca will always use guns, Marle will always have bows, Robo will always have arms. Even Crono and Frog use two different types of swords so that they can’t share!
There’s more. CT’s equips are very linear in progression, but FFIII’s often alter a bunch of other stats to make for a lot of decision-making. Should you go all-out in power or put on something that gives a speed boost? The Enhancer sword isn’t terribly strong but it gives a major boost to the Magic Power stat. Heck, you might even want to use a Genji Glove so you can equip TWO and go nuts with spells, although that does mean not equipping a shield so you’re sort of a glass cannon…see what I mean? Some armor hurts you. Some teach you spells. Some are insanely powerful…but only if you’re in Imp form. There’re simply a lot more choices to make when dealing with equipment and espers that you never have to think about in CT’s simplified system. And this is all done very intuitively, easing the player into its systems one at a time.
That got a bit technical but it’s a big part of the appeal of replaying the game. With so many different playstyles and character progressions to play with, FFIII invites the player to really experiment and try new things with its equipment.
The Story & Themes
I actually think CT drops the ball a bit with its premise. There’re so many fun things you can do with time travel, but outside of the Queen Leene storyline and a couple bits here and there (like Fiona’s forest or saving Lucca’s mother), most of the time traveling actual effects are kept to a minimum. I really would’ve liked to see two periods close in time so that we could have some real Back to the Future-style shenanigans, meeting adults when they were kids or affecting people’s lives in various ways. As it is, the time travel motif is mainly an excuse to have varied environments rather than really develop an emotional time-based story like the best Futurama episodes.
That aside, the core plot is solid enough. It’s certainly paced well and does a good job at keeping environmental variety going, but it’s fairly simple: stop the meteor thing from destroying the planet and/or stop the people involved in its arrival. There’s some pseudo-religious talk about an unseen “Entity” guiding our heroes along, but it seems like a footnote and isn’t given any particular story weight or exploration.
FFIII is about hope and love. From the start of the game, the heroes are attempting to convince Terra to join them, as she’s the last ray of hope in preventing a cataclysmic repeat of a historical war. As the characters come together and gradually conquer their own inner demons, things start to look optimistic for a while as former enemies meet up, peace treaties are signed and mutual understanding brings everyone towards a common goal of peace. Unfortunately, a few backstabbings later, a massive catastrophe has literally ripped the world asunder, leaving our last playable character—at her lowest point, believing her friend’s death has left her the last person on earth—attempting suicide atop a cliff. But she finds a glimmer of hope by chance, and it’s enough for her to travel the world, reuniting her family. The playable characters individually have to look inside themselves to discover what is worth fighting for, and they all come together in the understanding that this is still a world worth saving. ALL of their stories involve the essense of what drives that hope: love. And I'll elaborate more on that in a few moments...
CT should be proud of itself; in practically any other game comparison list, Music would be FFIII’s #1 trump card, always and forever. I’m not going to cheat this; CT’s soundtrack is pretty great. That being said, I find that its best stuff is in the 600 and 1000 AD sections of the game, with the far past and far future being a little spottier.
As for FFIII, from its field songs to its combat ditties and especially its character themes (one for each character, layered over in other tunes in the game in a variety of leitmotifs), the music is in a league of its own. Familiar riffs undulate throughout the score, tying the soundtrack together in clever ways that other games can only dream of doing. The main theme of the game (Terra’s Theme) is deceptively simple, with a strong, militaristic melody at its core. It’s sad and lonely, yet also adventurous and hopeful, making for possibly my favorite gaming song of all.
Music is a pretty subjective category, I’ll admit. So I’ll take a parting shot at CT to hopefully convey (in another way) why I feel its the weaker soundtrack:
CT’s battle theme…kind of sucks. It’s bland and uninteresting, following a very simplistic rising pattern and the same four chords repeated over and over and over again to a generic drum-and-bass combo. Just when you think the main melody is kicking in and it’s about to be good…it loops. And that’s all there is to it, a very short, repetitive theme that pulls me out of the experience. And this being an RPG, this is naturally the song you’ll be hearing more than any other in the game, by a long shot. So if you’re like me and are wholly unimpressed with this piece, tough beans!
