I’m Kinglink and I hope you’ll join me on a journey into the past. You probably can tell where we’re going from the title, but I want to take you back to the days of the Super Nintendo. Nintendo’s second major console was life-changing for me. It is where I finally adopted my moniker from a little game called The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which is still one of my favorite games.
But on that console, two other games stood out and were almost as powerful as A Link To the Past. They were Final Fantasy 2 and Final Fantasy 3, sequential games in a franchise… which of course is completely wrong as probably everyone knows. Final Fantasy 2 was the fourth game in the series, Final Fantasy 3 was Final Fantasy 6… and of course, the versions we got in America… well, lacked quite a bit.
The thing is Final Fantasy IV and VI, I’ll use their true names for this video, have always stuck with me. The opening scene from Final Fantasy IV was incredible at the time and still stands out now. It was a cutscene in a video game, in-engine, where the characters moved around and you could feel the impact of what happened. I remember recreating this multiple times with Legos or different toys. This might not be as incredible today, but damn this opening still gets me excited for the epic story.
Final Fantasy VI on the other hand is equally amazing, but the scene that always stood out is, of course, the Opera. This was just one of the moments I played over and over even singing along, I won’t sing here. Your ears can thank me.
These are both moments that elevated what games could do and be. They showed that players can ask for more story than a few lines of dialogue, or a cutscene at the beginning and end of the game. They showed that games were growing more complex.
But the thing is Final Fantasy IV is good, and Final Fantasy VI is good, but over the years I’ve spent a lot of time trying to decide which one was better between them, so let’s solve that once and for all. I am going to break each game down and figure out which game did each part better and that’s what we’re here for. If you just want to get to the meat of the video feel free to jump to the next chapter or the time on the screen, but before we get started, there’s one big elephant in the room I need to address.
That is going to be which version to play. I’m going to cut a lot of this discussion. My favorite versions are for the Game Boy Advance for their bonus dungeons, though I think the Super NES graphics are flawless, and probably can’t be improved upon.
But I also want to talk about which game was the best at launch, not which game has the best stuff added into it, and for that, we’re going with the Super Nintendo versions… with one big caveat, Final Fantasy IV.
The original Super Nintendo games were heavily edited and censored from the Japanese counterparts, and while Final Fantasy VI removed some content, Final Fantasy IV translation has never really sat with me.
The main complaint I have is that Cecil’s actions and how the King of Baron reacts don’t make a lot of sense at the beginning of the game. So when playing through it this time, and to judge it for this video I’m using the Namingway Edition from Rodimus Primal, which tries to restore the original Japanese script without changing too much, and does a good job as you will see on screen. He does have a Ted Woosley Uncensored version for Final Fantasy VI but I chose not to do that for reasons that would take a long time to explain. Mostly achievement related.
Anyway… With that figured out, I have played through both of these titles and now… we can see which one is better.
So I divided this up into five categories. I’m going to heavily try to avoid spoilers, I will be forced to hint at certain things, but I’ll avoid going into too much so people can fully enjoy these games.
The battleground for this versus will be the following. The characters, the story, the combat, the world map, and the Bosses. I also haven’t pre-determined the outcome, I do have my favorite but the goal here is to look at the pieces that make each game great to make that determination.
I’m avoiding graphics and sound which puts Final Fantasy IV at a minor disadvantage just because it came out three years earlier. Of course, Final Fantasy VI should look better, also both of these games have amazing soundtracks where I doubt I could truly choose a favorite.
So with that said, let’s get on to the first discussion, the characters.
We start with Final Fantasy IV, and that amazing opening I talked about, we have our Dark Knight Cecil who steals a crystal from what appears to be a peaceful kingdom. Early on Cecil works with his friend Kain, and he is in love with Rosa and meets a young summoner named Rydia as well as eight other characters for a total of twelve. Each character has an individual arc but many of them only join the party for a short time.
The party in Final Fantasy IV is chosen by the story, and that means many characters will join and leave the party multiple times, but that also means the characters themselves have a limited amount of development.
I’ve always been a fan of Tellah the Great Sage, but when replaying the game, I realize he’s only truly part of the party for a couple of hours, and this is a big problem for the character development. That’s true for many characters here and it’s such a shame because they could
it’s not. They start in love, they end in love and they almost feel indifferent towards each other throughout the game. It’s a shame, because people just call it a major theme of the game, and you know… I don’t buy it.
