Review by elliotofphoenix

"A little frustrating, but thank god magic is interchangable"

At first, I was a little worried. I had read reviews from a few sites, and a friend had also read similar reviews. People had been saying that the difficulty level was a bit too high with a lack of a save point in dungeons and such. They also were saying that there was no benefit from leveling a bunch of jobs, and indeed, there isn't.

In the Final Fantasies of today, there's a large amount of customization, and you're rewarded for going beyond the call of duty. In Final Fantasy III, there's nary but one: the fact that magic isn't permanently attached to any single character, and can be given to anyone (that has the magic level to have it "learned"). Frankly, its more like equipping magic than anything else, which is incredibly convenient, and improves upon Final Fantasy I and II's vision in more than one way.

If you've ever played Final Fantasy V, XI, Tactics, or Tactics Advanced, you would be fairly aware of how the job systems work. While III introduced the -changeable- job system, V improved on it, allowing the use of traits and abilities from other jobs that had been worked on, while Tactics improved on it even more with more customization in an isometric strategy setting (Tactics Advance altered and made the system more user friendly), and XI ultimately allowed the player to take a job they had previously worked on and equip a "Sub job," allowing the benefits of stat boosts, along with job traits and abilities that are given from the sub job at whatever level it was at (as the level would be halved and rounded down based on the "main job's" level). This being important and different from all of the other games that allowed customization, as in previous Final Fantasies, you could only select one trait or one ability, based on category and whatnot.

All of these games are the fruit of customization, and Final Fantasy III is the root of it.

We can tell, even though reviewers and previews and reports of Final Fantasy III has told us, that the developers truly stayed true to the original experience, while fixing what made it archaic and polishing the game to a mirror sheen into something absolutely new.

How Final Fantasy III differs from every other Final Fantasy that allows customization on a job-based system is exactly what it's known for: leveling different jobs don't have any significant impact on the other jobs leveled; changing jobs penalizes you with a "weakened state" of sorts for a certain number of battles; despite being a job-based game, dual-wielding is not limited to Ninjas as certain games impose; magic can be equipped/unequipped, and has specifically 3 magic spells for each rank, so there is no need to worry about magic allocation like Final Fantasy I; allows you to zoom the camera to see hidden items; makes use of the touch pad (you could pretty much play the whole thing using the pad), and a few more differences that either aren't too much worth mentioning or I just can't think of it at the moment.

Unlike the most recent iteration of the Final Fantasy franchise, Final Fantasy XII, where loot dropped from monsters are sold for gil, III reminds us that there was a time when monsters dropped money, and you had to kill them over and over and over to buy anything (or just advance the story and find hidden chests full of gil in dungeons). This may turn away some that are accustomed to this system of selling off items for profit, as it is relatively slow to kill random monsters to have enough gil to buy your whole party the newest set of gear that's available. Most of the time, that's just not possible, and you find yourself just progressing the story instead to find more hidden (or blatantly out in the open) boxes of gil and gear.

New jobs are made available through the story. This can be seen as being a tad detrimental, as it doesn't reward the players for advancing a specific job to its max.

The story is far more simpler and visually appealing than most other FFs to a wider and younger demographic, as the story isn't as poignant as FF IV, but not as simple as FF I, giving a feel for what was to come in the Final Fantasy series at the time of its original release, as it is held as one of the greater of Final Fantasies of past in Japan, importers, and those who dared to play the shoddily translated English rom.

The game is incredibly fun, the "grinding" (fighting monsters to level up) is refreshing as it hearkens back to younger times for those who at least played 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 either on their NES, Super NES, PS1, their GBA, a Wonder Swan Color, or an emulator, with the traditional 4-fighter setup that the series later revisits in 9, the original battle music intro that would be ultimately killed in 7, then return in 9 for one last time, and the localization probably benefited from the fact that the game was re-scripted to not have repetitive NPC's with no character, as was how most games were like.

The difficulty curve is either high or just out there for those who are new to how older Final Fantasies played, or even for those who are new (Though the fact that Final Fantasy III is probably the first Final Fantasy to actually use the original box art clearly indicates that its for the older, jaded crowd that needs much refreshing (its a blank white background with the logo in the middle)).

I give it a 9 out of 10 just for the fact that it was so well polished for a game came out about 16 years ago. The audio quality is there, the visuals are there, the game play is there and then some. The story is fitting for the visuals, doesn't try to do any back flips or anything, but is user friendly enough for just about anyone to get into.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/27/06

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