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on January 3, 2007
(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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on September 16, 2007
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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on October 16, 2016
Just started after completing Bravely Default. Graphics sux; once you die, you start over again. Also, the supported Wi-Fi connection does not support modern protocols.

Still, it is an older game and decent for its play value. I'll update again after I've completed the game.
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on March 4, 2016
This definitely is a great game, although a bit simplistic to an extent. Playing the game can be pretty confusing since you aren't given much direction, so I'd highly recommend you use a guide when you play; although if you're not a fan of that sort of thing, then don't pick this game up. Graphically speaking, the game pushes the DS to its limits (considering this was made in 2006), so it looks good if you're used to DS graphics, otherwise you may not find the graphics to be so pretty. Overall, I recommend you buy this game if like old school RPG's, or the original turn based system of Final Fantasy.
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on May 30, 2016
The story in this game did not do it for me. I honestly found myself bored at times. However, the gameplay is what made me want to keep playing this game. If you like the Final Fantasy series, you'll like this game probably.
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on February 8, 2008
Pros- Great graphics, and great new feature of using the stylus for playing and going through your menus. I've had it for several weeks and it has been fun. I enjoy it alot. Battles are pretty quick and easy to control with the DS stylus feature.
Cons- Leveling up is a bit slow and can get boring and tedious. Story line can leave you not completely sure where to go next.

Overall I think it is a must have for any FF RPG fan.
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on February 16, 2007
Whenever I play any Final Fantasy Game, any version, I always find myself measuring it to the original Final Fantasy for the NES; to me, its the standard because of its degree of difficult and surprise that matches its simply level building game product. Since that version of the game, the Final Fantasies have not lived up to it, not even close, and a lot of it is because Squaresoft is trying too hard.

But most of us haven't play this, the real version of Final Fantasy III. Though it does not live up to the Standard!, FFIII is that game that links the first two FF's and the rest in more ways than just in title. It has the typical storyline, and some of the original FF characters you use to play the game are back in the form of Jobs, and that's just six out of the twenty-three other Jobs that come available as you progress through the game, which include their upgrades such as Warrior to Knight for example. However the game does allow you to challenge yourself with the other Job classes, which in turn can make the game very easy or very difficult. Of course as with the Game Levels you have to increase your Job Levels in order to make your charcters effective in their roles. This does two things, good and bad respectfully: it can give the game tons of replay value and challenge, but it requires a considerable amount of patience, more so than in the previous two versions of Final Fantasy.

Which in that last view is the game's big weakness. It can take time to build up Game Levels because the search for enemy fights can be time consuming and daunting. Even on the world map it can take many steps and many minutes before you run into an enemy encounter, and after a while some of those enemies are so weak it forces you to go into dungeons next in the storyline to fight. That may be the intention of the game designers, but to some degree the enemies at some points are just far over level and can put a serious beat down on parties made up of new Job characters.

The Job system can be a blessing or a curse. Not all the Jobs are available in the beginning, and in order to open the Jobs to strong Job Characters you have to make some late accomplishments in the game. Though it is motivation to play the game, it can get tedious, especially when special weapons and armor when you reach Job Level 99 become available for a weaker character just after you have unlocked a much stronger character who's at Job Level One. It would mean more hours to play the game in order to boast the Level Effectiveness of the said character. That require....well, work! They don't call it a Job for nothing. Then again, games are not supposed to be about work, but about fun. Because of that the game gets 3 Stars.

Overall, if you ignore the caveats, Final Fantasy III does have descent game play. Graphically it could do better, but in a turn-based RPG graphics really don't sell the game. Though 3-D like, it can chunky at times and after a while boring to look at. The dungeon environments are very good with it's slightly looked down on look. Strategy is emphasized, made more by it's saving features than by the bosses themselves, but even then Job character comes into focus on the tasks at hand. You can work around that, such as buying magical keys to open locked doors instead of using a Theif to pick the locks, but in such cases it will cost you money.

Barely it gets 4 stars overall, being hurt by the game's small fun factor.
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VINE VOICEon January 25, 2012
There are some good and bad reviews here, but I think overall this is a great game. Final Fantasy 3 was probably the best NES game not released in the US. (NES not SNES... that would belong to FFV). So for the wonderful DS, we get a shiny new release (from the same crew who did FFIV DS and FF Heroes of Light). And it rocks.

I actually lost my original DS copy after playing through to about Viking Cove. I played through most of the game on my NES emulator afterwards and then stopped when I decided to re-buy the game and re-start on the DS.

The DS version keeps the heart and soul of the original. The music is a remastered version of the original, so it's nice to hear the beeping original sounds replaced with a more orchestral sounding score (despite the limited DS hardware). Graphics are improved while retaining the traditional feel of the original. Things are a tad more 3-d, but it's still overall a top down view with the ability to 'zoom in' and check things out. Look for those sparkles for secrets!

Battles are different though. Originally you could face off against up to 9 baddies. Now you go against 1-3 normally (though there are instances where you might face 4). The baddies are tougher. Mainly their hp is a little higher and they are a bit harder to kill. Spells can all hit multiple targets. Good and bad since spells like poison and silence can hit your entire party as well! Stock up on those items!

