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177 of 182 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete the Final Fantasy Collection
After sixteen long years, Final Fantasy III finally sees an official release outside of Japan. However, unlike previous games, Final Fantasy III has been completely reworked. This is more than just a port with enhanced graphics. Final Fantasy III includes some new secrets and side quests in addition to its graphical overhaul. Final Fantasy III may be just about enough...
Published on November 15, 2006 by S. Rhodes

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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars FOR THE FINAL FANTASY COMPLETIST ONLY
(Note: for the purposes of this review, US release FF titles use Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3), while Japanese versions use Roman numerals (I, II, III); the DS version of FF III - while a US release - uses "III" instead of "3" to keep it from being confused with the excellent SNES FF 3 title.)

When I first heard the news this game was going coming to the DS - in a...
Published on January 3, 2007 by Eric C. Rawlins


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177 of 182 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete the Final Fantasy Collection, November 15, 2006
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Final Fantasy III (Video Game)
After sixteen long years, Final Fantasy III finally sees an official release outside of Japan. However, unlike previous games, Final Fantasy III has been completely reworked. This is more than just a port with enhanced graphics. Final Fantasy III includes some new secrets and side quests in addition to its graphical overhaul. Final Fantasy III may be just about enough to please some hardcore fans, but was the wait really worth it? Well, yes, but the game isn't perfect.

The storyline of Final Fantasy III is entirely too simple. The crystals are losing their powers and there are only four warriors that can come forth and save the world from falling into darkness. Sixteen years ago this was a pretty standard story, but when compared to your average RPG today, and current Final Fantasy games, the storyline to Final Fantasy III is a joke. There's nothing in this story that screams epic, and the characters involved aren't developed very well. Luckily, we can let it slide because its sixteen years old.

Gameplay wise, Final Fantasy III is pretty similar to most RPGs of today. You'll go roaming through dungeons and towns getting into random battles. There are a few quirks to the game that the DS utilizes. You'll find moments where you'll have to zoom into certain objects for you to examine. It should also be noted that you can use the touch screen almost exclusively in the game. Using the stylus you can make your character run in the direction you want him to, by gliding it across the screen. Taping on things makes your character examine it, and ultimately this is how you open chests and talk to people. It works out, but it feels really clumbsy at times. If you're looking to get through a dungeon with little hassle, just stick to the directional buttons. To its credit, though, using the stylus makes menu navigation much faster, but for the most part, the stylus controls just feel tacked on.

Combat is traditional turn based combat. There's no ATB gauge like in later Final Fantasy games. In each round you will choose all the commands for your characters to do, and then watch a round of battle take place. It's simple, but isn't always fun. Mainly because Final Fantasy III is a challenge. If you began with some of the later Final Fantasy games, then this installment may be a little too difficult. Sometimes combat is unforgiving, especially when faced with bosses that attack twice per turn, and have the power to take out a character in a single shot. Even worse, the encounter rate is pretty high and running away from battle is often a wasted effort because you'll fail so many times trying to do so. You'll probably get wiped out just trying to run from battle and failing so many times. There are several moments when you'll be forced to battle for hours just leveling up. This is fine for those used to old school RPGs, but many RPGs of today do not put so much emphasis on leveling up, and it may try your patience after a while. It's great for people looking for a challenge, at least, but for some it may be a bit too steep.

The job system is interesting. As you go through the game you'll get crystal shards that allow your characters to use certain jobs. Each job has its own set of abilities that can be learned with it. For example, White mages specialize in the healing arts, black mages in attack magic and red mages can do a little bit of both. You've also got other classes like warriors who can take damage for other party members, thieves who can steal and much more. There are 23 jobs in all. The jobs you choose for your characters also have an impact on your stats. Mages, for example, don't have a lot of strength but they excel in magic. Also, as you gain levels, you'll also gain job levels. So it's not only important to make sure your characters are at a good level, but also at a good job level.

There is a slight problem with the job system however. It isn't nearly as varied as it could be. As you go through the game you'll gain more and more jobs that ultimately replace the older ones. In the beginning you'll get a Blackmage; as you progress you'll get a Sage, who is capable of doing everything a Blackmage can do. Thus, later in the game, many job classes become obsolete. It's really hard to compliment the games variety when later on many job classes are more of the same thing. So while the job system is interesting, later games such as Final Fantasy V execute it much better and with more variety.

The game looks absolutely stunning, at least for the Nintendo DS. It is by far one of the best looking out there. There are some moments where it looks pixilated, but you can't deny that the game just looks good regardless. The movie sequences are also really pretty to look at and they run surprisingly well. In battle is also fantastic. Your enemies sport some amazing detail and so do the backgrounds in battle. On the whole, the game just looks good. Perhaps the only fault of the graphics is how restricted the animation of characters and enemies are in combat. Your characters won't physically go up and strike an enemy. Rather they just step forward and swing. Very similar to how the Final Fantasy games of the NES worked. It's strange to see, but you'll quickly get used to it.

