Review by musicmaykr

"An In-Depth Review for New Fans or People Considering Trying FF3"

Final Fantasy III was released in the United States in 1994. In reality, it was actually the sixth Final Fantasy released by Squaresoft but only the third Final Fantasy to be released in the United States. Now, in 2006, 12 years later, this game is still widely popular and has a very loyal following. Some argue that this is one of (if not the) best Final Fantasy ever made. Final Fantasy III is very versatile and unique, and in 1994 was simply the most impressive RPG that had been made to date. This may explain why it has gained such tremendous praise.

[INTRODUCTION]

Final Fantasy III takes place in a fantasy world (imagine that) containing both mid-evil and technological themes. There is no real timeline set, and it is hard to say whether the game would be considered futuristic or not. There are knights and armor, swords and shields, castles, dragons and magic; but there are also robots, lasers, guns, and high-tech factories. This may seem slightly absurd but Square did an excellent job of putting the two together.

The storyline of the game takes place "1000 years after the war of the Magi" - an epic battle involving a war of mages which apparently tore the world asunder. Now, 1000 years later - an evil empire is trying to re-introduce magic into the world - giving birth to a new technological age. A group of individuals, all fighting for different reasons, challenge this evil empire and strive to bring peace to the world.

[GAMEPLAY] 10/10

The mechanics of this game are fairly easy to learn and navigate. Everything is laid out in a very simple yet functional manner, which will allow you to focus on the game and not leave you trying to input commands. The config option in the menu will allow you to customize certain features to your liking such as menu colors, style, and configuration. You can also change the manner in which spells are organized, the battle menu is layed out, or the battle speed/text.

Due to the massive wealth of abilities and skills at your disposal - there are many ways to play and conquer this game. There is almost always multiple approaches to any given area or boss, allowing you to play the game however you choose to do so. One great thing about this game is that there is no real "main character". For the most part, the game will allow you to choose whoever you wish to be in your party allowing you to travel the world with the characters that you like most - which I feel is something that makes this game special.

The battle sequences are fun and exciting. Each character has their own "special ability" as well as the ability to fight, use magic, or use items. As the game progresses and you get more items, equipment, spells and abilities - the game just gets better and better - and the battles become even more customizable. Almost every enemy has some sort of weakness which you can exploit, and there rarely a time where you will become “stuck” and can not simply take a different approach in order to be successful.

The world of Final Fantasy III is very well laid out, and fun to explore. The towns, cities, and kingdoms are each special in their own ways. The people are for the most part fun to talk to, and a lot of times will give hints or reveal secrets about the un-folding story-line. There are many comical features to the game – and you will most likely find yourself laughing and some of the antics of certain characters or NPCs.
One aspect of the game that is sometimes disputed is the fact that it is separated into two worlds. There are essentially two halves to the game, the first half being very linear – the second quite the opposite. Some people have a hard time with the second half of the game as there is no real direction and you can basically do whatever you want. Personally I like this approach as it gives the game a very high re-play value, and there are a lot of different approaches to conquering the second world. Just an FYI to anyone considering playing this game.

The magic system is not immediately present; rather it slowly unfolds as the game progresses. A few characters possess magical abilities from the time you obtain them, but the majority of the characters do not and will have to be taught magic through the use of “Espers”. Espers are magical creatures which loan you their powers in order to teach you spells. Also, you can summon these espers once per battle and they will use a special ability against the enemies. As you fight battles you gain “Magic Points” which accrue and grant you the ability to use magic after the given spell's MP requirement is fulfilled. There is a wide variety of magic which will keep the game interesting and fun.

Characters are allowed a weapon, shield, helmet, and armor – as well as two “relics”- items which grant special abilities regarding offense, defense, magic, or other. Styles of weapons vary greatly from knives, daggers, swords, spears, claws, katanas, rods, wands, flails, boomerangs, and more. The shields, helmets, and armors also vary greatly and provide a wide variety of defense abilities which again allows you to customize your characters to your liking. Relics are a great addition to the game as they can dramatically change the abilities and strengths of a character, or even the way you play the game.

