Final Fantasy III
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher & Developer: Square Enix
I only just completed this recently, after playing it on and off for ages(I got it when it was released on the DS in the UK on...May 2007, around then.) I am going to try and review the games I play through to the end from now on.
So, I wanted to review this game, because I really enjoyed it however there were some aspects I thought could have been better. I'll highlight them over the course of this short review.
Ok, so some basic info about the game now. This is a remake of Final Fantasy 3 for the NES, with new and improved 3D graphics, remastered sound and touchscreen controls and some extra content( I havent played the original version, so I am just going on what I have read online.) New material comes in the form of the wi-fi unlockable content such as the Onion Knight job class and Master Blacksmith and some other stuff. This makes for good replayability options, and adds to the already large gameplay time you can expect from this title.
One thing that might put people off this game is the difficulty. I dont know how this compares to the original NES version, but I am reviewing this as FF3 on the DS and trying not to keep comparing it to the original version. The difficulty, as I said previously is one thing that puts people off this game. It is quite hard at first, with little details such as Phoenix Downs adding to the frustration value. You cant actually buy Phoenix Downs(which revive dead characters if you didnt already know) and this leads to many instances when I was pissed off at the game, which can be of a manageable difficulty anywhere up to incredibly hard. Its a challenge, though, which I liked. As you progress through the game though, and with a bit of grinding here and there your job level and overall levels will increase making the game that bit easier or more manageable. Quite late on, you will get the White Magic "Raise" and eventually(right at the end of the game pretty much) "Full-Life"(Its got a different name which I forget lol.) These, along with the Cure spells your Mages can use take the focus away from potions, healing items and Phoenix Downs, which makes it easier as you go along thankfully. Its also very old school, with no mid-dungeon saving apart from the quick save option, and the fact that characters keep statuses and KO status after battle(annoying at first, you eventually get solutions to these status 'woes'
That leads me on to the gameplay. I really liked the battle system in this game, which is your average turn based rpg style. There was not much innovation ie use of the ATB system in other remakes and other Final Fantasy games, but I still liked the standard attack/magic/item/special ability type battles. The reason I would say I quite liked the gameplay despite the unoriginal battles was the job and level up system used. Your characters, of which there are only 4 playable throughout the game can be up to lvl 99 overall. In addition to this overall level, they can choose any job from this list of 23 jobs which you unlock in 4 sets of jobs as you go through the main game(and one unlocked on completing a sidequest.)
So there is a lot of scope for customising your characters however you want, as you can have up to lvl 99 in each, or any of these jobs, each of which lead to different stat growth, ie. Black Belt, which gives very high Vit. to the character on each level up, in turn giving you high HP growth on each lvl up. I think out of the gameplay, the job system is the redeeming feature of Final Fantasy III and leads me to give the game...
The graphics are one area of the game that looks really good-the DS can cope with the 3D engine really well, experiencing no slowdown whatsoever, but some of the time minor things could be noticed that probably weren't supposed to be there. The character models look very good, well designed and dont look to pixelly or crappy with the 3D graphics and cutscenes where they zoom in quite close. Some of the textures and backgrounds look a little bit nasty, so I would say that is the only area I think the graphics fall down in.
I would say I liked the graphics, they are very good 3D graphics considering the power of the DS and I would give FFIII...
Perhaps the most important part of an RPG is the ability to tell a story, to draw a player in and keep them playing until the end. Be it as a result of good characterisation, interaction between characters and NPCs, choices in dialogue, options, whatever-a good RPG should have a good story and characters. FFIII isnt going to win any prizes for story, thats for sure. Its pretty much still the same as FFI and FFII, generic heroes arise and have to do something involving 4 crystals in order to save the world...The game is very long, with many different areas and sidequests that can be played through. The vast number of NPCs and cutscenes help to drive the story on, but the fundamental flaw I believe is the generic characters, who only really have the smallest bit of personality each. Adding to this, you have a world map in which you often need to explore every inch of in order to find where you are supposed to be going, as directions are unclear at times. This was very frustrating at times, and was probably what had me going to guides online more than anything for this game.
Story & Characters: 6/10
One thing I thought wasnt too important, but it did leave me feeling shortchanged and what I thought was even quite lazy in terms of game design from the developers, the esteemed Square Enix, was the control system. Yes, you can use the stylus to control the battle and other things in the game, but it doesnt feel intuitive. The game also hardly ever uses both screens at one time, one aspect I think DS games MUST utilise, if they are going to stand out from other platforms and games. I think the D-pad remains the only way to control the game effectively, but it is done quite well. So I would give the game...
Controls and Innovation: 4/10
Replayability, there is quite a lot of this, with the multitude of job classes, ultimate weapons for each class, onion knight job and other wi-fi quests, all the items you can obtain only by stealing from enemies and bosses, hidden chests, sidequests...loads and loads of replay options in this game, which is really good. I felt satisfied with this aspect of the game, despite having only played it once through so far. I felt I had got a lot for my money, which is always good.
I guess the sound is pretty good in this game, with the high quality music everyone comes to expect from FF titles.
Its a good game, pretty hardcore difficulty and play time might put some people off, but theres lots to do, which is good.