The ability to change jobs on the fly is great. I love the customization aspect of this title. All of the jobs are equally impressive. I enjoyed playing with a warrior, red mage, black mage, and white mage through the first part. White mage is the weakest job until you get a fire (or other spell) rod and can then hit baddies with some hurt. If you switch jobs, there is a slight 'down time' where your abilities are weakened and it takes a few battles (up to 10) to get over the reduction. Makes it tough to switch jobs while deep in a cave or high in a tower, but that's life! Also if you switch from a non mage job to a mage job, you have zero magic points. True even if you switch from mage to non-mage to mage again. You lose.

Sometimes the graphics get annoying. Typically when they clutter too many objects on screen. This is mostly in houses within towns. Dungeons are pretty slick though. Once you get to the Tower of Owen you will see what I mean.

Overall the game feels more like Final Fantasy 4 than Final Fantasy 1, despite the appearance of the original being so similar to FF1. But the designers were already working on FF4 and some of the ideas that were going to be implemented in FF4 also went into this game.

It's a long journey, one that will take around 30 hours if you try and complete most side quests and collect most items. The difficulty is high, as well as the encounter rate being high, so don't expect to get through this game without seeing the game over screen at least once. I've beaten every Final Fantasy and FF2 was the only one tougher than this in my opinion. Though FF1 (the NES version) was pretty close to this in difficulty. You will want to spend a bit of time level grinding, or if not, then save often.

Saving often also became my mantra for this game when I entered the sealed cave, just to fight a couple of battles and see how tough... Unfortunately I hadn't saved since I was just Luneth in the party, all the way through getting all four characters... First battle were those copper coin things, hit and confused two of my party members in first round... yeah... couldn't escape... death ensued. Then re-doing 30 minutes of running around to get the characters and talk to Cid and the king and... phew... so save OFTEN! And some monsters will be strong enough to wipe you out and are made that way. You cannot beat Bahamut, so he will kill you and give you game over if you do not run. The sea monster will also kill you in two rounds since it gets two hits per round, hitting your level 10-13 characters for over 6000 damage. (Save right after Viking Cove and don't get on the ship for the love of...). And that reminds me. Enemies could only take one attack in the NES version (for example the boss Medusa was easy as cake because she only hit once, usually with an ineffective Break spell, but in this version she gets two attacks, usually a fire 2 spell or Break spell with a physical attack for the other), in this version the ability of several enemies to take multiple attacks per round adds some challenge. Especially in those tough boss battles.

But with patience comes reward. This is a complex game and when you realize it was originally released on the NES and that this version keeps most of the original core of the game intact... you realize the sheer awesomeness of the NES original. I am sad we missed this one back around 1990, 1991 but playing it on the emulator was fun. Now playing the re-make on the DS is the final icing on the cake. Thank you Square Enix for a job well done!

Pros:
+ Remarkably free from noticeable bugs or glitches.
+ Very good, enjoyable remastered soundtrack.
+ Lots of depth with class changes.
+ Ability to change spells between members so they aren't 'stuck' with one character.
+ Newly updated story with individual characters.
+ Good difficulty level and decent encounter rate.
+ Lots of stuff to do so a long adventure.
+ Better job leveling system than the original.

Cons:
- Graphics generally good, but some areas hard to see.
- Encounter rate might be too high for some.
- Higher difficulty might turn off some who are used to later FF titles.
- Zooming in or 'checking' for secret areas can get tedious.
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on August 23, 2014
It came right on time in a manilla envelope with bubble wrap. There was little sign of use on the game, other than the saved games on it which were fun to load and look at. It works perfectly. I lost my original copy of FF3 and could not find it, so I was glad that I was able to find it for a great price.
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on June 6, 2014
pros:
-the class system was interesting, fun to learn
-gameplay was not difficult to pick up, and not overly explained
-good graphics for this style of game
-challenging bosses
-surprisingly a lot to explore/secret areas/etc. there were lots of places that i saw at early levels that were blocked off, and was able to come back to later, and they usually had some cool boss or secret item, which is cool

cons:
-extremely repetitive grinding. and you can't really not grind in this game, with the way classes are designed. i fought so many dumb level one goblins when i was upwards in the 50-60s, just mashing a distractedly while i was doing something else like reading or playing another game.
-the repetitive gameplay can be kind of depressing. you think, 'why did i spend so much time doing this?' and that's never a great thing to think when you're playing something. the best games are the ones where you don't question it. of course i spent 150+ hrs on persona 4, how else would i have gotten 100%? not the case with this one.
-story is lame
-game overs are frustrating and more frequent than i would have liked
-related to ^, no way to save in dungeons- ughhhh

i haven't played it in a while and i don't remember anything about the music, so it was probably forgettable/inoffensive

that said, i had a lot of fun playing this. i didn't want to replay it or go the extra mile with post-game challenges, but i enjoyed the run.
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