The sixth entry into the testicle-explodingly popularFinal Fantasy series, and the third and final 16-bit entry of the series. Popular gaming site IGN ranked Final Fantasy VI as the #1 Final Fantasy game as well as the #1 RPG of all time. Final Fantasy VI has also made countless top 10 Games of All Time lists. It was even one of the featured covers of Game Informer's 200th issue. The game was originally marketed outside Japan as Final Fantasy III, because only the first and fourth games had been marketed internationally at the time.The story takes place in a world where, one thousand years ago, a war between three deities devastated the world. During this "War of the Magi", the Warring Triad of deities turned many humans into Espers - entities endowed with innate magical powers - who then shared their magic with humans in an effort to recruit more soldiers for the war effort. You can guess the rest. At the war's conclusion, the three deities of the Triad sealed themselves and their powers away in the interest of preventing a second War of the Magi, which would destroy everything this time around. The remaining Espers joined the Triad, while the few remaining magically-gifted humans were persecuted and hunted into extinction. As a result, magic was lost to human civilization.In the present day, human civilization has rebuilt itself with the aid of technology, and magic is known only as myth and legend. Unhappily for freedom, Emperor Gestahl of the southern continent believes the legends; he's nabbing and dissecting Espers left and right, using them as basis for a new technology — the fusion of machinery and magic known as Magitek. He's backing three lieutenants to help spearhead his war: brave general Leo Cristophe, conflicted general Celes Chere, and mincing diplomat / gofer Kefka Palazzo. (You needn't worry about that last one, he's no threat.)Standing in the Empire's way is a ragtag resistance consisting of a thief (err, treasure hunter), an absentee king and his twin brother, a ninja, a samurai, two children, a gambler, some animals, an old mage, a mime, and — most importantly — a frightened young woman with no memory and unexplainable powers at the center of it all.With fourteen playable characters, Final Fantasy VI boasted one of the largest rosters of any RPG at the time (which to this day holds the record among the main series Final Fantasy games for most playable characters) — and provided nearly all of them with unique spotlights in the plot, to boot.The main characters are:
Like Final Fantasy IV, the game was subject to Nintendo's censorship — but it still managed to be the most serious entry in the franchise to date, and possibly the first that moved players to tears. However, like all Final Fantasy games, it's not without its moments of goofiness. The original English translation was done by Ted Woolsey, and is widely regarded by fans as one of the best translations of the 16-bit era... if not necessarily the most faithful (Woolsey himself was the Trope Namer for Woolseyism, after all).Originally released on the Super Nintendo, Final Fantasy VI has been ported twice since then (using the original title). The first port was on the PlayStation; this one added a number of CGI cutscenes throughout the game, though it made no other alterations (aside from severe slowdown and sound emulation issues). The other port was on the Game Boy Advance and was much more technically competent; while it had no additional cutscenes, it included new dungeons, gear, and Espers, as well as a new translation (the PS1 port recycled Woolsey's script) that was more faithful to the original script while retaining many of Woolsey's original lines and all of his name changes, as well as uncensoring it for all regions where it was previously censored. The GBA port also fixed many bugs, rebalanced the battle system, made the graphics much easier on the eyes and featured slightly remixed music (which is a source of contention for some fans). The SNES version has been re-released on the Virtual Console in Japan, Europe, and North America, and the PlayStation port is available on the PlayStation Store.
For tropes related to the Characters, go to the Character Sheet. New character trope examples should go there too.
A.I. Roulette: Damned Colosseum AI. It's worse when you've been training a character with Espers, because each spell is another option your character could randomly choose. Gogo and Umaro can forgo this, because Umaro always attacks and Gogo's action menu can be customized.
Should be noted that since Setzer and Shadow won't use their special commands under AI control, if you're careful with what (if any) spells you teach them, one or both can be turned into reliable Coliseum warriors who will only Fight/Jump depending on what gear you've given them. Try putting Espers on them only when they're about to level.
All-Natural Gem Polish: Magicite stones are shaped like rupees, reflecting the crystal theme of the series. In Dissidia, the magicite Terra finds is more slightly more abstract.
An Aesop: Your life doesn't have to have some grand impact on the world to be worth something, just having love and friendship and the will to continue living and look for them make it special and worth protecting.
Anti-Climax: The Warring Triad are supposed to be the source of all magic. The party is forced to fight them in order to reach Kefka, and the party members express confusion when they discover that they are not load-bearing bosses and killing them has had no effect on magic. It turns out Kefka drained enough of their power to be able to sustain magic on his own.
Apocalypse How: Planetary Societal Collapse, with a risk of Total Extinction if left unchecked. At the beginning of the World of Ruin, Cid says that the world itself is slowly dying, as if plants and animals have lost the will to live, and while most of the towns still exist, a few have been wiped out and the surviving towns are much less populous. Then the party pisses Kefka off even more, and he decides to screw it and go for annihilating the universe.
Apocalypse Wow: The creation of the World of Ruin, which also includes an apocalypse montage.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: This is the first Final Fantasy that allows the player to form a party from whatever characters are available, instead of having the plot shuffle them around. It becomes most noticeable on the Floating Continent, where you're only allowed to bring three characters instead of the usual four with no explanation. True, it's so that you have room for Shadow and, later, Celes, if you didn't bring her to begin with, but it's still a little jarring.
Aristocrats Are Evil: The nameless blueblood who lives in the mansion in South Figaro is responsible for giving the Empire vital information in exchange for money, thus allowing them to take over the city. Speaking to him later as Locke during the city's occupation reveals he regrets his decision. Much later on in Jidoor, however, the citizens actually went so far as to remove the entire lower class from their city, likely by force, and they find the world's destruction as being nothing more than a concept to make art about.
Armor of Invincibility: The Paladin Shield, which gives very, very good bonuses, and immunities on top of the already high defense. Have fun uncursing it from the Cursed Shield by fighting 256 times with it equipped, which is the worst shield in the game with lots of negative status changes.
The Snow Scarf has a defense rating of 128. For a point of comparison, the Behemoth Suit has the second-highest armor rating aside from the Reed Cloak (see below under Imp Equipment) and has a defense rating of only 96. Unfortunately it's exclusive to Mog, Gau and Umaro. Gau and Mog are Difficult, But AwesomeLethal Joke Characters, and Umaro is balanced out by poor usefulness otherwise.
The Minerva Bustier, Behemoth Suit, Red Jacket, Cat-Ear Hood, and as always the Genji equipment, have excellent defensive benefits and also give nice boosts to basic stats.
The Imp Equipment set will max out all defenses, but their scores only take effect on an Imped character, making it an Awesome, but Impractical set of gear.
Auction: You can participate in the auctions held at Jidoor's Auction House to get Magicite and relics, although there are also a couple of items that you will never be able to purchase.
Audience Murmurs: When the Opera gets derailed with the unforeseen entry of Ultros, Locke & co.
Autobots, Rock Out!: Most of the Dancing Mad remixes, both official and by fans, uses the guitar through out the track and adds a additional guitar solo segment in the (relatively) peaceful part of the 4th Movement.
Awesome, but Impractical: Meltdown, Quake, Whirlwind and the Crusader esper do great damage, but hit your own characters as well. Meltdown and Quake can be avoided with specific character builds.
Awesome Yet Practical: The Miracle Shoes relic gives a character automatic Shell, Protect, Haste and Regen statuses, while the Econimizer reduces the MP cost of all spells to 1. The only catch with both of them is acquiring them in bulk, but it's worth it to give most of the cast one or both of them.
Sabin's Phantom Rush. Easy to acquire, easy to input (once you learn the trick to Blitz commands explanation
rather than putting the diagonal command you can put the prior compass directional command a second time
). Guarenteed to outdamage any other ability from any other character when you first get it, and with a pair of Earrings or two and some level up bonuses from Magic enhancing Espers, will quickly hit the damage cap.
III Atma Weapon: "My name is Atma... I am pure energy... and as ancient as the cosmos. Feeble creatures, GO!"
III Atma: "I'm Atma... Left here since birth... Forgotten in the river of time... I've had an eternity to... Ponder the meaning of things... And now I have an answer..."
VI Ultima Weapon: "My name is Ultima... I am power both ancient and unrivaled... I do not bleed, for I am but strength given form... Feeble creatures of flesh... Your time is nigh!"
Also, Dummied Out from the game but still impressive is Czar Dragon's quote: "Mwa, ha ha... humans and their desires! I'm free at last! I bring you destruction... I bring you terror... I am Czar... Prepare yourselves!"
In the GBA version, where he was reinstated as a Bonus Boss:
Kaiser Dragon: "Humans and your insatiable greed... Your lust for power leads always to a lust for blood... This place is a sanctuary for wayward souls... What business have you filthy creatures here? You slaughter my brethren, and befoul their rest with the profanity of your continued existence... You should not have come here. In the name of all dragonkind, I shall grant you the death you desire. I am the dealer of destruction... I am the font from which fear springs... I am Kaiser... And your time is at end."
