Gamers’ Arguments: Final Fantasy 6 vs. Final Fantasy 7

Gamers’ Arguments. Everyone’s got ‘em and everyone’s got opinions on ‘em. So why don’t we air out these deeply-held thoughts? Why don’t we get a little hot under the collar? Why don’t we make our claims known?

For this week, Gamer’s Association is going to take a look at two classic, huge, mammoth Squaresoft JRPGs from over fifteen years ago: Final Fantasy 6 and Final Fantasy 7; which is better? That’s what we’re arguing for. Take any stance from any viewpoint. Below you’ll get some (heavily edited, sheesh … apparently they had a lot to say) comments from some of our writers and staff. From there, feel free to chime in below.

Final Fantasy 6. Duh, the argument is simple. Everything Final Fantasy 7 did, FF6 did better. From the story to the characters to the settings, FF6 is superior. Who cares about graphics? While I love the later installment, it was Final Fantasy 6 that endures in my mind as a game still playable. It’s free from aging and cliché, presenting a much more relatable, personal story. Yes, it lacks the grandiose set pieces of FF7, but that’s for the better. Final Fantasy 6 is both more eccentric at times and more grounded at others.  In other words, it’s better.

While Materia gave you tons of customization, it also stripped characters of their classes. Barring Limit Breaks, how was Cloud different than Cid? But look at how Sabin and Edgar fight! Totally different. One uses items, one uses Street Fighter-esque combos. I would rather have defined characters (who all have branching, playable stories, mind you) than oodles of customization.

But the real clincher for me is ambiance, and specifically the music. The opener, Terra’s Theme, sends shivers up my spine every time. Shadow’s and Kefka’s themes are also brilliant and evocative. The Phantom Train sequence is beautifully realized and hauntingly sorrowful even in the 16-bit trappings it’s hampered with. Will you ever forget Figaro Castle sinking into the desert sands?  No way.

Look, I could go on but will spare you. Let’s call this one. Final Fantasy 6, right?

Final Fantasy 7 is better than Final Fantasy 6 for the simple, self-important, and pretentious reasoning that I haven’t played the latter. Not much, anyway. While I grew up gaming on the Super Nintendo, hyperactive little Luke didn’t have the patience for a turn-based process that didn’t involve Pokemon. However, once Kingdom Hearts convinced me to jump ship for a PlayStation 2, I picked up FF7 to find out what I’d been missing. And it was…pretty good, yet some unexplained phenomenon forced me to fall in love with that world (professional theorists blame this happening on my middle school angsty teenage phase).

That said, I don’t adore Final Fantasy 7: The Game. Rather, I adore Final Fantasy 7: The Lore. The experience did something special that few other RPGs could, and this devotion continued into the expanded universe. Crisis Core quickly became my favorite PSP title, Advent Children rocks my socks off with every viewing, and do I seriously have to explain how giddy I got seeing Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts?

Yes, I am one of those guys that learned the Latin lyrics to One-Winged Angel so I could sing it aloud…to myself…but with my head held high! And these examples sum up my semi-ignorant argument to why Final Fantasy 7 beats FF6: it left a legacy. Panic still ensues with every rumor that arises surrounding an HD remake of this legendary installment, and people even put up with Dirge of Cerberus without having their opinions of the series swayed. It isn’t about being better, but being an icon, and Cloud and his crew still carry this unwavering quality all these years later.

I’d call it an even tie. There are a lot of differences between them that can push one in the right direction, but Final Fantasy 6 came out considerably earlier than the sequel. Final Fantasy 7 was revolutionary at the time. Yet, FF6 had genuinely perfected the 2D RPG. It had the cast, the battle system, the bosses, the summons, and the storyline was simply incredible (not to say FF7’s wasn’t, though).

One thing that I think really gives Final Fantasy 6 an edge is that it isn’t ridiculously overhyped. It’s similar to how films work nowadays: summer blockbusters make waves because they have simple storylines and lots of action. Final Fantasy 7’s storyline certainly wasn’t simple, but for the sake of argument, it was simpler. It tugged at your emotions, intentionally playing to your sensitive side, and making you fall in love with the characters, the battle system, and the game. Final Fantasy 6, on the other hand, required in-depth play, more akin to an MMO precursor. You didn’t necessarily play because you were so concerned about the fate of Terra (though I guess you may have), you played because you wanted to accomplish and acquire as much as possible.

Final Fantasy 6 was their polished diamond. Final Fantasy 7 was experimentation in a new medium that revolutionized gaming. I’m calling it a tie. Final Fantasy 6 deserves the recognition of being one of the greatest RPGs of all time (and the greatest pre-PlayStation RPG) while Final Fantasy 7 was a revolutionary masterpiece.

Kind of a tie.  Bummer, right? We’ll need you to weigh in on this one. Which do you think was better and why? Did we miss something? Overlook some detail or neglect to mention anything? Let us know!

Written by: Nick Cane

Game writer, fervent lover of mac and cheese. Favorite games are ES4: Oblivion, Kirby's Adventure, Link's Awakening, Final Fantasy 8 and Mario Galaxy.