Another thing that seems kind of strange, though, is that the top screen throughout most of the game remains blank. All the action takes place on the bottom screen. There are few moments when the top screen actually displays anything. You'll see the world map as you travel the overworld and while you're in towns. There are certain moments where the top screen has text, or shows an important story sequence, but that's usually about it. Other than that, when trumping through dungeons (as you do often) and in battle (as you also do often) the top screen remains blank. There's nothing wrong with it, but it feels very awkward to play a Nintendo DS game where the top screen is blank. They could've used it to display dungeon maps or enemy information or something. The top screen has no impact on gameplay whatsoever.

The music in the game is pretty good, though. It's not as good as other games in the series, and there are some tunes that just aren't great, but the music is by no means bad. There's no voice acting in the game, really, but we can let that slide. Audio wise, the game is good.

Final Fantasy III is a pretty satisfying experience for any Final Fantasy fan looking for a good challenge, and to see how far the series has come. However, it may also shed a little too much of its old school charm in some areas, particularly its unforgiving challenge. Still, it's worth it for Final Fantasy fans who want to see just how far the series has come.

The Good

+Finally a chance to play Final Fantasy III
+Great visual look
+Good music
+The job system is interesting
+It provides a good challenge
+A fair amount of secrets and sidequests

The Bad

-The story is not all that great
-For some the game might provide too much of a challenge, to the point of frustration
-High random encounter rate
-The job system is interesting, but there's not nearly as much vareity as one might expect from it
-Throughout most of your adventure the top screen is just... blank... for a Nintendo DS game this just feels awkward
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Final Fantasy III.......Old School but well worth it......., November 19, 2006
By 
blackaciddevil (in the USA somewhere.....) - See all my reviews
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Final Fantasy III (Video Game)
I honestly don't see why Square Enix hasn't thought of doing this to all their older Final Fantasy games, really. It would definitely appeal to the newer Final Fantasy audiences who's grownup on all the 3-D games(all the while, giving them a good history lesson on the FF games) yet appeal to us older Final Fantasy fans with its' old school style. I liked it better when the stories were simpler to follow. That's not to say I dislike the newer Final Fantasy games, though. Things change through the years as do I and I love those games just as much.

The game starts off with you(Luneth) assembling a team of heroes(Arc, Refia, and Ingus) to restore balance to the world. To do this, you must choose jobs(23 in all) to help aid you in your quest. Every battle you play through will add to each of the character's job level so you'll want to use thought in building not only your characters main level, but also their job proficiency as well. Although Final Fantasy III is a Very challenging game, it's also an entertaining one. I wish the Nintendo DS had more RPGs done in this style. I simply couldn't get enough of the game and kept on finding myself fighting one more battle & whatnot before putting it down. You'll explore the lands, man a boat, pilot an airship, ride a chocobo, find treasure, and more. Not only that but the game is simply beautiful. I agree, it's simply a better overall experience in 3-D.

Maybe it's just me, though, but I get a distinct Final Fantasy VII feel with this game. Don't ask me how but I do. That's a good thing, though.

All in all, you're looking at an RPG that clocks in around the 50/60 hour mark depending on how you play. With new side quests and moogle mail, you'll have a bit more to play.

Final Fantasy III is a DS gem that shouldn't be missed.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best the DS has to offer!, November 24, 2006
By 
Having Fun (Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Final Fantasy III (Video Game)
Final Fantasy III, as most may know, was the only Final Fantasy game that failed to reach North America. Well now it haas been revived, and it's better than ever before!

The "improved"

1) Final fantasy has pushed the DS's graphics to the limit. Though the figures may not be crystal clear, and though it may seem slightly pixelish, it's probably the best you'll ever get for the Nintendo DS. FFIII is completely 3D, a step up from it's original, and the character changes appearence as you change his/her job!

2) The job system is what solely drives this game. As some may have read, yes, there are 279841 different party combinations. Obviously, this opens up many doors and many strategy. FFIII incorperates these 23 jobs in a smart way as well. Don't be suprised when some job adjustments must be made to defeat a certain boss. Your party can be all fighting, or all magic, all range, or all skills, or a mix of any! Jobs are earned when crystals are discovered, and you will find a use for each of them.

3) FFIII can be played entirely with the touch screen, or entirely with the buttons, so you can use either method whenever you want. FFIII complements the DS's touch screen capability quite nicely; being able to use it to select moves is much better than the buttons.

