Review by gothic_chic

"Sixteen years doesn't seem that bad a wait for this title......"

Final Fantasy III Review

This Christmas I received Final Fantasy III DS. It was a game in the series I had no former knowledge of until I read the October 2006 article of Nintendo Power, however, I did not develop a full interest in it until a few months ago. Little did I know when I popped in the teeny cartridge, that I would soon begin to play my second favorite FF game. Yes, I am serious. FFIII is my second favorite FF game right after FFX and it is my favorite entry in the old school FF's (FFI-VI).

FFIII is the narrative of four teenaged heroes, Luneth, Arc, Refia and Ingus, brought together by fate and they must save the world from a spreading darkness. They are the four Warriors of the Light and it is their destiny to embark on a great quest to keep their world from being consumed by evil. Yeah, we've all heard that before.

The story was slightly disapointing for me. It was sort of...stale and worn from the numerous other games that have treaded the same storyline. There was no romance or blooming friendships. No major tradgedy. No trials of beliefs or faith. No nothing. It's like getting a coffee, but with no milk, sugar, or syrups to help the flavour taste better.

I was also disapointed with the characters, but not in the way that everyone else was. Many other reviewers have called these characters stale and personalityless, but that's far from true. In this remake, the characters actually DID have personalities. Luneth is the easy going, cheery, HOT and courageous guy. Arc Is the intelligent, cute, shy boy who can easily put himself in the shoes of others and wants to prove he is not weak. Refia is the motherly and polite girl who's being dragged into a smithing career she doesn't want by her stepfather. And Ingus is the noble, hot, protective and chivarilous knight who has a very wide vocabulary (meaning he likes to use BIG words).

The developers did do a good job with the characters, but they made one fatal mistake: The four main heroes barely had dialouge. If there had been more dialouge between the four warriors, their personalities and their relationship with one another might have actually meant something. We would've actually felt for these people had the developers allowed them the time to speak amongst themselves during scenes. And because they barely even speak with one another, it seems as if they don't even share a friendly relationship, but rather, are just a bunch of acquiantences traveling together. Even Luneth and Arc, who are said to be best friends from childhood, don't seem to interact like friends should.

Another issue is that the characters barely speak with other minor characters (who even seemed to have more fleshed out personalities than the Light Warriors themselves. (Well, except for one, who is a BIG Mary Sue.). The minor characters that briefly join your party are chatterboxes, yet the party remains silent. And that silence is what keep most gamers from getting to know the people they were controlling.

The story is also a bit dry. Most of the twists in the plot are easily foreshadowed and the story seems to just go on and on, to the point where you can't keep track of what's going on or what you have to do. Like the narrative keeps on moving ahead like the Energizer Bunny and you're panting and scrambling as you despretely try to understand what's happening.

All of this could have been remedied somewhat if the characters had been given more time in the spotlight, but that didn't seem to happen. So don't expect a FFX or even FFVI-like storyline, but a rather tried and true NES one. New school gamers probably won't like the narrative one bit, but if you're an old school gamer, you won't mind the simplicity of the storyline. For any modern game, a storyline as parched as this would be brutally killed by reviewers. But because this game is a remake and the developers probably wanted to keep an old school feel, I won't deduct much from the overall score.

Despite this, FFIII is strong in terms of gameplay. This entry in the series was the first to introduce the job system. When you're given the ability to switch between jobs, the real fun begins. You start out with the basics: Warrior, Black Mage, White Mage, Red Mage, Monk and Thief. But as you progress throught the game, you earn more powerful jobs. You also earn job level ups whenever you use your selected job in battles. So you're given the choice to either switch between many jobs or dedicate yourself to one. Plus, you get to see your chibi characters in kawaii (cute) little outfits! :D While I was delighted with the job system, however, compared to the job systems in FFV and FFX-2, some players might find FFIII's version to be lacking much. You cannot change jobs in the heat of battle (FFX-2) and you cannot assign sub abilities (FFV) to go along with other jobs, making the system a little less flexible. And some jobs are quite useless and weak, such as Scholar, which was only good for scanning the enemy and being nothing but a burden to your party whenever they got knocked out.

