The Blitz of Final Fantasy 6
It's hailed as one of the greatest video games of all time, and considered by many to be the greatest role playing game ever, Final Fantasy 6 on the Super Nintendo set the bar incredibly high for all games moving forward. A varied cast of characters, an interesting plot, a fun battle system, gorgeous art, and a memorable villain made it so that the sixth installment of the long running Final Fantasy series was a legendary one, and made gamers use it as a measuring stick for all other Final Fantasy games of the future. One of the most intriguing things about the game to me though, is that somehow the creators of the game, Squaresoft, slipped another genre into the Japanese role playing game.
When you first meet Sabin, it's when he comes to your rescue, as you travel through Mount Koltz. Master Duncan's foolish son and pupil Vargas decides to get his pet bears to maul you, just because he's the kind of creep who also pushes his father off a cliff, I suppose. Regardless, Sabin jumps in, has a few words with Vargas, and pummels him to death. What most didn't realize at this point, was that Squaresoft had just given us a pinch of another video game genre, and one that's nearly the complete opposite of a role playing game, and that's a fighting game.
The martial artist Sabin, who gave up the throne of Figaro to his brother Edgar, has a special battle command called Blitz. Most all characters in the game have some special function they perform in battle that sets them apart from the others. While his twin Edgar uses special gadgets with the Tool command, and the feral child Gau can use Rage to imitate the attacks of monsters, Sabin can instead use fighting techniques with Blitz. The most strange thing though, is rather than just choosing a move and then spamming the button, you're instead forced to enter a series of moves, much in the same vein of a Street Fighter of King of Fighters game. Forward, back forward allows Sabin to use Pummel, where he strikes the foe with a flurry of blows; and a quarter circle forward has Sabin gather up his ki to fire it as a bolt of radiant energy. From techniques where Sabin uses life energy to restore the status of his comrades, to unleashing a wave of searing hot power, the former prince has a plethora of power.
One of the most exciting moments of Final Fantasy 6 to me, is when Sabin, Cyan, and Shadow are fleeing imperial forces, and they're forced to go through a haunted forest. As fate would have it, they accidentally board an old, spooky train, which turns out to be the Phantom Train, which ferries the souls of the dead to the underworld. In their attempt to get off the vessel, the three of them are forced to fight against the malevolent locomotive, as it chases after them. If you can enter in the most important commands of the game: X, Y, down, up, then you can unleash Suplex. Suplex is a move where Sabin grabs the foe, jumps into the air with it, and then brings it crashing down. That's right: Sabin can suplex a train. The entire Phantom Train! He just lifts it up, hops into the air and comes crashing down. Ryu and Terry Bogard might be strong, but I think even they'd be hesitant to fight a guy who throws trains around.
While the Blitz techniques certainly don't require a lot of speed to use, Squaresoft still somehow slipped in a conflicting genre of game into one of the most beloved classics in Japanese role playing game history. Recently, I just finished up a long play of Final Fantasy 6 over at Gamezilla Media on YouTube where I played through the entire game, through a series of videos, narrating the game in full with different voices, and Sabin's might have been one of my favorites. Just don't judge me for being bad at fighting games because I couldn't pull Air Blade off to save my life.