Hello there! The first song of this series that I’m discussing is the opener, Omen. In the future, I will attempt to find videos, like this one, where the song is playing in it’s so I don’t have to describe the details as much. I will now try to explain why I think this is one of the best openings to a game ever created.
In this situation, the intro gives you a (much watered down) premise of the game like I did in my last post, but in the form of narration. It also, since it is a video, gives context, so I don’t have to do that either!
The Music and Art
I’m going to discuss both of these at once, because in this case specifically, I find they blend so well and need to be discussed at once.
The game starts with a very ominous sounding organ, slowly adding note on top of note creating a continually growingly ominous sound and as the title appears we reach the climax of the chord. As we hear this we get to see the also very ominous dark storming clouds in the back. No one would want to be stuck in this storm. This is a great opening statement to this game. It pretty much sums up the premise just as much as the text that follows does. The ominous organ and storm also portray an evil that is already present, and growing, storming over everything that can be seen. It’s first victim: The small mining town of Neshe that can be seen in the mountain as the screen pans down from the title (this is such a perfect flow from storm, to title, to town, all being part of the same image). However, once we have our first moments with the title, the music starts to change, conflicting with the ominous storm. It suddenly goes from organ, to harp, as if to introduce a new character shrouded in mystery and bringing hope by standing against the evil still seen in the storm. Well that sure seems to some up the beginning of the game pretty well, and without actually showing a single character. The harp can easily be placed with Terra, the first character and who I find is the main protagonist of the game. She seems to bring hope with her everywhere she goes, but in the form of the mystery of her own powers. The harp finishes it’s small melody, as a chime interrupts the previous melody and visuals bringing us to what looks like a bridge on top of a mountain facing another mountain (looks very similar to the mountain Neshe was inside that we saw moments before). The visuals are just continually panning images of different locations, giving us an better idea of the world we are about to experience. We see the town of Neshe and how dark and depressing it looks. We see the Empire’s capitol which is strikingly different from Neshe, with the towering building seen built solely out of metal standing there looking about as menacing as it can get (this fits the Empire we know so far very well don’t you think?). Then we see what looks very close to the first image we saw of the mountain looking across to the other one (this is the same location just slightly to the left of what was seen before). Finally three important-looking characters appear on the screen clad in giant machinery (this is the Magitek Armor). The music of this last section is pretty similar to the Gestahl Empire (a theme which both goes to describe Gestahl and his Empire at once. I will go into detail on it later), but it doesn’t sound like a conclusive statement by starting off with the evil sounding theme that seems to describe the empire, leading to hopefulness we heard before but in the form of heroic sounding horns and peaceful sounding strings. Both of these melodies sound like they should: not knowing much, but describing what we do know now. There’s the evil Empire, and a hero(s) emerging.
Back to our first characters. Moments before we see them, the music stops, and all we hear is wind, as if to say “Hey! Stop listening to the awesome music and pay attention to the important story development we are about to show you in the form of characters talking to each other!” (WARNING!! A lot of the text here is translated differently from Japanese to English. This game was released as Final Fantasy III in America, because originally we did not get Final Fantasy II, III, or V in America. I will try to make sure to clarify the translation differences, as I will be going off the SNES American Final Fantasy III version. This intro is from the Game Boy Advance version that was released later as Final Fantasy VI, once Square decided to give America all the Final Fantasys. Dang it Square…) From the talking we learn that there are two soldiers and a girl who seems to have mysterious and extraordinary magic powers (also that a magic user is VERY rare). SPOILER ALERT! It’s Terra. Anyway, the soldiers don’t seem to know all that much, and seem to just be blindly going on this mission to attack a town (Neshe), and find the Phantom Beast (Esper) thats been frozen since the Great Demon War (The War of the Magi) that is supposedly there. We can already see how the Empire really doesn’t care how they get their power, they just get what they want. They aren’t even a hundred percent sure the Esper really is there, but they couldn’t care less about the town anyway. We also learn that whoever this mysterious girl (No seriously, it’s Terra) is, she isn’t their from choice, she has some circlet that forces her to do whatever she’s told. Our hero-to-be starts off already being under the control of the empire just showing how much control they really have from the start. The soldiers state their plan of attack on the city, then begin their march to the city.
