Monday, July 25, 2011

aria di mezzo carattere

While skimming through random articles on Final Fantasy Wikia, I came across the entry for Aria di Mezzo Carattere and I was reminded of which I consider the best scene in a videogame, Final Fantasy VI's opera. Looking back, I'm impressed how such a simple scene can be so powerful. I would say that, even if it isn't the premiere cinematic/dramatic videogame scene, it's the greatest testament to the power of script in videogames.

In a nutshell, your party needs to cross the ocean in order to get to raid the Empire's capital city. It happens that the free-spirited rogue gambler who owns the world's only airship is an opera fanatic who has disclosed his intention of kidnapping and marrying the opera's main singer. Therefore, your party devise a plan of having the battle-hardened, former Empire general - who happens to look uncannily like the opera's main singer - take her place in the next performance, be kidnapped and convince the gambler to take your group across the ocean.

That's the unconventional background to the greatest scene in videogame history, the Aria di Mezzo Carattere. Mechanically, there's no challenge whatsoever: you play as Celes, the general, and just have to choose the right line three times among two available (which are conveniently presented to you right before you start the scene). Looking today, the mechanical constraints might even make it seem dated to some - to me, it makes it all the more charming. The song is intensely evocative and emotional, perfectly setting the appropriate mood. Without a doubt, it is one of my favourite pieces of videogame music, up there with masterpieces such as To Far Away Times from Chrono Trigger and Angel's Fear from Secret of Mana. I have a hard time listening to either of these without tearing up.

The opera's originality, lyricism, feeling and perfect composition are, in my opinion, still unparalleled to this day. That's why it's my favourite videogame scene.