On the other hand, Final Fantasy VI has fourteen characters, but in this game, the majority of the characters join the party and remain, at least for most of the adventure. And that’s not even counting a couple of additional characters who join for a few battles. The game starts with an enigmatic girl named Terra who is a member of the Empire and is quickly saved by a thief… sorry treasure hunter named Locke.
But what elevates the characters in Final Fantasy VI is how long players spend with everyone. You’ll spend at least ten hours with most of the characters in the game and even are given the ability to choose your party quite often. But that also allows for more development over that time. It also helps that it doesn’t feel like many games where every character has to say something during each scene, but major characters do get a chance to speak up.
Since almost no one leaves the party, players will have to choose which characters to take with them and that may create some issues since a decent number of scenes are also optional, so they are easy to miss. Such as this scene where the game dives into the royal brothers, Edgar and Sabin’s past, showing how Sabin left their kingdom, and later we even can understand a little more about the coin that was used.
But to me, it’s not a fair question. While Cecil remains with the party at all times in Final Fantasy IV and gets the best development he’s the exception. Almost every character in Final Fantasy VI has more development and because of that I have to say Final Fantasy VI has better characters.. .but that’s not everything and it’s a double-edged sword. This leads us to
So with Final Fantasy VI having better characters, it’s obvious it’s going to have the best story, and repeating this section doesn’t make a lot of sense, right?
Well, that’s kind of the problem, because the chosen party is so free-form, the story has problems because of it. If the player doesn’t take Edgar and Sabin to the Castle as we saw, we don’t learn about their past, and it’s hard to call optional content a core part of the story.
One of the strongest parts of Final Fantasy VI in my opinion is the romance between Locke and Celes. Actually, I would put that as one of the strongest romantic relationships between any Final Fantasy characters. However, that relationship is mostly built on these optional moments and it would be extremely easy to miss some of them or all of them.
There’s also no true main character in Final Fantasy VI. That makes for a stronger game for the player because of the ability to choose who to focus on. But the lack of requiring specific characters means the story is forced to search for someone to carry the main narrative in each scene. Sometimes the game does require certain characters, but for the most part, they can’t rely on someone being in the party.
This problem only gets worse over time, and while I’m not going to show it, in the second half of the game, if you know what I’m talking about, the lack of a main character is noticeable when the game just throws out generic quotes because it doesn’t take the time to attribute those statements to a party member and that feels awkward.
And with that, we’ll look at Final Fantasy IV which again has characters that don’t linger for that long as I mentioned before. But the fact is each of these characters joining and leaving the party makes for a more interesting story. Rather than a large resistance, Final Fantasy IV’s tale is more unique as players greet new characters and have to bid farewell to many of their friends, often abruptly.
That’s really what makes Final Fantasy IV’s story stand out because losing someone is a more impactful event than collecting a bunch of characters and never using most of them(RIP Gau, he’s dead to me). And sure, there are at least two or three amazing epic moments in Final Fantasy VI but IV has those moments throughout the entire game. Even seeing Tellah storm off and leave your group of friends, or your entire party thrown overboard with players wondering if they’ll ever see the other characters again is always going to be more impactful because it’s controlled by the writer.
And of course, this also leads to the major events of Cecil’s arc, the great change that happens to him, which develops the story more as the core narrative in Final Fantasy IV is a tale about redemption, and we can see that in many of the individual character’s arcs.
Now the one issue I have with Final Fantasy IV’s story is the final act, which again I’m going to avoid spoiling as much as I can. However, pretty much everything leading up to and in the final dungeon is weak. I’d say the final boss just comes out of nowhere, and I’ve never really thought the end of Final Fantasy IV lives up to the previous twenty or so hours which is damn near perfect. It’s an ending that I would say the game doesn’t deserve.
But outside of that, I would have to admit that Final Fantasy IV’s story here is far better, I called it perfect after all. Weaving a story that keeps the player on their toes and constantly focusing on their current task produces a better-told story. The sad part is it limits the player’s ability to focus on the characters they enjoy playing as, which definitely should affect our next category.
Final Fantasy IV and VI both are traditional Japanese RPGS with turn-based combat. Final Fantasy IV introduced gamers to active time battles, where characters could ready attacks at different speeds, and the abilities characters chose could matter to the order.