Bad Guy Bar: The South Figaro Inn. While it notably features Shadow and his monstrous dog, Interceptor, it also has several rough looking NPCs who wear eye-patches and bandanas, who are also used to portray drunkards, thieves, prisoners, and even ninjas.
The Bad Guy Wins: This is one of the most well known examples where the villain actually succeeds in taking over, or in this case, destroying the world. The entire last half of the game is dedicated to trying to undo it... and it comes at the cost of magic and Espers vanishing from the world forever, so even in death, Kefka managed to royally screw the planet over in another manner.
Bad Liar: Everyone in Thamasa. Everyone in the town can use magic. They try to hide this fact from the outside world, but they do a terrible job of it once people actually come to the town. This is Played for Laughs, but due to the Crapsack World setting, they once had very good reason to hide their magical abilities from the world, since they were once persecuted for it (they were blamed for the War of the Magi).
Bag of Sharing: Taking into the account the timescale during the three scenario segments, this particular bag can transfer items across both space AND time.
Baleful Polymorph: Imp/Kappa form. There is specialized equipment that makes that form stronger, not to mention Cyan's infinite counter bug in his imp form. Add the Dragon Horn or Dragoon Boots and you'll acquire the dreaded Death God Dragoon Imp.
Bandit Mook: Harvester enemies in Zozo will steal from your party if you try to steal from them, later, there's the money stealing bears in Mt. Zozo.
Barrier Change Boss: Number 024 in Magitek Research Labs and the Magi Master on the top of Fanatics Tower. Also, Kaiser Dragon, the Bonus Boss in the GBA remake.
BFS: Several, with the Atma/Ultima Weapon being the most notable.
Big Boo's Haunt: The Phantom Train in the World of Balance. Later on, there is Daryl's Tomb, Owzer's Mansion, and Cyan's Soul.
Bittersweet Ending: Kefka is defeated, but his death means the end of magic forever AND the deaths of every single surviving Esper (if there even are any surviving Espers by that point), and this is all after Kefka ruled the world for a year while destroying cities left and right with a magic laser beam. Not to mention that Shadow is left inside Kefka's tower as it collapses and is never seen again.
Black and Grey Morality: They let her choose to do so willingly and show a genuine interest in protecting her, but in the the end the Returners also exploit Terra's power and connection to the Espers just like the Empire. Banon even states to her face, on more than one occasion, that she's their trump card that he's pinning their hopes on.
Boring Yet Practical: Edgar's Auto-Crossbow. He starts out with it, but it'll end most random encounters in one round up until you hit Zozo, at which point it's still effective, just not as much.
The Earring Relic boosts magic damage by 25%. It so happens that aside from magic, most characters uses magic power to enhance their secondary skills (Phantom Rush, Dance, Lore, Slots). Bound to be one of your most used relics up until the last third of the game when you can hit the damage cap without them.
Boss Bonanza: You have in Kefka's Tower Ultima Buster, Inferno, two of the Eight Dragons, Guardian, the Warring Triad, then the Final Boss.
Boss in Mook Clothing: The invisible Intangir on the Triangle Island of the World of Balance, and the infamous Brachosaur in the World of Ruin.
Boss Remix: "Dancing Mad", which mainly uses Kefka's Leitmotif, but it also has parts taken from the opening theme, "Catastrophe" (that plays when you confront Gestahl and Kefka on the Floating Continent), and "The Fierce Battle (Fight to the Death)".
Bragging Rights Reward: In the GBA version, by the time you get all the really powerful weapons in the Dragon's Den, your characters are so strong they don't really need them anyway.
But Thou Must: Played with when Terra is given the choice to join the Returners or not. She accompanies the Returners on the trip to Narshe either way, but if she refuses then it ends up being she has to for terms of plot, the Empire is headed to their base and she needs an escape as much as they do. The Empire still comes even if she agrees to join, so one way or the other an alliance is inevitable.
Captured Super Entity: The Espers held by the Empire. Ramuh will ask the party to free them. Terra herself might be counted as one.
Celebrity Resemblance: Celes resembles the opera singer Maria. Because of this, she becomes a drop-in replacement for the original singer, as part of a plan to obtain an airship. Setzer noticed the difference only after bringing her aboard.
Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Late in the game, Locke finally finds the legendary Phoenix magicite, which he hopes can revive the long-deceased (but otherwise preserved) Rachel, his girlfriend and his reason for The Dulcinea Effect. Unfortunately, the magicite is so weak that it shatters on use, only providing enough power to revive Rachel for a moment. Just before Rachel dies again, she tells Locke to stop torturing himself for what happened to her and to love Celes as much as he loved her. Oh, and her power fixes the Phoenix magicite so you can use it during gameplay.
Contrived Coincidence: So, Celes happened to look exactly like the renowned opera singer Maria, who was stalked by the man named Setzer who, in turn, owned the world's only (active) airship, which the party needed to get to the South Continent? And, more importantly, she happens to have a world-class operatic soprano with no formal training!
Convection Schmonvection: In the cave that leads to the Sealed Gate. Falling into the lava will only bring the party to the beginning of the cave.
Later, in the Phoenix Cave, you'll cross lakes of lava by hopping over tiny stepping stones.
Cool Airship: Two airships: the Blackjack, and later the Falcon.
Cosmetic Award: In the GBA version, The Master's Crown, "a ceremonial crown awarded for overcoming the challenges of the Soul Shrine".
And Kefka, who is engaged in battle no less than three times in the Wo B - the Empire Base Camp near Doma, the decisive battle in Narshe, and just outside the Sealed Gate. He runs away from the first two fights, and is swept away by the escaping Espers in the third.
Crapsack World: The World of Ruin. The distant past of the setting counts as well.
Credits Medley: It uses the leitmotif of each character, regardless of whether you recruited them or not, along with "Final Fantasy", the series main theme.
Crutch Character: Cyan and Edgar, but only his Tool skill. Sabin also warrants a mention, especially as soon as he gets the Fire Dance/Rising Phoenix Blitz during the first part of the game.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The out of control Espers do this to the Empire, then later Kefka returns the favour.
Cutscene: Pretty much started the "long Final Fantasy cutscene" trend.
Cutscene Incompetence: Basically, any time after the Narshe Battle Sequence, if the party runs into Kefka, they're gonna get their asses beat like a group of red headed stepchildren. Justified when you encounter Gestahl on the Floating Continent. The first thing he does to you is use the very source of magic in the world to paralyze you.
The boss Wrexsoul can be rather complicated to defeat; you're supposed to kill your own party members until he emerges from hiding, and then attack him. Or, you know, you could just cast X-Zone, that works just as well (if you don't mind not getting the Item Drop).
And, as usual in Final Fantasy, Revive Kills Zombie. The otherwise-challenging boss Phantom Train happens to be undead, so you can throw a Fenix Down at it and end the fight in one round.
Number 024 in the Magitek Research Facility. He uses WallChange to absorb every element but one, so he's clearly meant as a test of your brand-new magic skills. However, he doesn't share the same insane physical defense that everything else possesses in that building, so you can assault him with Bushido, Blitz, Tools and good old physical attacks.
MagiMaster in the Fanatics' Tower uses the same strategy, but due to where you're fighting, you can't use physcial attacks. You can, however, use Berserk and completely bypass his brutal magic spells. He still hits pretty hard, but this is simply remedied by vanishing all of the party members.
Cyborg: Sergeants/Commandos and Belzecues/Garms in the Magitek Factory. In addition to utilizing programs to attack the party in battle, they are weak to Water and Lightning elemental attacks, just like machines, and they have high defenses. They are also stated to have been infused with Magitek, though it's not exactly clear why simple dobermans get the same kind of cybernetic enchantments/replacements and battle programs as the high ranked and heavily armed officers of the Empire.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Selecting multiple targets with a spell is done with the shoulder buttons, rather than the left and right arrows on the D-Pad as is usual for the series.
Darker and Edgier: Final Fantasy VI is by far the darkest of the franchise's 2D games, and rivals Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy IX, and Final Fantasy XIII's spin-off titles for one of the darkest of all. The storyline is rife with tales of personal loss, the central antagonist has multiple counts of genocide on his hands, and halfway through the game you face The End of the World as We Know It. VI's atmosphere is almost uniformly bleak even prior to becoming a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and prior to such the tone of virtually everyone aside from the more upbeat main characters is one of despair and fear of what is to come. After such, a good part of the party has edged against the Despair Event Horizon and have to be talked back into fighting.
This also puts it at sharp odds with predecessor Final Fantasy V, which is so lighthearted it often tiptoes on the edges of being an Affectionate Parody.
Darkest Hour: After the world is rent asunder, the heroes scattered to the winds, and the last remaining player character loses the one person left whom she could consider family (though the last event is up to the plaer's actions). This also sets up a Tear Jerker, see below.
Dark Reprise: "Epitaph", a tearjerking variation of Setzer's Theme.
Also, "Metamorphosis", a suspenseful and fast-paced variation of "Terra", appropriately used for instances filled with danger.
The beginning of Dancing Mad's first tier is a Dark Reprise of the already dark "Catastrophe."