I’ll leave with one final word on this subject: opera.
This is one of the categories that I think is an absolute blowout—Lavos has nothing on Kefka.
Kefka introduced a different type of villain in the 90s; whereas most RPG baddies up to that point had been armor-clad behemoths like Golbez, Kefka came along and proved that a villain could be every bit as memorable as the main cast. The guy was overflowing with personality, a cackling, snarky, pseudo-pampered psychopath that played dirty at every turn. But just when you think you had him pegged as the emperor’s lackey, he starts pulling stunts like poisoning the water source of his enemies (civilians included), causing mass genocide for a race of ethereal beings…and, oh yeah, causing the apocalypse. He’s not even particularly interested in the usual selfish villain motivations of being powerful. He sees power as simply a means to an end, a tool to cause everyone else to suffer.
One of the other things that makes Kefka great is that he’s a master manipulator. He tricks and fools his way to the top by doing Gestahl’s bidding, takes advantage of every situation that comes his way, and co-conspires with the empire to pull a fast one over the Returners as well as the Espers. And if that’s not enough, the moment the clown doesn’t need Gestahl anymore, he strikes down his liege and literally kicks his dying body off the Floating Continent. The guy actually succeeds in taking over the world, and then decides to blast any pockets of hope left in the new world just for his own amusement. That is cold.
And he does it all with an iconic laugh and dozens of hilarious and memorable lines.
Lavos, on the other hand, is hard to compare to Kefka on account of him barely being a character at all. Like the Meteor in FFVII, he’s essentially a bomb or a massive weapon of sorts. He has no lines, no real personality or motivation, nothing really to him beyond simply being a plot device that the heroes have to overcome. Even for a creature of mass destruction, his record’s not that great. Kefka destroyed the world in less than a year; it took Lavos 65,001,999 times longer to do the same thing.
While CT brings 7 unique players to the table, FFIII boasts twice that number, each with their own unique specialized abilities in battle. What’s even more impressive than their gameplay utility is how they all (give or take the three bonus characters) have a fully fleshed-out arc that fits in the game’s strong themes of hope and love.
Terra is the product of love between an esper and a human, and worries that her unique nature will prevent her from ever finding love herself. She eventually does, but rather than the typical romantic love story, it’s the selfless love of a mother for her children. Locke at first seems like the gallant princess-rescuing hero mixed with the rogueish Han Solo, but we soon learn the poignant reason he feels so compelled to protect women in particular. Edgar and Sabin’s brotherly love is what causes the former to give up his freedom for the latter. Shadow is a man who lost his humanity when he abandoned his family, but finds it again in his friends. Cyan’s loss of his wife brings him to live a lie to try to spare someone else from feeling that pain. Celes and Setzer find renewed hope despite tragic losses. Strago, Relm, and particularly Gau represent the unconditional love of family even in the midst of heartache.
And like any good villain, Kefka represents the opposite of the heroes—his M.O. is all about hopelessness, destruction and hatred. But I’ve already talked at length about that guy.
CT’s cast doesn’t resonate very much with me. Crono is our basic silent protagonist, so we’re essentially left with half a dozen characters that have a personality. Of them, I think Frog and Magus are probably the most fleshed out, with Lucca and Robo behind them. Marle is likable but I feel like I’ve seen her archetype a thousand times and she doesn’t really have any distinct arc. Ayla is similarly flat (er, figuratively speaking). They’re a charming enough bunch but as a whole, they’re pretty straightforward and only about half of them have satisfying stories to tell.
The huge amount of great characters in FFIII is truly something special. That so many of them get fully-developed, satisfying arcs that all tie into a narrative whole is extremely impressive. Even my other favorite RPG casts such as Skies of Arcadia, Persona 4 and Mother 3 contain a fairly small number of playable characters compared to FFIII.
The popcorn bowl is empty and your face hurts from furrowing your brow in anger so many times while reading these points. As for me, I think it’s time to board up my windows and turn on the security system—I’ve gone guns blazin’ against the mighty Chrono Trigger.
But I hope this feature at least sheds a little light on why I enjoy FFIII so much even today. It’s a truly rich, ambitious and operatic experience that’s always a pleasure to revisit.
