Review by kiriyama2
"Words fail me to describe how much I love this game."
I'm sure that at this point in time (or three or so years ago) that most gamers (RPG fans in particular) know the storied history behind the missing Final Fantasy sequels. At the time however, there was much speculation about Final Fantasy III, the one Final Fantasy game that had not been released in the US until recently. Theories abounded, but I think I've come up with one that seems the most plausible. At the time when FFIII was released in Japan, the first Final Fantasy just got released here, and with the SNES's release on the horizon there wasn't much reason to translate and port the game over here to the US. Another reason why we didn't get the game during Square's love of releasing and porting the old Final Fantasies to other consoles, and to the US, was simply because at the time they had never made a remake of it. So when Matrix Software developed the remake for the DS, Square thought to release the lost Final Fantasy to its western fans. So, was the wait worth it? Yes, it really was, simply put this game is fantastic.
The game starts out with some kid named Luneth, whose exploring some caves for some reason. As he's exploring an earthquake hits and brings forth a bunch of monsters. Luneth, after fighting his way through the cave finds one of the legendary crystals. Luneth is informed that he is in fact one of the Light Warriors, a group of warriors who have to save the world from a coming darkness that plans to envelope the world. The other Light Warriors are Ark, an orphan from the same village as Luneth. Refia, the daughter of a blacksmith in a nearby town, and Ingus, a palace guard. One thing that sets the DS version apart from the NES original is the fact that in this version they give the characters a back-story (that and they have default names). Whereas in the NES original the Light Warriors are just orphans from a nearby village. Another difference is, unlike the NES version is that you actually don't start out with all the Light Warriors. You don't actually get all the Light Warriors until after you defeat the first boss, The Djinn. There is also the fact that you don't get access to the various classes until after that fight.
Which leads quite nicely to one of the best parts of this game. Unlike most RPGs FFIII lets you choose the class for all of your characters. It's a masterfully done system, and one that I enjoy quite thoroughly. The job system in this game may not be as comprehensive as the ones in FF Tactics or FFV. One of the things the job system in this does differently from the others is you can't actually transfer abilities. For instance, in FFV you could have one of your characters be a mage for the majority of the game, then switch to a fighter and he'll still have access to the plethora of spells he learned from his time as a mage. I personally like that, as it doesn't make the game simple in that regard. Sure some skills do crossover when you switch classes. For example, if you had Ingus as a black mage for most of the game, the same amount of spell slots he had will carry over if you switch to say, a summoner. And the strength of a character stays the same regardless of class. There is however a drawback to switching classes. For a few fights your character suffers from a sort of weakness, and doesn't have as many spell slots as he did as a black mage (for instance), and his strength and defense is decreased. It's a nice touch, and ensures that you just swap classes repeatedly.
One of the things with the class system is not every class can equip every item. For instance, Mages aren't capable of equipping plate armor. And no one, save Vikings, are allowed to equip Viking armor, and so on with Dragoon equipment and so on. That said; it has to be mentioned that some of the classes are pretty worthless. Maybe it's just me, but I never found any particular use for the Scholar or Bard classes. Granted Bards do get some status affecting magic, they're never particularly useful.
The gameplay is your pretty standard RPG fare. You and your group of cronies bop around the world engaging in multiple random battles, trying to save the other Crystals of Light while also trying to stop whoever is behind the sudden influx of darkness. And you know what, it works, it really does. The gameplay is really very fun. Granted the ATB from later FF games are better, the pure turn based nature of the combat just works magnificently in this game. Like most, if not all RPGs, the battle system consists of the simple Fight, Magic, Item, Defend, and Run options. However, FFIII allows you to switch the positions of the characters during the battle. Which, isn't particularly exciting, you're simply moving one character from a forward position to one in the back. It has been said that futzing with your people's position makes you take less damage, or ever so slightly increases the chance any magic aimed at them will miss. I've never once seen any evidence to prove that theory, I guess it just makes the people in the front more of a priority target. Another thing the game allows you to do is you can switch your people's equipment in the height of battle.
While the battle system is the typical RPG battle fare there are several points in the game where it makes you have to use nothing but spellcasters. You see at a few points in the game your characters get shrunk to positively miniscule sizes, and physical attacks are all but pointless. Another fun thing is that during the course of the game you get joined by some NPCs, who actually do aid you in combat. Granted you can't actually control them, they do help in a pinch. For instance, there's a princess you meet during the game who casts Curaga on you and your people. There's also some fighter characters, though it is seemingly random when they actually do contribute to the battle it's a nice touch.
One of the things that I'm really glad to see make a return in this game is the spell slot/charge system from FFI. Others may disagree, but I just really like how each spell level has a given number of charges. I like it as opposed to the tried and true MP gauge because you don't run out of charges for your uber death spell by casting minor Fireball spells. Another cool thing is how you can actually swap out one of your party's spells with another ones. However, there is a problem with this, you seemingly only get more spell charges every two levels. And as you progress in the game you find that your lower level spells quickly become useless.
The graphics in this game are pretty good. I like the fact that they made it a full 3d game instead of just putting in 2d sprites. I also like the fact that the characters all have different looks for the various classes, it's nothing major I know, but it's a nice touch. The enemy designs also hold up quite well and look pretty cool. Speaking of things that are done well, the music is pretty good as well. It may not be the best of Uematsu's various Final Fantasy scores, but it is exceedingly well done.
Everything about this game just has a very solid feel to it. The gameplay, while not setting the RPG genre ablaze is surprisingly well done, even though at times it does get a bit monotonous with the amount of level grinding you inevitably have to do (specifically near the end of the game). The graphics and sound are quite good, and overall have a good sense about them. The only thing that may not be done especially well is the storyline. Still, the class system, and enjoyable retro RPG style gameplay make this game well worth picking up.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/20/09
Game Release: Final Fantasy III (US, 11/14/06)
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