Ramuh: Her life is in no danger. She simply used a power she didn't know she had, and it overwhelmed her. Now her body won't listen to what she's telling it to do. As for myself, I am Ramuh—the esper, Ramuh.
Gau: Espers... live other world... right?
And so on. Eventually they stop trying to rewrite dialogue for every character, though.
Zozo. Enemies suddenly have enough HP to survive more than one round from you, they begin using magic attacks regularly, and one type of enemy can even use items to heal itself or allies.
Another throws weapons at you for a ton of damage.
The Floating Continent: the random encounters are much stronger than you expect (if the party had trouble beating the Air Force/Fortress boss they fought earlier, they should get off the continent and start grinding), and on top of that, Atma/Ultima Weapon can be surprisingly powerful.
And further compounding the problem, should you decide to save, you cannot get off unless you get through the entire dungeon! That's right, the cop out is right before Atma Weapon, so you still have to fight incredibly difficult random encounters and trudge through the entire dungeon just to get off of the freaking island!
Dinosaurs Are Dragons: People refer to the Dinosaur Forest enemies as dragons. Also, the designs for dinosaurs are used as Palette Swaps for actual dragons. They also have some incredible attacks.
Edgar. Auto-Crossbow will end most enemy encounters instantly, up until you get to Zozo anyway, at which point you find the chainsaw which can inflict a One-Hit Kill and otherwise does insane damage. Sabin likewise begins with powerful Blitzes and will unlock Rising Phoenix at about the time Auto-Crossbow's usefulness starts to wane.
In South Figaro, if you know where to look, you can find two excellent Relics on the first visit, the Gigas Glove which boosts all physical damage, including from special attacks, by 25%, and the Hermes Sandals which cast Haste on the wearer. Oh Edgar, got some new accessories for you to try on!
Gau, if you put effort in getting his Rages. You have easy access to rages that deal 4x physical damage, wipe out entire enemy parties with Wind Slash, can cast Fire2, Bolt2, Bio or Cure2 long before you're supposed to have them, and several of the game's more useful Blue Magic Spells. Stray Cat alone will carry you up until the Floating Continent.
Discretion Shot: When Doma is poisoned, Cyan can explore the rest of the castle, where he can find the last of the living soldiers near the barracks door staring at the wall saying "... We are finished". Entering the barracks makes Cyan stop just before entering the room, staying there for the few seconds, close the door, barely move back and say "... Here too."
Disposable Superhero Maker: How the Empire was making its magitek knights before it became obsolete with the discovery of magicite (of course, you destroying the Magitek Research facility didn't help either).
Driven to Suicide: The survivors of the world's destruction who ended up on Solitary Island. Over the course of a year, they all lost their will to live and threw themselves off a cliff into the rocks below. If Cid dies, Celes herself follows in their footsteps, though she doesn't succeed.
Dummied Out: Bosses like the Czar/Kaizer Dragon and Colossus. The former would later appear in the GBA remake as a Bonus Boss.
Dungeon Town: This game, next to Final Fantasy VIII, contains some of the most prominent examples of this trope. You begin the game stepping on Narshe guards with your Powered Armor in the city streets, which culminates with a trip through Narshe's mines. Later on, you are forced to infiltrate an occupied South Figaro as Locke, having to solve some logic puzzles in order to get from the east side of town to the west. Once you pick up Celes, the under works of the town become a traditional combat-oriented dungeon. Sometime afterwards, you have to go to the dangerous and run-down Zozo and deal with armed homeless men and magical prostitutes before dealing with a gang-leader named Dadaluma. And after that, there's Vector, where guards will be eager to boot you out of the upper part of town. In the World of Ruin, Narshe is all but abandoned, and monsters swarm the streets, and Owzer's House is invaded by a haunted painting.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Probably one of the kings of this trope - after all the world ends halfway through the game. Yet by the time the credits role, most of the main cast has resolved their core conflicts and can move on with their lives (once they've dealt with the problem of the vicious godlike entity that blew up the world in the first place.)
Earth-Shattering Poster: Halfway through the game, you get a nice space-view of the world getting nuked all over... including a fear-inducing image of a continent getting split in half.
Eldritch Abomination: The three tiers at Kefka's Tower, which is pretty much a huge demon, a tiger head, four clones of Kefka, an engine, a woman, a reclining Kefka clone, and the angelic bust of a woman resembling the Virgin Mary, all stuck to the very top of Kefka's Tower. The reason of why they exist at all is not given. The Warring Triad counts as well.
Enormous Engine: The engine powering Figaro Castle — while it's small compared to the castle, the characters are dwarfed in comparison (and they even have a boss battle on top of it).
Ensemble Cast: Of all the Final Fantasy games, only Final Fantasy IX comes close to matching VI for lack of a clear protagonist (and that's only for the first two thirds of the game, before Zidane's story becomes the really important arc,and the cast of Final Fantasy V are a pretty even spread in terms of plot importance.) While Terra is the first character you control and is a strong contender for 'main character,' the story isn't driven by her the way, say, Cloud drives Final Fantasy VII. Rather as the game progresses most of the other characters get at least one important sidequest in the World of Ruin when you have to get the party together, Sabin and Locke get major segments in the first part of the game, and in addition to the aforementioned sidequests several characters get a second character-development sidequest afterwards. In fact, when the world is destroyed the focus of the game shifts to Celes, who for the second half of the game has equal claim to the 'main character' title from about the midway point on. This is further illustrated in Terra and Celes' mirrored character arcs and even the spells they learn naturally. You can even choose not to recruit Terra again in the World of Ruin and finish the game without her.
Epic Fail: When the house bursts into flames in Thamasa and the fire's too strong to put out, one of the villagers says: "Maybe it's because of all the Flame Rods kept in the house."
Epic Rocking: "Dancing Mad", a classically-styled piece with four distinct movements, each with their own theme and variation on different Leitmotifs from throughout the game. The full song stretches to about seventeen minutes long (compare to "One-Winged Angel", which only reaches half of that). The end theme (variously translated as "Reviving Green", "Balance Is Restored", or just "Ending Theme") is even longer, surpassing twenty-one minutes in length with ease.
Escort Mission: Averting the usual headaches of escorting an NPC, Banon is by and far the best healer in the game and, in fact, one of the best healers in almost any RPG. His free full party heal is powerful enough that it's completely possible to simply weigh or tape down the button to select an action and walk away from the console for a day or two and become max level (the sequence where you escort Banon is a series of fights, it's possible to get into an infinite loop of said fights). You can eventually reach max level, which can overcome any unobtained stat gain for not using Espers.
Eternal Engine: The Magitek Factory and its remains in Kefka's Tower. Figaro Castle also counts, particularly its massive basement which holds the engines themselves.
Everybody Laughs Ending: Subverted. First, Celes and Locke get embarrassed over a comment from Relm. Relm and Strago start laughing. Then Terra starts laughing, Celes and Locke start laughing, and soon everyone on the screen is sharing a good laugh... and then Kefka starts laughing and walks into the scene.
Everybody's Dead, Dave: At the start of the game's second act, this is assumed by Cid, since as far as he can see, all that's left of the world is the tiny island the player is on. If Cid ends up dying, too, Celes tries to commit suicide out of the despair of this fact. She is quite shocked when after surviving, she sees a bandaged bird- meaning that, somewhere, people live.
A bird bandaged with a bandana that is strikingly similar to one worn by a certain thi—er, Treasure Hunter.
Follow The Plotted Line: Sabin's scenario feels like this, except nobody bothered to tell him that the direct pathway to Nikeah is blocked by the landslide.
For Doom the Bell Tolls: Heard in the opening theme when the opening narration talks about the destructive War of the Magi. This trope later reappears in the first world map music in the World of Ruin and "Dancing Mad," the final boss theme, and is also present in The Empire's theme. The first three also overlap with Ominous Pipe Organ (The Empire's theme opts for brass instruments instead).
Forbidden Fruit: Banon tells a Pandora's Box-like story to Terra. Otherwise, there is no clear example of this trope, unless the magic itself/Warring Triad statues count.
Foreshadowing: When the opening narration says "Yet there now stands one who would reawaken the magic of ages past, and use its dread power as a means by which to conquer all the world," watch the bottom right corner of the screen—you'll catch a brief glimpse of Kefka.
Game-Breaking Bug: The U.S. SNES release had an incredible amount of bugs in it. Relm's sketch ability missing on the wrong monsters can lead to unpleasant side-effects, the worst of which being deletion of savegames. However, it can also fill your inventory with zillions of copies of the game's best equipment. Also, killing Doom Gaze with the Vanish bug prevents the boss from dropping the Bahamut magicite because the drop is triggered by a counterattack script and X-Zone and similar abilities prevent counterattacks from being triggered.
The Doom Gaze bug only applied to Vanish/X-Zone. If the player used Vanish/Doom, they'd get the Bahamut Magicite like normal. This actually makes sense since X-Zone banishes a creature to another dimension including, ostensibly, any items that creature would be holding.
