Final Fantasy III
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Format: Cartridge
Released: US 11/14/06
Japan 08/24/06
Official Site: English Site

Graphics: 95%
Sound: 85%
Gameplay: 97%
Control: 93%
Story: 89%
Overall: 92%
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Over 20 jobs, and you don't need a nose for any of them!
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Them's fightin' words. Bring it.
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Lali Ho! Or rally ho, or however you say it.
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Kweh! Now in 3D!
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Dan S
Final Fantasy III
Dan S

Final Fantasy III. It was by far the best of the original Famicom/NES Final Fantasy games, and, in my opinion, the second best Final Fantasy game period (Only behind Final Fantasy V), but while all of the other NES and SNES Final Fantasy games were getting remade for Wonderswan, GBA, and Playstation 1, Final fantasy III kept getting passed over in favor of the other games. Well, it finally got a remake, and a spectacular one at that.

The gameplay in this game revolves around "jobs." Different jobs let you equip different sorts of weapons and have different stat increases; for example, a Knight is really strong and can use only the weakest white magic, while a Sage is not strong physically, but can use all magic. You get access to new jobs at certain points in the story. There are over 20 jobs, and are switchable on the fly, with the only real penalty being that whenever you switch jobs, your stats are lowered a bit until you fight a predetermined number of battles (Anywhere from 1 to 10).

Apart from the job system, this game plays pretty much like any other Final Fantasy game; you go from town to dungeon defeating any villains that the story requires you to. In this game, though, instead of one airship (or multiple that are exactly the same) there are many different airships, all with different qualities. For example, one can fly over certain types of mountains, but is slow, while another is really fast and is the only one that can fly in certain parts of the world map. With these multiple airships, the game takes a sort of Metroid-like turn in which you're always getting ways to go over new obstacles, and you have to remember where you saw those obstacles so you can use your new airship to pass them and get to the next area.

Be forewarned: there is level grinding. It's not as much as most games of the era that the game was originally made in (until the end, when all bets are off) but it is there. A few bosses are really hard, but if you change your strategy and do some job reshuffling, almost all the really hard bosses can be beaten in one or two rounds, negating any extreme hardness they may have had.

As for new features, there are a few subquests that involve spoilers, but Mognet is also in this game, though it works differently than its Final Fantasy IX counterpart. You can send messages to characters (one per hour, in real time) and if you send enough messages to certain characters, you get to do the new sidequests. The only problem with those new sidequests is that you have to use the wi-fi to send messages to real people. If you don't know anyone with the game, prepare to make deals with people on internet message boards, and if you don't have wi-fi, you're going to have to do without the new stuff.

As for the load times you've probably heard about so much, what load times? If I hadn't heard the big stink about them on the internet, I never would've given them a second thought. The worst load times are the millisecond pause before each character attacks in battle, and if you can't handle something so minor, you must have a really hard time playing regular console games.

The music in the original NES FFIII was some of the best in any NES game. The quality was high; it sounded much better than almost any other NES synth. The composition was incredible: truly Nobuo Uematsu's first masterpiece. The remixes here are pretty hit or miss, however. Sure, some remixes take some of the more mediocre songs on the NES soundtrack and make them fit the game more (Crystal Tower); some take already great tunes and make them far better (Forbidden Land Eureka); and some are pretty (Eternal Wind); but some aren't all that great (Return of the Warrior, with its not too great sounding synth for example). Overall, though, the music fits the game, and capably creates the mood while remixing a fantastic soundtrack.

The sound effects are typical of what you'd hear in any Final Fantasy game: cursor movements, weapon hits (different effects for every weapon) and the like. They are all good; nothing that jumps out, but nothing that's horribly bad either.

The game controls well. Sometimes the DS Lite's d-pad can be a pain when going in diagonals, but you can't fault the game itself for that. The original DS has no diagonal issues, but its screen doesn't do the graphics justice. This is the game that will make you want a DS Lite if you didn't want one (or have one) already.

The stylus is used in this game in a few different ways. To walk around, it works exactly the same as Super Mario 64 DS in that you just touch the direction on the screen you want the character to go, and they go. All menus can be navigated with the stylus, though it's easier with the d-pad + buttons (All the stylus stuff can also be done with said d-pad + buttons).

Unfortunately, this stylus stuff comes at a price, that being all the action takes place on the bottom screen, and if you played many other DS games, you're probably used to having everything happen on the top screen, and having everything on the bottom screen in this game requires getting used to. It amounts to a nuisance for the first few hours of the game. They should've included an option to use the top or bottom screen, since all that's ever on the top screen is a world map in towns and on the world map. The top screen is blank in dungeons and battles.

The story is another big addition for this game. The original NES version had a story only barely more developed than Final fantasy I's, but in this one they're more than just random kids on an adventure that don't say a word and let everything happen around them. The story isn't as good as Final Fantasy IV or VI's, but it's done well enough, and has that distinct old-school flair that the whole game has going for it.

The story begins with Luneth, the hero, falling down a hole in a cave and trying to fight his way out when he is attacked by something. After the battle, the crystal tells him that he has been chosen to give hope to the world, and to seek out friends with a similar fate so that they may help him on his quest. Soon enough, he runs into those friends: Arc, his childhood friend who is always being picked on; Refia, a blacksmith's adopted daughter from the town of Kazus; and Ingus, a retainer to the royal family of Sasoon. Together they go on a quest to seek out the rest of the crystals and defeat the threat to the world, which they find out more about as the story goes on.

The graphics in this game are really well done. The whole game has been redone in 3D, and that 3D is beautiful, the best DS has to offer (At least for the time being). Environments are beautiful, and character models look really good. If you're looking for dark gritty places such as Midgar, you won't find them here; instead, environments are more bright and lush, but the graphics are in no way inferior to any of the PS1 Final Fantasy games. In fact, the battle graphics are on the technical level of Final Fantasy VIII or IX. All the graphics are real time, meaning that the town and dungeon backgrounds aren't much better than the battle graphics, but they still look incredible for a DS game, and are quite the technical achievement.

In conclusion, Final Fantasy III is one of the DS's best games, and one of the better Final Fantasy games of the last decade. Once you've gotten over bottom screen shock and made those deals on message boards, the game is an absolute masterpiece, with beautiful graphics, a good soundtrack, and some of the most fun gameplay in any Final Fantasy game. This is a game that will keep you addicted until the very end.


© 2006 Square Enix, All Rights Reserved.

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