Final Fantasy IV helped define the genre. In the first Final Fantasy, you chose a party. In the second everyone could learn magic, and in Final Fantasy III we have the class-based system so again anyone can use any ability. Final Fantasy IV was the first Final Fantasy game where characters were both defined and mattered. Granted this is one of the only Final Fantasies that have a character that permanently can’t cast magic, possibly the only characters, but at the same time, that was a different experience and it made for more interesting combat.
Your party composition was decided for you but there was no jack of all trades. Rosa’s white magic and Rydia’s dark magic were core abilities and couldn’t be traded. Cecil was always your warrior, but beyond that, each character has abilities that helped them stand out and allowed you to feel the difference, which also changes up the pace of the game. There are points where magic is the core of the game and other points where you are focused on brawlers who are just laying waste to enemies.
This is one of the biggest reasons I dislike the American version of Final Fantasy IV. The Japanese version’s characters were more unique with each character having their ability. Cecil using Dark attacks that would sacrifice his life force for damage is both a character-defining trait and an interesting attack. While none of those abilities are required, they help develop who each character is.
Then there’s Final Fantasy VI which has more characters, which means more possibility of special abilities. While that does exist, the truth is only a few abilities in Final Fantasy VI feel like they matter. Locke can steal of course, and Edgar can use tools, Sabin can use blitz techniques and these all are useful. But at the same time, Final Fantasy VI does something different.
In Final Fantasy VI the party will eventually earn what is known as Espers. Some espers give characters bonuses but the core use of them is teaching magic. There are story reasons why this works, but by the end of the game, most of your favorite characters are carrying a rather serious library of spells. If you know where to find all the Espers, your characters can just stroll around with end-game spells for a large portion of the game.
The ability for every character to learn magic is the more common approach to magic systems in the Final Fantasy franchise, but it takes something away from characters where they don’t feel unique. Yes, Locke can steal, and there are some interesting combos such as using the Offering and Genji Glove to attack eight total times with two weapons attached, but that same combo can be used by every character in the game.
Even when characters like Edgar and Sabin have abilities that might be more powerful than spells, those abilities don’t feel as necessary. It’s possible that this was done so players could choose their favorite characters and not feel like they’re missing out on the magic system in the game, but while Final Fantasy VI may have better characters outside of combat, inside, they just end up feeling more generic.
The thing is that the magic in Final Fantasy VI and the gameplay feel great, but when you take a step back it’s hard to ignore how much better Final Fantasy IV’s combat feels. The unique characters in the combat make each battle feel a bit more meaningful and that means you respect the magic more because you’re limited to who can cast those spells.
But with that, we should look more at the game world itself. I mean we’ll talk about the combat a bit more before the end with the bosses, but first, we should talk about the world where we find ourselves. This means it’s time for the
Final Fantasy VI’s map is huge. While the game starts in a little town called Narshe, there are thirty other locations worth visiting and many will be worth visiting more than once. The towns in Final Fantasy VI can look similar but every town has a unique layout, and almost all have a purpose for players to visit, whether it is story-related optional content or an important collectible.
There’s also a lot of diversity including the Opera house, Zozo the city of liars, and the Lete river with that famous raft scene. So many of these locations stand out because of how well they’re designed, and again the towns themselves all feel like they have a functional purpose rather than just being yet another town you stop off in.
Of course, there’s the major event that we’re going to avoid talking about, but after that point, every location is worth a second visit just to learn what has changed and what might now be hiding in locations you’ve already explored once before.
The thing is Final Fantasy VI feels organic in that there are locations that don’t directly serve the story at first. Locations that hide optional content or meetings that players might miss out on or not notice at first, and make Final Fantasy VI more interesting to explore.
And then there is Final Fantasy IV’s world map which also is pretty large, though Final Fantasy IV has about half the number of locations that Final Fantasy VI has. As you play Final Fantasy IV, you’ll go to all the corners of the map to explore it fully. While most of the areas look lush with greenery each location feels unique, and each kingdom has its designs and speaking style, which makes them feel special.
The strongest part of Final Fantasy IV is the dungeon design. Every dungeon in Final Fantasy IV is well constructed, except the final dungeon which feels like it goes on forever, and becomes more like a gauntlet. Even when a dungeon is annoying it’s more because of a unique or interesting limitation such as the Magnet cave, or a certain late-game dungeon with a certain wall… ugh that one.
