Final Fantasy III - NDS - Preview 2
The long-running Final Fantasy series has been the hallmark against which all other console RPG games have been judged for decades now. However, even though the series is now on its twelfth entry, there has been a hole that has left American gamers in the dark for too long. The third entry in the series has been absent for American gamers since it was originally released in Japan (“Final Fantasy III” for the SNES was actually the sixth game in the series). Even though the previously missing Final Fantasies (2 and 5) have been released stateside in compilations, the third game has been oddly absent.
However, gamers will now finally be able to complete the franchise as Square-Enix is gearing up to finally release Final Fantasy III on the Nintendo DS. However, whereas the previous “revamps” have had SNES-quality graphical updates, Final Fantasy III will bring the game up to speed by offering up an adaptation that takes full advantage of what the DS can do, with great music and high-quality 3D graphics. Aside from the new technical enhancements, the game will still maintain its old-school feel, with the original gameplay elements, like the job system, showing up in its original form.
Final Fantasy III has an extremely deep story to draw you in from the get-go. Without giving anything away, you begin the game as Luneth, a young man with an important destiny. Luneth and three comrades are given a special responsibility by a great crystal, setting the course of the game in motion.
The game’s use of the DS pretty much allows for open-ended control options depending on how you’d prefer to play the game. While the more traditional route doesn’t require you to use the touch-screen at all, you can actually use the stylus configuration exclusively should you so choose. On-screen buttons will allow you to access the menu, adjust the camera and so on, as well as move your character around the map and talk to NPCs.
One of the main gameplay elements in Final Fantasy III is the job system. Fairly early on, your party is given six jobs to choose from (Fighter, Monk, Thief, Black Mage, White Mage and Red Mage), and you can assign a job to each of your characters. A lot of thought should go into this, as each job carries its own strengths and weaknesses and could be a boon or a drawback depending on the situation.
The game’s old-school feel may be a hit or a miss for some gamers. While those who’ve followed the series from its NES inception should immediately feel at home, fans weaned on newer fare might find it a bit of a culture shock for several reasons. For starters, the game is very difficult. It’s very easy to get creamed by enemies early on, as grinding is a necessity to gain the necessary levels to take on some of the tougher baddies (something that most new RPGs tend to circumvent). The battle system moves at a bit more of a slower pace as well, but luckily the random battles don’t occur with an overbearing frequency, keeping from interrupting the pace.
Graphically, the game maintains an overall quality similar to the Final Fantasy games released on the original PlayStation, albeit with its own sense of style. The look is more of a classical approach, emphasizing a medieval look with huge castles, old-school airships and cartoon-esque character models. The game’s aesthetic is very unique and detailed, much like the rest of the hallmark franchise. The score is also great, and sets the mood for the game very well.
It’s been a long time coming, but American gamers will finally get a hold of the long-lost Final Fantasy game complete with a host of brand new additions and great 3D graphics. Look for it later this month.