4) FFIII is also Wi-Fi compatible. In it, players can send messages to other players global, using an internet port. It isn't much, but it's something!

5) You may name all of your characters, and play as any or them, any time! I like that freedom.

6) Dungeons actually offer a challenge. A step up from the boring 1 way dungeons, FFIII literally has a maze of many opening and secrets to be unlocked. Some dungeons even offer extra fun by adding in things such as lava, in which you take damage if you go to slow. It might be just me, but the exploration is very fun, and a great addition.

The things that could be better...

1) The story line is very redundant, and a copy of previous FF games. It isn't a big deal, but you'd think tthey'd get a bit more original!

2) The command buttons during battle are very small, so using the touch screen often makes you mis-hit a command.

3) This game requires lots of patience, because the battles are very tedious sometimes, and most gameplay is spent traing.

4) Each job doesn't have a variety of skills, but rather only one. It gets very old once you maintain the same job for a long time.

5) THe Wi_Fi isn't very creative, and there is no 2 player in FFIII.

6) FIghts do not incorperate time bars. That is to say, you can take 5 years to make a move without an attack from an enemy.

To make it short and sweet...

Die hard FF fans must get this game, mainly to complete their FF colections, but also for a great time. Not a die hard fan? No worries. The RPG is the best you'll find on the DS or PSP. It's got plenty to do, and won't fail you at any time. Those who don't enjoy strategy games, however, or do not have the patience to grow their characters may want to stay away from this game.

I loved it, but hey, it's just what I think.

This review was brought to you by the son of Having Fun.
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars FOR THE FINAL FANTASY COMPLETIST ONLY, January 3, 2007
By 
Eric C. Rawlins "horror buffed" (Manhattan, NY/Rutherford, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Final Fantasy III (Video Game)
(Note: for the purposes of this review, US release FF titles use Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3), while Japanese versions use Roman numerals (I, II, III); the DS version of FF III - while a US release - uses "III" instead of "3" to keep it from being confused with the excellent SNES FF 3 title.)

When I first heard the news this game was going coming to the DS - in a refurbished, graphically updated version, no less - I was ecstatic. As a lifelong FF fan who has played to completion every other entry in the series, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the only game not to have SOME version released in the US. Boy, was I disappointed.

I might as well begin with the pros, since that will only take a second or two. The game has beautifully rendered, fully 3D cutscenes that are on a par with those in FFXII...but this only serves to point up how abysmal the in-game graphics are (more on this later). Oh, and you can change the spells your characters "know" (are able to cast in combat) on the fly, and you don't have to "erase" or permanently lose any spell to free up a space to learn a new one - spells in FF III are treated like items which you can equip and unequip via the menu screen.

Now for the bad news. My biggest beef with this game is that there are NO SAVE POINTS IN THE DUNGEONS - NONE! Period. Which, in some cases, doesn't really have much impact on gameplay, and can even sometimes positively affect the experience, serving to heighten the adrenaline rush during boss fights and arouse a constant sense of anxiety while exploring. But when it takes FOUR HOURS of dungeon tramping just to get to the final boss of the game, only to have said boss wipe your party out in ten seconds if it performs a particular combination of attacks (which it usually does), I cannot even begin to express the complete outrage and frustration one feels with this game. You don't just want to whip your DS at the nearest wall, you want to hurl it into the nearest star and watch the damn thing go supernova, exploding with the white-hot savagery of a thousand suns until every last molecule of the cartridge has been vaporised into non-existence. I don't mind having to fight a particular enemy several times in order to figure out how to beat it, but I DO, in fact, mind intolerably when it takes four hours just to get to that enemy for one attempt at figuring it out.

Another big problem I had with the game was its lack of balance. First of all, the game's too short: the actual amount of time you need to spend exploring and fighting key monsters to advance the story line (and the percentage of the game world real estate devoted to this) is very small. Subtracting the amount of time you'll spend level grinding, this game is about three to four hours long. However, just to be able to have a chance in hell of defeating some of these monsters, you'll need to literally spend a day or more just leveling up your characters (AND their jobs)...and you can't select many of the best jobs until the game's about 70% over, so you will be wasting a lot of time leveling up job classes you won't even want to use again!

Second of all, the gameplay difficulty doesn't ramp well at all. It starts off much harder than it should - you wake up in a cave (read "dungeon" - and remember, "dungeon" means "NO SAVES"), by yourself, with no access to weapons, armor, or items, and you have to fight your way blind, against waves of up to three enemies, to the exit. If you're lucky, you'll find the pond that restores HP and MP (but does not cure status ailments - hmmmm), and you can even spend some time leveling up here, but if the enemies get lucky or you hit the wrong button (including the Power button), too bad, sucker, you just lost an hour or two of gameplay and have to start over from the beginning!