But what I think impresses me with Final Fantasy IV is how after you feel like you’ve been almost everywhere in the world… well you’re presented with a whole new area. And while this happens far later than I remember, you’re already probably 2/3rds of the way through the game… That was incredible. And of course, it might even happen a second time.
But when I think of these two worlds, the one that always interests me more is Final Fantasy VI. The reason is Final Fantasy IV’s world is amazing, but there doesn’t feel like there’s anything outside of what was needed for the story. Compare that to Final Fantasy VI which has players exploring larger areas, and even returning to the same area to discover a new experience. Even something that sounds as simple as a phantom forest has a large massive dungeon hiding inside it, and the uniqueness of some of those locations are hard to deny.
But each location usually has a purpose and in RPGs, dungeons usually have something special. That’s right, we’re going to be talking about…
Final Fantasy IV surprised me while I replayed it. While every dungeon and the gameplay in the game is so well executed, I also couldn’t help but notice how every boss was unique. Let me show the first example.
The Mist Dragon, for instance, is the first boss players can fight, however at points during the battle, the Mist dragon turns into … well Mist, and if you attack it will counterattack, and if you’re not paying attention that’s pretty nasty damage.
The thing is every boss has a special ability like this, such as the Mom Bomb, which transforms from a small bomb to a large bomb, and then explodes and appears as six bombs that need to be taken out quickly. This is a mechanic that is mostly used for this fight.
Every boss has a unique mechanic and that makes me impressed because so many other Final Fantasy games are still unable to pull this off. It’s probably impossible in most others since the parties aren’t rigidly enforced. In Final Fantasy 1 players could choose a no-magic or only-magic party and if that’s their choice, you couldn’t design a boss that requires a special technique to beat.
So in this, I think Final Fantasy IV stands out as something special. So what does Final Fantasy VI do?
Well, let’s just start and say the bosses in Final Fantasy VI are far more colorful. Ultros has the most personality of the Final Fantasy VI enemies, and that’s great, he’s a perfect enemy to fight in the early game. He’s just kind of easy.
Kefka also has a lot of personalities, but he mostly flees battles, and actually, that’s kind of the problem. Where Final Fantasy IV’s bosses selection all stood out, I’ve pretty much mentioned the most memorable bosses, well except for a train that you can suplex if you are MAN enough… and remember the button combination.
But none of them are really that hard or deep. Even the hardest boss, Atma Weapon, I’m using the original translation’s name, doesn’t stand out that much. As I said, one of the problems is you rarely can guarantee a specific character is at a party. Even when one is, such as Celes fighting the Tunnel Armor, the mechanic at the core of the battle, can be ignored and enemies can be just beaten down traditionally.
As a side note, I actually didn’t power-level at all when playing through most of Final Fantasy VI, the bosses were just relatively easy.
The thing is, I feel like the final boss, and some of the bosses in Final Fantasy VI stand out… But I’d be lying if I said Final Fantasy IV’s bosses were worse in any way. The fact that each boss stands out in any RPG is impressive, and so I have to give this to Final Fantasy IV.
Which shocks me. With all five categories given. Final Fantasy VI stands with characters and a better world map, but Final Fantasy IV does have a better story, better combat, and better Bosses…
Coming into this video I’d say Final Fantasy VI is the better game, but I guess I just proved it’s not. All hail the new king… <music from final fantasy IV>
Except I’m not done. Here’s the thing I want to be analytical about these comparisons and I am… but I’ve spent at least twenty hours, probably closer to thirty playing both of these titles. And I still like Final Fantasy VI more, I always have, the characters have meant more to me, the final boss is someone I truly love taking down every time, and I love the esper system even if it’s weaker.
But there’s one other thing I think Final Fantasy VI has… that’s right we’re going to a sixth round.
You can call this whatever you want, replayability, end-game content, collectibles, missable, whatever.
The fact is Final Fantasy IV kind of does have this. If you and I play Final Fantasy IV we get a similar story, and while there are a few optional items or encounters in the game, there’s nothing that important that you can miss. Even cutscenes are pretty hard to miss the important ones. And I’m sure people will bring up one-offs but it’s not the same.
On the other hand, it’s rather easy to miss pieces of Final Fantasy VI. I’ve played this game multiple times but in this playthrough, I chose to go to the left instead of the right on the phantom train and missed a location.
