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"He's returned because he needs to see a dentist and wants to get his revenge at Blitzball!"

"I figured it out: This is the ROM hack version of all of the random crossover fanfics I wrote in high school!"
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Return of the Dark Sorcerer is a ROM Hack project of Final Fantasy VI managed by Mike Ferrell (no, not that one!) that restructures the base game of Final Fantasy VI and introduces Original Generation characters as well as several guest characters from and numerous references to various video game and anime franchises.

The Black Rose empire is seeking world domination as it expands its magical research into fusing humans with the power of espers in order to create an unstoppable army of Shadow Knights. Two soldiers, Wedge and Biggs, are sent to the mining city of Fraust in order to retrieve a frozen esper that is said to be powerful enough to advance the empire's research by leaps and bounds. They are not alone, as a young, nameless woman capable of destroying an entire squad of Shadow Knights by herself is sent with them.

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This game provides examples of the following:

  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • Several scenes from the original game are expanded on, including an extended intro where Biggs and Wedge are given their orders, introduced to the amnesiac Aurora, and the player learns why Tifa turned traitor.
    • Oboro and Mog are available in the Battle of Fraust- though the former requires 2,000 gil to join- allowing for nine party members instead of the maximum of seven in the original.
    • Aurora has significantly more interaction with Leo during their short time together.
    • Interaction between Oboro and FuSoYa outright state that Oboro, a.k.a. Akira, is Eiko's Disappeared Dad.
  • The Atoner: Oboro did not kill Arc's mother, but feels responsible for his accomplice having done so.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Using one of Mog's Dances only makes him dance for that one turn rather than locking him into dancing for the whole battle.
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    • Cloud's Limit ability mirrors Cyan's Bushido skills from the original game, but the charge rate is significantly faster.
    • The Tyrano Tower does not limit the party to using only magic attacks and it's possible to cast Teleport to leave at any time in any room other than the very top.
  • Big Bad: The titular Dark Sorcerer, Zuriel, with Kefka being his current incarnation.
  • Big Little Brother: Ronan declares he's now the big brother after his training has turned him into a giant compared to how he was before and making him larger than Serin after they've reunited.
  • Boss Rush: Available as an optional challenge in Fraust in the World of Ruin by possessing a Dream Stone.
  • Blow You Away: Attempting to access Master Oyama's cabin to learn Ronan's final Combo without something heavy (the Lump of Coal from the train segment of Avalon's Dream) causes the entire party to be blown away by the sheer intensity of Oyama's training.
  • The Cameo: Several characters and monsters are lifted from other games/franchises:
    • Professor Oak replaces Professor Cid.
    • Prinnies make up the enemy units used to attempt to capture Aurora in the mines.
    • Rabites appear as early overworld enemies.
    • Wallmasters and Moblins are fought in the cave and overworld area between Durandal Castle and Seascape Town while Link himself can be found napping in the relic shop in Willoughby (doubling as a Shout-Out to his cameo appearance in Super Mario RPG). Error and several character sprites from A Link to the Past also appear in Seascape Village.
    • Reaching the Crimson Blade's hideout requires crossing Spiral Mountain.
    • Vega, the colored Beasts, and Man Eaters are among the enemies found within Spiral Mountain.
    • Raditz and Saibamen are fought at the end of Spiral Mountain while one of Ronan's Combo abilities is Vegeta's Gatlick Gun. Majin Buu later appears as a boss, Guru replaces Owzer, and Shenron is a Bonus Boss.
    • Gilgamesh makes a surprise appearance as an added boss fight in Aurora's scenario.
    • Finn and Jake can be found riding on the Skull Train.
    • Umaro is the unnamed Yeti that serves as the boss in Psycho City.
    • Several Espers come from different games. Notably Terra, Spikey Tiger, and Magic Pot.
    • Reptites serve as the Emperor's personal guard.
    • The Etecoons and Kraid appear as enemies and a boss, respectively.
    • Storm Eagle (actually a Palette Swap named Flame Eagle) appears as a boss.
    • Zemus and the Proto-Babil appear as boss fights.
    • Garuda replaces Death Gaze.
    • Orcs and Trollocs appear as regular enemies.
    • A Sarlacc replaces the Zone Eater.
    • (Evil) Mario and Wario serve as a Dual Boss.
    • Three of the Axem Rangers replace the Three Dream Stooges.
    • A Propagator serves as the game's Super Boss.
    • Torneko runs the item shop in Twilight Vista.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Serin's attempts at picking up Aurora when they first meet are practically met with an audible "Thud!"
  • Cast from Hit Points: Subverted. Avalon's Havoc ability deals damage based on his current HP. Unlike the traditional "Darkness" ability from other Final Fantasy titles, he does not lose any HP as a result of using it.
  • Determinator: Aerith does not do down easily. She fights off a squad of soldiers multiple times and has Kefka on the ropes before finally going down.
  • Developers' Foresight: Arc joins the party near the end of the Skull Train and it's possible to backtrack to the dining car and see a unique dialogue option for him if he's at the front of the party when ordering a meal there.
  • Driven to Suicide: If Professor Oak dies at the start of the World of Ruin, Tifa will attempt this, but survive.
  • Dual Wielding: Avalon naturally wields a pair of katanas.
  • Fridge Horror: In-Universe, the more horrifying implications of Kefka's Slave Crown used on Aurora are discussed.
  • Guest Fighter:
    • 16-bit versions of Cloud and Tifa from Final Fantasy VII replace Locke and Celes.
    • Arc is a more general example with his class being Onion Knight.
    • FuSoYa and Eiko replace Strago and Relm.
    • A Heartless named Shadow replaces Umaro in terms of how/where to recruit it but also replaces Gogo in being able to Mimic attacks.
  • Guest-Star Party Member:
    • Sir Astral fills Banon's role and takes his slot from the original game. Meeting up with him in the World of Ruin allows him to become semi-permanent by utilizing a special doll to summon him in a party of no more than 3.
    • The Reaper joins up for the Soul Train, Avalon's dream, and can also be summoned to the party via a special item obtained after the latter.
    • Leo joins the party for the battle against Leviathan and for the duration of the burning house.
    • Eiko's companion Moggie, a.k.a. the esper Madeen, joins for a few battles after defeating the boss in the burning house.
    • Golbez fights together with FuSoYa in a pair of flashback battles and again at the Floating Continent. He is the only one who can later join permanently without the need for a special item.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • How to obtain the Arkenstone in order to better light up dark areas: Defeat Big Daddy in Psycho City to obtain the Incinerator and use it to melt the snowman in Fraust.
    • How to obtain the Midgar Zolom Magicite: In the World of Ruin, enter the Undeveloped House, find a secret passage, and BMO's request to take him to Finn and Jake in Rampart.
  • Hope Spot: Aerith almost manages to save herself from Kefka and knocks him out, only he had Reraise in effect.
  • It's Personal: Taking Oboro to Facility X and learning about his backstory reveals that he has a personal grudge against Shijima for being the one to kill his old partner.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Avalon's weapon of choice.
  • Konami Code: Ronan's final Combo, the Guillotine Flash, requires inputting the code.
  • Lampshade Hanging: After Cloud enters Arvis's house through the roof, Arvis asks him who's going to repair his ceiling when Cloud tries to charge him 10,000 gil for protecting Aurora.
  • The Lost Lenore: Aerith replaces Rachel as Cloud's. Otis's wife died in an airship crash.
  • Marathon Level: The end of the Floating Continent is one: a boss fight against Zuriel, a second boss fight against Zemus and Zuriel, and an 18-minute escape sequence that includes difficult battles (some of which can't be escaped from) and one more boss fight at the end. Getting a game over at any point requires starting the whole sequence over again.
  • My Greatest Failure: Cloud failed to save Aerith by mere seconds before she succumbed to her wounds.
  • New Game+: Unlockable via obtaining the Time Egg from Garuda and presenting it to the right person inside the Dimensional Gateway or by beating the game. It carries items, espers, and learned skills over, but not levels.
  • Nice Hat: Sir Astral wears a traditional pointy wizard's hat.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Zemus until casting Meteor on him. The Propagator until casting Ultima on it.
  • Original Generation: Aurora, Serin, Ronan, Oboro and Cerberus, Sir Astral, Arc, Avalon, the Reaper, and Otis replace Terra, Edgar, Sabin, Shadow and Interceptor, Banon, Gau, Cyan, the unnamed Ghost, and Setzer respectively.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Several additional items and areas become unavailable after the World of Balance: The Lightsaber, Pirates Cove, and encountering the UFO.
    • The Dream Stone is only available during the Mist Castle segment of Avalon's Dream. Failing to obtain it locks the player out of the Boss Rush that unlocks the Jade Skull (this hack's version of the Moogle Charm).
  • Porn Stash: One of Serin's orders to his soldiers before the submersion of Durandal Castle is to make sure his is well-hidden.
  • Punny Name: Jomama the Moogle. Mr. Grimm the Soultaker.
  • Pirates Versus Ninjas:
    • The primary reason why the Moogles help Cloud protect Aurora is because Prinnies are their natural enemy. The dog fight in Lorima is even replaced with a Moogle fighting a Prinny.
    • In the game itself, Otis is a pirate and Oboro is a ninja.
  • Really 700 Years Old: FuSoYa is not only the same as the one from Final Fantasy IV but he has lived on Gaia after the events of that game for at least 3,000 years. He even fought in the Magi Wars alongside Golbez!
  • Shout-Out:
    • Ultros will shout, "It burns us!" if he's hit with fire in his first battle.
    • Many of the music tracks are remixed versions of notable themes from other franchises.
    • KlaTu has the same appearance as men from Gothica in Secret of Evermore.
  • Sky Pirate: Otis is a former Dragoon turned Sky Pirate.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Otis's speech is very stereotypical pirate. Even the note he writes for Gail is patterned after pirate speech.
  • There Is Another: A villainous example- Kefka doesn't lament having accidentally killed Aerith because he still has Aurora at that point.
  • Timed Mission: Along with the ones from the original game, the Leviathan battle has a 6-minute timer while the burning house has a 7-minute (up until the boss fight, at least). The escape from the Floating Continent is extended to 18 minutes.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ultros's personality remains as goofy as ever, but his custom sprite for this game makes him look terrifying.
  • Victory by Endurance: Aerith lost to Kefka only for one reason: He could heal himself. She couldn't.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The question of whatever happened to Oboro's one-time partner who killed Arc's mother is left unanswered.
  • You Killed My Mother: Arc's motivation for revenge against Oboro.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair:
    • Kefka's hair is recolored to be green in this version while Aurora's hair is purple. It later reverts to blonde when he's revealed to be Zuriel.
    • Serin as "Snakes" tries invoking this as an excuse for why he couldn't possibly be Serin.
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