Once you find the other three playable characters (no easy task in itself, as the game doesn't really guide you to finding them), the game gets a little easier to play, but then you're plagued by a host of other problems, like not being able to buy Phoenix Downs anywhere (you can only find them or win/steal them in battle) - and the game is half over by the time it gives you access to a Raise Ally spell - and the fact that there are no Ether potions at all in the game! Unbelievable! There is a cheat that basically lets you copy items in your inventory, but it can corrupt your saved files, and the game should be balanced without having to resort to cheats.

Thirdly, there are just too many encounters to make this a balanced, fun game. FF 1 had an area where every step you took lead to another encounter, but this was an area only about 10X3 steps large, it was only in one dungeon, and you didn't have to go through it to complete the game. As much as you will need to retrace your steps in FF III's dungeons (because of the muddy graphics and lack of a top-down map) to make sure you've explored every nook and cranny, the frequency of encounters soon becomes incredibly aggravating. And, because you can't save in the dungeons, you may just have to wait until you've leveled up your characters quite a bit before taking a chance on being able to explore a dungeon fully, since the high number of random battles means a higher chance you won't make it to the end and back.

Finally, when you get to the penultimate dungeon, just before you exit to the final boss dungeon you encounter a RANDOM enemy (the Red Dragon) that's ten times harder than any other BOSS you've fought so far, takes five to ten minutes to defeat, and like as not will wipe out your entire party (and since you're in a dungeon (say it with me now: "with NO SAVES!")), you've just lost three hours of your time!). My crew were all at level 50+ with job levels of 100, a full complement of healing potions, and the best weapons, armor, and spells available in the game to that point, and they still got wiped out half the time against the Red Dragon. This to me is just insufferable.

Another problem I had with this game was how many features were poorly implemented. Now, I realize that a lot of these features were new and innovative at the time, but it's 2006, and many, many iterations of FF have passed since FF III first came out. I'm not saying Square-Enix should have incorporated all the newest and latest features of the series - that would not have been true to the spirit of FF III - but they could have adjusted some of the features they did include to make them less annoying. Take the jobs, for example; in FF V (also recently released, for the GBA), if you switch from a non-magic-using class to say a Mage or Summoner, you instantly become that class, AND you get all the spell points you're supposed to have. In FF III, however, you have to engage in up to 12 battles before the class switch takes effect, AND you don't get ANY spell points - you have to rest! Also, you don't learn any skills by leveling up your job class (as in FF V), you just get one new command in the battle menu. Which means you aren't able to carry any of those commands over to another job class as you can in FF V (allowing you, for example, to have a Monk who can Equip Swords, a Knight who can Steal, or a White Mage who can cast Black spells). And to make matters worse, there's no onscreen indication of how far along you are to advancing a job level as there is in FF V.

Other problems with implementation include no auto equip feature for weapons and armor (even when you change jobs - very annoying!), no auto spell school switching (if you have a White Mage who only knows White spells and change his class to a Black Mage, you have to manually remove every single White spell and have the character "learn" (equip) whatever Black spells you want him/her to cast, since Black Mages can't cast White spells), and loss of items beyond the first 99 in your inventory (for example, if you have all your characters equip a Bow and 99 Iron Arrows each, then change the job class of all four characters, you will lose 297 (3X99) Iron Arrows, because the game automatically unequips all weapons and armor, and the menu can't keep track of more than 99 of any one item.).

Oh, and the zoom feature is also annoying. At the start of the game, you're told you may need to "zoom in" to look for "sparkles" (a nearly invisible graphic that indicates that an object is actually a switch or pressure plate of some kind). OK, so you press the R button to zoom in to varying degrees up to a maximum amount; if you only zoom partway and let go of the R button, then press the R button again, you continue to zoom in and can't zoom out until you've zoomed all the way in, let go of the R button, and then press and hold it AGAIN. It would have been much more functional to have the camera snap back out 100% from any zoomed-in view.

One final exasperating feature, more a matter of design than implementation, is the hidden objects. Other games in the series have been very intuitive (and sometimes downright clever) in the way they hid special objects in the environment (in FF 2, you even had to go through a fireplace to get to a secret area with some great items. Again, not obvious, but when every other fireplace in the game has a roaring, interactive ("Ouch!") fire that blocks your way, coming across an empty one sure makes you curious.). Usually, these objects are placed in barrels, jars, or books; of course, there's nothing obvious about clicking on a jar in hopes of getting a Gesahl Greens or 1000 Gil, but it's definitely compelling when you see a barrel sitting in the middle of nowhere to at least check it out...and then to check every other barrel you come across, since the one you just clicked on gave you a much-needed item. But not in FF III; in this game, objects are "hidden"...on the GROUND! No rhyme or reason, no clue, nothing to arouse your curiosity, these objects are just lying (invisibly, of course) willy-nilly anywhere you might walk. You basically wind up playing FF III by tapping constantly on the A button, hoping you'll stumble across something valuable...which turns the game into something akin to Minesweeper. I felt like I was at the beach being forced to scan every square inch of sand with a metal detector for a lousy quarter when all I really wanted was to jump in the ocean. To make matters worse, there are several suspicious, hard-to-get-to, partially hidden areas in the game that contain...absolutely NOTHING!

