Final Fantasy III – NDS – Review

For those gamers
who had fallen in love with the Final Fantasy series since the much-loved
Final Fantasy VII on the original PlayStation, it was hard to track down
earlier games in the franchise seeing as the series made its North American
debut on the NES. Thankfully, the original games have recently found a home on
the Game Boy Advance (if you haven’t bought Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of
, you might want to do that right away) and the best part is that
neither game suffers from poor Japanese to English translation. Yet while the
first and second game in the series has made it to our shores a long while back,
Final Fantasy III is a chapter that never did (there was a third game
here but if memory serves correctly it was just a port of Japan’s FFVI).


Oh, but who says
good things don’t come to those who wait? At last, the real Final Fantasy III
comes to North America and – even better – it comes to the Nintendo DS.
Actually, think of it as a remake that actually makes the game even better while
keeping all the elements that made the game such a classic back in Japan. This
third chapter follows a lad named Luneth, an adventurous orphan who finds a
crystal of great power. The crystal speaks to him, offering a message that would
send him and three others on a journey to find the rest of the crystals and thus
save the world. Luneth is joined by his bookish best friend Arc, a soldier in
King Sasune’s royal army named Ingus and the lovely Refia who is the runaway
daughter of a mythril smith.

Together these
four characters embark on a lengthy, perilous journey that is a familiar staple
of the Final Fantasy games. There is a lot of the world to explore and,
of course, towns to enter and a large number of NPCs to meet and chat with along
the way. You will be hooked in by the world and all it has to offer but most
importantly you’ll be invested in the characters that don’t come off as
cardboard cutouts. They’re actually likeable and thus making their plight and
journey one that overshadows the stories and characters in Dawn of Souls
for the GBA SP. It’s also a game with a much bigger map, enough that the game
includes alternate modes of transportation to get around whether you pick an air
or sea ship or those loveable Chocobos.

While most of
what you’ll experience is familiar territory, there’s an interesting features
that sets Final Fantasy III apart from the first two games and that’s the
job system. There are 23 jobs in total and, while you can always change your
occupation at any time during the game, it’s chose wisely since not only do you
level up your character’s stats but you will also level up a specialty connected
to your job. The jobs range from thief, ranger, knight, mage (White, Black and
Red) and even a ninja. Each occupation comes complete with unique skills that
work in combat as well as their own outfits.


Combat in the
game is handled just a little different from past Final Fantasy games
with the exception that you can equip two weapons for each hand (e.g. two
swords) and with more experience you gain the more your melee attacks and spells
become more effective in battles. Combat is purely turn-based, of course, but be
prepared to be thrown into some pretty difficult battles. I’m talking battles
that will wipe out your party before you know what hit you. While leveling up on
your spells and making good use of your Summon creatures like the powerful
Bahamut, Shiva or Ifrit (just to name a few), the battles are still pretty
unforgiving. Worst yet, the save points are pretty sparse when you die you’ll
have to restart from the last save point.

While the touch
screen is utilized in the game, you can also play the game by completely
dismissing it and just stick to the control pad. Either way the game controls
perfectly on a portable format. The game does use the DS online function as
well, although it doesn’t mean you’ll be joining a friend online for a co-op
mode. This game introduced Mognet, a way to exchange messages to friend. It’s
actually a neat way to trading neat new items you can use in the game. You can
even send messages to NPCs in the game … which is, I have to admit, an
intriguing feature.


On the graphics
front, Final Fantasy III is a visually impressive game that takes
advantage of the DS’ graphics capabilities to its fullest. From the FMV
cinematic that would feel right at home on a console to the colorful in-game
graphics; this is a great-looking game. While the character models look like
cuddly living dolls, the backgrounds are actually incredibly detailed. There are
also some flashy effects that light up the screen. This game also has a
beautiful score that plays throughout the game and more than decent sound
effects as well.

In the end,
Final Fantasy III
is just one of those classic role-playing games that make
for one incredible handheld experience worthy of the Nintendo DS. All the right
elements are in place including a great story filled with endearing characters,
decent combat and some interesting concepts. Yes, its one tough cookie that
shows no mercy but if you’re a hardcore fan of the genre or have always wanted
to experience this “lost” chapter of the Final Fantasy series you will
certainly like this one.

Review Scoring
Details for Final Fantasy III

Gameplay: 8.0
It plays like
a classic Final Fantasy game and it’s also quite lengthy even in a
portable format. The story is endearing and exciting and you’ll love every
minute of it. On the other hand, the difficulty setting is unforgiving from
start to finish.

Graphics: 9.0

This is, by
far, one of the most visually impressive Nintendo DS games you’ll own. The
character models look mighty cute but it’s the detailed and colorful locales
that steal the show. The 3D visuals look great on the two screens but it’s the
FMV that makes you feel like you’re playing a Square Enix game.

Sound: 9.2
You have to
hand it to Square they certainly know how to make their game feel completely
cinematic. The game’s beautiful score does just that and comes out perfectly
through the DS speakers. There are also some great sound effects that really
stand out.

“Whoa,” you’ll
say to yourself as your party is wiped out for the 50th time. “They certainly
don’t make them this hard nowadays.” Ouch, you’ll say as you yank hair from your
head after you’re stuck in one very difficult battle. And if you’re just a
casual admirer of the role-playing game genre, you’ll be saying “bye-bye.”
Really, this is one seriously challenging RPG so hardcore RPG fans need apply.

Concept: 8.5
It has long
been the Final Fantasy game us North American gamers never got to play
but thanks to the magic of the Nintendo DS we finally get our hands on it. It
might be an old-school role-playing game but the neat job system and the Summons
creatures add an interesting twist. You can also write messages to characters in
the game as well as other gamers via a WiFi connection.

There’s an
online function that makes good use of the Nintendo DS WiFi connectivity but
it’s used as an interesting correspondence feature where you can exchange
letters with other gamers. This is a great way of unlocking neat new items you
can use in the game.

Overall: 8.0
One of the
most thrilling and enjoyable chapters of this beloved RPG franchise, Final
Fantasy III
is a truly impressive role-playing game for your Nintendo DS and
one well worth the purchase price. While it is a brutally challenging game that
might turn off the more casual gamer, it stands as one of the best portable RPGs
available for the DS this year.