VGM Wednesdays – “Ending Theme” from Final Fantasy VI

by Kenley

“Ending Theme” from Square’s “Final Fantasy VI,”  released in 1994.

So, Final Fantasy VI was released on the PSN Store yesterday and the big question remains: Will I buy it for a fourth time?

Well, I have it for SNES, PS1 and GBA, so probably not… but few games have moved me as much as this one.  I owe so much of my youth and musical development to this game.  My understanding of leitmotifs, my passion for melody, the inklings of my understanding of orchestration… it all stems from MIDI files ripped from SPCs (the sound format of the SNES) and imported into MIDISoft Recording Studio, my awful early-90s sequencing software.

To me, this score (and game) is really the pinnacle of storytelling in video games.  Granted, I’m very nostalgic toward this 17-year old game, but maybe that’s okay.  When I first started this write-up, I wanted to start with “it’s a story about a young woman who is trying to find herself,” but that’s not really true: It’s a story about sixteen interconnected individuals who are all trying to conquer their own individual demons…

… And isn’t that all of our stories?

I mean, the woman down the street hasn’t had her memory erased by a sadistic dictator (like the game’s protagonist, Terra), but there may be those who are gambling their life away because they harbour guilt about hurting another human being (Setzer), working through sibling rivalry about the family business (Edgar and Sabin) or trying to build a relationship with their father (Gau).  The older I get, the more that I realize this game is really like the human condition, like how Battlestar Galactica isn’t really about space, but more about survival and what makes us human.  Like BSG, this game is a story of fighting all odds, but also realizing that the battle within ourselves is just as important as the one in the world around us and how critical it is that we find out what keeps us going in the world and how we can create something to live for.

I picked the “Ending Theme” because it goes through EVERY protagonistic character theme in the game.  At an amazing 21-abd-a-half minutes, this surpasses even what the cutting edge of VGM was doing at the time.  Also, there is something profoundly beautiful about a piece of VGM that doesn’t loop; but rather, has a fixed structure that moves from beginning to end.  I did a podcast episode about this and there is some solid analysis of the game and its score in the post.

Now that I’m writing this, maybe I should buy it again… Or at least, maybe you may want to thinking about it, reader!
Kenley

PS:

Two links that I love:

Perhaps the most in-depth article on the game that I’ve seen in a while…

Also, I want this in a picture frame SOOOOOO badly 🙂

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