Written by  :  Chris Wright (105)
Written on  :  Oct 17, 2008
Platform  :  SNES
Rating  :  4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars

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A sometimes-cutesy, sometimes-macabre follow-up to Final Fantasy II

The Good

Final Fantasy III was a nice little game back in its day. The visuals were fancied-up from its predecessor (Final Fantasy II for North American gamers), the music was infused with some techno beats, and the storyline is just completely nutsoid in comparison to the elegant and compelling plot line that followed Cecil, Kain, and Golbez.

As close as I can figure, the ultimate baddie of this game, Kefka, is a hideous, unfunny clown with a penchant for wild and imaginative behavior, none of which makes a whit of sense to me.

FF3 does, however, sport a wealth of tertiary characters that join sides with our amnesiac green-haired protagonist, Terra.

For example, Celes is an ice queen with tremendous magical prowess and a woeful history of being used by 'The Empire', Kefka's organization. Cyan is a compelling dark-haired lord whose family has been slain, but who is not acting out of vengeance, but altruism. And Shadow is a ninja with a companion wolfhound and a black sense of humor. Some of the other characters are a little half-baked, a few are very wild, and in sum total there's much more variety in combat than in Final Fantasy II -- though I still prefer the latter for its elegant simplicity.

The score of FF3 is perhaps its strongest feature, and was composed by the inimitable Nobuo Uemetsu, whose work arguably declined in quality after this title. The key events in the story are all accompanied by a compelling musical piece, while battles and overworld travel are invigorated with one of many lively tunes.

My personal favorite is a rollicking jungle beat, which plays as your party travels across the Veldt, a savannah region populated by a variety of tame-able beasts. I can still remember just letting the game run, not doing anything, to listen to the track for a few minutes -- it's just that good.

The Bad

There's no flaw at all in Final Fantasy III, except that it's not as well thought-out as Final Fantasy II. It's still a great game, but the overall plot concept does not leave the player in a sublime state of satisfaction as its predecessor does. Simply put, Kefka is no Golbez. Also, needs more Crystals.

But... perhaps not. FF2 is FF2, and FF3 is FF3. It's just that the first features a far more sensible, interesting plot, while the second strays into some pretty zany territory. For example: a ghost train, an end-of-the-world cataclysm, mech suits, human experimentation and mind-control... and a few dinosaurs thrown in for good measure. It's an eclectic mix to be generous, and haphazard to be critical.

The Bottom Line

Hands down, Final Fantasy III is the finest RPG from the mid-90s, superior to anything else on the Super Nintendo, the PC, or the Genesis -- from the 1994-1997 period. 1993 gave us Betrayal at Krondor on the PC, a vastly deeper, richer game, and 1998 saw the release of one of my personal favorites, Baldur's Gate. FF3 did a great job of holding me over between these stellar releases for the PC.

So -- play it on an emulator today? Mmmm if you have a strong nostalgic hankering for one of the four finest RPGs on the SNES. I'll stick with Team Fortress 2 for now, personally.

And yes, the other three are FF2, Secret of Mana, and Chrono Trigger.