Review by LordShibas
"So Much Wasted Potential"
Since I've been in a gaming slump lately, I decided to play a Final Fantasy game to get my gaming blood flowing in a positive direction again. I've been playing my DS a lot lately, so Final Fantasy III for DS seemed like a great option. The game had been sitting in my collection for quite some time now and I've never touched it.
However, the retribution I received in return was even more painful than the games that got me into my gaming slump to begin with. I've played quite a few mediocre and subpar Final Fantasy games in my life, but Final Fantasy III is now running neck and neck with Final Fantasy II as the worst Final Fantasy game I have ever played.
Final Fantasy III does have a few bright spots, and I'll try to highlight those as well, but for now I'll do a brief background of the game.
Final Fantasy III for the DS is a port of the old NES game Final Fantasy III that was never released in the US. Square/Enix decided to do a complete overhaul of the game and re-release it on the DS. I've never played the original, so this was fresh experience for me.
Everything about Final Fantasy III is pretty standard and old school for the most part, but one of the standout features of Final Fantasy III is the inclusion of a job system. Instead of having standard classes for each character, you can change jobs for any character at anytime during the game, allowing you to have a huge variety of customization in your party's development. The job system is a blessing and a curse at the same time. It allows for a great bit of freedom, but it lacks continuity and balance across the board and ends up becoming more of a problem than anything else.
The story follows the adventures of Luneth, Arc, Refia, and Ingus. These are your four main party members who all just happen to conveniently be orphans. The story doesn't really deviate from the Final Fantasy norm much and it's almost a carbon copy from the story in the original Final Fantasy. So if you are familiar with the crystal gathering exploits of the 4 Chosen Warriors of Light from before, you should know what to expect.
Overall, the game is pretty generic and Square/Enix has included some questionable gameplay mechanics into the game as well. First off, the game is unapologetically brutal at times, secondly, the menu interfaces are incredibly unintuitive and are more confusing than anything, and finally, the omnipotent job system will force you to play the game a certain way, and totally negate the perception of the open ended character growth that it depicts.
I must start out this review by saying that the graphics in Final Fantasy III are pretty good and they are quite possibly one of the best assets the game has. The world of Final Fantasy III now has 3D characters in pre-rendered backgrounds. This is an impressive feat, especially on the DS.
The problem with the graphics is that they are often washed out, dull, and pixelated. Not only this, but the animations during battles are frequently jerky and the character models lack a substantial amount of detail.
In spite of this, Final Fantasy III does look pretty good for a DS game, but it just seems like Square/Enix was trying too hard to make the game look stellar, and it ended up suffering in the long run.
Sounds and Music 8/10
If there was one thing about this game that I truly enjoyed it would have to be the music. Most of the music in the game is standard Final Fantasy inspired music, but for some reason I really enjoyed it in Final Fantasy III. I especially liked the dungeon music. It seems odd at first but it really grew on me and ended up being one of my favorite tracks in the game.
There is no voice acting, and the sound effects are not all that great, but the amiable music more than makes up for it. Very few DS games make me want to max out my headphones, but Final Fantasy III was one of them.
This is where things start to get a little rocky for Final Fantasy III. The game begins as Luneth (the main character) falls down a hole and stumbles upon a large, oracle-like crystal. The crystal calls him The chosen one, and informs him that he must gather the other crystals to save the world .wait. Didn't this happen before? Oh that's right. It's the same thing that happened in the original Final Fantasy. The Warriors of Light must seek out the crystals to save the world. Nice, way to blatantly recycle a storyline Square. Seriously, did they even try?
The gameplay in Final Fantasy III is where it really falls apart. I can tolerate job systems in games, but the job system in Final Fantasy III is precariously implemented, has too much governing power, and forces you to have certain abilities and jobs at certain points in the game. This really gets annoying, since switching jobs has a transition period where you are slightly less powerful. The job system also restricts equipment usage for certain classes at times and will leave characters of certain classes with inadequate gear unless they switch jobs. The job system is unnerving to say the least, and it was a major turn off while I was playing this game.
Another aspect of the gameplay I'd like to touch on is the cheap difficulty that this game has. The enemies you face are often quite strong and can wipe out you characters in a few hits. The enemies also seem to be great at singling out characters in your party and pounding the tar out of them, especially white mages, who will fall in a few hits. There is much more to the extreme difficulty than the previously mentioned stuff. Boss characters are able to attack twice in a row, the job system will often leave you with inadequate skills and spells due to you class decisions, and the game is incredibly unforgiving about it all due to the extreme difficulty.
One final thing I'd like to berate Final Fantasy III about is its poor menu systems. This game has quite possibly the most confusing and poorly laid out menus I've ever seen. Buying items in shops takes some getting used to since it doesn't show you a comparative analysis to the equipment you currently have, and the magic menu lets you equip magic that you can't even use.
I was very disappointed in Final Fantasy III's gameplay, and it really let me down.
Longevity and Re-Playability 4/10
You know, with so many good RPGs out there, and so many good Final Fantasy games out there, I don't see why anyone would want to play this game after experiencing it once. The horribly crafted gameplay and story just ruin the experience.
The quest may be a lengthy one, but you will have to put up with constant annoyances like the difficulty and restrictions of the job system that will grate on your before too long.
Final Fantasy III is at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to Final Fantasy games. I would say playing almost any other Final Fantasy game would be a better decision than playing Final Fantasy III. Well it's kind of a toss up between Final Fantasy II and III, but I'd stay away from both of them, unless you can deal with the problems that I've mentioned in this review.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 03/20/09
Game Release: Final Fantasy III (US, 11/14/06)
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