This part is genius. Pre-game credits, the three known characters marching toward a city in a 3rd person sort of view. At first all we see is a horizon of more and more snow, but soon the town of Neshe can be seen in the distance. Once it’s fully in view, the intro cuts off, showing us where we start. The music starts up as soon as we go into this view, and while we don’t know it yet, we hear Terra’s theme
(I will go into more detail later on it once we get to the theme again). Thinking to my self on this part, all that’s going through my head is, THAT IS SO COOL! It’s like a foreshadowing of the character in the form of music. We don’t even know who she really is at this point, and we definitely don’t know it’s her theme playing. Terra’s theme is already very fitting for a long march to a city that is shown here (it fits very well for her character as well, which I will explain later), and her theme also has the perfect amount of mystery fitting into it for the beginning of this game as well. This version of Terra’s theme sounds a lot less developed, with good reason, and has a section that is completely different. In the real Terra’s theme, there is a section that shows how she is a hero, and how much hope she really does bring. Well in this version the music goes into what sounds like more ominous evil music and it really starts right as we can really see the town of Neshe in the distance. This is another moment where I kind of just freak out about how cool this really is to me. Of course there isn’t the “heroic” section of Terra’s theme right now, she’s under the control of the evil Empire! She’s technically on their side right now. It just shows the terrible event that is about to take place under her hands (unwillingly under the control of the Empire), by starting the evil sounding music as we see the victim (Neshe).
A Look Into The Future
We get two pieces of music before the next persons theme, and the next thing I’m going to discuss, and while they aren’t bad at all, they just don’t have as much to discuss. They both fit their parts very well. One describing the mystery of “the “Mines of Neshe“, the other as works as great music for Terra’s “Awakening“. Just a quick cool thing about Awakening is it also uses Terra’s theme, but in the form of Harp and at the high end of the range. It shows how very weak she is right now and she really doesn’t know what to do, or who she truly is.
As for the story, the two soldiers (we learn are named Vicks, and Wedge) and Terra attack the town, utterly destroying all who stand in their way. The best and most well thought out part by the creators about this, is that the player controls the bad guys here. It gives you the sense of how powerful the Empire is, and why they want to be that powerful. I mean, it’s kind of fun having this much power from the start of a game, right? However, It also gives you reason, from the start, to hate the Empire. You mercilessly kill all these soldiers and what seem to be military pets, who really did nothing at all and only want to defend their hometown, and don’t stand a chance at all. This is a terrible event caused by the empire, and the player is the one doing it with no choice just like Terra (or ????? as seen in the beginning of the game because we don’t learn who she is till later.) has none. We also learn that Vicks, and Wedge are nothing more than Red Shirts.
Quick gamer thing that I can’t write this without saying is this game, unlike almost every modern game, does a wonderful job at throwing you into the gameplay. You have enough power from the start that you don’t really have to worry about it being super difficult as you get a hold of the ropes, but it doesn’t tell you what every little control is. The player has to figure it out! As they should! The first time it really helps you at all is when the soldier Vicks tells you that there’s strategy in this game you have to figure out by yourself! The first boss, Whelk (Gruuuuu!!!) the snail, has an ability that can suck up lightning and stores the energy to use it on you (so basically once he goes into his shell you don’t attack him, because all that you attack with comes back to you twofold), and Vicks tells you to “Hold up!” and that he heard that he remembered in their briefing that is has this ability. It’s a great way to jab a little more strategy at you early on, and it doesn’t feel synthetic at all.
That’s it for this post! Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I do writing it.