Friday, February 10, 2012

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 16

Today's moment is sort of a video gaming classic. It comes from the fantastic Final Fantasy VI. Even if you haven't played the game, you've probably heard of this part, or seen it referenced. It's not really any kind of spoiler, but I'll hide it behind a jump, anyway, because that's just how I roll.

I really fought hard to not include this one. I tried to make a mental case for leaving it off, based on how overrated it was. It does introduce the airship, which opens a lot of stuff up, but the Opera itself doesn't really move the plot that much, the character it introduces (Setzer, the airship's owner) is a minor character, and the player doesn't really have that much to do in the actual scene.

Then I started remembering the scene. Here was one of the first times I'd been treated to something with the grandeur and majestic sweep of cinema. It spoke to what video games could do in a storytelling aspect, as well as showing that cutscenes didn't have to be simply "point a to point b" action fill-ins.

...and that fight with Ultros. It wasn't that much of a fight, and he was mostly a comic relief bad guy, anyway, but the time limit put a nice sense of ungency into everything, and the part where the gang falls to the stage and gets caught up in the fight is a lot of fun.

Sup, Ultros.
...and that music. Nobuo Uematsu always made great music, but in terms of fitting a scene, I don't think he ever topped this.

The more I thought about it, the higher the Opera scene rose on the list. I think right about here is a pretty decent spot for it. I had intended on leaving it off entirely, but found that it struck a lot more of a chord with me than I had originally realized. It's a great portion of a great game that deserves all the love it's gotten over the years.


  1. I love the Opera House. The Phantom Train was the first part of the game that made me think I was playing something special, but this part blew me away. The story, the music, the fights. Just perfect.

  2. Setzer is a "minor" character? The game treats him like one of the top 4-6 at the very lowest (and there are 14). He has a powerful (and unskippable) backstory and it's insinuated that he's the main character's love interest.

    I saw the Final Fantasy symphony (Distant Worlds, I think it was called) and they did the entire Opera House segment, with expanded lyrics for the three singing characters. It was pretty thrilling.

    1. In order of story, it probably goes something like this:


      I would posit that Terra is the major character, or at least the focal point of the game's story.

  3. Obviously I would too (since I said as much). There's a strong divide after the first seven. Shadow...ugh. The too-vague backstory, the stupid's lame. Plus, in a 40-hour game, insinuation is a little too little. Just pay off the story. The player wants to see Relm meet her father.

    1. ugh, right. I did kind of like the fact you could accidentally kill off Shadow for the second half and not get the resolution. But for those who did everything (save him, see all the dreams) and to still not get the payoff seems like a cheat.

      Man, the second half. Was any story really paid off other than Cyan? I suppose Locke's was paid off. Gau maybe?

    2. Yeah, it really feels like the last five pages of the script were trashed or something.