Review by Shirow
As the fog clears to reveal Terra Brandford and comrades, Biggs and Wedge, standing on a cliff and looking down at the snowy Narshe, it is already too late. You have just entered a whole new world, the world of Final Fantasy VI where dreams come true and time is obsolete. You are now about to be immersed in the unique atmosphere of SquareSoft's masterpiece, held in reverence from Japan to the US although it is numbered differently in those 2 countries. Whatever…Say good-bye to your social life because it's about to be destroyed.
Many RPG's have been released on all the new consoles (other FF's, Legend of Legaia and countless others…), yet Final Fantasy III is still considered as the best in the genre along with a certain Chrono Trigger. Is this founded or is this pure hype from people who haven't really played many games ? Whatever it may be, put it in your head that this isn't a normal game. This is, simply put, what everybody had been waiting for and seen by SquareSoft. A huge game with an astounding gameplay, a solid plot -to say the least-, and most importantly, a funfactor that just never dies despite all your valiant attempts to stab it in the back.
Combining all these with a marvellous atmosphere that never falters, Final Fantasy III shines in an almost surrealistic way. It may be from the 90's and seem old now with its small characters who run as if they don't have kidneys but you'd have to be a complete fool to see this game and not grab it. In any case, I was not a fool, so nyah !
For all those who are fascinated by the summons (also called Guardian Forces or whatever Square wants to call them), this game is a must-play as it explains how these came to be in the series and how they were 'created' in the first place. As Terra, you will be able to find out your true identity through a very long quest that even sees you aging by 1 year old since FFIII spans over one year in its plot.
Terry can be considered the main character of the game but that doesn't mean she's the only one with an interesting story revolving around her. And that's what baffles me even more. The way Square managed to create 12 other characters and yet make them all equally interesting is simply amazing. Sabin, Locke, Edgar, Cyan and all the others…Each character has his own troubles to deal with and will brilliantly do so by the end of the game. Okay, maybe not Shadow who is as mysterious as can be..
All of them have different motives for being in the game but they will join forces to defeat Kefka and in doing so, make a quite strong although eclectic team. Their respective reasons even give them the courage to have that big-headed Kefka stop with his irritating laughter. Speaking of Kefka, this selfish madman just has to be one of the best villains ever created -- I personally place him second. Forget about those who want to become rich or those who are so obsessed with power they become dumb halfway through the game.
This Kefka, all he cares is about himself and that's what makes him so unique. He wants to control everybody and will do anything to get what he wants. And his childish behavior simply won me over. Whenever he shows up, hilarious dialogues also appear on your screen and even now, I cannot get his laughter out of my head. And you will really want to kick his 16-bits butt the way he constantly comes to make fun of you, to taunt you and to show off.
The major twists and discoveries will keep you hooked up that shortly afterwards, you will even call your girl Terra or Celes. And this urges you to continue playing even more as you can't wait to know what will happen afterwards and if your premonitions are good. Simply put, FFIII has the best story ever. Yes, better than Chrono Trigger because FFIII is easy to understand and doesn't require to sit there, scratching your head, for hours on end, trying to figure something out.
Story may be very important in RPG's but it is not all that counts. Well, as a matter of fact, every genre needs what I'm referring to : Gameplay. And you can bet your momma's necklace that FFIII is incredible in every possible way. Other than the regular Fight and Item commands, each character has a specific ability. Locke can steal from the enemies, Relm can paint your opponent and then use one of his attacks while Sabin is a rbeat addition with his useful Blitz techniques.
Magic is obtained through Espers and that's where the game engine is simply brilliant. The Espers are the usual ones (Odin, Bahamut, Ifrit, Shiva as long with a few guest stars) and themselves contribute to the game and levelling-up. Other than providing an increase in a certain stat when that character levels up, magic are earned through equipping Espers and fighting.
Each Esper teaches certain spells and you can then learn those by fighting until you have earned enough points. Once this happens, you may then use that spell. However, that's not all because otherwise it would have been too easy. Each spell thus has a different learning rate such that it actually depends on the Esper how much time it'll take you before you are at last able to cast X-Zone. Obviously, the strongest spells take a lot of time to gain while those which quickly become obsolete are learned rather, but not always mind you, quickly.
