Review by zoradude

"So many mixed feelings."

Introduction
Back on the Super Nintendo a wonderful Final Fantasy game was released titled Final Fantasy III. Now later on we all learned that this in fact was not the real Final Fantasy III. They had taken what in Japan was Final Fantasy VI and made it into Final Fantasy III for the North American market, completely skipping the real Final Fantasy III and II for that matter. Well after a long wait of over ten years us English speaking folk finally get to play Final Fantasy III legally.

I picked it up almost immediately on its release and after starting and beating it just recently am ready to write my thoughts on it. It is a giant pile of mixed tricks. New meets old really, and it does not mesh together to well in my opinion.

Also something I would like to point out for this review specifically is for once I feel the need to explain each point given in each category. Especially with this being a Final Fantasy game, probably the biggest RPG company in the world.

Story - 6/10
First for the story. To be honest the story is exactly what I expected it to be when I bought the game. You start the game as a teen male named Luneth who falls into a hole and encounters a massive crystal. He and three other people, Arc, Refia, and Ingus, are sent on a task to stop bad things from happening in the world and eventually vanquish the 'darkness'. Something I will say I was pleased with though is the antagonist's motives. They are semi cliche but it is more then I actually expected to be in this game.

Now my one beef with the story, which I completely expected to be honest. The everlasting feel of not making progress. You seem to spend a lot of the game doing things that don't seem to make any sense to the main story line of the game and to be honest they really don't add to the game at all. This feel thankfully tends to go away near the end of the game but at the start it has a strong presence there.

As for the characters, I once again was correct in my assumptions. The characters are very, very stale. You have Luneth who is Mr. Goody I will jump into anything to save people. Granted he never does this it really is the feeling you get from him. Refia, she is your young rebelling teenage girl who does not want to follow in her father's footsteps as a blacksmith. Arc is your kind hearted male character that will befriend anyone. Ingus, he is your 'Cloud' to compare him to other Final Fantasy characters. A rough and tough man who does not talk much and goes to get things done. That is that, the characters do not get any more in-depth at all from that and it really makes you even forget they are real characters involved in the story.

End Results:
Don't expect an epic story line in the least; this is after all a NES port over onto the DS.
+5 for at least having a story with a small bit of depth to it.
+1 for when you discover the antagonist's motives.
-2 for the feel of not getting anything done and the sense of randomness you get at times.
-2 for the lack of character development in this re-release. The game went from staring no characters on the NES to having stale characters on the DS, not much of an update.


Graphics - 9/10
I have to say I was impressed when I first turned on the game - so to expand upon that before even entering the game. Once you turn on the game you are greeted by a wonderful cut scene done in the style of the Metroid Prime demo a lot of us got with our DS. It was very much eye candy and I have watched it many times just because it is nice to watch. To be honest it does not match the game's actual story line in the least but if the feelings from this were thrown into the game's actual story I might of enjoyed the game's characters a bit more.

Now onto the game's graphics itself. I was shocked when I got into the game and started playing. After being fed remake after remake of old Square titles from Final Fantasy I to Chrono Trigger I 100% expected this game to be a 2D port onto the DS with updated graphics. How stunned I was to find it completely the opposite. The entire game is in 3D. Every character, every monster, and every landscape. It is done very well. To compare it to other Final Fantasy games I would say it is about the same as Final Fantasy VIII except the environment is 3D opposed to the painted backdrop look.

But how are these graphics in terms of the DS's capabilities. Well I think they are quite good. Granted my DS library is fairly small at this point it by far has the best graphics of any of my current titles. Nothing seems really horrible to look at; in fact most of the game is very pleasant. Some of the dungeons especially near the end of the game are pure eye candy on the DS. The game even does a decent job at stopping the repetitive feel when you move from town to town. You can tell most of them apart from each other. Big thumbs up to Square on seeing this through.

The cut scenes are something else worth mentioning. The game for not having a very well developed plot has a lot of cut scenes. I really enjoyed watching them in this game. The camera can roam anywhere in the scenes which actually add some sort of feeling to the lack luster story, showing facial expressions and movements close up. The camera use is very well done for the game.

Now onto the reason I did not give this section a 10/10. Yes the game is in 3D, but is it perfect? No. They really don't make much use of the game actually being 3D; the game quite frankly plays like a 2D game, especially in dungeons. You don't ever see a dungeon with say a path going downward actually look like it is moving down until near the end of the game. The rest of the buildings, maps, and dungeons are very 2D feeling which really saddens me.

End Results:
Amazing really, a pleasant surprise for the DS. The first Final Fantasy game to be ported with a change of 2D graphics in favor of 3D.
+9 for being 3D and looking very nice on the DS
-1 for the 2D feel of maps.


