Book Club: Final Fantasy VI, SIDE QUEST

Ben and Shana discuss their favorite Ends of the World, the world of balance(d games), the image of the Last Man on Earth and other video game apocalypses.

oti-book-club-590x590_NESBen Adams and Shana Mlawski take a two-hander on a Side Quest to the very ends of the Earth. After the tramautic events that lead us to the World  of Ruin, our Book Club has been scattered to the four winds, leaving only two intrepid podcasters.  So instead of tackling all of Week 5 (which is coming, never fear), join Ben and Shana for a discussion of their favorite Ends of the World, the world of balanced video games, the image of the Last Man on Earth and other video game apocalypses.


→ Download the Final Fantasy VI Podcast

Possible Episode Titles

  • “Kick the Tires and Light the Fires”
  • “Do we want to save the world? What’s the world done for us?”

The Overthinking It Book Club

The book club has always been an experiment to see if we, the worldwide community of Overthinkers, can have as much fun looking at a work of literature as we have when we talk about movies, TV shows, and music. Now, we’re taking that idea into a whole new medium, and turning our eyes to the world of interactive fiction – fancy talk for video games. Beginning the week of October 15, we’re going to spend a month and a half playing the RPG classic Final Fantasy VI, in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the game’s North American release.

Get The Game

If you have the game already, great! Time to dust off the SNES and get cracking. Otherwise, the game can be acquired for iOS and Android.


The Syllabus

We’ve divided the game into six roughly equal chunks. You’ll get the most out of the club if you have played through these sections by these dates:

The Forums

For our discussion, we’re going to use a special section in the Overthinking It Forums. Friday before each section begins, we’ll open up a forum for the coming week with some study questions to get our discussion started. As you play over the weekend, you can answer our questions in the week’s forum, start your own discussion topics there, and chime in on discussions that others have started. Everything up to and including the week’s section of the game is fair game for discussion—but if you’ve played ahead, no spoilers for what is to come! (We’ll open up a “all-game” thread for those.)


The Podcast

Sometime mid-week, we’ll release a podcast where a panel of Overthinking It writers and guests will talk about the game. We’ll talk over the week’s gameplay, address some of the study questions, and highlight our favorite discussions from the forums.

4 Comments on “Book Club: Final Fantasy VI, SIDE QUEST”

  1. Stokes OTI Staff #

    So Shana, when you say you feel good about giving Cid the rotten fish, do you mean you actually felt GOOD doing it? (In the same way that you feel good about, say, sleeping at an inn with Shadow so that you can get one of the dreams?) Or is it more like you grit your teeth and say “This kind of makes me feel bad… but not for a good reason. Because it’s just a story. And I want the best story, so I can live with it. I can live with it.”


    • Shana Mlawski OTI Staff #

      And if I had to do it all over again, I would. Garak was right about one thing: a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the integrity of a narrative.


      • Stokes OTI Staff #

        I would feel guilty about not flipping the turtle over if it was a real turtle. But IIIIT’S AAAA FAAAAAAAAKE!


  2. Three Act Destructure #

    Excellent episode! Having only played part of this game two decades ago, I’m really surprised about how experimental it is with narrative and interactivity.

    Which leads me to a nit I’ve got to pick in regards to that Old Yeller example. Is any element of a story truly sacrosanct during the process of adaptation, especially into an interactive medium? We already have some examples of video games playing fast and loose with both the details and the intent of source material in everything from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed to Scarface: The World Is Yours and The Godfather. After Scarface especially, it’s not difficult to imagine a game in which Old Yeller survives his gun wound and is modified by an experimental veterinary procedure into a wolf-exterminating cyborg which has to collect “Yeller points” to upgrade his tracking missiles.

    Final Fantasy VI also plays with the idea of the needs of story as we view it and story as we play it. Earlier weeks have brought up the difference between character portraits and sprites and the opera scene contains a wealth of interpretations based on how much of it we accept as existing solely to serve the needs of the gameplay.

    Final Fantasy VII even had a similar progression in the opposite order with Advent Children. Another adaptation that starts from the end of the original story and then moves forward from there. I wonder if there was ever a discussion during development about whether or not the “true” Cloud had twiggy, paintbrush-shaped arms?

    This also reflects back on Shana’s comments regarding a “good” moral choice vs. a good narrative. Is change during adaptation really always a necessary evil? Or is it like choice during a video game and can and should be used to find what an artist believes to be a more acceptable or more interesting alternative to what the original creator has suggested?


Add a Comment