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Final Fantasy III February 4, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Reviews, Video Games.
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When Square-Enix announced they were releasing Final Fantasy III (FFIII) on the Nintendo DS, I knew it had to be one of the handheld’s must-have titles and thought I would go ga-ga just playing it. I haven’t. But I am altogether glad for the experience.

First, the good news: FFIII has everything fans have come to expect from the Final Fantasy tradition: an epic storyline, engaging quests and sidequests, and hours upon hours of “put your life on hold” gaming. And for a role-playing game, it translates very well to the DS: for one thing, the entire game can be played using the stylus, and the ability to “quicksave” – that is, save one’s progress at any point before turning the machine off and starting again at the same exact moment later on – works perfectly for handheld gaming. Also, the job system, FFIII’s key feature that promises 279,841 possible party combinations throughout the game, affords players the arguably unparalleled ability to role-play to their hearts’ content.

The bad news is fairly straightforward: as an updated re-release of the original Final Fantasy III, the game’s age does show. This is mainly due to the storyline, which proceeds in an overly linear fashion and is not quite as engaging as one might think. Personally, reading about it has often been much more interesting than seeing it implemented and unveiled before my eyes, and I suspect this has more to do with the way the game was translated more than anything else. Other game elements also belie the fact that time has already passed this type of role-playing game formula by: namely, the amount of seemingly aimless dungeon crawling as well as the fairly repetitive battle sequences where “variety” consists mostly of “pallette swaps” (changing the colors) of the enemies one might encounter along the way.

Notwithstanding these faults, FFIII is still a title well worth investing in overall, and does come with its own set of welcome surprises. The most obvious of these is the length of the game. About nine hours into the game, I thought I’d seen all that the world map had to offer, and was a little disappointed that the map was mostly unlocked already. I was wrong: this was merely a small portion and by comparison the game itself is quite massive. Other surprises are story-related and thus are best experienced rather than spoiled.

Final Fantasy III is a little on the long side (upwards of sixty hours, conservatively) and is overall a great role-playing game on a platform that players can take with them. It may be slightly difficult for novices, but the game doesn’t throw anything so hard at a player that it can’t be overcome by taking time to power up one’s characters. If this is any indication of what future Square-Enix games, such as the Final Fantasy XII sequel Revenant Wings, has in store for gamers, then things are looking up for the DS as the mobile gamer’s role-playing platform of choice.

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