Review by Cooper736

"I Thought Good DS Games Were a Dream, but It Turns Out They're a Fantasy"

To start, let me say that I have never before played any of the Final Fantasy series, but when I first heard that Final Fantasy III was coming to the DS, I jumped on the chance to play it, because I'd heard through the grapevine that it is a fantastic series. Well, the grapevine did not lie.

The only real problem I have with this game is the actual gameplay. That's not to say that Square Enix did a bad job, just that there are flaws. First, let me start by saying every battle can be fought on the touch screen. I found this to be a great help, as it's my preference to use the stylus. However, complete use of the bottom screen is a tradeoff for limited use of the top. For much of the game, namely when in towns and dungeons, your top screen will be blank. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just unusual compared to many other DS games.

Final Fantasy III's combat system is similar to that of other RPGs. Your characters take turns in a sequence, completely dependent on their base agility compared to that of the given opponent. You have the use of items during battle, you can change your equipment (without losing a turn, as I was happy to discover), you can guard, you can run, you can attack. Pretty standard. But most of all, your characters all have a skill unique to their job class, possibly the most intriguing part of the game.

Ah, the job class. Such a simple idea, yet very rewarding. As you begin the game, your character will be a Freelancer. That's it. Until you clear the first real dungeon, that's all you can ever be. However, upon clearing said dungeon, you will be given several other jobs, which you can substitute with your current one. This is where the real strategy of team building begins. Every job has its pros and cons, its own set of equipment (usually found later in the game), and a skill usable in battle, such as magic, archery, terrain effects, even lobbing objects at opponents. But this isn't where the fun ends. Job levels play a huge part in how effective your attacks will be. To job level up, it's necessary to win battles and kick butt. So how do you do this without a high job class to begin with?

Leveling up and experience: what I found to be the only real flaw in the game. Like almost every RPG you'll come across, experience is gained by killing monsters and other enemies. With enough experience, your character will level up, thereby gaining stat boosts, ultimately making him/her better in battle. FFIII is no different. Why is this bad, you ask? As you progress in the game, monsters and bosses will become increasingly harder to beat, and defeated opponents will give insufficient experience points for you to level up quickly. It's very difficult for the casual gamer trying to beat the game with minimal effort to, well, beat the game. Much of the time I spent playing this game was dedicated solely to running around aimlessly through dungeons I had already cleared fighting enemies so the next boss wouldn't kill me in one attack (yes, there are bosses that can do that). And even with proper leveling, you'll find that many bosses are STILL too overpowered. While your attacks deal around 400 damage, they'll be hitting for 800. This can be frustrating for many people, and very off-putting for new gamers.

There is also a very high random encounter rate. While running through dungeons, you won't see enemies before they attack you. While innocently running through a tower, castle, sewer, etc., anything can pop out at you, at any time. While this is great for experience purposes, if you're hurt and trying to escape a dungeon and heal, this is a big problem. Aside from the two matters mentioned above, I have no problem with combat in FFIII.

So, when you're not in battle, what do you do? Well, the stylus can be used just as effectively as the control pad as means of controlling your party, and vice versa. By having your party walk, sail, fly, even ride chocobos (depending on what vehicles are available to you) from town to town, you can gather information, weapons, and items to help you fight through dungeons and dungeon bosses, progress through the story, and ultimately save the world. Items are hidden everywhere, and to find them you must use the game's zoom feature, found only on the DS. Most of all, everyone has something interesting or important to say.

Personally, I'd give the story a low rating, but there's nothing to be done about it. Remember, Final Fantasy III on the DS is just a remake of a game from the 80's, where video games weren't expected to have deep, complex storylines. You're an orphan chosen by a talking crystal to save your world from destruction. You must journey around your limited world map to find the other three chosen Warriors of Light. This takes no time at all and is quite boring. The rest of the game is like that. Nothing terribly exciting happens, the course of the game is somewhat predictable, your characters don't even seem to really like each other. But what can be done? Fortunately, the story isn't bad enough that it ruins the actual gameplay.

Okay, graphics and sounds is where things get sort of interesting. Your characters are pixelated, miniature, and quite cute, if I may. Though disappointing at first, you get used to it. The DS does a great justice to such a great game, with graphics comparable to those of even Mario Kart.

The sound effects are good, but repetitive. Music is the same for every dungeon except the last one, there are no character voice overs (disappointing), and every weapon sounds about the same when it hits a bad guy. That's not to say the music isn't good and the sound effects aren't fun, just... repetitive.

Compared to games I had played up to point of FFIII, this game is great. As I recall, I logged about 30 hours into the first file I beat, matching that 2/3 of the way through my second. This game has great replay value, although you don't get any special features after clearing it for the first time. There are many things to do besides beat the storyline, mostly involving both the wireless features and WiFi, such as unlocking dungeons, getting new weapons, and raising your job levels. There are several sub-bosses to fight, and sub-dungeons to explore. All in all, this game can keep you busy for quite some time.

Final Recommendations:

Buy this game. Now. Just don't expect to have much of a social life for a while.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/26/07

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