Review by Bearissoslow
"A mix of bad RPG elements with replay value and simplicity to make an adequate-at-best Final Fantasy game. What fun."
First off, I believe some needless exposition for this game in order. I was searching up Final Fantasy artwork on Google images, out of boredom. Suddenly, I come across an amazing, understating this beauty would make me feel somehow dirty in a moral way, Japan-only artwork cover for the lustrous Final Fantasy 3 (DS) game. It was a spectacular cover, and the attention to detail really was magnificent. I began to think about my memories with this game, most notably how bland and blank the North American and PAL game cases are, and I decide to get this game yet again, for old time's sake.
Now, let me say the most obvious and useful thing I can say to anyone interested in actually buying this game: the story is absolutely boring and drivel until the last ten hours of gameplay or so, and even then it's completely uninspired and cliched. I can only start off with how it begins. When you first start off the story, you're given an image of a young gray haired boy falling down a hole into a cave, or something. After some short monologue from him, you'll be prompted to name him. This is our main character, Luneth, and he is quite possibly the most boring and downright basic character you will ever control in a Final Fantasy game, and arguably a Role-Playing Game in general. Once you get out of the cave, you'll get some story and background on where you are, who Luneth is, etc., and you'll meet three other people and main characters, Arc, Refia, and Ingus.. The fun part is that they are all as equally bland and uninteresting as Luneth, except for maybe Ingus, because he's a BAMF. The game introduces them with small characterizations like Arc is just a big wussy boy who gets picked on, and Refia is just a girl who wants to be independent, but the game will never actually build on this. You'll find that the game only has these characterizations to provide a convenient excuse to introduce them into the story. And, unfortunately, this is not a scenario where they are all boring on their own but they become interesting characters together or their journey changes them into distinct personalities, like in some of the other Final Fantasy games. No, instead, these characters (what a bold claim, characters. They're just NPCs but actually controllable.) are going to be the same, uninteresting facades of main characters as when you met them.
With this in mind, you should already be aware that this game is in no way, shape, or form, comparable to the best Final Fantasy games, like 4, 5, 6, and 9. I felt that it's necessary that you shatter any "omg FF game? gonna b amazing automatically!" standards that you might've had for this game, because it's a decent, fairly enjoyable at times, RPG on its own, but compared to any of the other great FF games that have fleshed out stories, this is just a laughable game. This is coming from a RPG gamer who is not at all focused on the story in comparison to the gameplay when it comes to quality. I tried to enjoy the ohsofun turn based system of doom and despair (sarcasm in case that was a little too left field for some of you), but the game keeps shoving the story back into your face. For the first half or so of the game, you're just randomly exploring the world, trying to figure out what to do, where to go, etc. etc., but there's no real story based motivation aside from the occasional story related boss like Medusa. So, you're not even really given a clear story for a majority of the game, and that's horrible, if only because the game will later put such a heavy emphasis on the story that it's perplexing. And, as I said earlier, the story doesn't even amount to anything worth a second glance. Granted, the instances with Doga and Unei were semi-interesting, but everything else felt so generic and unoriginal. It goes by the basic RPG plot: start off with a group of characters, do some stuff (often known as the game filler), find out that the world is in danger, and suddenly save the world by defeating all the odds against the characters (who are young beyond belief) and then happy ending for everyone. When I say that this game's story is shockingly predictable and campy for the most part, I cannot put it in any simpler terms. That's just how it is.
I think I need to stop ranting on the story for now. I've probably thrown off anyone who was interested in my review with my story antics, so let's dive into everything else about the game. As advertised heavily by Square, this game is a remake with some new elements, the most important one being the Job Class system. In the original, there were no jobs and everyone had certain limits or could do whatever they wanted, and there was little customization between the characters in terms of gameplay. (I don't remember entirely, I may be talking about of my rear like I was with my Trace Memory review and saying that the main character was Jessica when it was really Ashley. Don't quote me on this, I'm probably wrong.), Now, however, you can choose a number of jobs to work with and unlock better jobs progressively. This concept is actually exciting until you realize that a lot of jobs are kind of "lol bad". Viking, Bard, Red Mage, etc. all have obvious faults and are easily outclassed by many other jobs. I don't remember exactly how many jobs there are, but there are only about 16-20 ish jobs in the entire game. At first, this may sound like a lot of variation and replay value, like in Chrono Trigger, where you can just playthrough the game a different way and still have good fun. As I said though, there are little jobs that meet a middle ground between horrible yet challenging and useful in some way. It was a little disappointing, but the positive to this job system is that while there are a bunch of terrible jobs, there are a good number of good jobs. This meaning that there's no right or wrong way to play through the game, and you can make your own party based on how you play without having to worry about getting destroyed at the endgame, which, might I add, is pathetically easy. I actually enjoyed this setup, because only a few parts of the game actually required some class in order to get through, because while the rest were designed to make it easier with one class, they were still doable without said class. I realize that my wording for this makes little to no sense for the reader, and I apologize for any possible headaches my stupidity may/will cause.