Finally, the graphics and sound were just not compelling, and in some cases downright deplorable. The game uses true 3D models in a 3D world, but the DS is just not capable of displaying this with any justice. The characters look muddy and pixellated, especially in the zoomed-out view you're going to be playing in 98% of the time, and the environments, especially the foreground objects in the battle scenes, are terribly low-res and pixellated. The music is okay, with a few tracks that are enjoyable to listen to and that convey the atmosphere of the area they play in, but nothing spellbinding or even mildly enchanting. And the sound effects are for the most part merely adequate, with many of the battle noises sounding like heavily compressed MIDI files.

Overall, FF III is a tedious, empty, artificially protracted game that had updates in all the unnecessary departments. Beautiful CGI cutscenes are great, but if I'm too frustrated with the gameplay to get very far, I'm not even going to see those cutscenes. In fact, FF III might not even be for the completist: I probably won't even bother to finish the game, since it isn't worth it to me to spend 24 hours trying to get to the final boss enough times to figure out how to beat it to watch a CGI movie I can probably download from YouTube anyway. I believe there's a reason this game never made it to the US before, and touching up the paint job and polishing the chrome doesn't change that. It was probably halfway decent for its time, but I much more highly recommend FF V for the GBA as a much better implementation of all the features (and then some) that FF III pioneered.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kind of like Final Fantasy in a very pure form, February 8, 2007
By 
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Final Fantasy III (Video Game)
I had never played FF3 before on NES, so I was a little worried that I'd be put off by the simplistic storyline of collecting elemental crystals, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable game.

The storyline is definitely simplistic, but SquareEnix gave the characters names and backstories to help update the game a little. The mail system to unlock certain secrets also gives the NPCs a little more depth. However, despite SquareEnix's effort, there just isn't enough character development to get us really attached to these characters. Although, that isn't to say that this is a bad game. There's just enough story to get you to move onto the next dungeon, which brings me to my next point.

Money is scarce in this game, so you'll find yourself exploring and fighting a lot. It might seem like a dungeon crawl or level grind at first, but when you start to get different classes to play with, there's actually a fair amount of depth and customization that you can do with your party. You'll spend a lot of time leveling up a job to see if you like its abilities and if it works well with the other party members' job abilities.

Also, the new camera system lets you zoom in to find hidden switches and treasures. This really helps keep your trips into dungeons interesting.

Finding new weapons and armor is always a treat, and the game definitely delivers on that front. As you progress, you're given a pretty constant stream of decent "loot." The weapons and armor that you find will also help you decide which jobs you want in your party and force you to reconsider certain jobs.

There's enough to do keep you busy for at least 30 hours, which is pretty impressive for a handheld game. Overall, I consider FF3 DS a good game and would recommend it to anyone who likes Final Fantasy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't start the series here!, May 30, 2011
By 
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Final Fantasy III (Video Game)
After years of being told how awesome and epic the Final Fantasy series is, I broke down and decided to start at number one and working my way through. I really don't recommend doing so to any other newcomers to the series. If an old school-style mindless xp grind with a simplistic story that makes Everyone Poops look like a classic novel of epic proportions is your thing, by all means, go for it. I'm guessing this game took so long to come to the US because it would really only appeal to the die-hard fans of the series.

The game vacillated between being overly simple and holding your hand a bit too much and kicking your butt for taking one misstep (cave in the middle of the first town in the game, I'm looking at you.) Being able to save only on the world map also presents a problem late in the game when you'll find yourself up against bigger challenges at the end of long, grueling dungeons and, if you are unlucky enough to lose, have to redo the last hour+ of your gameplay. If it was exciting gameplay, perhaps that wouldn't be so bad, but repetitive, mindless, turn-based combat becomes increasingly monotonous as your characters settle into their chosen roles at the endgame.

If you've never played a Final Fantasy game, I strongly urge you to pick up something 4 or later; this one will likely discourage you from giving any others a chance.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This fantasy's still a classic., November 21, 2006
By 
C. Bakehorn (Bloomington, IN) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Final Fantasy III (Video Game)
Final Fantasy is a series that's almost as familiar to casual and hardcore gamers as Mario and Zelda, yet the franchise has been incomplete in America for 16 years. Well, that was the case until November 15th rolled around and Nintendo DS owners were treated to the first-ever American version of Final Fantasy III. Originally a 1990 NES game that has long since been a mystery to those who didn't illegally download ROMs or import the game, Final Fantasy III is a great game that has aged quite well and makes a great appearance on the Nintendo DS.

