Review by OrochiAssassin
"All Fanboy love aside, obvious flaws persist"
Let me start by saying that I romhack and program games, it is what I do. I am only speaking from what I see as problems from that perspective. I will also say that I am a fan of the game, but do not devote blind allegiance to anything.
For those of you that do not know, or rather did not know without the help of a guide, there are 'desperation attacks' in FF3... Although I have seen 3 of them the entire time that I have played the game, which I have done numerous times. The problem is that from a programming standpoint, they are supposed to occur in the style of FF8, in which a lack of HP generally is the condition that must be met in order for the attack to take place. However, this does not increase the likelihood of the event to a passable amount. What you have is a random attack that may save you once in awhile, a great while at that. Final verdict, trivial. Simply put, it appears to be the afterthought of the battle programmers. On this note: hacking through item lists will allow you to equip any item in the game (emulators only) as a weapon, and the data for those 'weapons' like a 'potion' are in some cases desperation attacks. You can infer then that for the desperation attack to work, the weapon currently held by the player is replaced for a single round by storing the attack information for the desperation attack into an item that is not normally equiped. Basically, the theory is that if you had a potion equipped all the time, you would do a 'sonic boom' type attack every turn. For some items this works... But again I say, not often enough for me to consider it worthwhile.
Multiple Attacks from a single character seem to follow a lack of enemy HP state refreshing. If you equip the famous Genji-Glove / Offering, the battle system will assign attacks to enemies that currently have 0 HP after the first hit, leave an enemy alive from time to time. This is not that big of an issue to players, it means that the 2nd character gets to hit someone, but from a programming perspective, it's not that impressive either, it's the sort of thing that you lose points for on a project in college. Final verdict, sloppy.
Evade doesn't work, as most romhackers know, which can be fixed through patches, but it seems to be a strange thing not to work. If you disassemble the code for the game (not that I have copyright holders) you will find that Squaresoft did a great job of programming in a battle system that takes advantage of evade in the game, and is unique and complex, but assigns no value to evade, and thus skips it in the calculation. This once again can be fixed, and the reason that it wasn't is I would assume that it is a subtle error, most people don't know evade doesn't do anything until they are shown that it doesn't. Final verdict, quirky.
Vanish/Doom, Okay, it's not that easy to have seen this one coming. I mean it's not like Jim was walking down the hall and peeked his head into the battle programming teams office and said, "I was thinking it over this morning during tea, and I'm pretty sure that our battle system will allow a trick that can kill almost anything in the game using Vanish/Doom." This is famous, everyone who is hardcore about this game knows about it, there is a patch to fix this one too. Final verdict, unfair advantage, just try and not use it after you know how and you're losing to a WoR dragon or something.
Random Battles, like all games in which the enemies float in another distinct reality waiting to find the 14 authorised characters in the entire world in which to attack , it appears as though there should have been a note at the top of the cliff in the beginning, 'warning, random battles are currently set to 50x, just so you know.' This game has taken to horrible ideas and let them copulate into a stillborn of a battle system. Combined are the mind-numbing swarm fights with enemies that have just enough HP to survive 3-5 turns worth of slashing. On the other end of the spectrum there are single enemies that require 15 minutes to beat, and they involve innovative (the first time) and afterward annoying systems of spell/spell/attack combos to win.
Rages and Lores: Rages and Lores are touted as being useful and amazing, worthwhile parts of the progression of the game. Not so, first, rages, which are stored in packs of 8 due to programming, are basically you having a character that you don't have to control, but lacks the sense to attack prudently. Erasing Gau from the game would not in the slightest bit remove an ounce from the story nor your overall game play, rages are a chore with little return outside of saying you have them all. Oh and getting 8 at a time for jumping on the back of one enemy seems a bit much, since you often return with abilities of enemies that you didn't see or fight on the veldt at all. Lores follow the same suit, at that point in the game, you have real vital characters to work on, not this old man that is a one-town NPC at best. And the coup de gras of the entire Lore fiasco is that to get the Doom-Train, it is a horrible pain. Mog and his dances fall under this umbrella.
Magic early on does little that slashing could not mathematically achieve with little of no change in a loss of friendly HP, removing the benefit of it. Most of the so-called weaknesses that enemies, and to a greater effect bosses possess do little over the normal amounts of damage that they would, comparable to a similar spell of the same level. Magic is also passable to anyone after you retain Magic Beasts, or Espers, making your magical characters, like Half-Esper Terra seem like a suddenly uninspired character, once your Edgar or Locke, who have other valuable skills can cast Ultima, the story drags the now second tier Terra toward the end.
Relm, Umaro, Gogo... Just taking up space. I suppose to the die-hard FF fanboys these represent more max-out characters, and thus 20-30 more mind number hours of battle to level them up to 99, but for the rest of us, they are extra characters that we have to put on teams with our 'real characters' in a strategic battle so that we don't get our proverbial ass handed to us. Cyan is also a horrible character... ATB + an attack system that requires waiting makes him USELESS. Your party will be dead by the time he makes it to level 8, which by the way, that attack can be done instantly with a Genji Glove and an Offering. For fun, you can even put them on Cyan.
Final Verdict: Random.
You want to have a job system but you really don't, with unique characters that have special abilities that make them fun to use, but your picking them out of your FF bargain bin. That covers about six of the characters. Up to the point where you start handed out magic spells like food stamps, that works. But then everyone can get all of the black/white/grey spells, leaving little need to explore or develop other skills outside of that. Edgar has an attack at the beginning that attacks everyone. That is the fact that makes Cyan useless, as it is not challenging or rewarding to play as 2nd tier characters to get through annoying battles when the story is the only part you like. You use your good characters to finish them off quick and continue on. Honestly, if I want to play this game for the story, I just fire up the old Vanish/Doom trick, and away 99% of the enemies go.
I need about 10% of the stuff in the game to beat it, maybe less, I don't even bother to get Mog, Umaro, Gogo, I sideline Strago and Relm and Gau. They are unimportant to the story, and furthermore, their abilities don't work because of the other characters that have REAL abilites.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 03/31/09
Game Release: Final Fantasy III (US, 10/20/94)
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