This article is part of a community-wide project about Final Fantasy. Links to other articles in this series, written by the other contributors can be found in the main hub area.
This is the part of a long-term project to play and review/analyze all the Final Fantasy games. Whenever possible, I will play the original version, but in cases where it’s not available and/or there are time constraints, I’ll use a port and/or watch a Let’s Play, both of which contingencies will be indicated in the review. Ideally, I will attempt to play a portion so that I can remark more accurately on the gameplay experience. These will be long-form reviews with detailed plot analyses, so please be wary if you do not want spoilers.
Greetings, salutations and Happy New Year to you all. I am slowly working my way through the Final Fantasy titles and have recently completed the third installment. I have been giving much thought to going back and playing the re-releases of I and II especially since I received a $200 Best Buy gift card in addition to a $50 Amazon one and could conceivably purchase both the system I might need and the games, but I’m still in the thinking phase, and today I’m in the review one for III.
Alright first things first some admissions. I couldn’t even try to play this game. Final Fantasy III was never actually released in this country and it only hit US soil as a DS remake in 2006. The original game was released in Japan in 1990 and further obfuscates the numbering system as FFIII (SNES, 1994) in the US is actually FFVI.
The original FFIII is available only through emulators, and the emulator I have does not work. This means I was not able to play the game at all and had to rely solely on watching an LP, which was honestly unsatisfying. I’m not going to give out names, but I was very annoyed with the LPer I found this time around. When you LP a game, especially an RPG, I feel that you should allow the viewer enough time to read the dialogue and process it since RPGs especially Final Fantasy place a major emphasis on the story. This particular LPer either skipped dialogue altogether, scrolled past too quickly for even speed readers, or was utterly disdainful of what was being said/going on. Giving your LPer opinion is fine, but if you’re going to just be disdainful of the game, why the hell are you bothering to play it? It took a great deal of patience for me to get through it at all, and I need to actually consult the Wiki to have some kind of idea of what went on in the story. Prior I used it as reference, but in this case, I’m going to have to consult for the entire narrative, which I’ll do as I’m reviewing. As of right now FFIII is my least favorite of the bunch (not the one that’s actually FFVI, don”t get your undies twisted), and I’m hoping reading the Wiki will help at least salvage the story for me, though I’ll admit I was okay with the…
FFIII’s gameplay is not like its predecessor. The experience point system has returned from FFI replacing the tedious leveling system of FFII. III combines elements of the first and the second though with the fore mentioned reprisal of the old EXP system in addition to FFI’s character class system; however, in FFIII it is much more fluid. Whereas with the original FF you were locked into a character class and the path that would take throughout the game, in FFIII it is not only possible, but necessary to change character classes as you go along. Anyone can switch to any job so long as you have Capacity Points (CP), which you win after every battle. All of the characters begin as Onion Knights.
They can use all the equipment, but cannot cast spells or have access to any special abilities. There are way too many job classes for me to discuss, but as you gain CP you can start to upgrade your characters: Arc, Luneth, Refia, and Ingus all of whom are totally indistinct and interchangeable in the original version.
Besides the mandatory malleable job classes, the game play follows a similar path to Final Fantasies I and II. Due to the job classes, the one major difference is the additional commands based on what particular class a character is e.g. Thieves have access to the “Steal” command and Dragoons have the “Jump.” There are also some innate abilities that come with particular job classes such as the Thief ability to open passages/doors that would need a key (the Thief is a very useful person). FFIII was also the first Final Fantasy to feature summoned creatures, which are called forth with the (wait for it) “Summon” skill.
Aaaaand that’s all I really have to say about the Gameplay. There really isn’t that much different from the prior FFs besides the changeable job classes, a lower encounter rater, auto targeting, and summons. Oh, this is the first Final Fantasy with side questions, but there’s even less to say about the…
Squaresoft decided to devolve in terms of the story of III at least where character development was concerned as in there is none. It’s much more like the first than its direct predecessor, which I find odd, but I suppose Square was more interested in introducing the job classes and summons. This is also the area that suffered the most in my LP viewing so I must defer to the Great Wiki for guidance. I’ll show that below and then throw in a few things I noticed that were precursors to later games.
“An earthquake opens up a previously hidden cavern in Altar Cave near the village of Ur on the floating continent. Four young orphans under the care of Topapa, the village elder, explore the earthquake’s impact and come across a crystal of light. The crystal grants them a portion of its power, and instructs them to go forth and restore balance to the world. Not knowing what to make of the crystal’s pronouncements, but nonetheless recognizing the importance of its words, the four inform their adoptive family of their mission and set out to explore an overworld outside the area in which they were brought up, in order to bring balance back to the world.