In the interest of fairness, I will leave you with the three things I feel that CT does better than FFIII: 1) pacing, 2) graphics, and 3) no random battles.
In the meantime, best of luck nabbing a SNES Classic! If you’re one of the fortunate ones who finds one, be sure to give this classic epic a spin. With a friend, if possible. Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reminding me why I love this game so much. I have a hard time deciding what my favorite Final Fantasy game is, but it's between this and Final Fantasy XII. I played this game for the first time decades after it originally came out and was a little surprised at how well it holds up. The story is poignant, the characters are human, and the soundtrack reflects both of those qualities with its emotional and stirring themes.
The combat is one of my favorite aspects of Final Fantasy VI, too. I like that each character has a unique element to their play style such as Sabin's fighting game-like inputs. There were some mechanics and abilities that I feel like I wasn't using as effectively as I could have, though. I'll get around to a second playthrough sometime so I can get more out of its battle system.
Speaking of which, I had no idea that this game had a multiplayer feature! Not sure how I missed that, but I'd love to try that sometime.
My full rebuttal (and potential Top Ten Reasons Why Chrono Trigger Is Better Than Than Final Fantasy III article) will come later when I'm at my laptop and not my phone...I will for now say thank you for this list! Pretty interesting stuff, and a fun read. And I learned something! Literally up until reading this, I had NO IDEA Final Fantasy III had multiplayer. No clue. And of course that feature was not available for the GBA port...which is the version I have played the most. That's pretty cool. A perhaps otherwise useless feature for a game in this genre, but! Still a cool little side bonus.
Thanks again for this, and I will get back to this later on. And I will concede to at least one of your points: that battle music! So good in Final Fantasy. And of course the "Victory" music after the battle. Clearly beats out ol' Trigger...simply because there is no victory music in the time-traveling epic, haha.
I agree with everything except that FFIII is unappreciated in any way. People pretty much universally love this game, and rightfully so.
That said, I've still never finished it and, in all honesty, probably never will. Like @Secret_Tunnel, it's just hard for me to go back and play a SNES-era RPG anymore. Especially FFIII, which I've played twice and made it halfway through each time before some disaster befell my save file.
Your list is great - I also had no idea about the multiplayer option
This is a game I must play past the Opera scene - I feel I'm not in a position to argue too much because I have not finished the game.
The characters, from what I've seen so far are definitely interesting and the default battle music is way better - CTs biggest flaw in my mind. You did hear different music that was better when facing certain main bosses though.
Two of the three reasons you said CT did better then FFIII is why I enjoy CT more. The pacing and no random battles really agreed with me. I had been playing FFIII for a bit as my younger brother was really into it - but when the plot of FFIII was approaching a wonderful turn of events in the story, I wanted to explore it further but the random battles really slowed me down and proved frustrating. Then came CT and I had a story I could explore with the freedom, in most cases, to pick and choose and prepare for who or what I was battling. It was just more fun to play despite a villain that doesn't contain a sliver of Kefkas personality.
Again, wonderful top 10 😊 I will replay this game again and finish it for the first time. it absolutely deserves it
Even though FFVI is one of my favorite games of all time, every time, and I think is in my opinion one of the only FFs worth playing, I do feel like I gotta defend CT a little bit here. Please don't get me wrong, I'm glad you made this list, and even if you made an inverse "What Chrono Trigger does better than Final Fantasy III" thread, I'd probably do the same thing for FFVI. But, you know, Terra's got issues.
Combat Depth: Yes, there are a lot of magic, a lot of unique skillsets, and more characters. But what you have to remember is, a lot of those 255 rages kind of suck. Stray Cat can carry you through a lot of the game when you first get Gau and manage to Leap a Stray, but once you reach past the point where it stops being very good, Terra has Morph, Locke may or may not have Capture, Edgar has the Drill/Chainsaw,, and Cyan (if you decide using him is a good idea) has a pretty strong counter and Gravity skill. Gau kind of becomes obsolete after a while, and he's usually better as a back-up healer in my experience (at least six(lol) playthroughs).
