The 1990’s was a good year for videogames, during the fabled “16-bit era,” when the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis competed for domination of the market.

In those days, some of the best RPG’s (role-playing games) came on the scene, though they were not as popular as they have become in recent years.  Nevertheless, gamers of that decade have fond memories of some of the most excellent games ever produced.  One such example is Final Fantasay VI (originally Final Fantasy III when it came out, before it was re-numbered).

Like other RPGs of the day, Final Fantasay VI is a huge game, spanning several hours of dungeons, leveling up, turn-based battling, and a epic storytelling that would put some novels to shame.  It is the story-telling portion of the game that I want to focus on in this entry.  There are 14 main characters (kinda like an ensemble cast), each one with his or her own subplot that plays out throughout the course of the game.

Just to give you a quick idea of the measure of this game, I’m about to describe what is known as the “Opera Scene.”  Not wanting to inundate you with a lot of unnecessary backstory, I’m going to provide some quick context and then describe this plot, which is a rather small portion of the over-arching story:

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In order to invade the evil tyrannical empire Ghestal, the group of heroes needs a flying ship.  They come across an opera house, and the opening day for “Draco & Maria” is approaching.  But the lead female singer has received a note from an admirer, a pirate named Setzer, who has threatened to kidnap her during the function.  In order to protect Maria but also to contact Setzer, whose flying ship will prove useful to invade Ghestal, the group volunteers Celes, who has an uncanny resemblance to the singer, to take her place in the opera.  Celes reluctantly agrees, and halfway through the show, Setzer appears and kidnaps her, while her friends stow away aboard the flying ship.

Setzer is not fooled and sees through the ruse, but eventually agrees to help the heroes.  In a memorable line, Setzer, who is a gambler, throws a coin at their feet and says, “My life is a chip in your pile.  Ante up!”

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That’s the basic premise.  Now, I am of the persuasion that this plan would’ve failed if it wasn’t for one thing:  Celes’ feelings for one of the main characters, Locke.  Locke rescues Celes when she was about to be executed.  She was a former general for the Ghestal empire, but she betrays her orders and became an enemy of the empire.  She is not a sweet, sappy girl, yet she was thrown into a plan that required her to bear her heart out.  “Draco & Maria” has a song titled “Aria di Mezzo Carattere” (or Air of Half Character, translated from Italian).  The character Maria expresses her sorrow at the thought of having to marry a man she is not in love with, especially when she is in love with someone else.  So for Celes to be sufficiently convincing to her audience for this kind of emotional moment, I believe she had to tap into her personal feelings for Locke, who saved her from certain death.

The song itself is a great composition.  After this point in the story, a rearrangement of Aria di Mezzo Carattere, simply known as Celes’ Theme, plays when Celes is the main focus of the plot, especially during the latter part of the game.

Now, keep in mind that I’m talking about a 13-year-old game for a very old console.  I think that’s rather amazing.