The enemies and bosses of Final Fantasy III are diverse and for the most part fun to battle and defeat. There are a great number of enemies, and while many are pallet swaps – they each have unique skills or abilities which make each one special in its own right. The majority of the enemies will be easily conquered if you are of sufficient level, and there is really no enemy which will pose such a threat that you will not be able to pass them. If you have trouble with a certain foe, you can always just level up a bit and try again. As I said before, almost every enemy has a weakness which you can exploit – some which are so effective it sometimes makes you feel cheap for even exploiting it in the first place. Regardless, if you are playing this game for the first time then I would say the enemies and battle system are very balanced and will provide you with a feeling of success and accomplishment as you progress.

[STORY] 10/10

The premise is: an evil empire rises up and takes power over most of the world. Things escalate resulting in pain and misery for the inhabitants of this world. As the story progresses, a group forms to resist and expunge the evil empire – and in doing so creates a conflict in which most of the game revolves around.

The storyline is fairly linear, easy to understand, and for the most part fun to participate in. The first half of the game is pretty much action-packed, and there is always something you need to do and the game pretty much forces you to proceed. The second half, however, may be hard for first-time players to grasp – and the storyline is difficult to follow if you don't know where to go.

Another point I'd like to make is that the premise to the storyline (good guys VS. evil empire) has been repeated quite a few times over the course of Squaresoft's product line – and if you have played later Final Fantasy's then you may find the storyline boring. Not to say that this storyline is not unique - because it is - but it has definitely been done in later games and I have found some people to be critical of this.

Over-all I feel the storyline is very good. There are surprises and twists which will keep the game interesting. The characters and NPCs are full of personality and add greatly to the storyline. There is comedy, action, sad times, happy times, confusion, acceptance, and more. You learn a lot about the majority of the characters and some have secret pasts which you can uncover. If you are a first-time player you will probably enjoy the storyline thoroughly.

[GRAPHICS/SOUND] 10/10

Considering this game is over 12 years old, this is a tough subject to review. Obviously the graphics and sound are terrible in comparison to games nowadays, but in 1994 the graphics and sound were absolutely astounding. FF3 is definitely one of the best looking and best sounding games ever made for SNES.

The graphics are pleasing to the eye and functional, at very least. Square did the best they could with the resources they had at the time and it shows. Everything is easy to see and understand, and the animations are cool-looking and represent the respective actions very well. The territories and maps are lush and vivid (for graphics of that era) and will not disappoint.

The sound is excellent, even 12 years later. The songs and themes are catchy, and you will likely find them getting stuck in your head. The soundtrack over-all is great. Some people will dispute this, but I would challenge anyone to find a better soundtrack for a game designed on the SNES. You will probably either love it or hate it, and if you take into consideration that it is in fact a Super Nintendo game, you should at least have respect for the quality of sound.

[PLAYTIME/REPLAYABILITY] 10/10

This is where the diversity of FF3 really comes into effect. It is possible to complete the game in under 10 hours, but for most people will take about 30 hours or more. In order to get everything in the game it will take much longer, probably 50+ hours. There is an incredible amount of things to do, and an incredible amount of ground to cover. There are certain skills which you could spend 10 or more hours simply trying to collect 100%. There are items which are so elusive you may never even know they exist, or re-start the game simply to get that certain item the second time around.

Replayability is a huge factor for FF3, as there are so many different ways to play the game. It is possible to complete the entire game without your characters leveling up past level 10. It is also possible to complete the entire game without using magic. Since there is no true main character, you can choose whoever you want and use them primarily – then the next time around you can pick different characters and get to know their style and unique abilities. I would say – hands down – one of the best, most stand-out features of this game is it's diverse nature and unique play style. Basically – once you beat the game once or twice, and learn how the system works – you can replay the game in a completely different manner, in effect making it almost brand-new again.

[FINAL RECOMMENDATION] 10/10

This game is epic. It is a classic. It is one of the founding fathers of the entire Final Fantasy line and everything we know and love about Final Fantasy's today. If you are a fan of the series, it is definitely worth playing just to see some of the roots and where some of the aspects of recent titles derived from. If you liked Final Fantasy 1 or 2 (US) – then there is no doubt you will love Final Fantasy 3.

As it is for SNES, this game is no longer sold. If you can figure out a way to play it, then DO IT. In my opinion, it is simply one of the best Final Fantasys ever made, and absolutely the best Final Fantasy released on SNES.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 02/16/06


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