Quite a few characters are also not worth using outside of the instances where you need to split people up/ the game forces you to go without the better characters:
Celes is Terra, with the ability to absorb one spell per action, but nothing else really gives you an incentive to use her over Terra, unless Terra is charging up her Morph I guess. Shadow is your damage trashcan, and probably deals more single-target damage later on than a lot of your other characters if you're not caring about which stats you're leveling up. Relm is, on initial start-up, a better mage than both Terra and Celes, but since you get her so late in the WoB, Terra/Celes's magic stats are probably better thanks to Espers, and they also have natural spells. Why bother training up Relm if you have so many better options? And God help you if you Sketch the wrong way. Last but most certainly least, Umaro is the only character that is not better than Cyan, because near everyone else is better than Cyan at some capacity. Poor Cyan.
Also, Vanish/Doom. And Ultima. And Terra. And Offering. And...
Content: I don't feel like hours is a good indicator of content in a video game, as people play video games differently, and thus where it might take someone two hours might take someone else forty-five minutes. Using that logic, any Dragon Quest game is better than most every J/RPG, or every other genre of video game, simply because it has longevity. I mean, I'm biased for that series anyway so I might agree with that statement regardless, but you know what I mean. Dragon Quest II, VII, and to an extent VI and VIII, are actually pretty bad when it comes to padding versus momentum.
And that's really the main point here, padding versus momentum.
FFVI and CT have a lot of momentum at the beginning of the game. It's something I really like when an RPG pulls off a good momentum pace, because slow burners are usually a hard sell for me. Except, after a point, VI starts to pad (the whole nonsense with Bannon), CT starts to pad (first visit to 2300 BC) both retain their momentum, but then something weird happens, and CT drops the ball (WTF DO I NEED A HERO'S MEDAL FOR), and then rockets forward where VI begins to pad again (Opera scene, then everything leading up to the sort of betrayal at Vector). Honestly? They both have some weird padding going on.
Assuming one reaches the World of Ruin at the same time one reaches Crono's death, they will then proceed to obtain their respective flying machine, and then the rest of the game, which is completely and utterly optional, is open to them to explore and do whatever. And FFVI might have a little more to offer when it comes to the WoR content, CT still has quite a lot of endgame stuff to do, and most of it will actually contribute directly to the player, rather than tie up a plot thread. I love Gau, but there really should've been a super-special Rage unlocked when he meets his dad.
Having said all this, I like FFVI's WoR more, but I feel CT's endgame is equal to the WoR, not lesser, even if it may have less to do. It's all relative; like I said, there is still a lot to do.
Story/Ending: No, actually, I'm not going to fight this one. I enjoyed FFVI's story and ending a lot more, definitely. Though, I will say, Crono's death feels better when you don't "revive" him.
I guess more of my defense comes from looking at the game at a more mechanical standpoint, since that's just how I look at video games. Hard for me to not. It's also been a while since I played CT so I've been going off purely by memory, but I'd still rather play FFVI again over CT, simply because it's that great of a game.
And hey, someone was going to make a rebuttal at some point!
On one final note, I will say one thing CT that does better than FFVI: they hired Akira Toriyama. Hard to top that! totallynotbiasedatall
TL;DR: I like FFVI more as a video game, but CT does have some better balance and less useless options. Also, Akira Toriyama.
I would say that I'd agree with... 10, 6, 4, and 2.
I think I LIKE FF6 more than CT. 6's highs are better than CT's highs. But I think it's really hard to argue that 6 is the overall better game.
FF6 has a ton of characters, but only a few of them get properly developed over the course of the game. The rest have a few bits here and there that are all good, but they're not especially deep. Setzer, Relm, Strago, Mog... pretty boring. Gau gets like... one moment. Edgar and Sabin peak really early, you have to luck your way into Shadow's scenes. The game's best developed characters are Locke and Celes, Terra to a lesser extant, and Cyan too, though again, he peaks pretty early. I think just about everyone in Chrono Trigger, save maybe Ayla, gets it as good as they do, and better, in most cases. Most of the characters in FF6 aren't developed much at all and rely on archetype to get by.