Sound - 9/10
Yes, a 9 out of 10 for this as well. The music in Final Fantasy III is very delightful. You hear your well known Final Fantasy tunes with some new very nice tunes. The final boss for example has some of the best music I have heard on final bosses as of late, I was really pleased. As for sound effects in the game there is nothing spectacular. But this really is to be expected for the game does not really have any cut scenes where major sound effects would be needed.

For the one minor complaint in the game is the lack of tracks. You go through the whole game hearing the same tracks for most things and there are really not a lot of them. The same tunes are used for battles, different dungeons, and certain events good or bad. It really hurts the game a bit where you might forget a certain track is even playing because your ears have heard it so much. The songs are good but overplayed in this title.

End Results:
Great music, mediocre but not really needed sound effects.
+9 to let the great classics roll on all night
-1 for the sound effects and the repetitive nature of the music.


Gameplay - 5/10
The final category and one of the most important to Final Fantasy games, gameplay. This is where my mixed feelings come in to a major degree. It has a lot of positive traits and just as many negative. To start with what I like.

Reviving the turned based battle system. It has been dead for a long time and there are many reasons why but I won't go into those. I am really happy they left this intact in the game. It is a constant reminder to us why we started loving RPGs in the first place and is some of the most fun in my opinion as far as battle systems go. A lot of people hate them but I hold onto them because I find them to be just plain fun.

You have your normal commands, attack, defend, run, etc. But there is also a command for each class of the game which is quite a bit with over 20 classes to play as. They range from your Monk and Warriors to things such as the Geomancer and Scholar. Some are incredibly useful while others are lacking. The White Mage for example can be your primary healer, while the Scholar is close to useless. His ability allows him to study the enemy allowing you to see its HP and weaknesses if any, other then that he can cast no magic and does not hit very hard. Either way, most of the classes are fun to play with and it is possible to beat the game with just about any combination.

As for the game map itself, it is just average for an RPG. There are basically no puzzles in any dungeon, town or anything. Not even the occasional find a key or hit a switch to unlock a door. It makes the game less frustrating but also adds a very bored feeling and makes you wonder why your goal of the dungeon would be so far down with no traps or protection. You run forever with the only thing ever stopping you is random encounters, and boy the term random is literal in this game which is my next topic.

Randomness, this game reeks with it. I don't know what formulas were used in this game but battles are impossible to strategically plan due to it. One turn the boss can attack first almost killing your team, you heal everyone back to full. Next turn comes around and you expect the same thing to happen, but newsflash. For some reason your healer who just went last the previous turn is going first in this turn. I don't see how player stats even fit into the game. The same can be said for attacking. One turn my Warrior could attack for 9999 non crit, then the next turn he would attack for 5600 non crit. It makes close to no sense at all. The same can be said for enemies. Better pray an enemy never single targets one of your people with a magic spell or uses their strongest spell on everyone two times in a row, there is almost no way to recover and you could find yourself dead on the second turn of the fight.

Now my absolute biggest complaint with the entire game. The lack of two things that really take the fun out of it. First, save points. There are NO, absolutely NO save points in this game. Now this does not sound too weird seeing as Final Fantasy I for example was the same way. The only way to save the game was to save on the world map. This returns here except it forgot one of the key mechanics that made the system work. Tents. There are no tents or anything of the sort in this game. If you want to restore HP and MP or revive a dead party member without wasting one of your few Phoenix Downs you will go to an over priced inn. It absolutely kills the gameplay and it shows often.

Picture this. You travel through a long dungeon and are almost out of MP for Cura. Well your about to fight the boss but with low MP you don't feel ready for the boss fight. So you venture all the way outside the dungeon to save the game just in case. Oh well what a surprise, you won't be getting the MP back anyway as saving will just assure you keep the treasure you looted in the dungeon making your next run in much faster. So now with low MP not ready to fight the boss you decide you want to go back to a town, which can be a long trek.

These kinds of things coupled with a few other problems create the core problem, which hurts the game greatly and makes you easily frustrated with it. I know I have gone through one of the dungeons many times just to get one shot by a boss then spend another 20 minutes getting back to the boss for it to happen again. It got really old really fast.

End Results:
Glad to see the battle system revived, but lots of problems in the game make it really annoying to play.
+5 for reviving the battle system and fun elements long lost in the Final Fantasy universe.
-2 for the amount of random factors in the game that occur in battle.
-3 for the lack of save points and a tent system.


Conclusion
If you love Final Fantasy such as me buy the game for your collection. Deal with the frustrations from gameplay such as the lack of the tent system. Most of us will play the game just to see the Final Fantasy we missed over ten years ago. Modern day RPG fans that enjoy epic story lines and character development and a more involved battle system should steer away from this because you will just be crying by the end.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 07/20/07


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