Basic Information:


System: Nintendo DS
Genre: Turn Based RPG
Difficulty: Difficult
Developer: Square Enix & Matrix Software
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: November 2006
Rating: E10+ for Everyone 10 and older
Retail Price: $19.99 US/CAN


What It’s About:

The Gulgan prophesied the coming of an earthquake so fierce that it would swallow the Crystals and spew monsters from the depths of the earth. But this, the Gulgan said, was only an omen of something much worse to come, and only the four Warriors of Light, blessed by the Crystals of Light, can save the world. Luneth, an orphan raised by Topapa the village elder of Ur, is a curious little fellow, and he decides to go explore the cave that opened up after the recent earthquake. Unluckily for him, he trips and falls into a hole. After exploring the cave and fighting a fearsome foe, he finds a Crystal, which tells him to find the other three children chosen by destiny and then teleports him outside the cave. Luneth isn’t quite sure what he has to do, but his adopted father, Topapa, gives him his blessings and tells Luneth to do as the Crystal says. Luneth is joined by his childhood friend Arc, and then a blacksmith’s daughter, Refia, and finally by a charming knight from Sasune, Ingus, as he tries to lift the curse of the Djinn. When the group manages to defeat the Djinn, the Crystal gives them its blessing and the four officially become the Warriors of Light. As the Four Warriors of Light, they must travel around the world, seeking out the other three Crystals to gain the power to fight off the encroaching darkness.

Gameplay:

Final Fantasy III plays much like the original Final Fantasy. This game has a very old school vibe, so those who hate old school RPGs, will probably want to stay away from FFIII. Unlike the original Final Fantasy, III introduced a job system, where each character can take any job and can switch between different jobs. III doesn’t punish the player for switching jobs, so I recommend fooling around and finding the party that works for you.

Other than jobs, not much else has changed since the original. Spells still have levels and points, rather than an MP pool. The story is very minimal, there are no twists and turns, and the charm relies heavily upon exploration. You’ll be going from place to place, exploring dungeons and towns until you finally reach the final area.

Expect standard RPG fair: turn based battles and random encounters in each area you explore. What sets Final Fantasy III apart from Dragon Quest and other similar old school RPGs are it’s many jobs and job levels.

Story & Characters:

Like I said before, the story is very bare bones. Basically you as Luneth fall through a hole and are told by a Crystal that you must fight the encroaching darkness with three others. Before the Light Crystal bestows its power onto you, it asks you to find the other three warriors. The first hour of play will be basically you meeting up with the other three characters. After that, the Crystal blesses you with its light and you are granted the first job classes in the game. Afterwards you must travel around the vast world and find the other three Crystals and receive their light before you are ready to fight the avatar of darkness.

There are a few twists along the way, but they are few and far in-between. Most of the game will be you exploring dungeons, towers, and temples. Sometimes other characters will join your party and help you out at the start of battle. The first of such characters is Princess Sarah, who wishes to uncurse a city in the early part of the game.

Like the story, character development is pretty minimal. You learn about the four characters at the start of the game and afterwards they remain pretty much silent except for some dialogue here or there about what you have to do next. The NPCs who join your party at different parts of the game are also pretty underdeveloped. Doga is probably the most developed out of the group of characters that joins your party briefly. The small pieces of information gathered through the NPCs in various towns do, however, allow you to piece together the story of the world.

Art & Graphics:

I know some people aren’t found of the super-deformed character designs and find the graphics down right ugly, but I’m not one of those people. I think the super deformed characters fit the mood of the story, a light hearted adventure, really well. And for a 3D DS game, the graphics are really good.

The only problem I had was more control based. On default, the camera is further away from the main character and while you can zoom in (and see more detail), the game automatically goes back to default whenever you enter a new area. I found this the only grievance in the game. It was so annoying to constantly adjust the zoom to my preference that I eventually just gave up and played on the default setting.

Box art is very simple: a logo with the title. I’m a fan of minimalism (among other styles) so I found this cover very appealing. This style also helps set the box apart from other games since most games feature busier covers. Basically, I like it and I think it stands out from the usual box art.

Sound & Music:

The music wasn’t particularly memorable, but it wasn’t horrible either. Given how basic the source material was, I guess that cannot be helped. Still there were plenty of nice tracks like Eternal Wind, Eureka the Forbidden Land, The Boundless Ocean, Elia the Maiden of Water, and Final Battle, just to name a few of my favourites. Actually, thinking about it now, there were quite a few really nice tracks, the problem is, most of those nice tracks only play during key moments, while the more mundane ones (which are still quite nice) play during most of the game and are reused quite often.

As for sound, there is no voice acting (no surprise) and I don’t recall being bother by anything, so that is a plus. Here is a sample of the music, it’s the track Eternal Wind (also the main theme of FFIII):

Multiplayer:

I haven’t tried multiplayer yet, but I’m not a fan of forcing multiplayer on players. What I mean by this is that certain items, a special job class, and secret bosses are only available if you use the multiplayer function. I do not know why developers push multiplayer in such a way. It makes more sense to create true multiplayer and allow players to actually play together. Maybe they ran out of room or funding to code something that extensive and went with simple Mog mail. Still, that doesn’t make me any less happy to be forced to do it if I want those extra goodies.

So what is the multiplayer function? Nothing exciting. Basically there are Moggles that let you send mail to your friends when you input their friend code and have a wireless internet connection (without WPA security). Sending a certain amount of letters unlocks mail correspondences with NPCs, who tell you about certain locations that either have bosses or items.

My Thoughts & Recommendations:

This game is definitely not for everyone. I personally really liked it, but I know others who have not. Like I mentioned already, you have to like old school RPGs, those with minimal story and greater difficulty, to enjoy this game. Newer fans of the Final Fantasy series will be sorely disappointed if they expect to see a modern Final Fantasy. Even with the addition of 4 named characters as opposed to 4 unnamed and blank characters, FFIII is pretty bare on story and character development. Final Fantasy III is ultimately a NES game with a sparkly new coat of paint.

If, however, you are a fan of these kinds of RPGs and don’t mind the super deformed look, then FFIII just might be a game worth your time. The current price, a mere 20$, makes giving this game a try also much easier on the wallet. And the updated visuals and music certainly make it a lot more fun to play through than the original, and the job system isn’t as punishing as the original or FFV, so you can experiment away with different jobs for different characters, which definitely made the game more fun for me than it would have otherwise been.

It also also really nice of SquareEnix to leave in the old magic system as it was interesting from a series history point of view (wheras the GBA/PSP/iOS remakes of Final Fantasy removed that from the game) and I certainly think it’s an interesting way to use magic. And I know people are going to think I’m weird, but I actually liked the system because I could use low level spells on cannon fodder monster with my magic using classes and still have the powerful spells for the boss. Whereas in the MP based magic systems, my magic users are mostly useless until the bosses because I don’t want to waste MP that could be used to cast powerful magic against the boss.

Conclusion:

Pros: Cons:
-Full graphical overhaul (plus a few added goodies for the remake)
-Old school RPG with a modern coat of paint
-Magic level system is retained
-Has some really wonderful music
-Chibi graphics fit well with the story and mask
the hardware limitations
-Chibi art is adorable
-Job system has been reworked a bit and does not punish the player for experimenting
-Bare bones story
-Minimal character development/backstory
-Most of the more average songs get repeated too
much
-Zoom feature is useless due to it resetting at every new screen
-Multiplayer is forced on the player if s/he wants to see everything the game has to offer.

Overall, an interesting game that will probably only be enjoyed by fans of RPGs.

–SW

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