I feel like the stakes are about even. Obviously it's hard to top Kefka ruining the world... but even FF6 crumbles in the back half compared to that moment. Kefka is content to do nothing while the heroes reconvene and get ready to fuck him up. CT has the time travel trick to justify some of the pacing problems that come out of games like this of course, but that doesn't mean it's any less disappointing that after we get into the "full" World of Ruin... nothing really happens at all for most of the second half of the game.
The combat is probably one of the worst parts of FF6. It's horribly balanced, it's broken in lots of different ways, and in the World of Ruin there's a few points where you can lose tons of progress by getting into an airship and running into the air dragon. Some characters are useless without a shitload of grinding, and if you're grinding that much, you can turn everyone into a cheap Ultima nuker. I'd almost go so far as to say that CT is objectively better in this regard. 8 and 5 on this list are just... wrong. The combat in FF6 is not good and the customization is largely for show.
I guess the best way that I can explain it succinctly... when I go back and replay FF6, I am really looking forward to moments. The opera. Kefka poisoning the water around Doma. Kefka's ascendance. The ending sequence. When I go back to replay CT, I am looking forward not just to moments (saving Lucca's mom, the Frog / Magus duel, the trial), but also PLAYING the actual game. At no point in a CT run do I go "oh fuck THIS again." Like I do with Gau's rages. And Mog's dances. And teaching enough characters enough spells to have a party that can hang at the end. Or desperately wanting the Moogle Charm so I don't have to fight in SO MANY pointless battles that are devoid of engagement or challenge.
Again these are all high class problems. They're probably my top 1 and 2 JRPGs ever, and they're REALLY close. These differences are in the margins, since the games are both great and I have such fondness for both of them.
@GameDadGrant Thanks--I look forward to more paragraphs discussing these games!
Interestingly, FFIII doesn't really have my favorite battle themes despite me loving its soundtrack overall. I'd actually put both FFVII's normal battle and boss battle music above FFIII's version of those. And FF2/4 has some pretty great boss music in its own right.
@nate38 Yeah, as a whole it's still highly respected and hardly a cult game in the way that something like, I dunno, Soul Blazer is. But I will say that by and large, it's less popular than both it's SNES brother Chrono Trigger, and its younger PSX sibling that gets all the love from Square, Final Fantasy VII.
@Smerd Thanks for the compliments! Right, CT's boss and "big" boss themes (like when you're fighting Masamune etc) are quite good when they come up.
Hope you get a chance to play FFIII soon!
@EvilBirdo First off, always nice to hear some extra technical talk about FFIII! I'm a fan of discussing this game's various systems and skillsets whenever I can. I think the most surprising thing about your post is that you refer to the opera section as "padding;" technically, it's not super relevant to the main plot but most fans would call that one of the most memorable moments of the game, if not the entire series. The music is sublime and the general atmosphere (and light gameplay mechanics) involved make for a great change of pace after the hardest-place-so-far Zozo run. And from a game design perspective, it's a sequence that really starts to endear the audience to Celes and builds the seeds of the relationship between her and Locke, one of the most important in the game.
I digress. Regarding the game/character balance, here's a pseudo-flaw that I didn't really go into in the Top Ten: both of these games are pretty easy. I don't think grinding is ever necessary in either (unless you're running from battles constantly) and you can make it through with decent enough strategy, so everyone (in either game) is certainly usable to some degree. About Cyan in particular, I'm fond of the Tempest set-up, where he uses his Tempest sword to deal wind damage to all enemies 50% of the time on every hit. If you steal a second from the boss of the Magitek Facility, you can dual-weild those things fairly early in the game and have a reliable group damage dealer. Throw in Offering and it's just nuts (of course, every character is brutal with the Offering).
You make good points regarding Celes's abilities vs. Terra's, but it should be pointed out that Celes is still one of the stronger characters in the game overall (Magic Power is a great stat), so I'll defer to Zoidberg...
Incidentally, this image could sum up the whole thread pretty well!
Stray Cat's a real cruncher. And in the WoR, NightShade/Charm is crazy useful! If anything, Gau's almost too powerful! That said, you have to know which Rages to go with, so he can take some work that I don't always feel like putting in.
