The Divine Comedy and Final Fantasy VI

Alright, I admit, it’s not a clever title, but it gets the point across. I was about three when I first started playing video games. Although I wasn’t good enough to beat the games, I was pretty good for a small runt. The few games that I remember playing were all role-playing games because they had the nice graphics, cool music, and my mom played them before my sister and I were born when my dad was out at work either in the Navy base or out at sea. However, after we came along, my mom dropped the controller to pursue a degree in teaching, so my sister and I basically picked up the dropped controller and continued it for her. That being said, Final Fantasy VI was one of few games that we played and managed to beat.

It was called Final Fantasy III since it was the third Final Fantasy game released in the US

Final Fantasy VI is easily one of my top three favorite games and is one of the biggest factors in my life, basically. It had fourteen characters with twelve of the characters’ background introduced. Although these characters were completely different from one another, they came together to fight a common enemy in the most non-cliché way. The art was magnificent (and the best at the time when Nintendo was battling it out with Sega), the music was beautiful and fit with the game perfectly, and you could play it over and over again without getting tired of it. Although some fans would complain that it was too easy, it was perfect for a guy like me who struggled with games period.

The main villain of the game is Kefka Palazzo, a court mage who eventually ascends into godhood through magic. This guy was just insane-evil with his trademark laughter, jester appearance, one-liners, and inhumane acts toward everything around him. He poisoned the water supply of an enemy kingdom to make the battle go faster, which killed both the enemy kingdom’s army (except for one character who joins you) AND the captured prisoners that came from his own army. He disregards everyone around him and even back-stabs his own emperor to ascend into godhood. By doing so, he eventually casts the world into an apocalypse and changed the world completely. However, all was not lost when the group gathered together again and brought the battle to Kefka himself in his own tower. This is where the final fight begins and the relationship between Dante’s Inferno and Final Fantasy VI begins.

Before I begin, however, you have to understand what makes this battle so great. First, it’s the first real gauntlet that any RPG player has experienced, meaning that the fights are back-to-back. It helps create this carefulness and knowing that if you do screw up, you have to start from the beginning again. Second, the music is so great that it still gives me chills to this day. The song is called Dancing Mad and the original one lasts about seventeen minutes with each section repeating twice. The song’s structure fits with the Gothic art and renaissance theme throughout the game. The organ cadenza is used throughout the song and gives it a unique baroque feel. Third, the enemies in the final fight have this eerie look to them. Some of the enemies don’t downright have it, but a couple of them actually look like Kefka himself, but this is often a debate among fans of the game whether or not they were intentionally designed like it.

So this is the first three battles that the player must partake in before fighting the final boss, Kefka. I’m going to make things simple by calling them Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.

The first wave, which is Hell, consists of Visage and both of his arms. These guys aren’t tough at all, but they are significant to the comparison to Dante’s Inferno. Visage is suppose to represent Satan, and it’s pretty clear when you take note of his design. You can only see his torso-up area with his lower torso disappeared by mist, and if you read about the final circle, you can definitely see the resemblance. Plus, Visage’s face is weak to fire, which may be a reference to the fact that Hell is covered in ice, especially since no other enemy has a weakness.

The Purgatory wave consists of four enemies: Tiger, Magic, Machine, and Power. In Purgatory, Dante meets famous saints and recognizes some characters from literature. It is also where the reader learns about the Mountain of Purgatory and how love is a major factor in it. The mountain is suppose to represent the seven deadly sins and how God’s love is pure, but it becomes sinful once it flows through humanity. In a way, it is reflected on the enemies encountered on this wave. Power is very easy as it is what a lot of humans tend to strive towards, but Machine is also unique since our lives are practically revolved around machines. I’m not so sure about Tiger and Magic, as it is an ongoing debate whether or not animals do go to heaven (All Dogs Go to Heaven ‘s reaction is a good example), but magic is often seen something to do in Hell. Maybe they just added those in as characters and I’m reading too much into it, who knows.

And finally, Heaven is actually the nail in the coffin here. There are a lot of things that I want to cover in this part that are really interesting and cool. The first thing to note is the song that plays during this part.

Listen in at 4:05 until 6:33

While the third part of the song begins at about 4:43, I think the build-up at 4:05 is what makes the 4:43 part very well. Anyway, I want you to listen to another song.

The Fugue in D minor, which starts at 2:50, sounds very similar to Dancing Mad part 3. The keyboard notes being played in a melody is similar, the triplet notes has shares a certain rhythm to it, and the final keyboard notes has this satisfying feeling that the Dancing Mad third part contains as well. The organ has always been my favorite instrument since I was little, and it may have come from Dancing Mad part 3, actually.

While the music is what brings out the unique feeling of the Heaven theme out, the key note here is also the way that the two enemies, Lady and Rest, are portrayed.

I couldn’t find a smaller picture

This picture is called the Pietà, and it is a work done by Michaelangelo. The Pietà is the portrayal of Jesus being cradled by Mary before his crucifixion, and the similarities of the two are obvious. The music and the similarity to the painting gives the battle this unique religious yet renaissance feel to it. Rest is suppose to symbolize Jesus while Lady is suppose to symbolize Mary. Extra trivia is the fact that Lady was actually going to be named Maria, which is Italian for Mary, but because of the religious sensitivities (which is understandable since it looks like you’re stabbing the virgin Mary with swords), they changed it to Lady. After the player defeats Lady and Rest, then the final boss finally approaches.

This is Kefka’s God mode, and his entrance is really flashy. The music builds up to this chorus who supposedly says, “Kefka” twice, but actual words could not actually be produced, so sounds that actually sound the “Kef” and the “Ka” are played, which is an interesting note to make (no pun intended). Eventually, Kefka descends from the heavens and speaks his opening lines: “Life… dreams… hope… Where do they come from? And where do they go? Such meaningless things…I’ll destroy them all!” This part is exactly similar to where Dante eventually meets God and God tells Dante the meaning of life, but Kefka says that there is no meaning. Kefka’s God mode also resembles Lucifer himself with the six wings all-together and the fact that one of his attacks is called Fallen One, or later changed to Heartless Angel, which could both describe Lucifer. Something to take note is that throughout this gauntlet, most of the enemies wear sashes and capes, similar to what Kefka wore. Rest, who resembles Kefka in a way, has a unique placement in the gauntlet stage. If we look at it like Kefka are those forms of enemies, then we can see that Rest is the final phase of Kefka’s ascension to Godhood. It may be a long reach, but seeing it in a different way adds a bit more understanding and uniqueness to my favorite boss.
My favorite concept art, but it’s a bit too big for a blog


3 thoughts on “The Divine Comedy and Final Fantasy VI

  1. Also, I do know that “All Dogs Go to Heaven” is basically Adam and Eve and Jesus all in a dog movie. The fall and rise of humanity in a children movie, I totally don’t see what could have gone wrong. Sarcasm, btw.

    • You know, I’ve watched “All Dogs Go to Heaven” about a zillion times, because one of my girls watched it on repeat until I hid it. It never made me think of Bible stories at all. You always have a different perspective. That’s awesome.

    • You know, I’ve watched “All Dogs Go to Heaven” about a zillion times, because one of my girls watched it on repeat until I hid it. It never made me think of Bible stories at all. You always have a different perspective. That’s awesome.

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