The story is pretty bare for 2006 standards, but thinking of the classic style of the game, it is quite above other games of its time. The story revolves around Luneth, a boy from the dark world who forms a team with three other individuals destined to be the Warriors Of The Light. These Warriors are prophesied to save the world from darkness and protect the four precious, powerful crystals that maintain balance and peace. Luneth and Co. (Arc, Refia, and Ingus) set out to set everything in the world straight. Today we sit and think, "How generic." Back then, though, it was as popular of an idea as playing a rhythm-based game with a guitar controller.

Let's get one thing straight; this game's dated in a lot of ways. If you've played the PlayStation or Game Boy Advance remakes of Final Fantasy I & II, you've got an idea about how the pacing, battle system, and overall flow of the classic RPG goes. It's much different than SquareEnix's other recent RPG of the same franchise, Final Fantasy XII; which feels completely different without considering its gameplay and battle system alterations. Final Fantasy III isn't an easy game. It doesn't really hold your hand at any point, and it'll ruthlessly punish those unfortunate gamers who tread off of the suggested path. Still, it's got that classic hook, a hook that's almost impossible to describe but even harder to avoid once it's snagged you.

Final Fantasy III keeps the four-person party standard of its two original predecessors and also has the traditional turn-based battle system. The result is a system that forces you to really think about your actions each turn because the enemy is going to attack no matter what their agility or speed parameters are. If Refia's running low on HP and you suspect a possible group attack by a boss character, it would be wise to cast a healing spell and maybe even prepare a Phoenix Down. It would have been nice to see SquareEnix adapt the Active Time Battle system of Final Fantasy VI, VII, and so on, but what's here works well anyway. The MP system is quite dated, and instead of having a set amount, each level of magic has its own number of points. Using a level one black magic spell like Fire will take one point away from your level one magic points, while a level three one like Fira takes away one level three magic point. No matter what spell you use, it takes away a single point. I don't like this system much, because it doesn't give much importance or power to each spell. For example, level three white magic spells Cura and Teleport are given the same point value, which doesn't make sense when Cura will be used at least fifty times as often as Teleport throughout the game. This seems to be a good place to mention the menu system, which is also quite dated and sometimes not as easy to use as newer entries. Because of the dated MP system, there are numbers all over the place and it seems a little sloppy.

The new story here is the job system. Surely if you've been to a gaming Internet page or read a gaming magazine in the last few months, you've seen the Final Fantasy III ads that state that it offers 279,841 unique party combinations, with four characters and 23 different jobs. If you don't believe it, grab your nearest graphing calculator and figure up the equation for factorials. From the beginning, every character possesses the neutral (and undeveloped) Freelancer job. As you find and interact with more of the powerful crystals throughout the storyline, you'll unlock more jobs and develop your party even further. You can be a Warrior, Thief, Monk, Black, Red, or White Mage early in the game and eventually you'll unlock jobs like Geomancer, Dark Knight, Dragoon, Summoner and Ninja. Once you choose a job, you can power it up by increasing its job level; a value unique to each job for each individual character. For example, it's possible for Luneth to be a Level 15 Freelancer, Level 25 Warrior, and Level 30 Dark Knight before the end of the game. These levels, of course, are separate from the character's base level, which, as always, increases with experience points earned in random battles and boosts your general stats.

More than anything, Final Fantasy III is a good way to introduce a foreign chapter of the series to long-term players and series veterans. I wasn't surprised when, after a 30-minute trek through a cave, I was killed in two turns by a boss character and forced to tread that long path all over again. It's unfortunate that so much backtracking is required, but even after dying a second time to the same boss using the same annoying attack, I picked the game back up. I trudged through it despite my bitterness and enjoyed every second of it. Classic RPGs like Final Fantasy III didn't introduce save points or crystals that are found in later games; the only save point is the overworld map. Here, the game can be saved from any point. Another big challenge comes when status-changing magic wreaks havoc on your party. Unlike recent RPGs, where negative status is often eliminated after battle, almost every single status ailment in Final Fantasy III remains afterward. Poison, paralysis, confusion, frog-all of these familiar effects will be a lot more familiar by the time players see ending credits. Unseasoned RPG players will probably be quite frustrated, and know that every time you see an enemy use the attack "Bad Breath," you're in for quite a lot of trouble.

