Review by Big Bob
"A good game, but it's too archaic for my tastes."
Originally, I only bought Final Fantasy III to play in line while I waited for the Wii, which would be coming out the following weekend. It didn't keep me interested very long, and I ended up playing through several other games before I finally got around to finishing this one. I'm only a casual fan of the Final Fantasies. I usually only play them to see what all the fuss is all about, and while I prefer some to others, I'm usually indifferent about them. I've played I, II, and IV on the GBA, and it's actually quite clear that the DS version of FFIII is nothing more than a 3D version of the first game, with a job system.
The game starts off simply enough: Luneth has fallen into a hole, and soon meets up with three other kids and goes off on a journey to save the world. That's pretty much it. I was quite surprised how little of a plot there was in this game. While FFI was lacking a plot as well, FFII had quite a detailed plot, so isn't it counterproductive to take out what started to give the series a fresh start? Luneth, Arc, Refia, and Ingus have almost no character development throughout the game, which really hurts the game, as that's why FFII and FFIV were above average. There's a couple of moments in the game where a non-player character will talk almost exclusively to a single party member, but instead of this resulting in the two becoming friends, it only seems awkward. (Why is this Prince so fixed on talking to Arc?) I doubt it had much of a story back on the NES, but they could have at least spruced it up a little for this remake.
So instead of the usual Final Fantasy game where the story is the focus, it's the gameplay that makes FFIII what it is. Specifically, the big highlight of the game is the job system. Once you've gained access to a set of jobs, you can change your characters' stats and abilities at any time outside a battle. One minute you can be a Warrior and wield a sword in the front lines, and the next you can be a summoner, physically weak but capable of summoning a dragon to do your work for you. It's actually quite an interesting system, and the part of the game I had the most fun with. Although certain classes are only allowed certain kinds of equipment, and that there's a moment after changing where the character is weakened, it's still cool to sit around and experiment with different combinations of classes. For a while I was using a Red Mage, only to find out that it wasn't doing as much damage as my offensive classes and was pretty much only used for White Magic, so I switched to a White Mage, and later a Devout. Some classes are clearly better than others, which takes some of the fun out of it, but each class also has a job level in addition to your character's level, so you're encouraged to find a job you like and stick with it. They could have cleaned up the jobs a bit, but as far as this game goes, it's fine (and I hear it WAS cleaned up for FFV).
Besides all that, you do typical Final Fantasy stuff: visit towns, go through dungeons, level up, etc. If you don't mind a small spoiler, you start the game on a floating island, and there is a large number of towns and dungeons on it. After that you to go the actual planet and explore there. But the weird thing is: there are more places to go on that one island than the rest of the world. That was rather annoying, being excited about having a huge world to explore, only to find out there's not nearly as much to actually do on it. And this game essentially proves that Square needs to do something about the dungeons. I've always found Final Fantasy dungeons to be rather dull, as they only require you to go from point A to point B with only monsters in between. How about some puzzles, people? Of course, this is merely a remake than an entirely new game, but it's still a problem that plagues later installments as well.
As for the rest of the stuff, the game certainly looks and sounds great. I've never played a ROM of the NES FFIII, but the music is solid and it looks just fine for a DS game. Not particularly impressive, but it gets the job done. Unfortunately, I wouldn't really recommend this game unless you're a hardcore Final Fantasy fan or are simply curious about how the series has evolved. It's a good game for a while, but some things, such as the fact that you cannot save anywhere but the overworld map, really ruin the experience. The final battle in particular is a pain, as it requires 2 hours of play without saving, as well as a boss that is way overpowered in the amount of time it would take the average player to get there. To me, this game was just there so I could say I beat it.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 01/02/07, Updated 02/28/11
Game Release: Final Fantasy III (US, 11/14/06)
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