There was also a bug where, in the World of Ruin, the player could re-shift the world back to the World of Balance. This was done by abusing a script during the Opera House event where the player didn't get a game over if they died, they were merely teleported outside. Thus if the player leaves one of the unique rat enemies in the rafters alive until the World of Ruin, then went up, fought them and lost, the script would put them back outside in the World of Balance. Though it does simplify the saving-the-world idea, the player is without an airship and several critical locations no longer exist, including the final dungeon, so the game is pretty much unplayable from then-on.
Gateless Ghetto: Vector. The city looks different from the other towns on the world map, and the PSX cutscenes and game art show that it's a massive industrial town with many interesting looking buildings and machines, but when exploring the actual town, there's only six little buildings, a bunch of metal supports, a few boxes, and a railroad to the Magitek Factory, all surrounded by an unnecessary bottomless pit. The Imperial Palace, however, which is actually rather large, shows a dreary and polluted skyline full of factories and fires.
Genre Shift: The first half of the game (the World of Balance) is almost entirely linear and narrative-based (aside from a few optional sub-quests). The second half (the World of Ruin) is more open-ended and free-roaming, allowing the player's party to access Kefka's Tower as soon as they get the Airship (which isn't a good idea).
At one point in the game you have to fetch the cider for a old geezer. In real life there are 2 types of cider: Non-alcoholic and alcoholic. Intentional, considering the censorship at the time, or mere coincidence?
A possible bit of Parental Bonus and/or Woolseyism to keep an alcoholic drink (in the Japanese he asks for wine) without making it blatantly alcoholic.
They managed to get an instance of Teen Pregnancy past the censors, likely because the characters are minor NPCs and their ages are revealed in a throwaway NPC line long before the event.
Terra's Esper form is naked and the Goddess is not very clothed. The final boss is also a giant man wearing naught but a loincloth.
If the party arrives at Maranda shortly after the Espers attack Vector, the player can witness a dog-fighting tournament with various people making bets on which of the dogs will win.
One of the monsters in the game is called Steroidite in the SNES translation.
Goggles Do Nothing: Quite literally, in the SNES version of the game. The Evade stat was useless due to a glitch, so the Blind status ailment didn't impact the characters in any way (except Strago, who wouldn't learn Lores when Blinded; for everybody else it just made them look like they're wearing Cool Shades), so the Goggles that prevented blindness... you get the idea.
Goggles Do Something Unusual: They will protect from blindness, which is actually useful if it's the newer (or fan-patched) version of the game.
Gotta Catch Them All: Gau's Rages, Strago's Lores, Mog's Dances, Edgar's Tools, Cyan's SwdTechs, Sabin's Blitzes, Magicites, and your own party members in the World of Ruin. There's a lot to catch. The fact that some of them (such as one of Strago's Lores, one of Mog's Dances, and some Magicites) are Lost Forever if you don't do stuff right can be painful. The Advance version added a Bestiary, which adds in the challenge of killing at least one of every creature.
Green Rocks: Magicite, literally. They have a bit of red in them, too.
Guide Dang It: The game never tells you that the Jump command from the Dragoon Boots is more powerful when the Jumper is wielding a spear. Knowing this makes Edgar and Mog much stronger post-Apocalypse.
Gau's Rages. Knowing how to use them makes the difference between Gau being a barely useful character and him being a Disc One Nuke.
Happily Failed Suicide: Depending on how things play out, Celes may attempt suicide, but fail... happily, because from where she lies, she sees evidence that one or more of the others may have survived, which gives her the will to live.
Harmless Freezing: The frozen Esper in Narshe. Once unfrozen, it gives up its life willingly after noticing that the world is in the same ruined state it was in when it was frozen. One of the status effects also causes this.
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Occurs at the Imperial base east of Vector. It's initially full of soldiers that will fight you when approached. Even if you win, you'll still be thrown out. Something similar occurs in the northern part of Vector itself.
Heads or Tails: Edgar and Sabin flip a coin to determine who will be king of Figaro and who will have the freedom to live the life they want. Edgar "lost", by using a Two-Headed Coin, in order to keep the burden off his brother's shoulders.
The SNES translation was somewhat inaccurate on this point:
GBA Edgar: If it's heads, you win. Tails, I win. The winner chooses whichever path he wants... no regrets, no hard feelings.
SNES Edgar: If it's heads, you win. We'll choose whichever path we want, without any regrets.
Later, Celes borrows the same coin against Setzer. He falls for it.
Celes: Heads, you take us to the Empire's capital. Tails, I agree to marry you.
Helpful Mook: The Desert Hare, which heals you for attacking it, and the Magic Urn, which only use restorative items on your party for its entire AI script.
HP To One: Several examples, most notably Kefka's Fallen One/Heartless Angel.
Humans Are The Real Monsters: The Espers lived in a lush and fertile world in peace and harmony with themselves and their surroundings despite the fact they can use their magic powers for destruction, while the humans drain the power of the Espers into delicious whiffs of magic purely for warfare and personal gain, going as far as to modify their own bodies with a sickening blend of their own technology and their magic extracts of the Espers. The two largest human cities in the game, Zozo and Vector, are also completely terrible places and both have little to no redeeming qualities within them whatsoever.
Improbable Weapon User: Not yet at the level of some later installments in the series, but still, Setzer fights with cards, darts, and dice, Relm uses a paintbrush, Mog dances to inflict status effects, and Umaro just throws your other party members at the monsters.
Infallible Babble: Averted by the Zozo thieves, who are all pathological liars by nature.
Infinity+1 Sword: All characters get one specifically for them in the Gameboy Advance remake. However, they're yet shamed by the Lightbringer/Illumina from the original release which is still present. +7 to all stats, +50% Evade and Magic Evade, max attack power, when attacking it consumes 20 MP to deal an instant critical hit, its unblockable and ignores row, and randomly casts Holy when attacking. The Gameboy Advance remake made it effectively farmable, as it's obtained by betting the Ragnarok sword (formerly one of a kid) in the Coliseum, and the final boss has a Ragnarok to be stolen and can now be fought over and over.`
Interface Spoiler: Y'know, the World of Ruin would have come as a much bigger surprise had the "esper" menu not been visibly half empty. Even worse in the original U.S. release, where the map of the World of Ruin included spoiled the game once the box was opened.
The map even gives away that the final boss is named Kefka (why else would he have not one, but two towers named after him, one of which is the final destination of the game?)
The same menu lists the commands Blitz, Bushido, Rage, Dance and Lore, so you know sooner or later someone with said skill will join up.
It is made clear early on that magic was incredibly rare in the setting, implying that few aside Terra and Celes could hope to use it. But every character has a missing space for it in the command list. Inverted with Terra, who has the magic command but the slot where her unique ability should go is empty.
Early in the game, you control eleven Moogles to fight to protect Terra. Most of them are low level with no ability, and you can't change their equipment. But one of them, Mog, is at a much higher level, he has the ability Dance, and you can unequip him freely. Guess who joins the party later on?
If a character has a name before you meet them, they will not join your party. Thus you know when you meet General Leo that he will not be a permanant character. Same goes for Banon.
But averted with one of the Optional Party Members (Umaro), whom you must fight as a boss before he will join you.
Interspecies Adoption: In the World of Ruin, Terra adopts all the kids in Mobliz after the town was destroyed by Kekfa's Light of Judgement. The kids don't know she's half-esper, which is a major source of inner conflict for her. Later on when she reveals who she is, they still accept her as their mommy. The strength of her love for the children resolves her character conflict over her own half-human nature and eventually allows her to continue to exist after all magic disappears.
Interspecies Romance: Besides Terra's parents, there is also an example during the War of the Magi between Esper Odin and a human Queen.
Involuntary Group Split: Happens to Sabin on the raft early on in the game, and then the entire party when their airship literally splits in half at the climactic midpoint.
It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: Celes is supposed to be pronounced like "sel-ees." There are also arguments over Gau, Cyan, and Umaro. The Ultimania guide has answers, though it doesn't help for those characters whose name was changed from the Japanese version.
Actually, the names are pretty easy to pronounce - in German.
It's All Upstairs From Here: The Fanatics' Tower. Inverted by Kefka's Tower, in which you start at the top and go deeper into the center.
It's Personal: Half of the party was in one way or another screwed over by the Empire and/or Kefka: Terra and Celes were tools of the Empire from birth, Locke's girlfriend was put into a coma after an Imperial attack, Cyan had everything he loved annihilated, Edgar's castle was attacked, and it is implied they killed his father, (which also covers Sabin), and Shadow was used and discarded on the Floating Continent.
It's Up to You: While the story tends to focus more on Terra, Celes, & Locke, there is no single main character. A lot of the FMVs in the PS1 port focus on Celes... but by the time of Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Terra is considered the main character as she is the game's representative in the cast. Kitase has stated in an interview that he "wanted to create many characters that could all stand up to be main characters".
Kappa: The result of Baleful Polymorph, translated as "Imp" in the English scripts. However, in the GBA release, the exclusive Kappa Gear is more obviously themed to them, including a cloak made of reeds and a saucer as a helmet.
