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Final Fantasy III (NES)

85
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.4
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Bregalad (916)
Written on  :  Apr 09, 2010
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful

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Summary

The real greatness begins here

The Good

This is the third game in the Final Fantasy series (from now on FF). Because it was released only in japan until the very recent DS remake, this is one of the less known games in the series. This is too bad, because it's by far the best of the NES trilogy, and one of the best games ever made for the NES (if not the best).

Final Fantasy 1 on the NES was a good start to the series, but there was really issues with it. The game had great ideas and flavors into it, but the battle animations sucked, sound effects were absolutely horrible, magic was completely useless, the level up was really slow, the number of items you could carry was very limited, etc... Final Fantasy 2 improved many aspects of 1 coming up with better graphics, better sound quality and an actual well thought story which advanced as the game progress, with characters who actually speaks. However, they seriously messed up the battle system where it's almost impossible to improve your stats with weak monsters, and strong monsters will beat you up, the item inventory was also way too limited, magic was even more useless than in the first game.

Those 2 games had some of the Final Fantasy greatness into them, but they somehow had significant flaws that prevented them to be actually fun to play for someone who is not a very hardcore fan of them. In Final Fantasy 3 however, they fixed ALL flaws I listed above for the first 2 games, and as if this wasn't enough they added even more greatness to the game. Like in FF1, you play as 4 generic characters who doesn't have any name or portrait, and like in FF2, the story goes in-dept and advances as the game goes on.

The battle system in FF3, although being simple round based like all other RPGs of its time, is really good. Without a doubt the best thing is that they made damage appear on the head of characters/enemies (instead of in a text box) and redirect attacks to a new enemy if the original target is dead (but be careful you'll have to wait FF4 to get magical spells redirected).

Unlike FF1 and 2, they cared to actually introduce true elemental weaknesses, and a magic system which actually work. For the first time in the series (and one of the first time in any Japanese RPG I can think of), it's actually WORTH wasting MP to cast magic spells, because if done right, it will do significantly more damage than simple attacks. The game even forces you to use exclusively magic in a few places where you have to be mini (all attacks do 1 damage) so magic is the only choice. You can tell by the look of enemies : if they're plant-like cast fire, if they are water creature cast bolt, if they're animals cast ice, if they're undead cast both fire and cure (yes, FF3 is where the "cure harm undeads" comes from) and they'll be dead quickly.

Where FF3 shines the most is it's introduction of the job system. In FF1 you had to chose 4 jobs for your 4 characters at the start and couldn't ever change them (you could just upgrade them once). FF3 brings a new job system (which will be improved and reused in FF5 and FF Tactics series). You start as 4 onion kids, the worst job in the game. Then for each crystal you touch (there is 4 crystals, one per element), you get a new set of jobs. Then you can use PC (points you get at the end of each battle) to make your character change their job. When you get a better job than onion kid, you'll be able to equip weapons/protections specific of that jobs, and it will change the second command you have in battle (you always have attack, run and item). Mage-type jobs will have magic as the second command, and warrior-type jobs will have defend or various special attacks here. The job strongly influence on statistic growth at level up too, obviously mage-type jobs will have your magic stats increase the most while warrior-type jobs will have your attack/defense increase the most.

The world of FF3 is really HUGE, you start going out and discover the world, only to later discover it was only a small continent floating on an even larger world. What is really great is the amount of secrets passages there is in the game, and a few optional dungeons with treasures. Another thing that must be said is that FF3 is the first game to ever have summons in it, which when you think about it is an amazing idea, a proof is that so many RPGs today copied Final Fantasy and allow to summon monsters. Of course graphically they are not as amazing as they could be but that's a great start anyway.

Graphically, the game is a definite improvement over FF2/FF1. The most notable thing is that the character classes looks really amazing, ridiculously better than in the first 2 games. The enemies also looks very good, colorful and detailed for the NES. The way water is animated is really amazing too. There is still some places where the game doesn't shine that much in therm of graphics, notably during cutscenes, when anything special happens they keep making the screen flashing because they obviously lacked any true graphical effect.

The music of this game is absolutely excellent, there is nothing else to say. Almost each town and dungeon has it's own piece of music (although there is still a couple of repeats). The battle music is, without joking, one of the best of the series, which is good considering you hear it about 70% of the gameplay time. The boss music is really awesome too. The sound and graphical effect when you case magic is really awesome, which is the exact opposite of the crappy effect of FF1. The graphical effect when enemies are defeated is cool too.

FF3 is a challenging game, in a good way. Enemies won't defeat themselves for you, and strategy is needed to beat this game, especially the later bosses. Yet you don't need to do long boring power-leveling sequences like in FF1.

The Bad

The only real bad thing I can say is that you get three jobs, Warlock (which is an improved Black Mage), Shaman (improved white mage) and Summoner WAY WAY too late. You have to use the basic black&white mages from the first Wind crystal all the game along, and when you eventually get their improved versions you are just about to get the ultimate jobs of the game (sage and ninja) anyways. On the other hand some jobs, like bard, were really useless.

Another complain I have is that navigation trough the menus is a bit slow and sometimes unpractical. You don't get any descriptions of items, it just says "can't use". You can't know which classes can equip a weapon/armor without trying or using common sense (but experience from later FF games is need for you to have this common sense). The item inventory you can carry is still limited (which is bad), but you can carry stuff you don't want to a fat chocobo (which is found inside chocobo forests) and put stuff in his beak which has unlimited space which is a HUGE improvement over a strictly limited inventory. Also the items you can carry at a time are still 2 times bigger than what you could carry altogether in FF1 and 2.

There is a few times where the game would be extremely hard without the use of a walktrough, but other than that, it really doesn't have much flaws.

The Bottom Line

For this time, Squaresoft comes with a Final Fantasy game which is not only great, but also fully enjoyable in it's own, and that is actually fun to play all the way along and doesn't have any stupid bugs or issues. Not only that, but everything in this game is just so great it's hard to explain it rationally. This make it without a doubt the best RPG on the NES, and probably the best game on the NES. To be honest it doesn't push the system to it's limit in therms of graphics and music quality, but it is decent nevertheless and the gameplay in this game is awesome. Of course I doubt people who aren't already Final Fantasy fans will bother to play a game this old, but I still think it is just as good as it's successors (unlike FF1 and 2 which are seriously flawed). So if you are a Final Fantasy fan I seriously recommend to play this on the NES or a NES emulator. This game just bring up so much new elements to the series (some I have mentioned, many I haven't) you can't just ignore it. It is definitely a good part what made this series this good.

I don't recommend getting the NDS remake, as I had the occasion to play a friend's copy, and I could say the graphics are polygonal/blocky 3D with bad camera control (which in my opinion is worse than simple 2D), and that the music was remade terribly, especially the battle music which was literally massacred. I haven't played it much, but the NES version is probably the superior one.