Written by  :  Chris Wright (105)
Written on  :  Jul 02, 2008
Platform  :  Nintendo DS
Rating  :  2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars

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Painful at times, decent nonetheless

The Good

This is a fine, fine RPG. Only thing is, it's called Final Fantasy III. You know, like Final Fantasy II for the SNES, Final Fantasy III for the SNES, and so on. Those were great, great games. I know a lot of younger gamers loved Final Fantasy VII, and although I have played that for a few hours and I didn't take to it as much, I recognize that there's a lot of love out there for it.

But. This Game. BLOWS. Well, not really. it's just so frustrating compared to the better games in the series. Let's start with some minor concerns and move on to the more egregious problems...

The Bad

First: we'll be gentle. There's only four characters in your party, compared in five in Cecil's crew in FFIV. You'd think one can't be that much difference, but it is. The same goes for FFVI, but I'll deal with that in a separate review. Battles just aren't as interesting as with five.

Ok next: it's the same four characters throughout the game. Yeah, they change job classes, but it's the same four personalities. Moreover the secondary characters aren't anything to write home about. Villains are uninspired and NPCs aren't that great either. Cid makes a welcome appearance as usual, but there's few other friends your party meets on their adventure that have much to offer in the way of memorable interaction.

Next: this game is seriously cruel. I think there's about four or five instances in the game when you really have no chance against some insanely-hard boss encounter. There's no way you can know what he's going to do to you, and there's no way you can adapt your strategy in time. I suppose the game demands that you spend extra time levelling up in a dungeon before confronting the boss, but this is a relic of 1980s / early 90s gameplay that has thankfully gone the way of the dodo... except in this remake.

And, if you do have the guts to slug it through to the end of the game (while putting up with a mindless, silly plot), the last stretch of the game is really cruel beyond redemption. As you ascend toward the top of a crystalline spire, a random encounter called the Red Dragon will absolutely butcher you, even if you've fought him before, know his ins and outs, and spent a couple extra hours levelling up. You can try and run but even this isn't a sure thing. And if he does kill you (which is about a 60-70% chance), you'll have to reload and spend about half a tedious hour getting back to where you were before... perhaps to have him turn up again and do the same nasty number as before.

God help you if you don't give up after him though, because things get even worse from there on in. I will just say that it was a very traumatic experience for me, and I would not repeat it for all the tea in China. The last time I tried to finish off the game it ended up in the garbage. Yeah, I fished it out, but I'm going to see if I can sell it at Electronics Boutique.

The Bottom Line

This is a solid RPG -- not in the very top tier -- but respectable in its own right. Compared to later incarnations of the FF series, it's a little weak, but it did come out earlier, so it's understandable for it to be comparatively primitive. However, this is a remake, so it would have been nice if SquareEnix had given it a more thoughtful make-over, updating the gameplay and storytelling along with the graphics and music.