Review by quittaboi78
"A revolutionary RPG that deserved more out of its re-release..."
As you may be aware, Final Fantasy III was, for a time, the only Final Fantasy main-series game not to see an English release (outside of emulation). A straight remake was planned at one point but ultimately canceled for unspecified reasons, many rumors in the fan base saying it was due to the source code being lost. Now finally, the game sees a modern re-release on the Nintendo DS, with an overhauled presentation. However, it seems as though all the changes made to the game "loosen" the experience.
The first things you'll notice are the graphics and music. To be fair, Square-Enix did a good job with what they had to work with. The graphics don't disrespect the original, outside of instances where religious icons such as crosses were censored when they were perfectly acceptable on the old Famicom. Secondly, some of the monsters and battle animations just plain look wonky. The original version used sprites in the style of Amano illustrations, which in many cases look better than the newer designs. The characters and environments, however, steal the show. At the time, no other DS game looked as immersive as this one. To touch on the music, it's all the same melodies as in the original, just orchestrated beautifully and, in some cases, with extensions. The only problem with the music is no new songs were added, resulting in the same repetitiveness as the original.
The story and interface are probably the next two changes you'll notice. Menus are generally more user-friendly and can utilize the Touch Screen. The story hasn't been too tampered with - in fact, it is exactly the same except for giving each individual protagonist some personality and backstory and some more dialog. The story is not too impressive, even at the time of its release. It's basically a re-imagining of the first Final Fantasy's storyline - four Light Warriors are chosen by the Crystals (each representing a different element) to stop the forces of darkness from reclaiming the world. Story was never Final Fantasy III's strong point, rather it was the entirely new job customization system.
Alright, now we get to the deal-breaker - gameplay. The premise remains the same, as it is an old-style turn-based RPG that allows you to customize your party in time. Say you're tired of your party consisting of Red Mages (AKA magic users who don't excel at anything in particular but can do almost a bit of anything). Well, how about spicing that up with some variety? Say a Viking to handle damage, a Dragoon as another physical attacker, a Summoner to use monsters against each other, and a Geomancer to use the environment against the enemy? You can change your party at any time, so you can always be sure you're ready to tackle the challenges ahead.
So what's so wrong with the new version? The gameplay has been tampered with. To begin with, there are less enemies on screen at once. While one may think this results in an easier game, Square-Enix saw fit to bump up the stats of each enemy - a bit too much, resulting in many more places you need to sit down and level up. Much worse are the bosses. They have a cheating A.I. that doesn't like to play fair. Boss enemies attack multiple times per turn now (varies, the most I've seen are a whooping four), so now there's virtually no time to react if you're suddenly sweeped. And when I say they cheat, I mean it. If you revive a fallen character one turn, chances are the boss is going to react that VERY SAME TURN and attack him/her. It makes the game too unforgiving.
Other things changed include the Capacity Point system, which has been scrapped in favor of swapping at any time. Instead of earning points to change your class job, you need to have that character fight several turns as that class to bring them up to speed. Jobs have been rebalanced, especially the last two which have been made less godly. Classes also now all have a unique skill, which is not a bad idea but has a poor execution. It makes little difference in the long run. And despite the Fat Chocobo being featured on the game's DS icon, it is a tease since the Fat Chocobo became entirely useless; you can now hold an unlimited amount of items.
Well, that's all I'm going to talk about. The gameplay was clearly the plug of Final Fantasy III, which is unfortunate since they pulled it. How to I rank Final Fantasy III? Well, the original I give a modest 6.5/10 - the best of the NES trilogy and a diversion, but ultimately hasn't aged too well due to lack of story and interest. The DS version? 3/5. That's plus one for music. Plus .5 for the graphics. Minus three for making the game a snore chore. Minus one for cheating A.I. Minus one for Mognet...
Oh yes, I didn't mention Mognet, have I? I'll be brief. It is pretty much a worthless addition to the game, but you need to mail letters to other people with Final Fantasy III to unlock some features, including the new version of the Onion Knight class, a superboss, and ultimate weapons. It was pretty much a lazy excuse to have more people own Final Fantasy III, and I think it worked. Last I checked, Final Fantasy III for DS made a respectable profit. Well... Even I was among those who ran to the stores for the elusive Final Fantasy III, so I suppose that's expected. Now that they've ruined Final Fantasy III, Square-Enix, will you please not re-release another Final Fantasy on the DS?
What's this? Final Fantasy IV? Here we go again...? But I'll save my opinion of Final Fantasy IV for another time. Here's to hoping you've come out of this review a little bit wiser.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 06/01/09
Game Release: Final Fantasy III (US, 11/14/06)
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