Review by Shady

Reviewed: 04/27/09

A much-welcomed remake, but not without some annoyances

Final Fantasy III is a game that has always had a bit of mystery attached to its name. It is the elusive Final Fantasy game, the one that was never released in the U.S. until now. Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS is a remake of the original 1990 Japan-only Famicom version, complete with updated graphics and several new tweaks and differences from its humble beginning.

The story behind this enigma of a game is a simple one; in fact, it is actually a rather weak storyline. The game is centered around four characters, Luneth, Arc, Refia and Ingus (unless you choose to name them differently), who are known as the Warriors of Light. These four warriors are chosen to save the world from the evil ones who are trying to destroy it. Yeah, it is the same clichéd story that is used in countless other RPG's. The characters are developed poorly, with little to no back stories as well. Thankfully, the gameplay makes up for the dull storyline and feeble character development.

Final Fantasy III's claim to fame is that it is the first FF game to use a job system. With this, you can change the jobs of all four characters and make them whatever you want. You can be anything: warrior, mage, thief, ninja. There are 22 jobs total, but you are only able to access certain ones as the game goes on. For example, in the early goings if you want to be a mage, you can only be a basic one. However, later on in the game you can be an upgraded version of a mage that can cast many more powerful spells. One downside is that many of the jobs are of little use throughout the game. For the most part, you will want to keep a fighter, two mages, and then either a fighter/mage as the fourth, but it is definitely fun to switch it up and try out new combinations. Despite their being a handful of useless jobs, the system is rather fascinating overall.

Final Fantasy III's battle system is turn-based, which is the standard for many old-school role-playing games. When a battle occurs, you have your basic options of fighting, using an item, defending yourself, using your current job's special move, or simply running away. Special moves include casting a spell with mages, or throwing a weapon with ninjas. I have no qualms with the battle system itself. Random battles are not overwhelming, nor are they scarce. As long as you have your characters built up enough in certain areas, you will be fine.

In regards to overall difficulty, FF3 is not extremely hard, but it does have some downright frustrating elements. There are two aspects of the game that cause problems. First, Phoenix Downs, the life-reviving staples of the Final Fantasy series, can be hard to come by. They cannot be purchased at all; instead, they can only be acquired from treasure chests or by stealing from certain enemies, if you have a thief in your party. With only a pre-determined amount of these items available in the game, Phoenix Downs can only be used when absolutely necessary. Your best bet sometimes is to revive your characters through free wellsprings that are scattered throughout random towns. Finding and then repeatedly traveling to these wellsprings can even be a chore, however.

Second, the final two hours of the game are atrocious. Once it is time to enter the final dungeon of the game, it is a great idea to spend a large amount of time leveling up. It took me a few times to get through the final part of the game, and with save points hard to find during this time, it became very frustrating. Still, due to this hefty challenge at the end of the game, there was a great sense of accomplishment when I finally did complete it.

One of the coolest features in the game, if you choose to utilize it, is the addition of a Wi-Fi mode. If you have wireless access, you can send letters to fellow FF3 players via the white Mognets that are found in each of the game's towns. Communicating with other players opens up new mini-games and other hidden treats. This option gives the game more replay value, as this can be done from your same file even after you have beaten the game.

There are two other new features in the game that are very convenient. First, there is an option to save at any point in the game, shut down your DS, then resume playing from wherever you stopped at the next time you turn on the game. You could be in the middle of a boss fight, save and shut down your DS, then continue right where you left off at another time. Second, you have the option of either playing the game strictly with your stylus, or by using the regular controls. I chose the latter, just because I felt it tedious to use the stylus to wade through the menu options. But hey, at least the option is there for those who prefer one way or the other!

By far the biggest improvement in this DS remake is the graphics. Final Fantasy III is one of the sharpest looking games for its handheld system. With completely remade 3D graphics, FF3 is at least on par with its Playstation One brethren. Characters and monsters are both heavily detailed, and some of the dungeons are vibrant with color and luxurious design. The difference between character designs when you change jobs is impressive. Zooming in with the game's camera leads to some pixilation and polygonal issues, but as a whole, the game's graphics are definitely one of its strongest points.

The game's sound, also re-worked for the DS version, is hit-and-miss. The music, while composed of wonderful pieces, only has a limited number of selections. For the first half of the game, I loved all of the music. However, by the end of the game, hearing the same compositions over and over again became unnerving. The game's sound effects did nothing to stand out from any other game, but they were useful in the jobs they performed.

In conclusion, Final Fantasy III is an enjoyable, albeit flawed, role-playing adventure for the Nintendo DS. Remaking the original and not producing a direct port was the right decision by Square Enix. With its beautiful 3D graphics and countless other updates to the original, this is a worthy addition to the U.S. Final Fantasy line-up. The game's flaws, such as its blasé storyline, lame characters, and its abundance of only semi-useful jobs, do not detract too much from the overall enjoyment of the game. Final Fantasy III is a good way to spend 20-30 hours in its convenient handheld form. RPG and Final Fantasy fans alike should give this remake a try.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Final Fantasy III (US, 11/14/06)

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