RPG Review #55: Final Fantasy III

Okay, new drill. Every number that ends with 5 will be a Final Fantasy game or something. I guess that'll work. Anyways, I'm still not playing Final Fantasy II because it is garbage entirely, so let's check out Final Fantasy III. This game I actually own, but I own the DS version of this game which is a very abhorrent remake of the original. That said though, Final Fantasy III's original Famicom release never made it out of Japan. Note that we are not talking about Final Fantasy III for the SNES, because that's actually Final Fantasy VI. This is the REAL Final Fantasy III, and is sure is a hard game.

Gameplay: The core gameplay aspect of Final Fantasy III is thankfully not that of Final Fantasy II, which emphasized strange grinding mechanics for everything. This one employs standard turn-based combat, like the very first Final Fantasy. This is in fact the last Final Fantasy to employ that, as the Active Time Battle System takes over in later installments. Now, combat in FFIII is very tough, as it has been for the oldest Final Fantasy games. There is a TON of grinding to do in this one, for regular experience as well as capacity points for job skill levels (thankfully again money isn't too much of an issue). The regular enemies in the game are excruciatingly painful to fight too. Ambushes are frequent, and the "back attack" ambush that appears in subsequent games makes a debut here. Most bosses are thankfully not that tough. Attacking is standard, but better in the front row. Magic is also standard, similar to the first game although this is all abolished by the time IV came along.

One thing I liked here was the auto-targetting, which didn't exist in the first game, so basically the game makes a character attack a different target when their intended one already died. This game's most unique bringing was the job system, where you can change classes at will (though you have to de-equip characters to do so and they cost capacity points). The other new thing was a grey magic type known as summon magic, which obviously took off from there. All in all, Final Fantasy's gameplay was typical, yet very difficult without a ton of grinding. I will say though, it is way worse in the remake. This game has a distinct lack of save points, as the only real place to save is on the world map, and though the DS version added a quicksave feature, it worsened a ton of the gameplay. In the remake there is EVEN MORE GRINDING and nerfs of the best things. Grade: C+ (remake grade is D-).

Characters: The remake named the four main playable characters as Luneth, Arc, Ingus, and Refia. But in the original game there really was no named characters in canon, so just give the Four Warriors of Light (yes, that aspect returns) whatever name they wish. The main feature, the job system, allows characters to change jobs by player choice. The characters start out as lowly Onion Knights (Freelancers in the remake), and as part of the plot you gain the power of crystals which grant better jobs overall. There's standard Final Fantasy classes like Red Wizard, Black Wizard, Fighter, and Monk, upgrades to those classes such as Kareteka, Warlock, Knight, and Shaman, and a few unique ones that appeared in later games like Thief, Scholar, Dragoon, and M. Knight (read, Dark Knight). The ultimate classes were Sage (all magic), and Ninja (all physical) but weren't available until the endgame of course. Some of the jobs had unique skills, like Thief's steal and Geomancer's terrain. Some are nice to experiment with but ultimately I stick with the usual grouping. Aside from the four warriors there are side characters that join as part of the plot and leave later. These characters are strictly NPCs although in the remake they sometimes assist the characters in battle. Too bad the villain of this game, Xande, is rather one-note. Grade: B-

Plot: So in the Altar Cave the four Onion Knights (or just Luneth in the remake) find the crystal for the first set of jobs, then return to Ur, their apparent hometown. They help Princess Sara later on restore people back to normal in a kingdom and also help this game's Cid out with his airship. Their quest is for the crystals, of course. They gain the help of Desh later on who sticks around until a certain tower where Desh jumps into a fire to stop the Floating Continent from falling. Yes, the whole first part of the game takes place on a Floating Continent, and after another crystal and tweaking of the Enterprise, a sailing ship along the way, they configure the new airship to the actual overworld.

Except it's all flooded out apart from the Floating Continent and a few areas. A girl named Elia helps them out in the water temple, but gets killed by one of Xande's followers, but once that's over the overworld is restored. The Enterprise is on a leash now and the warriors fight Goldor (who's name is very meaningful, he loves gold) to get it back. The kingdom of Salonia is in some sort of civil war, and the Enterprise is destroyed in the crossfire. Prince Allus helps the warriors to the castle, where he becomes king and the new airship, the Nautilus, doubling as a submarine, is constructed. Later on the warriors find Dorga and Unne, two old people who are connected with Xande somehow, and they fight them. Also the warriors get another airship, a huge one named Invincible with the power to hop across mountains (why is it that airships cannot go over mountains? None of this makes much sense to me). Eventually, the warriors reach the Sylx Tower (supposed to be Crystal Tower) and confront Xande, only to discover the even more menacing Cloud of Darkness and get sucked into the Dark World. With the help of former allies, as well as the four Dark Warriors (yep, they exist and are surprisingly allies), they defeat the Dark Cloud and balance is basically restored.

Overall, the plot is likeable in its own way. A lot of it was invested in the Floating Continent, while the overworld was pretty good on a couple of towns. I wish everything in the overworld, including the optional content (of which there was a lot) was more interesting, but okay. On the remake I only got as far as the first part of the overworld, and stopped there. The whole game is likely to fatigue players too. The story is quite good when you play its NES version. Very well done for that particular console. Grade: B

Music: While it's good old Nobuo Uematsu, I eventually got tired of the battle music after awhile. The boss music is really goofy too, and only the Dark Cloud had a different music track than the other bosses. The other music tracks are alright, the sad town being my favorite one. Grade: C+

Overall Grade: B- (C for the remake :P)
This was my first foray into Final Fantasy even though it was the remake. I won't go back to it, but playing the NES version of Final Fantasy III was good, although it has a ton of grinding in it. Don't play the DS remake, people, unless you really want to get exhausted. Maybe I'll stop playing RPGs for now until after my midterms are done.