Their adventures lead them to discover that there lies a whole world beyond the boundaries of the floating continent upon which they were living. In the world below, they discover a warlock named Xande, one of three apprentices to the legendary Archmage Noah, is trying to possess the crystals of light, so as to bring forth chaos and disorder. The four warriors eventually arrive at the Crystal Tower where they discover that the Cloud of Darkness is the source of the recent events. The Cloud attempts to create a similar situation to the Flood of Light a millennia earlier so that the world is pulled into the void. The Light Warriors traverse into the domain of the dark crystals to free the imprisoned Dark Warriors and defeat the Cloud of Darkness, thereby restoring the crystals and balance to the world. In the DS remake, there are also several “side quests” that can also be completed.”
As fore mentioned there’s no character development, but there were some interesting tidbits sprinkled throughout along with quite a few religious references. There’s a town called Canaan, which has long been associated with the Promised Land, a concept that is more elaborately used in FFVII, and speaking of which there’s a little girl picking flowers in Ur, another ancient locale. There is a village of the Ancients who used the Flood of Light, but it was too much, and the four Dark Warriors (who are not evil) had to force it back. There’s an Ancient character named Desh with amnesia (Final Fantasy looooves its amnesia motif). Being in the Tower of Owen, which is a potential precursor to FFIV’s Tower of Babil, brought back his memory, and he seemingly sacrifices himself to fix the Floating Continent, a paradigm that’s reused in FFVI in a much darker shade of night (there’s also obviously another sacrificed Ancient). In the Tower of Babil there’s a mysterious voice talking to you, which yielded a far less sinister result than FFVII.
There’s a character named Nepto with a missing eye, which is reminiscent of Odin nor did I miss the possibility of trickle down manipulation that many of the games take in part. A character named Hyne was possessed by an evil power and now he’s controlling the soldiers of Argass. Hyne’s name is also reused in FFVIII as the very first sorceress, which is a nice tie in with the trickle down manipulation.
This is the first game with moogles.
Ancient ruins lie in the north, and the final airship you obtain is called the Invincible, which FFIX uses as a throwback (though FFIX is arguably all throwback, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that). In the town of Fargabaad (which is quite Scandinavian sounding), people are trying to master the dark sword, which was Cecil’s eventual bane in FFIV, and the palace looks a great deal like the Moon Palace from the same.
We continue this sort of sad excuse for a review with my less than enthusiastic section on the…
This is the first Final Fantasy (and hopefully the last) where the music did little to nothing for me. I again say this with the provision that I might have been too annoyed with the LPer to pay much attention or they might have been talking over the game so much that I didn’t have a chance to enjoy it. There are a few that stick out for me as very enjoyable, but neither the Overworld nor the majority of the dungeon music fell into such category.
I like this one more for what it founded in orchestration as seen here…
This one may be my favorite piece of music from the original game.
The remaster keeps the eeriness in its update.
And of course the vocal version is sublime.
Now comes the part where my harshness reaches its apex. The…
Gameplay: 8 – I can’t give FFIII a bad grade in gameplay for a number of reasons. One, I didn’t actually get a chance to play it so I’m going completely by observation, and two, that observation didn’t notice anything too bad. When I play the DS version I may change my tune, but for now I have to give it the same rating I gave FFII.
Diffculty: 8 – the encounter rate was less and the level up method was no longer whacked, but the job class system added the necessity for a different type of strategy and cunning.
Story: 3 – sorry FFIII your story rating is your number. There was absolutely no character development in the original offering. This wouldn’t be so bad if II had done the same, but because there’d been such a progression from original to first sequel, I have to take that into consideration. The four Light Warriors were just a handful of nondescript orphans charged to save the world. While the original FF at least had that interesting time loop, III can’t even claim that. There was the Dark Cloud and the Void, which is pretty cool, ,but it was too vague to garner much interest, the former being diabolus ex nihilo with no back story though apparently that’s one of the trope’s traits according to that link. However, there’s a later…we’ll say…entity that is described as such and it has a back story…a soul melting, madness inducing, cosmic horror back story, but another tale another time. The reason I didn’t give the story a lesser score is due to the foundation it lays for later games. You all should know by now how I feel about the foundation.
Overall Music: 5 – the main thing that saves it from a lower rating is the orchestral renditions that came later. There were some definite good songs here, but I felt the places were the music should’ve been more evocative it fell flat (no I’m not making a pun). The highest rated music for me was the Dark World Theme (shocking I know).
It has that forlorness that I so crave.
I feel the need to apologize for this review, peeps. I was so uninterested in this game after a while (again very likely due to the medium I experienced it in) that I just wanted it all to be over with. I didn’t rate more of the music like I normally do nor did I provide ratings for the characters, leitmotifs, etc. but there aren’t any criteria for those so I don’t feel too terrible.
I am very much looking forward to both playing and reviewing Final Fantasy IV. I also intend to purchase the DS version of FFIII to play so that I can give a far better and more comprehensive review.