Review by XCommander

"No game has surpassed this game in sheer quality"

There are many great games out there. I have played many of them like Final Fantasy VII, Super Metroid, and Starcraft just to name a few. But of all the games that I have ever played, there has been none that I have enjoyed playing more than Final Fantasy III. Final Fantasy III basically represented perfection to me. While there are others with more complicated and strategic gameplay, and many others with better graphics; they still just cannot compare with the great game known as Final Fantasy III.

Final Fantasy III, know as Final Fantasy VI in Japan, was released in 1994. When it was released, it had the greatest graphics, best sound and music, the deepest RPG gameplay, and the most excellent story. Of course some of these attributes were definitely bettered by some later game, the sense of nostalgia and absolute enjoyment I received from playing this game cannot compare to any of the later titles.

The story in Final Fantasy III is deep and involving. There are many twists and turns, and at the same time it contains uncanny characterization and drama. It begins as the Imperial Soldiers Biggs, Wedge, and a strange girl ride to Narshe to recover a frozen esper. The espers are an ancient race that inhabited the earth along with humans thousands of years ago. Then, as many disagreements occurred between humans and espers, the great War of the Magi broke out and killed many people and espers. In the end, it was deemed that espers and humans could not co-exist and the espers left for their own dimension. Nobody knows where that seal is today. The strange girl is named Terra, and she has been put under a ''spell'' from a slave crown from the empire. Terra holds immense power and the evil Kefka wants to put her to use in the army. Kefka is the main villain in Final Fantasy III, and he is probably the best villain ever in a video game (yes, even better than Sephiroth). He has an uncanny laugh, and happens to look like a clown (an absolutely evil one at that). What erupts when Terra meets up with the Returners, a resistance force against the empire, is absolutely phenomenal.

The characters in this story are some of the best ever to grace an RPG. You have the protagonist, Terra, whom I have already talked about. She is searching for her past, and when she finds out what it is she gets terrified. You also have the thief (errr.... treasure hunter) Locke, who is part of the Returners. He is a generally funny character, and he got confused when something happened to a loved one of his. His famous lines like, ''Call me a treasure hunter, or I'll Rip Your Lungs Out!'' will enchant anyone in any age. The twins Sabin and Edgar are from the desert city of Figaro. They were the sons of the king, who handed down the throne to Edgar. Sabin had been missing ever since. Edgar is a lady’s man and is childish at times, especially for a king. The General Celes, had abandoned the empire ever since she felt what they were doing was wrong. She is to be tried for treason. The lone ninja, Shadow, is clad in all black and travels with his dog, Interceptor. He is a lone ranger who would ''slit his mom's throat for a nickel.'' His past is shrouded in mystery, but he has some strange dreams from time to time. Relm is the child artist, who never gets the respect she deserves. Strago is an old geezer, who is also Relm's grandfather. He is a stuck up old man with an adventurous past. Mog is the only Moogle who can talk (and he has awesome dancing skills). Cyan is the guardian of Doma Castle, which looks to be high on the list of the empire's targets. The gambling Setzer owns the only airship. The wild boy, Gau, lives on the Veldt and likes dried meat. The secret characters, Umaro and Gogo, are a yeti and a he-she mimic respectively. Banon is the leader of the Returners, who lives in a cave. Cid is Celes' sort of adoptive father who lives in the great Imperial Capital, Vector. Who can ever forget the great General Leo? He disagrees with his commanders and faces Kefka with his bare fists.

The main villain is, as I said before, Kefka. His laughter and insane mind make him the perfect bad guy. The emperor, Gestahl, is a brilliant, yet evil man. He wants to bring back the espers to make Magitek Armor. Magitek Armor enhances the ability of soldiers greatly, and it looks like a typical mech. The babbling octopus, Ultros shows up to spoil the fun for your party on numerous occasions.

When you first play the game, you will be amazed at the graphical quality. Take the opening for instance. It shows Biggs, Wedge, and Terra moving in Magitek armor to the village of Narshe. The whole time it is snowing and the Magiteks move with the greatest of animation. The graphics compliment the story and gameplay so much. The backgrounds in the game are probably the best for the SNES and they look photo-realistic. The metal ground has rust, the caves have grains of dirt, the water looks excellent, and the rocks look great. The characters look great, and are a humongous improvement over the previous Final Fantasies. They convey so much emotion in the way they act and their facial expression show their feelings to the greatest extent. The only unfortunate thing is the lack of animation they show, but it isn’t really that bad. Their portraits look great, and they are semi-anime styled, but with a realistic edge to it.

In battle the graphical quality shows the greatest. Some backgrounds move, like the desert one or the train chase scene. The enemies are colored greatly, but show no emotion. However some bosses like Atma show minor movement. The characters use basically the same sprites in battle. When they attack, they don’t go directly attack the enemy (except when you use the offering relic), but like the other Final Fantasies, move a few feet forward and slash. The magic has some great effects, and some even use polygons. Some moves use a cool technique that makes them move and twirl like a cloud of gas, which is what the Bio Blaster tool does (as one example).

The music is one of the greatest parts of this game (which is quite good, considering they are all excellent). The background music, composed by Nobuo Uematsu, has some of the greatest songs to grace a video game. In fact, I’d say this has the best sound track of every game ever. Some memorable songs are the Narshe song, the World of Balance Overworld, the battle theme, the boss theme, the Veldt’s theme, Zozo’s theme, and… hell, they’re all good! Well maybe except the crappy Serpent Trench, but that can be forgiven. There is a great boss theme, as I said before, and some bosses have their own songs (like Atma) that kill the regular boss theme. For the effects, they are you typical RPG/Square fare. The slashes sound cool, the noise for “Drill” is great, the confirming beep just to name a few. The most memorable effect is Kefka’s laugh, which will stay in your mind forever (I guarantee, It’s a classic!). There is even some spoken music in the opera house, which sounds pretty crappy, but it’s nice to hear in a SNES game.

Now we come to the crown jewel of this game, the gameplay. This game utilizes the esper system for its magic, and that definitely beats the hell out of some of the other systems like materia, junctioning, and the famous job system. The basis for the esper system is that if you equip an esper to a character, they will learn the magic the esper has. Each magic has a learn rate, in a percentage. For example lets say an esper has the fire spell to be learned at a 5% rate. Well, this means that if you get one “Skill Point” (it’s called something different, but I forgot), you learn 5% of the spell. If you manage to get 100%, you learn the spell forever, even if you un-equip the esper. The espers can also be summoned for a devastating spell (though not so devastating as some of the later FF’s). Plus, on some espers, you can get a special bonus for leveling up, like +10% HP or something to that extent. It really adds a strategic element.

Final Fantasy III also employs the relic system, where each character can equip two relics. Relics are items that grant you special abilities or raise your stats. For example, one relic is the “Sprint Shoes” which double your walking speed. You can really have some devastating combos like the famous Genji Glove/Offering, which makes a character attack for a total of 8(!) times a turn. You can also have some special relics that only one character can use, like the Thief’s Glove, which makes Locke Capture (Mug) instead of steal.

The Controls are great, and are intuitively mapped the SNES’s face buttons. It’s your typical “A” to talk/confirm, “X” to open the menu etc. Basically, it’s perfect.

You will not find a better game on any system. The graphics, story, music, and gameplay really make this game the best overall for the SNES and beyond. Hopefully there will be more games that come out like this, excellent in every respect.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/30/03, Updated 04/30/03

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