Review by SmeagolsBane

"A true classic given new life."

The original Final Fantasy III was released in Japan as the last Final Fantasy for the original Nintendo. It never came to American shores, and the Final Fantasy III that was released in America was actually Japan's Final Fantasy VI. Now, for the first time the real Final Fantasy III has made its way to our shores. Not content to simply port the original game over, the folks at Square-Enix decided to do a remake of sorts. And the results are beautiful.

Taking advantage of the Nintendo's newest handheld, the DS, developers at Square have completely translated the game into a 3-D format. The result is one of the best looking games on the Nintendo DS handheld, while remaining an almost perfect adaptation of the original classic. The only major change has been to the main characters, which have received a boost in personality and backstory.

Final Fantasy III also shares many of the traits common to all Final Fantasy games. Chocobos, Airships, Moogles, and the obligatory character named "Cid" are all hallmarks of a Final Fantasy game

The action takes place primarily on the DS's lower screen, the top screen is rarely used. In dungeons or towns the top screen remains blank, and while on the world map the top screen shows a map of your location. Graphically the game is gorgeous. Every town and dungeon follow the same layout as the original version, yet all brought to life in a colorful 3-D. The enemies are all very detailed and do justice to their original 2-D sprite counterparts.

Despite the updated graphics this game is decidely oldschool and the storyline is still fairly simplistic, not matching the huge epic and sprawling storylines of the series mosty recent entries. It tells a tale of four orphans that are chosen by sentient crystals to save the world from an evil force. The story is fairly straightforward, yet throughout the journey, your party will encounter several interesting characters and subplots that all build up towards the climactic conclusion. While the story isn't going to blow anyone away, there is a good sense of satisfaction after completing your heros quest.

Despite the straightforward nature of the story, where this game shines is in the Job system. The Job system allows you to customize all your characters in any way you see fit. As you progress through the game you unlock various Job classes that can be assigned to various characters and changed whenever you see fit. The combinations are endless, and the Jobs range from healers, to warriors, to summoners, to a myriad of other useful and less-then-useful classes. Experimenting with different party setups and jobs is a lot of fun to tinker with until you find just the right combination.

Despite the flexibility and innovation in the Job system, the battle system is about as oldschool as it gets. When in battle you input your commands to each character, and watch them carry it out, and the enemies do the same. There is no active battle system in place, so you have all the time in the world to decide what to do. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing who will act first during a battle, which can make strategizing during boss battles frustrating, as a critical healing spell may be used at the wrong moment.

The difficulty level of this game can be a bit punishing at times. There are no save points within dungeons, so if you traverse a lengthy dungeon and lose to the boss at the end of it, it's back to the beginning of the dungeon to try again. It really pays off to take the time to level up your characters, as tedious a job as that can be. The final dungeons in particular feature several boss battles and can take over two hours to complete, with nary a save point in sight, so it helps to ensure your characters are plenty powerful enough to overcome their foes or you'll find yourself tempted to throw your DS against the wall at a few points.

Overall Final Fantasy III is a great effort. The work put into redoing the oldschool graphics for a new system is impressive, and the innovative Job system is a whole lot of fun. Newcomers to RPG's may be put off by the difficulty and the rather unforgiving nature of the game, but for anyone up to the challenge you'll find 30+ hours of quality classic gaming goodness.

8/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/11/07


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