Karma Houdini: The unnamed aristocrat in South Figaro who sold his town out to the Empire, never recieves any comeuppance for doing so. (Though he does have a My God, What Have I Done? moment while the town is occupied.)
Lethal Joke Character: Gau, Relm, and Mog are among the most hideously underrated and overlooked characters in the series, even though all three of them can be utterly devastating when raised properly, and they all have access to some of the game's best armor and weapons. Using such equipment, Gau and Mog can easily max out their defense, and Relm has the highest magic stat in the game. Yes, even more than the half-esper Terra!
This is especially true of Gau. For those who are too lazy to build his list of Rages, he'll be very weak compared to everyone else, but if you take some time to get some of the better Rages, Gau becomes an extremely powerful character with a Rage for every situation, giving him access to very powerful magic that doesn't cost a single mp and various immunities and automatic statuses, with the only downside being that he becomes uncontrollable once a Rage is chosen and can't change it. And then there's Wind God Gau; give him a Merit Award and an Offering and Cyan's Tempest weapon and use Stray Cat, and you have a 50% chance to deal four incredibly massive hits that damage everything on screen, making Gau by far the strongest character.
Not so true with Relm though. A player who knows how to use Espers to boost stats (though not one who is OCD enough to try and max them, who will wait until later) will have both Terra and Celes outstatting Relm in magic by the time you get her.
Lethal Lava Land: The Sealed Cave and the Phoenix Cave. Except the lava isn't lethal.
Let's Split Up, Gang: In the Phoenix Cave and the Kefka Tower, you are forced to form two and three teams, respectively. The game makes you do this whether you want it or not early on, when Locke goes off to stymie the Empire and then Sabin attempts to beat Ultros down... in the water...
Lightning Bruiser: A veritable legion, as due to bugs in the game, half the characters have the ability to become invincible to attacks, run like the wind, and hit in the tens of thousands every round.
Limit Break: In the form of Desperation Attacks and occurring entirely "under the hood;" you certainly didn't get a chance to choose them, and they're so rare that most people have only seen them during a Tool-Assisted Speed Run of the game*
it's a 1/20 chance of occurring when you select the Fight command when near death.
. However, they get an honorary mention because they were expanded into the mechanic we all know and love during the development of the Trope Namer, Final Fantasy VII.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Zig-zagged. Magic is almost always more powerful than physical attacks, but most of the characters also have a specialized skillset (like Tools or Blitz) that develops throughout the course of the game, and usually doesn't lag too far behind magic (and most of them don't cost MP either). But by the endgame, you get weapons like the Fixed Dice or Valiant Knife that deal obscene amounts of damage and ignore defense and evasion, and can be coupled with relics that attack multiple times. At the end, you get magic like Ultima (which does the most damage in the game) and Quick (which lets you perform a few free actions), which is not matched by anything else.
Not to mention that late game, particularly in the GBA remake's bonus content, your standard battle tactics even for random encounters may end up being "rape the time stream in order to repeatedly spam what is basically a magical nuke." Remember, these are the good guys.
If you don't save Shadow on the Floating Continent, he's gone from the game for good. There are also some weapons and armor that can vanish from the game if you don't get them when they're first available.
If you leave some chests un-opened that can be opened later, their contents will be upgraded. (The Figaro cave is a nice example.)
The GBA version has a bestiary. For 100% completion, once you enter the World of Ruin, pretty much the only time you'll ever meet any of the monsters from the World of Balance again is on the triangle island, and even then, you will only encounter the ones you encountered in the World of Balance itself.
Betting at the Colosseum due to the A.I. Roulette the game imposes on you. You can score some rare and unique items if you wager one of equal worth, but you are forced to use only one party member and the AI controls them. Because your party members are under A.I. Roulette control, they can either win battles effortlessly or waste turns casting spells on themselves that have absolutely zero effect, such as casting Esuna when the character isn't under any status ailments. Characters like Mog and Gau are horrible to use for colosseum battles due to how their Dance and Rage moves makes them be stuck with a set of certain list of moves and can't change out of it.
Also, the fishing mission at the beginning of the World of Ruin. You can only succeed by catching Yummy Fish, because these are the only ones that improve Cid's health. His health continuously depletes, the other fish are neutral or harmful to him, and the yummy fish don't spawn every time Celes goes back to the shore. Fortunately, if you fail there is no gameplay consequence. There is, however, a different cutscene.
Magikarp Power: The Cursed Shield nerfs all your stats and inflicts every status ailment in the book on you... but, if you survive 256 battles with it equipped, it transforms into the Paladin Shield, the best shield in the game.
The Ultima Weapon is found about a third of the way through the game. However, its power depends on the maximum HP of the user, so it doesn't start dealing the damage you'd expect from the Ultima Weapon until around the end of the game.
The Man Behind the Man: Averted: Kefka and Emperor Gestahl both make an appearance in Terra's flashback at the beginning of the game. Kefka also makes a blink-and-miss-it appearance when you see Vector for the first time in the opening cutscene, making him the first main character you see.
Meaningful Echo: Celes' Tear Jerker moment almost exactly mirrors the movements she goes through during the opera scene. The part where she throws the flowers from the balcony takes on a whole new meaning once you compare it to her throwing herself from the high cliff.
Metal Slime: The Solitary Island upon which Celes awakens after the destruction of the World of Balance is covered in Peepers and Land Rays, from which Locke can steal Elixirs and Megalixirs, respectively. Unfortunately, they only have 1 HP and the Sap status, so they self-destruct almost as soon as you start fighting them. They also have two of the best defensive Blue Magic spells for Strago to learn - getting them to use said spells before they die on their own is nigh impossible.
Mugged for Disguise: Locke's story path dumps him in South Figaro. The only way to traverse the city, which is under military occupation, is to "Mug" merchants and low-ranking troops for their threads.
Multi Mook Melee: The falling battle against the Air Force/Fortress. In the GBA version, The Soul Shrine.
Multiple Endings: The general scenario doesn't change, but several characters' endings change slightly depending on whether you found certain other characters. For instance, Celes's ending changes if you don't find Locke, and Relm's ending changes if you don't find Strago.
Musicalis Interruptus: Ultros tries to do this by dropping a 4-ton weight onto the stage. If you manage to stop him, he and your party both end up falling from the rafters, landing on and knocking out several important actors in the process.
Averted in the GBA remake as you can later steal the Ragnarok weapon from one of the final bosses. Which is good, since you can continue after the ending in this version.
You also have to choose between Odin and Raiden.
My God, What Have I Done?: According to the Esper legend, the Warring Triad experienced a brief moment of clarity when they realized the horror they had brought upon the land, leading to their decision to seal themselves, and their magic, away from the world.
When the party tracks down the Espers that stormed out of the Sealed Gate and razed Vector, they are deeply in regret over what they did, having lost control of themselves, and harming innocents along with the Imperials. When they're informed that the Empire wants to talk peace, their first response is actually "They would forgive us?"
My Name Is ???: The "passenger" ghosts of the ghost train if one of them joins you. Also Terra during her first trip to Narche under Biggs' and Wedge's command (she's amnesiac, after all).
Mythology Gag: This game's Cid is the only Cid from the numbered series (or at least from the Sakaguchi-produced ones) who does not have any connection, even a tenuous one, with airships. But there's a scene (that you have to get out of your way to watch) in which Cid is conversing with Setzer about his airship and even suggesting some modifications (which Setzer disregards).
A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Gestahlian Empire is essentially the game's equivalent of Nazi Germany: Ruthlessly conquering various countries, the various soldiers wearing mostly brown, their doing a Nazi Salute at one point, experimenting on and killing off an entire race, and plans for two Magitek Knights to breed to produce a superior human (who uncoincidentally has blonde hair and possibly blue eyes, and is enhanced).
Never Say "Die": Due to Nintendo's censorship policies. This limitation initially provides an atmosphere that suggests we won't be seeing too many on-screen deaths. This does not hold true later in the game. Even when Cid mentions how the other survivors left in Solitary Island committed suicide, he "softens" the blow by saying they took leaps of faith off the cliff, which "perked 'em right up!" even though it's extremely clear what happened to the; it could be taken as a sarcastic, Black Comedy line.
Exception: After Kefka gives Celes a sword on the Floating Continent, he tells her, "Kill the others and we'll forgive your treachery! Take this sword! Kill them all!"'
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The players' entry into the Magitek Factory in Vector is what tips the Empire off to how to use Magicite.
The Intangir is also nigh-invulnerable; it's immune to almost everything you can throw at it. *
The Magi Master isn't technically invincible, but between your handicaps and his extreme speed, powerful spells, randomly shifting defenses, top-tier HP, unsurpassed MP and a brutal final attack, you're not likely to notice unless and until you bone up on the handful of unorthodox strategies designed especially for fighting him.
No Hero Discount: Averted with Figaro Castle's merchants, who don't feel comfortable charging Edgar or Sabin and want to give them items for free: Sabin and Edgar settle on a discount since the guys have to support themselves. Justified in the World of Ruin: sure, item prices skyrocket, but the world has gone to hell and the cities need that cash to rebuild themselves.