While I'm not a fan of Dragon Ball, I love me some Dragon Quest, so it's hard to argue against Toriyama's work--especially his super charming monster design. Few creatures in any Final Fantasy are as iconic as the simple Slime, give or take a Moogle. Thanks for the beefy reply!
I see you there, @Kal-El814! Gonna have to reply to you in a separate post in case NW eats this one soon.
@TriforceBun Thanks for not shooting me down immediately, hee hee. Sorry if it was too long-winded, I really do love FFVI, so I feel like I'm not completely talking out me bum.
You are right though, VI definitely favors magic over physical, which is why Terra and Celes are high up on the list, I just mention Terra since I'm kind of a fangurl, and her attack power being doubled before she hits the damage cap is always a nice boost during the Esper Cave and FC.
Though, of course, having posted all of this, I realize that none of the technical stuff matters when you're just playing it just for the story, music, and characters, which I think might have been what you were going for. After playing VI so much, I guess it becomes harder to see any of it more than down to its brass tacks, which I don't think is necessarily bad but it does make me miss a few points, ha ha.
Also, I actually do like the opera scene, even though I don't particularly like Celes very much. Everything about it is great. I was just saying that, from the padding versus momentum concept I had mentioned, it does stop some momentum. Whether it's good or bad is really up to the player, and every time I play FFVI I still look forward to the opera scene (and Zozo. love that music).
Thank you for making the thread, I feel it was a good opportunity to discuss.
It might be because it's been about a decade since I last played CT, but I don't remember being particularly impressed with the characters' individual plots overall. Like you said, there's not a whole lot to Ayla, and Crono himself is a blank slate, so that really leaves us with just five characters. They're done fairly well, but I struggle to see how those five are better developed than "most of the characters" in FF6. And it's not like Robo and Marle aren't archetypal in their own rights. Not every FFIII character gets a ton of screentime, but they all have a fully developed narrative arc that's also directly relevant to the themes of the game itself (again, minus the three bonus ones, Mog, Umaro and Gogo). That's pretty impressive!
I think it's peculiar that you mention that some characters are useless without grinding, because I feel that FFIII (and CT) is pretty easy throughout. Some characters are easier to use or more useful than others, but it feels like everyone is very viable. Of course, some of that might just be because I know the game inside and out, I know which Rages to get and what swords to equip on Cyan and what Lores to seek out, etc. I agree that Ultima is just too powerful, but it's also a pain to learn so I typically will bypass getting that spell on most characters.
It's interesting that you mention your experiences through replaying it, because the real value of the customization for me doesn't come from optimizing my damage output (since I don't have much trouble getting through the game), but in improving replay value. Trying out different set-ups with different characters, using different teammates that missed out on the action last go-around, etc. I even once made a character into a permanent Imp ("Kappa" via Rename Card) and decked him out in Imp swag. It worked out pretty decently.
CT is admittedly less buggy and probably has less moves that are obviously the best ones, but I feel less compelled to replay it because I have far more limitations at approaching battle and far fewer characters to play around with. And Chrono's always gotta be in the lead for 2/3rds of the game while FFIII brings people in and out of the party regularly.
I guess I find your last complaint a little quirky, like how some people complain that you can make a way-too-strong character in Fire Emblem: Awakening with enough grinding, but then complain about the amount of grinding! Theoretically that could apply to almost any RPG with a leveling system, but I'm content to just ignore the extra stuff if I don't want to spend the time on them! If you're really dreading that Serpent Trench march from Nikeah, Mog won't miss that Water Rondo. Getting the cast back in the World of Ruin alone should make you ready enough to take on Kefka.
Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful reply! CT's already such a strong game that a lot of these are pretty close, and I feel like a case can be made either way.
After watching Amanda play CT, it's hard not to think that the praises of this game's story and characters are a bit over the top. The characters are generally pretty shallow and underdeveloped, especially compared to something like FFVI, where you have a better idea as to the motivations of (most of) the characters.
I'd say CT has a much better plot - I like the twists and turns that the story takes. I think FF6 also kind of falls apart at the end, whereas CT is at its best right before the end. Looking back at it now, I think FF6 is the better game, even if I think CT does a better job of letting you 100% the game without a guide or a map.