As for the actual battle system, it's turn based and strategic, rather than the fast paced ATB system. If you've played FFX, FFIII is sort of like that, except there isn't a bar on the side of the screen to tell you the order in which your characters and enemies attack and the characters do not have magic points alongside their hit points. Rather, depending upon your job level in any magic casting job (such as a White Mage), you have a certain number of times you can cast spells. Example? You purchase three Lvl. 1 spells from a store, then you assign those spells to your character. If they have a high job level, they can cast those Lvl. 1 spells about 33 times or so, Lvl. 2 spells about 21 times, and so on. While I didn't mind this, I still prefer magic points. But for my main issue on the gameplay:

Your characters do not attack in the order of their formation (for example, my formation could be Luneth, Refia, Arc, and Ingus. When it's their turn to attack, they do so in another order.) It's very annoying if a character is in critical condition and I need to heal them. The characters act in a different order, then right before I can heal my other character they get slaughtered by the enemy. So attacking in a different order was a slight disadvantage and a small annoyance at times, yet, it doesn't completely ruin the game.

Occasionally, during the course of the game, you'll be joined by a special character. They don't join your party per se, but will aid you in battle at random times. You'll also be able to speak with them outside of battle, where they might give you hints about what to do next or just tiny story related things. This is very nice when they heal your party or damage your enemies at convienient times.

And did I mention the challenge? I've never played a game this hard. The enemy's have strong attacks that take away a huge portion of your HP, making you consume all your potions. Because of this, you seem to spend too much time leveling up as you try to earn experience and money in order to keep your party alive.

Another issue with the challenge is the dungeons. If your party's levels are on par or slightly higher, you'll breeze through the area in no time. But the boss, however, can be a HUGE problem. The boss will wipe out your party without much effort. And because you can only save on the overworld map, you have to play through the whole dungeon all over again. Maybe if there were tiny saving areas inside the dungeons like in FFIV, this wouldn't have been such a problem. But they didn't and this just isn't fair at all.

Graphics. This was probably the most extreme part of the FFIII makeover. If this game were simply ported, it wouldn't have stood a chance with it's dry, washed out sprites. Well, Square gave it a giant face lift and remade the FFIII world the way they originally wanted us to see it. FFIII is probably one of the most beautiful games on the DS. Everything is detailed, from the towns to the dungeons. Even the characters were revamped and transformed into little chibi characters! While I was upset that all the towns looked the same (lazy developers...) and that some of the monsters just were given palette swaps of former enemies and bosses, this game is a good looking remake. Especially the gorgeous opening FMV.

Oh and for the wireless feature, Mognet, it sucks horribly. It's no fun at all if you don't have any other friends who own the damn game! It's a cheap little email system that wasn't needed and I wished that Square could've came up with something better like a multiplayer/link online thing but NO. Anyways, onto something more worth my time............

The original soundtrack for the game has been given a face lift as well. The result is extremely excellent. The epic main theme is one of my favorite songs in the FF series and the dungeon music is also wonderful.

Finally, we come to the replayability. The main game is about 45-50 hours long, with some sidequests and an entire job list waiting to be mastered. Sadly, there isn't much reason to pick up and play FFIII again. There's no multiple endings or other goodies to find in a second play through.

OVERREVIEW

Pros
+ Awesome, detailed graphics.
+ Chibi characters!
+ Beautiful soundtrack.
+ Fair job system.
+ The main game is pretty long.
+ Fleshed out characters.
+ Revamped story.
+ Gorgeous beginning FMV.
+ Temporary 5th characters are really cool.

Cons
- The characters don't develop much.
- Some might find the job system a little stiff.
- Random order of characters turns in battle.
- Not much replayability.
- Challenge can be a little too high at times.
- You cannot save inside dungeons and must replay them again if you die.
- The story is a little bland.
- Mognet sucks.

Score: 7

For the new school gamer, FFIII will probably seem to be nothing more than an old, outdated game that got prettied up and nothing more. But for those who love old school RPGs and miss the days when FF revolved around crystals, princesses and classic airships with sails, they're in for a real treat. This game is a wonderful remake and it truly gives you the chance to play FFIII the way you were meant to. Not as a sloppy, touched up 2D RPG, but rather, a completely redone game that can satisfy the hardcore FF fan and old school gamers.

Well, that's it...

LA FIN


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/11/08

Game Release: Final Fantasy III (US, 11/14/06)


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