Final Fantasy III
Review by SDebris
"Fun, but not as good as FF2"
Final Fantasy III is one of only two games in the series that never made it to the US, the other being FF2. While many people consider FF3 to be the best game of the original trilogy, I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed since I felt that FF3's story was not as good as the one in FF2. Even so, this game is a classic Japanese rpg, and was the origin of many features that appeared in later Final Fantasy games.
FF3's graphics are quite good for an NES game. Your characters and the magic spells are nicely animated, and the monster portraits look menacing enough. As long as you don't go in expecting graphics beyond the capabilities of the 8 bit Nintendo, outdated visuals won't be an impediment to enjoying the game.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the music in this game is actually quite decent, because I thought most of the music in the first two games was kind of lame. It works well to set the mood for the game. I would say that FF3's music was a foreshadowing of the excellent soundtracks in the later Final Fantasies.
This is the game's strong point. FF3 contains the first incarnation of the Job System, which allows you to switch your characters' occupations as many times as you wish throughout the course of the game, as opposed to being stuck in one character class for the whole game. The wide variety of jobs to choose, from fighter types such as knights and monks, three different schools of magic, and skills based classes such as thieves and bards, lends a great deal of variety to the game. The best thing about this is that there is no single ''right way'' to play the game. Different people will come up with a variety of effective combinations. However, if you've already played FF5 or FF Tactics, you will easily recognize some flaws in this system that were remedied in the later FF games. Although there are about 30 jobs in all, many are merely ''powered up'' versions of weaker jobs, and there are some character classes that are next to useless. Even so it's still very fun to play this game. Also worth mentioning is that this is the first game in the series to have summoning magic, including Odin, Leviathan, and Bahamut. When you cast the spell, the summoned creature will appear on the screen, cast his magic (defense or attack, depending on what kind of summoner you are using), and is done in a matter of seconds. I brought this up because I was thinking how obnoxious the long summon animations were in FF8. Maybe the series strayed too far from its roots, with too much emphasis on flashy graphics rather than good gameplay? Also note that the difficulty of this game is considerably less than the first two FFs. It still puts up a challenge though, and only the most hardcore players will wish it were tougher.
The game's only weakness, unfortunately, was the story. It's very generic fantasy, complete with orphans who grow up to be heroes, saving princesses and fighting evil wizards, etc. Basically nothing you haven't seen dozens of times already, if you play many rpgs or read many fantasy novels. Also, there is zero characterization for your main characters. You never find out what they think or how they feel. Perhaps the designers felt that to have strong character development would interfere with the dynamic job system. And I know there are rpg purists out there that will say that the personality-less characters actually make FF3 closer to real role playing than most final fantasies, because you can imagine the characters have whatever personality you want them to have and thus ''play the role'' of those characters. Still, since I think that a story needs not only a good plot but also good characters to be interesting, I can't help but feel disappointed, especially since FF2 had a truly excellent story. Its not to say that FF3's story will put you to sleep, just that it could have been better. Also, the moogles appeared for this first time in the game.
Certainly a fun game, and very much worth you time if your a fan of the Final Fantasy series or Japanese rpgs in general, but if you're accustomed to the good stories of most of the other FFs, you may be mildly disappointed with this game, as I was.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/01/00, Updated 09/01/00
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