Final Fantasy VI is pretty much my favorite game, so expect this overview to be biased. Released in 1994, it came to American shores as Final Fantasy III through a fluke of the numbering system. It was the third Final Fantasy game western shores had seen, but there were three more that had only been released in Japan. I refer to it as Final Fantasy VI here, because Squaresoft has done a lot to try to correct the American Final Fantasy timeline, including releasing the real Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy III, and Final Fantasy V. But when I first played the game, it was Final Fantasy III, and when IGN called declared it their top RPG of all time they refer to it as Final Fantasy III.
The game has since been rereleased for Playstation with some bonus FMV content, and in February of 2007 it was released again for the Gameboy Advance.
The story is meant to be operatic. The score is composed using the Wagnerian idea of leitmotifs, it also contains a miniature opera written for the game-- The Dream Oath. Final Fantasy VI is also unique in that it is an ensemble tale. While certain characters pull more weight in the story than others, the game lacks a true main. There is no Cecil, there is no Cloud. Instead, the story is about working to gether to save the world from crisis, and the power and bonds of love and friendship. It sounds corny, and it is. But it's still drastically different than the story of the hero and his six or seven friends in the background.
The tale goes something like this: 1000 years ago, there was a conflict called the War of the Magi. It reduced the world to near-ashes, but during that time, people used something called magic. Since that war, magic has left the world, and has become something legendary. Recently, a political force referred to only as the Empire has been seeking to revive magic. The Empire, as you can guess by its name, is bent on world domination, and if they were to harness the power of magic, they would be unstoppable. The key to their success, and the rebel faction's determination to halt it, is in a young woman named Terra. Terra has the innate ability to use magic, and she falls into rebel hands at the beginning of the game.
What follows is a story of destruction and rebirth. Your party, aligned with the Returners, the leading rebel faction, seeks to find a way of halting the Empire's reign of terror. But somewhere along the way, the Empire, and the rest of the world, vanish; all that is left is your characters, their wide array of personal problems, and hope.