Review by SupremeJoe
"A bit overrated, but still well worth your time."
Final Fantasy, the shining star of Squaresoft's (currently Square-Enix) legacy, has for a long time been deemed the creme de la creme of the RPG genre. Of these FFVI (FFIII in the US) and FFVII are generally held to be the two best. This of course is also highly debatable, as it seems that many people who loved FFIII hated FFVII, or vice-versa. But having played through FFIII, I can say that, while it was a good game, it certainly wasn't the ground-breaking, timeless, ultimate masterpiece that a lot of people seem to believe.
For a game released in 1994, this game's graphics are pretty damn good. Sprites of characters and enemies are enjoyable to look at, but the backgrounds really stand out here. You can just tell that a good deal of time was spent on each one. Even better, the backgrounds are never reused to the point where they lose their initial appeal. The in-battle spell animations and such also show off the graphical power of the SNES.
This game's soundtrack is quite excellent. It accomplishes what any video game soundtrack ultimately should do: set the mood for the situation. Battle music is fast-paced and gets you psyched up, while villages have slower, more peaceful music (unless the town is beset by strife, in which case the music changes). The orchestrated sound of many of the tracks really lends itself well to an epic feel for the game, although whether or not the game's story actually is epic is for you to decide. The game's final boss music is also about 20 minutes long, and changes gradually as you make your way through his various forms. It's very well done, and one of the best examples of setting the mood for a battle with the music.
The storyline is OK. In the beginning of the game you control a green-haired girl named Terra, who works for the Empire (evil, obviously). You are sent with Vicks and Wedge, two soldiers of said Empire, to locate a mysterious spirit full of magical power, which is called an Esper. Terra has a strange reaction with the Esper that allows her to break free of the mind control of the Empire. Not knowing who she is or where her mysterious power (magic) comes from, she seeks the aid of the thief Locke (who PREFERS the term "treasure hunter") and the brothers Edgar (who has a certain way with the ladies) and Sabin Figaro (the hot-headed, all-out brawler), and eventually aids them in their fight against the Empire. Many others join your cause as well. Of course, eventually the story evolves into a battle to save the very world, as the true enemy arises.
The main reason it gets 6/10 is because I lump in the ratings of the characters and villains as well, which lowers the score a bit. The characters are likeable for the most part, and considering you can obtain up to 14 characters, you should always find a 4-person party that you enjoy. Most of the characters have a decent amount of character development, although some of your allies toward the end of the game literally join you for no reason at all.
The characters are not the bad part, however; it's the main villain that I can't stand. He's one of the worst villains I've ever come across in my history of gaming. You're basically just forced to accept "He is insane and wants to destroy the world, because he's like that", because he has no backstory whatsoever. In a game such as Super Mario Bros. this is fine, simply because games like that are not story-driven, but like most RPGs FFIII is story-driven (very much so), so having no background for the main villain is unacceptable. I have actually heard that somewhere in the game there is a NPC who sums up the main villain's backstory in a single box of text, but I sure as hell never found it, so I went through the entire game just making the assumption (and not unwarranted) that he has no backstory at all. The other main reason I hate the main villain is that his dialogue consists mostly of "witty" one-liners and maniacal cackling. It's bearable at first, but it gets old quickly.
The gameplay for the most part is pretty solid, except for a few minor things that I felt detracted from the game a bit. Battles are conducted in the ATB style, where your characters have a gauge that fills up in real-time, and they get their turns when it is full. This causes you to think quickly about what actions your characters take, because the enemies have an ATB gauge too, and if you don't act fast enough they will just keep hitting you. Unfortunately battles are still determined via the dreaded random encounter style, where you will get into a battle every X number of steps. This leads to phenomena such as "getting into too many fights when you don't want them" and "not getting into any fights when you do want them".
Your characters learn new spells from the Espers that join you. You basically equip an Esper to a character, and he/she will learn a set of spells by gaining ability points. In addition to this each character has his/her own special skill/skillset, which when combined with the combinations of spells that you learn from Espers, leads to a good deal of diversity in parties. I would have liked it if you were allowed to equip more than one Esper at a time to a character, but this was probably not allowed simply because each character has their own unique skills.
FFIII is also basically split in half, because of one major event that occurs roughly halfway through. Storyline-wise the event is kind of stupid, since it basically defeats the purpose of actually going to fight the main bad guy. Gameplay-wise it's not as bad. Basically the first half of the game is linear and serves to develop the plot, while the second half of the game is nonlinear, and is where all the sidequests and such are. One complaint you may have with this is that the two halves of the game don't really flow well into each other, but I didn't have a huge problem with it.
The game is also somewhat glitchy as well. Most of these are not noticeable, but stupid once you actually learn about them (such as how your Evasion stat does nothing). The one you probably WILL notice (and that WILL interfere with the game) comes from the special skill of one of your characters. Long story short, it screws up your game a small percentage of the time, forcing you to reset and continue where you last saved. Most players just remedy this by not using that character, but I find this glitch unacceptable, since it prevents you from using a character whose special skill otherwise can do some pretty cool stuff.
Buy or Rent?
This one's definitely worth a buy. It has its flaws, but if you're a fan of RPGs then you most likely won't be disappointed.
It's a good game. A very good game, even. Personally, I don't think this game is the second coming of Christ, as many of these reviews will lead you to believe. And there are better SNES RPGs out there, as well as better Final Fantasy RPGs on other systems. But this game has enough replayability that you won't simply beat it once and toss it aside to collect dust. There are lots of things to do (especially in the second half of the game), and I know for a fact that I haven't done all of it, so I still have that to look forward to. All in all, if you're looking for a good RPG for SNES, then buying this game is definitely worth it.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/16/06
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