No Name Given: Unless you look in the manual, you won't know the surnames of the characters until the credits roll.
No One Gets Left Behind: Can be played straight or averted, depending on the player's actions on the Floating Continent.
Not Completely Useless: Rasp and Osmose. They serve as an alternate means to kill some bosses by damaging or draining MP. Osmose may also recover MP from enemies, allowing you to continue magical attacks over an extended period of time.
Not the Intended Use: Vanish, which makes you immune to physical attacks. Nice, but it makes the next magic attack hit. This leads to the Vanish/Doom combo, an instant death attack that will even defeat the Big Bad.
Olive Garden: The look and feel of Renaissance Italy is sprinkled through much of the game, and most so in South Figaro.
Ominous Latin Chanting: "Dancing Mad" has been performed by live orchestra, and the old synth vocalizations have been given actual lyrics.
Also, the Fanatics, the theme for the Cultists' tower/Tower of Fanatics.
One-Hit Kill: Doom/Death spell, weapons that randomly cast Doom (Doom Darts, Soul Sabre) and weapons that randomly instant-kills foes (Striker/Shadow, Assassin, Scimitar, Wing Edge, Trump). One of Cyan's bushido/swordtech moves will do this too.
One Stat to Rule Them All: Magic is the most important stat. Not only will end-game spells easily outstrip the most powerful weapons, tools, or bushido, Sabin's Blitzes mostly base their power on magic. The fact that a relic that reduces MP costs for all spells exists just makes it more apparent.
The only exceptions to this rule would be characters that can deal multiple hits with physical attacks, such as Dragoon Edgar/Mog or dual-wielding Locke, but it still requires two Relic slots (Dragoon Boots/Dragon Horn and Genji Glove/Master's Scroll) to make the Attack command useful, and only very, very late in the game. By the time dual wielding Locke becomes viable, you're probably so overpowered it's almost not funny.
One Year Retirement: Almost all of the party after the World Sundering. Some were more actively trying to strengthen themselves or get the group back together, others were more passive.
Opera: The famous Opera scene. Some say that the game itself is opera-like but without the singing.
Optional Character Scene: Inevitable with so many characters and the ability to put whomever you want in your party most of the time.
Optional Party Member: Gogo and Umaro are never even seen unless you explore their homes in the World of Ruin. Mog and Shadow only have short story appearances and can be missed as party members by the player's choices. Everyone except Celes, Edgar and Setzer are optional in the World of Ruin.
Umaro's existence is hinted at a little in the World of Balance. You can see him peeking out from a hole in the Narshe mines (which is inaccessible until the World of Ruin), and one of the townspeople there mentions seeing a Yeti hanging out with some Moogles.
Our Zombies Are Different: The only undead enemies that have a real humanoid appearance are the "Still Goings" or the "Living Dead", and they are simply recolors of the Narshe guards. The rest of the undead enemies look far more skeletal or ghost-like in appearance.
The Mage Master at the top of the Cultists' Tower is capable of casting some nasty, nasty spells. The safest way to take him down is to Berserk him (he's actually susceptible and a bit of a wimp), Invis your entire party (making even his ineffectual physical attack useless) and Rasp/Osmose him to death (he can die if he runs out of MP, and this also denies his last-gasp Ultima, which is really freakin' powerful).
This works admirably well on the Atma Weapon, as well, as opposed to the standard "beat him down, let him heal, beat him down again" tactic. Of course, anything claiming to be pure energy is asking for it.
Person of Mass Destruction: The Espers, as explicitly stated by the game. Since Terra is a human/Esper hybrid, the Empire considers her this as well, as evidenced by her vaporizing several squadrons in seconds. In gameplay terms, she's also the only character who can learn Ultima naturally, not to mention she arguably has the best equipment list, stats, and Special Command in the game.
The Power of Love: The Memento Ring, described as being powered by love from Relm's late mother, prevents instant-death moves from working on the two characters who can equip it. The fact that only Relm and Shadow can equip the ring is one of the many clues provided as the identity of Relm's father.
Powered Armor: Magitek armor straddles the line between this and Mini Mecha. Exact size and appearance are hard to determine because it has two dramatically different concepts: one in box art and the PSX re-release cinematic, another in the in-game small character and detailed enemy sprites. In addition to conventional weaponry such as missiles, it may unleash powerful elemental attacks. It's not restricted to mooks either: the player party uses it at three separate occasions. However, it never occurs to them to hijack a suit for permanent use, probably because of the drawback mentioned below...
Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Magitek Armor uses drained essence of living Espers to power itself. It is also used to infuse the Empire's Magitek Knights and grant them magic power. Later we get access to magicite, the crystallized remains of dead Espers, which is even more powerful. Notably, the players use these as well in order to learn magic - apparently it's fine as long as they do it in the name of stopping the Esper killers. Some espers even sacrifice their lives to bestow the magicite
Powers as Programs: Every party member except Gogo and Umaro could be equipped with Magicite. Gogo takes it a step further - he/she/it can equip almost every ability in the game, up to three to be used in battle. If Magic is equipped, Gogo can use any spell usable by the other active party members.
Taken literally with some of the enemies in the Magitek Research Facility. Several of them (either machines or implied to be cybernetic) attack with special abilities called "Program __".
Precursors: The Warring Triad and the Espers fit the description, even though they are not exactly this.
Press X To Not Butcher The Opera: During the opera scene, the game prompts you to pick the next line in the lyrics out of a choice of three. If you're too slow, the game picks whatever your cursor is hovering over.
Putting on the Reich: The Gestahlian Empire bore several similarities to Nazi Germany, including unethical experimentation on an intelligent species, genocide, most of the footsoldiers' uniforms being brown, constant displaying of their symbols, and technology advanced enough to allow themselves to start conquering various kingdoms.
Not to mention "Gestahl" sounds a little too similar to "Gestapo".
Puzzle Boss: There are a remarkable number of bosses, and several Mooks, rather vulnerable to the seemingly-useless Rasp spell. Not surprisingly, people who miss the hint given in-game about this tend to find them That One Boss. Additionally, the method to defeat Wrexsoul is fairly obscure. Unless you X-Zone the Soul Sabers. But that's admittedly very cheap.
Pyrrhic Victory: Kefka ends up defeated, but it came at the cost of all espers and magic vanishing from the world.
Quad Damage: Offering/Master's Scroll, the relic/accessory that allows the four hit combo.
Which leads to the above-mentioned Game Breaker; Offering + Genji Glove + a combination of any two Infinityswords + character with decent physical stats + high enough level = EIGHT successive hits and defeating just about any boss in one or two attacks.
Rainbow Pimp Gear: Most of the best attacks in the game were magical in nature rather than physical, so the most effective way of boosting damage was to make everybody wear earrings.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The cast of heroes is certainly this — we have everything from a king right down to a random whelp from the Veldt. And a moogle and a yeti.
Real Is Brown: The colour scheme used in most of the parts of the World of Ruin.
Reduced Mana Cost: The cost-halving Gold Hairpins as usual, and the 1-mp-cost-Ultima-Spam Economizer.
Religion of Evil: The cult of Kefka. Despite the fact he rules the world at that point, the cultists really don't do much harm at all, and it's not for certain if the enemies on the Fantatics Tower are cultists themselves. It's also hinted that the cult of Kefka only serves Kefka out of fear of being killed if they don't, or in the case of Strago, being too broken by loss of your loved ones to resist.
It's not even clear whether Kefka knows (or cares) that they exist.
This property is actually glitched in the game, leading to ghosts that somewhat hilariously kill themselves a little each turn from what was supposed to be the undead equivalent of Regen. Djibriel of Gamefaqs put it best: Instead, due to a bug, Whispers just waste away in their own misery.
The quickest way to defeat Wrexsoul? Banish.
Also inverted: As with other games in the series, most instant-death attacks will fully heal undead targets. But not all of them: Banish/X-Zone and the "Cleave" type attacks (including the Odin/Raiden summon and the Zantetsuken sword) will work on undead. So, a subversion of an inversion?
Roof Hopping: Or Traintop hopping. In Zozo, you are forced to jump from holes in the sides of buildings.
Sad Battle Music: In one of the battles vs. Ultros, when Relm joins the party, the boss theme is replaced by her theme.
Save The World Climax: Starts off with a mysterious girl named Terra working for the empire due to a form of mind control. She has no knowledge of who or what she is. When she gets knocked out in a mission, a treasure hunter named Locke quickly helps protect her. Before long she's helping The Resistance fighting against The Empire. The Empire itself poses a threat to the world, but the emperor himself would never go so far as to destroy it, which his seemingly comic-relief jester Kefka goes ahead and does just that. The world now in ruins, the heroes know that they at least have to stop Kefka from destroying all existence since he'd already gone that far.
Scary Black Man: Vargas and Dadaluma. Both are skilled in martial arts and bare-fist fighting, and they both also try to kill the party members for no reason whatsoever, though they are still relatively easy to defeat. Inverted by General Leo - his sprite is pretty pale but his character portrait not so much.
