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As society grows more politically correct over time, our culture gradually fades away and artistic integrity is further compromised. The video game medium is very young compared to other forms of art, and just as it was beginning finally hit its stride the world collectively lost its mind. Now there are some things that have become too taboo, or may result in compulsory sensitivity training.
Final Fantasy is no stranger to facing various forms of censorship over the years. Even during its time of release, Final Fantasy VI was forced to make alterations in order to be released on the Super Nintendo in the west (as Final Fantasy III). Despite those changes, the game the west got is still impressively dense with cheeky details that would likely cause immense controversy today.
As time goes on, sensibilities have unfortunately changed, and many would argue for the worse. Final Fantasy VI is an enduring work of art and depending on which version you play, there is still remnants of the kind of edgy and inspired creativity that SquareSoft fostered in the 1990s. Just what are the “bannable offenses” Final Fantasy VI commits by the modern standard?
Offender: Edgar Roni Figaro Loves the Ladies
Edgar, the King of Figaro, was an early party member that joins Locke and Terra’s adventure. His penchant for mechanical weapons like chainsaws and chemical throwers made him an asset in battle, but his way with women is what made him so memorable.
Today Edgar’s antics would get him metoo’d, and probably lose his title as king. He is a perverted elite ruler of a desert kingdom, and many feminists would probably consider this as some kind of patriarchal oppression on females, despite the fact he is considered a good king. Even as a boy, he would womanize his nannies, and it is played for laughs.
None of Edgar’s characterization would be permitted in a Square Enix game in the 2020s. In the eventual remake, it is pretty much a guarantee that his love of women would be scrubbed clean. What many critics fail to realize is that his constant hitting on women always ends in failure and he takes it in strides, because its meant to be a joke.
Through out the journey, the party meets many characters, and Edgar the casanova king meets a lot of women. Eventually, Relm the pictomancer joins the team and like clockwork, good ol’ Eddie makes his move. Only this time it is a little bit different, and would not ever happen in a game made today.
Relm is ten years old, the youngest female Edgar hits on in the game. Thankfully, even Edgar has his limits, but it must be said that 1994 SquareSoft had some heavy stones dangling to go for a joke like this on a Nintendo console.
Edgar does not take the jail bait, and instead makes an amusing comment how he is willing to wait eight years for her to fill out. This is then followed up by an incredibly dark gag about how lucky she will be if she manages to live long enough till then, due to the impending doom the world is facing at the hands of the big bad, Kefka.
There is a lot to Edgar as a character. He is very well developed, and his wannabe ladies-man persona is built up and paid-off with substantial emotional resonance. His interactions with his brother, Sabin, suggests that he never really wanted to be King, but took the responsibility out of duty.
None of the nuance would get recognized by the PC yakuza. This is a character that would never get past the drawing board stages, and the ethics department would guarantee that. If Edgar’s character were to exist today, he would undoubtedly be written as a villain. The powers that be would make him a ridiculous punching bag for their politics.
Offense: Celes Gets a Beating
Another crime that Final Fantasy VI commits is that it has the sand to show bad guys being bad. Celes is a powerful magic knight, and she is found imprisoned by her former unit. Her guards take a lot of umbrage with the fact she defects from the empire, so they take the opportunity to beat the pixels out of her.
This scene managed to get by unaltered in 1994 in the western release on the Super Nintendo. For some reason, this was too much for some people, and future versions got censored because of it. The empire’s ranks are supposed to be mostly evil- having them assault Celes made them seem more like a threat.
Apparently this sequence was too offensive for 2007, because the scene was altered for the Gameboy Advance port of Final Fantasy VI. This was even censored in Japan, some claiming it was due to a then-recent kidnapping incident. For a scene that has extremely abstract sprite characters that barely read as human, it is one of the most embarrassing cases of censorship for Square Enix.
Offender: Setzer Gabbiani Kidnaps a Woman and Tries to Force her to Marry Him
Between Edgar’s comments and Celes getting roughed up, Final Fantasy VI would be targeted with a “misogyny” label if it got released in the modern day. To add to this, Setzer the gambler party member also contributes with his kidnapping of an opera singer, who he obsesses over.
This story element would not be accepted by today’s “ethics department” for a joinable party member. Game journalists would have a heart attack if they knew about Setzer, what he does, how he basically gets away with it, and that none of the other characters seem to care.
Amusingly, when his plan does not work out; Setzer uses the opportunity to make a womanizing comment at the expense of Celes. He suggests that Celes is the more attractive woman. He is right.
Offender: Numerous Enemy Graphics
Apparently, Final Fantasy VI was too much for the west in 1994 too. There are many instances of censored sprites in the Super Nintendo version, when it was localized from the Super Famicom.
The original art features lots of cleavage and exposed naughty bits of the female form. It never looks natural, and always comes off as a very sloppy edit, making the art look worse. These are the least abstracted depictions of humans in the game, and it is apparent that there was great care into designing these sprites.
It is a shame, because the art in Final Fantasy VI is very classy. It looks like the kind of imagery seen in a fancy art museum. The fact that such sophisticated art had to be censored and would still be censored by today’s standards goes to show how far backwards culture has gone.
Despite all the attempts to censor sprites, one artist did manage to sneak in a set of breasts into the game. In Owzer’s mansion, there is an art gallery where one of the game’s graphic artists cleverly used a pair of lamps to create an illusion of a topless female. This kind of diabolical genius would never happen today, and the offending mastermind would probably face termination.
The mini SNES classic has the censored version of Final Fantasy VI (as Final Fantasy III). The rough PlayStation port of Final Fantasy VI does use the uncensored versions, but that game has other instances of censorship in other forms. There may never be a definitive version of this classic JRPG.
If you have copies of Final Fantasy VI in any form, it is probably best to hang on to them. It is a work of art, and over time it will face revisions, and eventually be remade. The remake won’t resemble the original at all, and will not have the same bite that SquareSoft had in 1994.
Final Fantasy VI is still a gutsy game by today’s standards, and it is full of content that would never get released now. What are some parts of Final Fantasy VI that you, the reader at home, believe that would be deemed “problematic” today?