Final Fantasy III is one of the best-looking DS games to date. SquareEnix introduced a visual style that's reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. As a result the game is very colorful and detailed. Spell effects are as impressive as one could expect from the DS and trump those of some console games. The boss and monster models are fun to look at and defeat. I would have liked to see some more animation during battle; rather than running up and attacking enemies, like in Final Fantasy X, characters stand in place and swing their weapons in classic RPG style. It would have been really nice to see SquareEnix go those extra two miles (they already went one by reworking the graphics) but what's done here is great. The music seems to be standard RPG fare, and I'm not totally sure whether or not the tunes are high-quality rips from classic NES MIDI, but what's here sounds pretty nice. At least there's that unforgettable nine-note victory tune; that'll always get a smile out of a Final Fantasy fan.

Final Fantasy III serves its purpose by introducing an unknown chapter to fans and doing so in a very respectable fashion. There are things that could have been better, sure. SquareEnix could have put a little more time in modernizing the battle system, animation, menus, and save system. That would have put two cherries on top of a sweet, tasty treat. Even with all of these little kinks, Final Fantasy III is great. It's got that classic replay value. It's got that punishing challenge that will appeal to fans of older games. It's got production values that are topped only by SquareEnix's other DS game, Mario Hoops 3-On-3. The end all to end all, it's a well-done Final Fantasy game. It's one of the best handheld RPGs in a long time, and needs to be in a DS owner's collection.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's all fun and games until the end, September 16, 2007
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: Final Fantasy III (Video Game)
HAving never played one of the FF games with jobs, it took me a while to get into the feel of it. It's a fun system. The game is big enough to really enjoy for a while. I must caution you, without spoiling anything, the Crystal Tower at the end...there is no save point even after you spend about an hour in there. And the boss is about an hour further...be sure to level up a lot before going to the end or you'll end up flinging your DS acrosss the room when you get sent back several level and hours of work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Frustrating Mess, May 14, 2009
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Final Fantasy III (Video Game)
I haven't played through every Final Fantasy game as of yet, so I really can't say which game is the best and worst in the series. However, out of all the FF titles I have played thus far, I can say that Final Fantasy III is probably my least favorite.

To begin with, Final Fantasy III takes a step back from its predecessor, the infamous Final Fantasy II (for NES), and seems more closely related to the original than anything else: you will encounter enemies with similar names; 4 light warriors are recruited to set out and save the world; crystals are again in danger and need saving; the main enemy is not the last boss of the game, as a stronger enemy force is manipulating the scenes; at some point in the game you acquire a submarine type vehicle and can explore beneath the water; various types of Job Classes are included. To some extent, this could easily be viewed as a sequel to the very first game. There are some new editions, as well: the character interaction and plot building is left intact that was introduced in FFII, Job Classes can be changed throughout the game as you gain more crystals, you receive more vehicle upgrades than either of the two previous games, the world map is much larger with more places to visit and explore than the previous games, and of course Summons is introduced.

While all of this seems to be a recipe for an epic game, the game suffers mostly in plot and in gameplay. The graphics for the DS were okay, but not great. In fact, I think I would have enjoyed the game more had they kept the original NES graphics, or upgraded them to SNES quality as they did for the Playstation remakes some years back. The 3D quality doesn't always work, and I think I would have preferred simpler 2D graphics and use the extra space and power on creating better cutscenes. I was also not impressed with constantly having to tap the expand the screen to search for hidden switches and treasure; it was fun at first, but quickly lost its charm.

***SPOILERS***Now, I played through the first Final Fantasy on the original NES several times, and I love that story regardless of its lack of plot. I usually do prefer a plot, of course, but I prefer a plot that goes somewhere and means something. In Final Fantasy III, I enjoyed the first half of the game much more than I did the second half. Once I got off the floating continent, the game felt like an endless series of fetch quests, and the plot just seemed to kind of stall while waiting for me to find the rest of the crystals. Sure, there were several fetch quests through the first half of the game, as well, but the plot kept moving with these quests at a decent pace. My two favorite areas were the Ancient Village and the Gulgan Cave, because you learned so much without the game giving too much away. But by the time I got toward the end of the game, I was ready for it to be over with. And besides, didn't anybody else feel the plot revelations by the end of the game was depressing? I mean, to go through all of that, only to find out that main enemy will always exist, and that in time the world will indeed be destroyed, as it's inevitable, it kind of made me wonder what was the point of me going through all of this.***END SPOILERS***