Vargas is likely very very tan, since both his parents have light skin. So unless he's adopted and we just never hear about it...
Scenery Gorn: Vector. In the lower part of the city, the streets are dark and are surrounded by a black pit, there's unfinished and abandoned scaffolding everywhere, Imperial Troops are all around, and the stores and services are mediocre, and it all gets worse when the city gets set on fire. The Magitek Research Facility starts out in a pit full of rotting esper corpses, and the Imperial Palace has a view of what Vector really looks like - An industrial hellhole with a firey orange sky set over a brown cityscape.
Schizo Tech: There is a mechanical castle capable of traveling underground, The Empire has a monopoly in Magitek and Steampunk mechs (and, apparently, flying robot satellites), and magic is considered a myth by most of the world before the game begins. Yet not only are firearms an extreme rarity, but apparently only one man in the world has figured out how to use a crossbow, and the rest of the world is functionally stuck in the Middle Ages with a Victorian skin. Also, Siegfried is the only person seen with a revolver, and he doesn't even use it until the Colosseum. It's also debatable whether or not Edgar is the only one capable of using crossbows and so on. You don't get much chance to see Figaro in action, and the only other countries in the world are the Empire (with its mecha that fire laser beams and missiles) and the various medieval-level countries. Which probably explains why the Empire takes them over so easily.
Schizo Tech yes, but the Decade Dissonance is less clear. The Narshe guards, for example are clearly shown in the CG scenes in the later releases to be armed with guns and firing upon the Imperial soldiers. Similarly, what makes Edgar's crossbow (and indeed most of his tech) special is that it has additional features such as its ability to fire several shots in rapid succession without reload, hence 'auto crossbow'. There might be other rudimentary versions of the same technology elsewhere, merely without Edgar's flare for the dramatic. Of course, these still hardly measure up to the Empire with its Magitek, lasers, and IAF, but it makes the technological differences between the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys' a little less severe. There's also the curious matter of Setzer (and formerly Daryl) having the only airship technology—something even the Empire apparently lacks—but he's rather on his own side until the Returners win him over.
Schizophrenic Difficulty: This game has a number of factors (i.e. mostly bugs) which can easily combine into a "it was easy then hard then stupidly simple then WTF I CAN'T WIN NO MATTER WHAT".
The battle speed bug, which makes the battle speed as selected in the config menu only apply to ENEMIES. Those who know of this can turn this "bug" into a difficulty adjuster, but those who don't may wonder why they're getting curbstomped now just because they wanted battles to go a bit faster.
Even without the aforementioned bugs, there are still several difficulty spikes that can make the player wonder how much time the dev team really bothered to put into gameplay balance. The game is in fact quite easy...until you reach Zozo, when the Slam Dancers can kill off your party with a single high-level Ice spell and the huge guys can also do so with a high-level earth spell (Magnitude8) if you don't run as fast as you can. Then you beat that town (mostly by running like a little bitch), and go along quite nicely until you have to airdrop onto the Flying Continent, at which point the IAF liquidates your party into a fine soup-like consistency...after you have spent 20 non-saveable minutes fighting their grunts, of course.
Schmuck Bait: Crusader is the ultimate Magicite sealed by the Eight Dragons, we have to summon it to see what it does! Oh... it kills both the enemy and player parties... well that's one Esper who won't see the light of day again.
Schmuck Banquet: Averted — the Phantom Train inexplicably has a dining car with Ghosts who serve you food, and Cyan is skeptical of it being safe. Sabin wolfs it down, and it turns out it's perfectly fine, and even heals you.
The fight with Vargas in the beginning is a one-on-one battle. The only commands available to Sabin are Attack and Blitz, and you don't know how to use Blitz until a conversation when the battle's almost over, after which you defeat Vargas by using Raging Fist.
The third battle with Ultros is a normal boss fight until Relm shows up, and then, after a conversation, you win the battle by having Relm use her Sketch ability to paint a picture of the boss. Though you can kill him the usual way as well.
The first random encounters you come across in the World of Ruin have Sap (which causes damage over time) and very low HP, so they tend to immediately die off on their own; this illustrates the bleak state of the new world. (It's actually the result of a bug — they were supposed to regenerate health, not lose it — but the functional effect is the same.)
At least two, Natural Magic and CES (Celes/Edgar/Setzer), are unique to this game.
Natural-magic low-level game.
There are also a few hardtype hacks. Some of them are very succesfull at making the game both harder and more balanced.
Sequence Breaking: Feeling like reallygiving yourself a hard time? It's possible to completely skip rescuing Celes in South Figaro with Locke. If you do so, she's replaced in the party by one of the Moogles who fought with Locke and Mog, which presents several problems. Said Moogle can never change its equipment or equip Espers, and eventually what equipment it has is taken away.
Sequential Boss: Not only do you fight Kefka's tiers in succession, but if he kills your characters they will also be replaced in succession.
Star Wars ones all around: Biggs and Wedge. "Aren't you a little short for a soldier?" And, Kefka throwing Gestahl much like Darth Vader does to Palpatine, although unlike Vader, Kefka's action only serves to shove him even further beyond the Moral Event Horizon.
Sole Entertainment Option: The player has to lead Celes through an opera in order to entice Setzer and his Airship to where the party is. This really is the only form of entertainment, other than the Colosseum, that the world will experience.
Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: Justified when going from Kohlingen and Jidoor to the southern continent, as it makes sense the Empire will have access to stronger equipment... then you find even better stuff at Thamasa. Played straight at the beginning of the World of Ruin and abandoned by the time of Kohlingen, as you reacquire the airship shortly after and thus the shops of the world sell all sorts of varying equipment with no logic or reason one way or the other.
Also played straight with the Magicite you acquire — in general, if an Esper acquired in the World of Balance teaches a spell at a learn rate of 1 or 2 percent, odds are in the World of Ruin a new Esper will teach the spell at a much faster rate. Two of your best Espers in the first part of the game will be Seraph, who teaches the five elementary healing spells, and Maduin, who teaches the level two Fire, Ice, Lightning spells. In the World of Ruin, Lakshmi and Phoenix teach all the spells Seraph teaches but do it faster and with a few new spells as well, and Valigarmanda teaches the level three Fire, Ice, Lightning spells. The only Espers of the World of Balance who don't become completely outclassed by another Esper later are ones that don't teach anything much worth learning in the first place, like Phantom or Shoat.
Spell My Name with an S: Numerous examples due to a combination of official Japanese romanizations and two different English translations. Exmaples include Nalsh vs. Narche vs. Narshe, Lock vs. Locke, Mt. Coltz vs. Mt. Koltz vs. Mt. Kolts, Cefka vs. Kefka, Cayenne vs. Cyan, Bannan vs. Banon, Stragus vs. Strago, Orthros vs. Ultros, and Typhon vs. Chupon. A guard in Figaro Castle in the World of Ruin even lampshades this by mentioning how some of the members of the Cult of Kefka insist on spelling his name with a C instead of a K.
Darill/Daryl is notable for being inconsistent even within the same version of the game: the SNES version uses "Daryl" most of the time, but when you enter her tomb, the in-game message says "Darill's Tomb".
Spoiled Brat: A kid at the auction house in Jidoor will scream at his father when certain items come up for bid, who will then bid an obscene amount of money and win the item for him no matter how much you were willing to bid on it.
Spooky Painting: Owzer's Mansion is full of these. One of them attempts to eat your head party member, and the end boss of this sidequest is the queen mother of these.
Squishy Wizard: Terra, Celes and eventually almost everyone else avert this with the ability to equip heavy armor and weapons except for Relm and Strago, who play this trope straight for most of the game.
Steampunk: Has elements of this, most notably in Narshe, Figaro Castle, and Vector. Jidoor and the Opera House also both have Victorian era themes.
A Storm Is Coming: The opening cinematic even has a thunderstorm foreshadowing how the first act does not end well.
Summon Magic: Possibly the weakest in series, although it's justified in that we summon the dead Espers, and the fact that the main point of Espers, or rather the magicite, is to enable the use of magic by normal people.
This game should also get props for having the most variety in its summons. It has the traditional "major elemental attack" set (Ifrit, Shiva, Ramuh, etc.) and status inflicting ones (Stray Cat, Shoat, Phantom, etc.). Then it has a few oddball ones, like Golem, which acts as a physical damage absorbing shield till he runs out of HP, or Palidor, which initiates a full party jump attack. You may only get to summon an Esper once per character per battle, but they at least serve more strategic roles than arguably any other game in the series.
Take That: In the GBA version, a Figaro guard mentions that there were some Kefka worshippers who insist on spelling Kefka's name with "C's" which is both a reference to Kefka's Japanese spelling of his name, as well as poking fun at certain fans who insist on spelling Kefka's name the Japanese way.
Take Your Time: Averted in World of Ruin, where Kefka is not in a hurry himself.
Taking You with Me: Several bosses, the most annoying example being the Magi Master on the top of Fanatic's tower. Life 3 is your friend.
