Review by corran450

"Corran450's Review Series Vol. 6: Final Fantasy III"

Since 1987, The Final Fantasy Series has been the eminent name in console RPGs. There have been 12 games in the series, with dozens of sequels and spin-offs. And until 2006, all twelve games have been released in the U.S…. save one: Final Fantasy III. Finally seeing our shores on the Nintendo DS, this game represents a special undertaking, and Square-Enix has pulled out all the stops. Instead of merely porting the game, with maybe a token special new dungeon, they have rebuilt the entire game from the ground up, taking the basic framework and transforming the game into something new.

Okay, so this isn't ‘really' Final Fantasy III, but rather a Special Edition, with an all-new story, and highly enhanced graphics. Whether this represents a true release of the once mythical FFIII (mythical only for it's inaccessibility to us in the U.S.), is a matter for the fan boys to debate on the forum page. The real reason you are here is to find out if this is a good game. I will answer that question…. now.

Gameplay:
Final Fantasy III contains all the trappings of a typical turn-based RPG, with experience points, character stats, etc. You level up in random encounters, where your characters gain experience, and thus, increase in strength. Every now and then, you encounter a boss fight which will be more difficult than the random encounters, and usually confer higher experience, gil (money), or items.

Final Fantasy III expands on the job system of Final Fantasy I. Instead of choosing jobs at the beginning (and being stuck with them for the entire game), you acquire different jobs as you progress through the story, to be equipped at your discretion. There are 23 jobs available, including Thief, Warrior, White Mage, Black Mage, Red Mage, and many others. How you employ these jobs is entirely up to you, and devising new methods and combinations is half the fun in this game.

Naturally, the various jobs can equip different weapons and employ different abilities, with varying degrees of strength. They may also confer upon you special abilities to be used on the world map. For example, the Thief can open locked doors without the use of skeleton keys. Independent of your character level is a Job level, which increases based on actions you take in battle. The higher your job level for any given job, the more proficient you are at that job. Knights hit more times per turn, Thieves steal better items, Mages cast spells with better effectiveness, etc.

I should mention that it is possible to play this entire game with your stylus, if you so desire. That's not a big requirement for me, but it's there for those who want it.

Story:
Four orphans are chosen by the elemental Crystals that form the foundation of the planet to represent them in the ultimate battle against the ancient forces of evil. Events ensue.

The story is extremely cliché. In the original game, these characters didn't even have names beyond what the player named them. At least in this installment, the characters have names and somewhat fleshed-out personalities. Luneth, the ‘main' character is a cheery, carefree guy, a far cry from the uber-moody Emo dudes of the later series. Arc, his best friend, is shy, studious, and somewhat cowardly. Refia, adopted daughter of the local blacksmith, is independent and willful, with an aversion to amphibians, and Ingus is the stalwart soldier in the service of the local kingdom. Pretty much all of the character development takes shape in the interaction with several guest characters, who join your party temporarily, sometimes popping into battle to assist you, usually by casting black magic on your enemies, or casting buffs on your party.

Some of these interactions are pretty funny, so the story's not a total loss. Just remember what Square-Enix had to work with. This game was originally on the NES. At least it's better than the first Final Fantasy. On the whole, though, I'd say the story is the weakest part of the game, and in an RPG, that's not good. Most people play RPGs for their involving stories.

Graphics:
This game is pretty much remade from the ground up. The environments are pretty much in the same shape as the original, but with highly enhanced designs. The characters are rendered in 3-D, and there are new FMVs that utilize the DS's advanced visuals. The character design is a little odd, though. Everyone is potato shaped, with giant heads and tiny appendages. I think this was an attempt to make the game appeal more to kids, although, ultimately, it just gives everyone a super-deformed look (especially Luneth. He looks like a girl!). After a while though, you get used to it and it doesn't bother you anymore. The characters even develop an endearing quality, so I don't complain TOO much.

In the FMVs, the characters have normal dimensions. They look stunning, by the way. Too bad they're confined to very few moments in the game, mostly the introductory FMV, and very sparse moments in the first third of the game.

One nice thing though is that each job has a specific look for each character, which is displayed during battle. It also shows in the menu, for each character's in-game pic. It's a nice touch.

Sound:
The music and sound is entirely remastered, in line with the other improvements made on the game. Nobuo Uematsu's original score is orchestrated and enhanced, to great effect. While the score is not as good as some of his later work, it still adds a great amount of atmosphere to the game. I only wish each area had it's own score. Most of the first environments have two different themes: the first theme I came to think of as the “Help Me!” theme, sort of mysterious and haunting, indicating that the area is in need of assistance. The other theme, the “Victory” theme, plays when assistance has been rendered. It is upbeat and victorious, as befits the heroes' deeds. This reuse of themes ends about halfway through the game. Most dungeons share the same theme though.

Sound effects are limited to the generic clangs and clashes of weapons and magic. But you can't really expect much in that department.

Play Time/Replayability:
My play time clocked in at over 30 hours, but I did a lot of leveling up. The seasoned RPG player could do it faster if they wanted to, but why rush? The final dungeon of the game is pretty tricky, and the final boss is pretty killer. I'd say this game is not too difficult, maybe a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 3 of those points accounted for by the final dungeon.

Replayability is sparse, but visible. Most of the side quests in the game require you to log on to Mognet, which is a kind of an instant messaging system. You have to log in using a Wi-Fi access point and exchange friend codes with another player. In order to access all the side quests, you must send at least 7 messages to another player. The catch? You can only send 1 message per hour. If you visit the Gamefaqs board on this game, you can find a way to circumvent this restriction, as well as hook up with a whole community of players with whom to trade friend codes for this purpose. These side quests include a secret dungeon filled with monstrous enemies, and unlocking the ultimate Job, the Onion Knight, whose full potential can only be achieved at (character) level 99!

Then again, this game offers virtually unlimited replayability to those who like to tweak their gameplay for a whole new twist, like the classic ‘4 White Mage Party' challenge!

Final Recommendation:
If you're like me, it's a personal goal to defeat every Final Fantasy game in the main series. If so, then you must get this game, as it is your only chance to play the missing link of the series. Otherwise, if you're looking for an easy, old-school RPG to kill time with, you could do worse than Final Fantasy III. Ultimately, its primitive gameplay (barring the job system), underwhelming story, and somewhat odd art style keep me from recommending this title hands down. Nevertheless, it's still a fun game, and a worthy DS title, if you know what you're getting into from the beginning, and don't set your expectations too high.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 09/11/08

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


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