Gameplay was another issue. The game started off mildly easy, it threw its share of challenges at me, nothing too great or small. Then the second half of the game took place, and the challenge increased, and it was a learning adjustment for me, but I managed. Then comes the last dungeon (or should I say 2 dungeons), and to get through it and get everything you need will take a good 1 1/2 to 2 hours at the very least, probably longer. No save points either. And then you fight through a round of tough boss battles, only to go up against the final boss and get wiped out in a matter of a few turns, only to have lost the last 2+ hours of your time. I pride myself on my level grinding, and my characters were at levels 57+ by the end of the game, but apparently that wasn't high enough, as I did on the final boss and had to redo the last 2 or 3 hours of dungeon crawling. Frustrated, I turned on a cheat code that raised my characters to level 99, and although this was much more doable, it was still challenging. To not have any saves between the 2 dungeons, to require somebody to go through 2 hours of torture, and then wipe them out so they have to do it again is unforgivable. Don't get me wrong I enjoy long games of 50 to 100+ hours, and I usually enjoy taking the time to scope out every area, get every item, complete every sidequest and gain as high of levels as I can, but I also want to play at my own pace. 2 hours without being able to save is an insane amount of time to require of anybody regardless of the platform they are playing on, regardless if they have the time to play that long or not. But the DS, like most handhelds, are designed for consumers who need the convenience of a game system for when they travel or have little time to play, so this becomes even more mind-boggling.

The Job Class was very cumbersome since you never knew how many battles to raise its level. And since your attacks are capped at 9999, and you don't get anymore abilities than what you start with for a particular job, a lot of the later Job Classes tend to feel obsolete even though they are supposed to be more powerful and effective. More variety in abilities and a level chart were definately needed.

And finally, the Side Quests were just plain idiotic in my opinion. To get most of these, you had to use the Moggle service to send mail, and you needed a friend with a DS in order to accomplish some of that. Does Square Enix (which now includes Eidos, I guess... should I call them Squeido now?) really think the majority of its players want to sit and email friends instead of playing this game? This feature seems to be catering to a younger audience, since I can't think of very many older folks like myself wanting to send email through the DS; however, since the game can be so frustrating at times, younger audiences may choose to ignore this game and find one that is easier to play with perhaps a better story and better game mechanics.

In summary, I can at least say I've completed another number to the Final Fantasy franchise, and I may be willing to give the original NES game a turn if it ever becomes available, perhaps on the Wii platform or some other console. But as for the DS, I don't really recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old School Charm, December 13, 2007
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= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Final Fantasy III (Video Game)
Let's get one thing straight: Final Fantasy 3DS isn't for everyone. It's not even going to please a lot of Final Fantasy fans used to the story-driven gameplay of FF7 onwards. FF3 is plain and simple old-school RPG action freshly ported to the DS. And for those who like the traditional turn-based style of combat and leveling up, this game is pure heaven. I consider FF3 to be the best RPG available for the DS (though it doesn't yet have much competition).

The backstory should be pretty familiar to you by now: Final Fantasy 3 is the only FF title that hadn't yet seen release in North America. Along with FF2 and FF5 it was not originally released outside of Japan, but unlike those other titles which were later ported on both the Game Boy Advance and PS1, FF3 had been sadly forgotten. While the game isn't exactly revolutionary, particularly to longtime fans that have experienced the greatness of FF4 and FF6 on the SNES, it is an icnredibly enjoyable romp through a large and interesting world.

The graphical overhaul of the game cannot be downplayed. Instead of the original 8 bit graphics and pixelated sprites, we now get beautiful 3d character models and gorgeous backgrounds. The graphics are pretty much the equal of any PS1 Final Fantasy, though there is an irritating shortage of FMV cutscenes.

The gameplay itself is also highly rewarding, showcasing the first use in any Final Fantasy of the job system. Each of your four characters starts out roughly the same as a Freelancer. Over the course of the game, you gain access to 23 different jobs for each character, allowing you to mold them into any role you see fit. The complexity of this job system, while nowhere near as deep as later FF inventions like materia and the sphere grid, is a refreshing addition to an otherwise linear and straightforward game.

A lot has been made about the difficulty of FF3, but I think that it has been greatly exaggerated. Throughout the game you will be pummeled with constant random battles and ridiculously strong bosses. But as long as you take the time to level up your characters and don't rush through from dungeon to dungeon, you should be fine. The game also gives clear hints when you need to use a certain job class to advance through a particular dungeon. Gamers unacquainted with the somewhat monotonous practice of "grinding" and continually leveling up may be turned off by FF3's battle system. But the game deserves a lot of credit for trying to make things fresh with intricate spell animations and a huge variety of monsters to battle.

All in all, Final Fantasy 3 is an amazing overahaul of a forgotten classic, and is a must-own for any die-hard RPG fan. And unlike the hotly-anticipated remake of FF4 for the DS, FF3 is not available to play in any other form unless you have the original Japan-only Famicom cartridge. Enjoy!
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Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy III by Square Enix (Nintendo DS)
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