Graphics and music are so small that I decided to combine them into one category. I'm not a graphics whore and I do not claim to be one by any measure. I can enjoy a text heavy game as much as I can something like that of InFamous. However, playing through this game, I could not help but notice some texture flaws. I noticed holes and flakieness design at times, and sometimes there would be much too much palette swapping with the enemies. These graphics fall to what I like to call the "Phantasy Star Universe" problem. From far away, the graphical design and backgrounds look very well coordinated and executed (lesser effect for FF3 but still). However, in magnification, the graphics suffer from a lot of texture problems. I'm not an expert, but I could count the pixels in a design for character or enemy at a reasonable distance away from my screen. Pixelation + bad textures =/= good. As for the music, it's a dead split between "holy crap this is such good back ground music" (i.e. Eureka, Crystal Tower, Dark Crystals, Pavilion of Doga and Unei) and "mute this as soon as possible this is horrible for my ears" (i.e. most of the dungeons in the first half of the game). The great music was unfathomably great from so many perspectives, mainly the listening/gamer perspective, and a lot of the later pieces are very well organized and arranged. It's very pleasing to hear such a great background theme to the final area of the game, where you're given the sense of the end of a journey while coming to face off against the impending evil that threatens the world. (I think it's worth noting that I got more story enjoyment from the game's actual music than I did from the story itself. Fail?) As for the horrible music.... It's horrible. It's a mundane bunch of songs because most of the first half of the game feels mundane. You're going through trivial dungeon after trivial dungeon with trivial music to accompany you, and if you're like me, you'll just want to mute your DS after enough time.
Speaking of trivial, the battle system is poorly designed because of how abuse-able it is and the game is so pointless until you get off the first map. Yeah, there's not much else to these points. By no means do I wish to condemn the game for its battle system, but I have to. It's so unoriginal and stupid. Turn based thing, go by speed, etc. etc. The problem with this is that the Job Levels you get for a job increase periodically, and with that increase comes more hits from a single attack against an enemy. At first, this just sounds irrelevant and like me nitpicking. Chew on this for a moment though. In most RPGs with multiple jobs and such, there's a sense of balance between the slower yet bulkier classes and the faster yet frailer classes. This balance does not exist in this game. If you raise a Warrior, a slow but attack focused job, side by side against a Thief, one of the quickest yet weakest jobs in the game, you'll easily see that Thief will outdo the Warrior in every section, if only because of speed and the amounts of hits the Thief will get. There's not enough nerfing to classes like Ninja (yes, yes, I know the Ninja has already been considered nerfed as hell from the previous two FF games) and Sage, because they do exponentially better in every category. All you will really need if you're speeding through this game is a team of two Ninjas and two Sages. You can use a class you really like, a Knight for example, but it will never do as good and thorough a job at beating the living piss out of enemies compared to the Ninja, even though the game actively tries to make the offset of speed balanced by power for the heavier classes. It's just something that really got to me, the gamer, as I was playing. I actually did raise a Warrior and Thief side by side, and it did really annoy me. This is me, and I'm pretty sure I'm rambling anyway, at this point.
Oh, one last thing I have to mention before I close up this wall of text (oh wait this is a review) is that the game forces you to use some horrible wifi connectivity friend messaging system if you want to get content that the game originally promises. It's not necessary in terms of the story, but for anyone who is very anal about getting the final weapons for a class, this will drive you "testicles to the wall while having your eyes bleed as your ears begin to internally burn from a deadly infection" insane. The messaging system itself is just crappy, and the idea of holding off content by making the gamer use an arbitrary, crappy system is crappy on a whole level.
Final Fantasy 3, DS, what is there left to say. I'm forcibly shoved out from my mind into my keyboard all my complaints and raves for this game. It's good in some respects but just too damn cluttered with problems in the rest. Horrible story, great/bad ish music, monotonous gameplay, original style, and a some other problems are to be expected if you play this game. Buy this at your own risk. If you want a complete FF game for the DS, get 4. If you want a RPG to pass the time while you wait for a game like Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and you don't have too many expectations, I wouldn't recommend against this game. Just, as I've said, destroy whatever "Final Fantasy RPG game omg!" standards you have for this, and enjoy it for what it is, even if it's poorly executed for a majority of the time. Oh, and Ingus is still a BAMF.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 06/19/09
Game Release: Final Fantasy III (US, 11/14/06)
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