There are several enemies that players may never encounter, and while that’s only a bestiary entry in most titles, in Final Fantasy VI it also means the Gau will never be able to encounter those enemies and get their Rage abilities, which for a completionist may be annoying.
There are also choices where players can choose an awesome weapon and an esper that teaches a one-of-a-kind magic ability. The answer is the magic ability, but part of me loves that choice because it tempts me.
And then there’s the optional content that you may or may not see on each playthrough which only means players might feel compelled to play the game a second or third time, I know I have. And in an era without Youtube, you’d probably still be able to find new pieces of the games even replaying them over and over. Even rumors about how to save certain characters persisted because… maybe it was possible, I mean there’s so much optional content.
This does extend to the end-game content, which is also why I tend to play this game for forty hours or more. And that’s not even trying to get every Gau Rage or Strago Lore abilities… Granted I did abuse a little frame skip but the point is this is a game that will let you sink far more hours into it, and even may require a replay depending on what you are looking for.
So maybe Final Fantasy VI is the better game…
But I still feel wrong, You see, Final Fantasy IV was the first Super Nintendo Final Fantasy, it wasn’t intending to be the biggest and best, it wanted to tell a solid narrative on a better system, and did it better than most, potentially even better than Final Fantasy VI that came out years later.
That story is still amazing after all these years all those cutscenes sell the experience. You’re part of the story, rather than just watching someone else play it out.
But then again Final Fantasy VI is a game I gladly play for almost double the amount of time, and part of me wants to go chase the full completion that I miss almost every time. It’s a game that just feels like it could be infinitely replayable.
We’re tied up after six rounds, so we probably need a tiebreaker. Yet I don’t think we do.
Yet I don’t think we do.
The real magic of both of these titles is that they both do amazing things that show why the 16-bit era was a time of change for the RPG genre, but they also show different things.
If you want an epic story with the core characters shining and all of them evolving into heroes and heroines, Final Fantasy IV is the way to go.
But if you prefer a more colorful cast, want an ensemble story with more intrigue, and want to chase that optional content, that’s an easy choice. Final Fantasy VI every single time.
So really the tiebreaker\ is what you, the player, really want and the fact is, this can change each time you pick up one of the titles.
At the end of the day, they’re so different that neither title is truly better, but also neither is worse, which is strange because they’re literally on the same system, from the same company, and with very similar teams. There’s a reason I chose to replay both of these titles, and sure, making a video was always an interest, but I also got to play two of my favorite games in one of their best formats so you really can’t go wrong with either title. Also retroachievements.
And as a confession, I never played the Final Fantasy IV sequel or the interlude, but you know. Enjoying both of these titles makes me wonder if It’s time I make that change.
So that’s what I have, maybe a weak ending for a head-to-head battle, and like I said, I Still prefer Final Fantasy VI but this video has made me appreciate Final Fantasy IV, So let me know down in the comments which is your favorite.
I did miss out on a few pieces that I didn’t know where to put them. Relm’s sketch glitch,, which actually made me return my first copy of Final Fantasy 3 because I thought it was broken. You spoony bard, which is still a classic line. The turbo button on the river for leveling, the fact Rydia, Palom, and Porom all are VASTLY underage to take into battle, like what the frig, Cecil. But at least he didn’t hit on them like a certain other king. , but you know most of this is stuff you really should discover on your own if you haven’t, even if you have played both of these titles, why not give them a second playthrough I think I’ve proven both titles are worth it.
With that said, thanks for watching this far, if you enjoyed this video consider subscribing and ringing that bell. Throwing a like would help me out of course, e, and also share this video with others, let’s convert people who think differently than you.
Let me ask what you think I should compare in a head-to-head next? I’m open to suggestions, I know a lot of people said Binding of Isaac, and I’m a bit scared to do a deep dive into that game, but who knows?
Playing through huge titles takes a lot of time, so I’m working with my schedule and seeing what’s the best way to keep making great videos for everyone, but I’m back to it.
And I also promise I’m not going to go do 18 months of Game Pass videos before the versus… yeah that was a huge detour, maybe even a mistake, but here are two more videos if you want to check out more and consider hanging out on Discord with me, it’s a great place just to be yourself, whoever you are. The link is on the screen, or in the description.
See you next time.