Your characters can also wear Relics which are very varied and can give them new abilities or simply make them invulnerable to a certain bad spell. This is a drag during the first hour of the game though as you can only run by equipping one character with the Sprint Shoes and relics are available only after a while (roughly one hour) when some dude is kind enough to tell you about those. And, once you do know about those, behold the huge quest for the best relics like the infamous Offering which gives you X-Fight or the Gem Box which makes you spend only 1 MP for any spell. Ultima lovers will be dancing joyfully now.
FFIII goes even further by adding a new feature, the possibility to change your weapons, even during battles. This also makes battles easier as even if you have the wrong weapon equipped, you can just scroll in the Items menu and choose the appropriate one. This is very good news as you don't have to reload your game and drag along until you meet the boss again because your previous weapons have been healing that bastard instead of depleting his life.
The queen of RPG's is also packed with countless side-quests to give it a unique gameplay. If you thought FFVII was big, think again ! FFVI is twice as big with two different worlds, one quest that takes more than a week of time and various other mini-games should you want to sharpen your skills in battles. Levelling-up itself is not such a drag as the magic system actually makes it strategic.
I always found levelling-up tedious but this important aspect is actually nice in FFIII and if anything else, it adds more replay value to the game. How ? Simply because you will want to have the best magic and by equipping Odin to a certain character, you can make him extremely fast such that he may even attack twice while all the others are only starting to recover from their previous action.
Everything just fits in so nicely that such perfection can even be considered a crime. Of course, you can just skip the side-quests but by doing so, you'll also be missing the most fun parts of the game and thus, hurt yourself. You paid for the game after all, so might as well take as much from it. I do not know how the hell SquareSoft managed to fit all that in one cartridge but hey, as long as it suits me…
Final Fantasy III has great visual although the characters are a minor let-down. They are too small and since the game is in top-view in most areas, they really look weird. It's as if they bend towards the screen but in comparison to the crispness of everything else, that's just a minor problem. However, I also cannot understand how the characters' face in the game and their pics in the menus are so different. Celes on the map and Celes in the menu really do not look like the same person to me.
Otherwise, everything is very colorful, maybe a tad too much actually. However, it's all very nice to look at and really pushed the SNES to its limit. Trust SquareSoft to make the most of any console ! Your characters' outfits also appear a bit weird and unrealistic but you will forget about that soon enough after your first glance at Narshe or Kefka's Tower. The Espers are equally splendid although they do disappear too quickly upon being called.
Towns have not been spared either and are well-detailed. You can even make out the relief of barrels which you always need to check just in case they hide items or Gau knows what. The ending beats everything though by running for a full 30 minutes and the last part literally borders upon the mighty 3D. And, for once, monsters too have been well-done and some of them are even funny and have a proper personality like the dear Chupon who is very funny with his constant bickering and the way he turns out to be.
As far as soundtrack is concerned, this may very well be the best one in the genre. Actually some people may even consider it the best genre ever and I did the first time I played the game but now, Guilty Gear X holds a special place in my heart ('Writhe in Pain', my friend). The opening credits' theme itself remained in my head for days and simply each character theme is awesome. The boss theme is very impressive too and never gets old but the normal enemies one can get pretty annoying after a while.
One of the last battle themes against Kefka is among the best but why do I think of Lavos whenever I hear it ?! You'd be better saving for the soundtrack too while you're at it ! There are not many sound effects in the game but they do their job just fine. There's nothing really memorable though as sound effects pertain solely to attacks, spells and certain actions. They're still quite realistic though and thankfully, are not irritating.
Final Fantasy III is complete with a superb gameplay and funfactor but most of all, it has the rare quality (for RPG's, of course) of a good replay value. There are quite a lot of ways to play through the game since you may decide to leave a certain side-quest the first time but you'll be strangely compelled to find out how it is after discarding the game. And it is also interesting to play again with an entirely different team and find out how it fares. Believe me, playing with a team of Locke, Shadow, Edgar and Sabin is not the same as one of Terra, Gau, Relm and Cyan - yippee in the first case and ouch in the second one !
Overall, FFIII is possibly the best RPG ever and, even if you find certain faults with it, the funfactor will make you cast them all aside as you play through it. A fantastic gameplay, excellent graphics and soundtrack that are still great, and an endless replay value…What could you possibly want more ? And, although the PSX version may now be out, screw it. This is the one to get, an original and almost perfect one !
Shining in Orochiness :
Lacking in Orochiness :
~ Score : 10 ~
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 03/05/02, Updated 11/09/02
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