I can’t help but to love fan-made video game books. They are purely works of passion, created by people who absolutely loves the games they’re writing about. Third Editions is a relatively new game books publishing house, giving a number of writers a new platform to write their dream book and market it to the world. Third Editions has a number of interesting books already under its belt, including offerings about Bioshock and Metal Gear Solid, but today we’re taking a look at one of the books from the company’s RPG collection: The Legend of Final Fantasy VI.
If I needed to describe The Legend of Final Fantasy VI in one word, it’d be ‘encyclopedia’. This title is jammed pack with information on the classic game, and is mostly presented in an unbiased, informative matter. While there are sections that the author uses to speculate on themes or other parts of the game, these are pretty limited and the majority of the book is focused on giving the reader cold, hard facts. It’s a stark contrast to the offerings from another game book publishing company, Boss Fight Books, which hones in on the author's personal experiences with the games they write about.
There’s a lot of merit to this, however. The gaming industry certainly needs more people and companies that care about preserving the history of the medium, and online resources are not always going to be accurate, or can be lost in an instant. On top of that, sometimes it’s just nice to curl up with a book and read about your favorite games in more detail.
Before going into the content of The Legend of Final Fantasy VI itself, though, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the physical book. Unlike far too many gaming books, the quality of the materials used to make the book are very good. The paper is nice and thick, and is not liable for easy tears, and the book itself is a hard cover, so you can’t accidentally bend the whole thing if you place it in a bag. There’s also a small ribbon to use for a bookmark, which is a nice little touch. When I received this book in the mail, I was impressed with how nice the book looked and felt, and even though I’ve mostly turned to my Kindle for reading materials nowadays, the physical edition is well worth the extra cost.
For the book itself, The Legend of Final Fantasy VI is separated into seven distinct chapters, which with a specific theme, making it easy to jump around the book as needed. Granted, it’s also well worth reading the book from cover to cover, so I would only recommend jumping around once you’ve completed the book.
For the first chapter, The Legend of Final Fantasy VI starts off with an in-depth story overview. It’s a little different from most summaries you’d expect, though, as it’s written in a more storybook format, as if the author decided to tell this story to someone that has never heard of the game before. It’s novel, but I found this the weakest chapter of the book. The story synopsis is not a small part of the book, and reading a flowery version of Final Fantasy VI’s plot is not the most inspiring start. Most people interested in this book are going to be fans of the series and game, after all, and while the storybook summary isn’t badly written, it didn’t feel like it was needed.
From there, though, I feel the content gets a bit better. The second chapter gives very in-depth character bios for every main character in the game, including interesting tidbits that fans may not know or have forgotten over the years. Chapter 3 gives information about the locations, races, and religious themes that are present in the game. This one was one of my favorites, as while I remembered all of the characters’ arcs through the years, the information about the world itself was something that I didn’t retain in my memory as well.
Chapter 4 gives the author the chance to really analyze the plot of Final Fantasy VI. Unlike most of the other chapters, this one is less of an information dump and more of the author’s opinion on how the plot of the classic title is portrayed, and where its inspirations may come from. It’s an interesting delve into what the author thinks of the game in broad terms, though it’s nothing like a straight review or personal account of their game experiences.
After this, the final three chapters move away from the plot and atmosphere of Final Fantasy VI and delve into the game’s development process and the creation of the iconic soundtrack. These go really in-depth about the people involved with creating Final Fantasy VI, and is packed full of tidbits you may not have known about the team and development process. I particularly enjoy these later chapters because the author makes an effort to gather information from the four corners of the Internet into one, easy to read spot, and makes for some extremely informative content.
If there’s one criticism I have to levy against the book in general, it’s the lack of paragraph breaks throughout most of the book. It’s one of those things you don’t really notice until its gone, but the big blocks of paragraphs, sometimes spanning several pages, made the text hard to follow at times. Oddly enough the chapters involving the game’s development were broken up into smaller paragraphs, almost as if a different person edited those chapters. It’s ultimately a small thing, but the large paragraphs were noticeable enough to become frustrating to read at points.
But despite that, and my general apathy towards the beginning storybook-equse plot summary, I did enjoy reading through The Legend of Final Fantasy VI. It’s a great resource of information about the game, and I’m excited to see how the format excels when it handles even more complicated plots, like Final Fantasy VII’s. It’s not perfect but it’s worth a look for any fan of Final Fantasy.