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Developer:
Matrix Software
Publisher: Square-Enix
Platform: Nintendo DS
Release Date: November 15, 2006

by Tony Ames




Since that day Final Fantasy VII was first announced, it became clear that the US wasn't getting the whole story with Final Fantasy. While the intervening years cleared the matter up and saw the release of two of the missing games, Final Fantasy III was still nowhere to be seen. That is, until a full-blown remake, complete with updated plot and graphics as-yet unheard of on the DS, was announced. But now that it's here, was it worth the nearly 15 year wait?


Those graphics can be a little misleading of course. As is so often the case, the stunning CG intro movie was the first thing we all saw of Final Fantasy III, and while it's still there in the final package it gives the wrong idea in more ways that one. The game's style is actually best described as polygons mimicking sprites (if you've seen pictures of Crystal Chronicles you'll be on the right track) and is a bit grainy at points. Graininess not withstanding this was probably the right way to go. The superdeformed style tends to convey a sense of lightheartedness which is definitely appropriate to the game. Beyond that, the environments are large and vibrant, even the ones in dank dark pits.


The lighthearted intent of Final Fantasy III becomes even clearer with the sound. It's really the sort of music that you might not notice at first, seamlessly blending into the colorful backgrounds. While this is a fine start, that sort of sound doesn't work unless it's complimented by a handful of real standouts, which aren't really there. Disappointing considering some of the brilliance seen from other early Final Fantasys, but still nothing to get too upset over.


You could say the same of the updated story, although the difference isn't as large. Sensing great disturbance in the world, the Crystals, maintainers of the world's balance, call to four young people, choosing them as the Warriors of Light. Yawn? Not really, since Final Fantasy III doesn't take itself all that seriously you aren't really overexposed to the plot enough to cause that sort of reaction. Toss in a dribble of personality for our young heroes and some quirky NPCs and you have something that's cute enough to skirt through despite being far from winning awards.


No, what should bring you to Final Fantasy III is stubbornly old-fashioned gameplay. This is a lot more interesting than it sounds, because what it really means is that the game is not afraid in the slightest to hand you your head on a platter. This isn't to say that it's the hardest game ever and you should run for the hills, but instead that every so often a nail-biting fight will pop up and beating down the enemy will actually be satisfying.


But we're getting ahead of ourselves. As you might expect from an old-fashioned game, Final Fantasy III makes use of a very basic turn-based combat system. But rather than forcing any particular characters on you, instead you have access to Jobs, allowing characters to pick and choose their set of abilities throughout the game. While other Final Fantasys have used similar Job systems, what sets III's apart is the ease of changing classes. While there are stat penalties for a few fights after a Job change and a new Job will be at a slight disadvantage due to low Job Levels, briefly changing Jobs for a small section of the game or a particularly tough fight is a perfectly viable option, which is not often the case in similar systems. While this conversely means that there is less benefit to using a single class for a long time, it's still a little something to set Final Fantasy III apart.


While Final Fantasy III is very much in the spirit of the old school, it also has some new touches. There are a large number of sidequests, which is fitting, but the majority of them actually depend on utilising the WiFi system of the DS. While the rewards for this are fairly spectacular, it's impossibly frustrating if you don't happen to have anyone to reliably exchange signals with. But at the end of the day it's not really a big part of the game either, and thus Final Fantasy III remains as a fun, if flawed trip into the days of yore.


Final Grade: 77%




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