Talking Is a Free Action: If Terra casts magic during the second boss battle against the two Magitek Armors, Edgar has a minor freak-out which leads to Locke having one as well, leading to an in-combat cutscene. The whole thing lasts about two or three minutes depending on your reading speed, if you don't just button-spam through the resulting dialogue. Meanwhile there's these two Imperial soldiers with heavily-armed battle tanks, sitting there and patiently waiting...
A Taste of Power: At the beginning, you control Terra and two soldiers, all in suits of powerful Magitek Armor. It lasts for about 5 minutes until the two soldiers are killed and Terra's armor is destroyed.
Technicolor Death: Enemies vanish in a purplish fade, and bosses flash and turn red before shaking away noisily, or they sometimes just dissipate in a sort of wave which represents escaping.
Teen Pregnancy: Two background NPCs, Katarin with Duane's child. The subject is touched upon very briefly and without any of the themes associated with the trope. The birth of their child is actually seen as a metaphor for the rebirth of the world in the game's epilogue.
"They Still Belong to Us" Lecture: Kefka at one point tries to convince the party that Celes has been a mole in their ranks since joining (she's not). His bluff doesn't really work at all, though.
Throw It In: In-universe example: After stopping Ultros from attempting to drop a 4 ton weight on Celes, Locke accidentally ends up briefly ruining the opera by knocking out the male star and his rival suitor, and had to improvise for the mishap as best as he can by making it seem as though Ultros' duel was part of the play.
Timed Mission: Many, among them stopping Ultros before he drops the 4-ton Weight on Celes, talking to Imperial soldiers before the banquet preparations are complete, escaping the collapsing Floating Continent, and others...
Took a Level in Badass: Every enemy in Mt. Zozo in the Advance remake. The Evade bug in the Super NES release was fixed, so now suddenly all the monsters in the area have an amazingly high chance of dodging normal attacks, forcing you to rely on special attacks and magic.
Tutorial Failure: Many, many players struggled to perform Sabin's Blitzes. The in-game tutorial says "Choose Blitz, press the Control Pad left, right, left, then press the A button!" While technically correct, the game fails to mention that you're supposed to input the command while an otherwise innocuous arrow is pointing at Sabin. Most new players will try instead to press A while the arrow's up (since the arrow is usually the means to select the target character of a given action), then hastily input the Blitz, which is already way too late. The game will never try to correct your timing even after dozens of failed attempts, so naturally, many players just think they haven't inputted the button combination fast enough.
Two-Headed Coin: Used twice against Setzer and once by Edgar to guarantee him both the throne and his brother's freedom.
Two Lines, No Waiting: Early in the game, Locke goes to South Figaro to stall the Empire, and later when going through the Lete river Sabin is separated from the party. You are then given the choice on who to play first: Locke, Sabin or the rest of the party.
Uncommon Time: The final movement of "Dancing Mad" alternates mostly between 4/4 and 7/8, although a few measures are in 2/2. "Another World of Beasts" is in 7/4 and "The Unforgiven" in 10/8.
Underrated And Overleveled: Relm. Despite being a ten-year-old with no training, she joins your party at roughly the same level all your other characters will be at, after your party has already successfully fought the Empire to a truce. Her magical abilities may be justified by her Thamasan blood, but her ability to swing a mace and take hits in combat is completely unexplained.
While not as severe a case as the Relm, who joins even later and clearly less fit as a physical fighter, Setzer would also count. The game never explains why he is so good with a sword, no where in his backstory has he ever trained or had to fight battles, yet he still able to keep up with the others from the moment he joins. He is strong enough that the empires strongest regular soldiers defending their capital are mere mooks to him when he joins!
Actually manages to shift RPG genres between Eastern and Western during the World of Ruin, where pretty much every section besides Kefka's Tower is not necessary to complete the game once you get your airship.
"Hey, who put this Opera in my Final Fantasy? Oh, who cares; Celes' Opera solo is a thing of beauty."
It's debatable if Setzer was giving the tutorial of the airship controls to the party and everyone can pilot it, or it was simply for the player's benefit and he still controls it. In the straight case, everybody seems to know how to pilot the Magitek Armor. Sabin does pilot it at some point, though (he crashes, but it's not really his fault).
In the SNES version, there is a scene with Sabin and Cyan where the player is lead to believe that the Magitek armor's controls are largely intuitive... for anyone who's not a complete luddite (as demonstrated by Cyan's spastic donuts in the Empire's camp after the poisoning of Doma Castle).
Upgrade Artifact: Magicite, though it's more of a case of speeding up the training instead of instant powers.
Urban Segregation: Jidoor is an extreme case, where the middle class live in the south of the town and the rich live in the north of town, and the richest man in town stays in a very large mansion at the very north. The poor faced endless pressure by the other citizens, and they eventually left and founded a town in the mountains, named Zozo, which ended up becoming a total hellhole. Later, Vector is split into three parts. The bottom is inhabited by Returner sympathizers and thieves, the upper part is patrolled by Imperial soldiers, and the top holds the massive Imperial Palace.
Vice City: Zozo and Vector. Zozo is full of burglars, insane mechanics, spellcasting dancers, and even giants, all of whom attack you in random encounters, and in Vector, there is a rather roguish man who might steal your money (1000 gil) if you sleep at his inn.
Video Game Stealing: Including clothes, which is necessary for Locke's sub-plot in South Figaro.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: Some players deliberately let Cid die, claiming it gives Celes more development. Whether this is true, or that it justifies letting him die, is hotly debated.
And of course, Video Game Caring Potential. Some of us saved and reloaded SEVERAL TIMES while figuring out the game, to make sure he lived.
Villain World: In the World of Ruin, Kefka is God. His tower dominates the main landmass, people live in fear of him, there's another tower built by a cult dedicated to him, most of your party members have given up any hope of trying to defeat him and turned their attention to personal matters, and in some cases they've just given up on life altogether.
Violation of Common Sense: Lampshaded when choosing to jump or not to jump into the huge waterfall, where refusal is titled "Are you crazy!?"
Visible Invisibility: The Invisible party members are visible as outlines. The enemies on other hand are completely invisible.
Wake Up Call Boss: At Narshe, Kefka prominently uses a very powerful Blizzara spell, a Drain spell to heal himself, has a decent physical blow, and a fair amount of HP. Up until him a few other bosses used magic too, but they had various weaknesses (poor HP, Revive Kills Zombie, etc) that made them less of a threat than they would be otherwise. Kefka did not suffer these problems, and unless you brought Celes to the fight so she could Runic his spells, he is very powerful. You're also penalized that you may not have a full party, unless you planned to fight through all his troops with one group of allies instead of dividing the load, which can potentially leave you drained of MP and/or healing items by the time you get to him.
Walk It Off: The Tintinabar/Tintinabulum relic, which restores a bit of health for the every step the wearer takes.
Warmup Boss: Ymir (also known as Whelk on the SNES and PSX versions) the giant lightning-absorbing snail.
Water Is Air: Besides the need of diving equipment, fighting in the serpent trench is the same as above water. One should also ask how three men are sharing a single diving helmet.
Banon and Arvis are nowhere to be found in the World of Ruin. It's likely they were killed when the world was demolished, or by Gestahl if they were still in Vector when he dropped the Heel Face Turn facade.
Vargas is another possibility. While it's likely he was killed in his only appearance, he didn't have the usual death animation of most enemies. Nonetheless, he's never seen nor mentioned again after that.
Why Don't You Just Stab Him?: Averted in a rare heroic example by Celes, who rather practically stabs Kefka while his back is turned right before he destroys the world. Unfortunately it wasn't a fatal blow.
Wide-Open Sandbox: The entire World of Ruin, after you get the airship, is nothing but voluntary character-centric sidequests, which was a really big deal at the time. It fits the plot of the game at that point, as all that's left is Kefka's tower, but you need to find your allies to stand a chance.
Womb Level: The Zone Eater's Belly. Kind of. The place isn't very organic, since it looks the same as any other cave and features the most random of enemies, like ninjas, dancers, frogs, thieves, demons, cursed samurai, and even flying zombies.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: It's hinted that Kefka doesn't destroy because he finds it fun, but because he's so insane from Magitek experiments corroding his mind that he can't feel love and friendship anymore, and now causing death and destruction is the only thing that can make him happy.
World Sundering: World of Ruin. "On that day, the world was changed forever...".
Wretched Hive: Zozo, a town far up in the rainy mountains where corpses and garbage rot in the streets, and there are actually random encounters, both indoors and outside, and even an end boss.
Wutai: The Kingdom of Doma is a technologically simplistic yet respectable nation guarded by samurai like Cyan. Later on, there's the Ancient Castle, where the ghosts of long-gone Samurai warriors can be encountered in random battles, along with the eastern-looking Blue Dragon and the recurring summoned character Odin making an appearance.
Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Cyan in the US version. It's fixed up in the GBA version. Really well, too. His thee/thou differentiation is accurate much of the time.
You Are Number Six: Two bosses in the Magitek Lab, both presumably Magitek creations of Cid.