Final Fantasy III Art 

Here at GameCritics we're encouraged to delve deeper into the games we review—to evaluate themes and historical significance along with graphics and fun factors. Certainly, I think that most videogames offer something more than simple diversion: engrossing plots, enjoyable characters, the ability to reach audiences on a deeply personal level, since we are the actors in their stories. But when it comes to Final Fantasy III, I've got nothing profound to say. That's probably my fault. Despite my love of role-playing games (RPGs), I haven't spent much time with the Final Fantasies. (In fact, most of what I've learned about their universes and characters is via the Kingdom Hearts series). Be that as it may, Final Fantasy III hasn't kindled any deep passion for the series. Like a one-night-stand it was fun while it lasted, but it doesn't leave me wanting more.

We play as Luneth, an orphan who falls into a cave when an earthquake hits his village. The quake has also swallowed up four elemental crystals; with them gone, the world is thrown out of harmony and darkness is free to take over. It's up to Luneth and his three friends—all orphans, too—to find the crystals and restore the balance of power.

Final Fantasy III ScreenshotFinal Fantasy III Screenshot

Final Fantasy III was originally released on the Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System) in 1990. It's part of a series that's had tremendous influence on the console role-playing genre. Playing the game now for the first time can make one feel a little déjà vu; that's only because the Final Fantasy series helped create a lot of genre conventions in the first place. But Final Fantasy III still offers some surprises. Its open-ended class system is as unusual today as it was 17 years ago. Instead of designating one person a warrior and somebody else a healer or black mage, the game offers a variety of jobs the characters can learn, for players to dole out as they wish. As a character gets more practice in his or her job (i.e. by fighting battles), he or she gains experience points and becomes more powerful within that particular class. In this game, I really can be anything I want.

This job system isn't new to this installment of the series—it was introduced in the original Final Fantasy—but it's still pleasantly innovative. Having more potential classes than characters and being able to mix and match them any way the player chooses adds layers of depth to battle strategy. It's not enough to train characters to high levels and use uber-skills. Victory also depends on the classes of people in the party. Training as a Black Belt will raise someone's base hit points to stellar levels; Dragoons can jump, so they're impossible to hit while in the air and do massive damage when they come back down.

As a consequence of this equal-opportunity class system, nobody can get pigeonholed into some RPG stereotype. The main character doesn't have to be a warrior; he can be a white mage or an archer or a slow Viking that wields heavy hammers. Similarly, the one female in the party doesn't have to be a healer if I don't want her to be.

Final Fantasy III ScreenshotFinal Fantasy III Screenshot

Unfortunately, the characters' personalities seemed as interchangeable to me as their jobs. Final Fantasy III has a rich story, but it was hard to care about that story when I didn't feel like I really knew the people involved in it. I sensed that each one felt isolated from the people around them: however, they all felt that way, because they're all orphans and they're all specially chosen to save the world. Their big-headed chibi cuteness was enjoyable, but there was never a sense that these people were any different from each other at all.

I also think that the game's innovation works against it by highlighting more typical RPG pitfalls. Trolling for experience points will always be repetitive and potentially boring; using four people to max out 20-odd different skills with 99 levels each just makes that flaw harder to overlook.

Final Fantasy III was fun while I played it, but now that the world's been re-harmonized and the credits have rolled, I feel no need to dig it out of my closet again. To play any more of it would involve maxing out my job and character levels for no real reason, since there's nothing else to do. (Since I don't have many DS-playing friends to trade letters with, unlocking the secret class and the uber-weapons is out). We were but two ships passing in the night, and it's like we never saw each other.Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Tera Kirk

Tera Kirk

Tera Kirk grew up in a small Nebraska town called Papillion. Although she has a nonverbal learning disability that affects her visual-spatial skills (among other things), she's always loved video games. Her first game system was a Commodore Vic-20, which her mom bought at a garage sale for $20. With this little computer Tera learned to write Mad Libs in BASIC, to play chess and to steal gold from Fort Knox.

But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).

Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at GameCritics.com.
Tera Kirk

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sirbobinious
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sirbobinious

i would have to agree with mr. weir. ff3, as known for the snes in the us, is not being represented by the column. the ff3 that we are familiar with involves a lady, TERRA, a thief, LOCKE, a king, EDGAR, and a few others. by no means was it necessarily short or boring. ff3 had a decent plot, and innovative play, for its time, as BLITZ inputs were required for SABIN. these commands are similar to those of legend of legaia, and legend of legaia 2; those of which were on ps consoles. i would recommend further research before… Read more »

Dale Weir
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Dale Weir

I think you’re confusing your Final Fantasy IIIs. The FF3 on the SNES that you are talking about is not the same game as this one.

This Final Fantasy III is a port of the NES FF3 that didn’t get released over here in the US. Square updated the graphics, sound and cutscenes to appeal to a new market of gamers that probably never even saw screens of the original.

Omer Altay
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I would love to see some of these older Final Fantasy games get remade for next gen consoles. Heck, i’d be happy with a ps2 remake as well. I’m not a fan of the DS’s jagged graphics, so I think I’ll stick to my SNES version for FF3 =)

Epic Juicebox
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Epic Juicebox

I’m a huge FF fanboy – so of course I may not agree with your score, hehe – but I totally agree that the four main characters were dry and faceless throughout most of the game. In fact, a lot of the NPC’s had more character than the main characters… and really, there’s no excuse for that! But for what it’s worth, I thought the game was worth its weight as a remake of a game that came out nearly 20 years ago. It did well not to feel dated – except for the sometimes rather cheap and sudden ramps… Read more »