Final Fantasy III

Square Enix have a habbit of re-releasing old Final Fantasy games, and as such you’d be forgiven for thinking this was yet another re-release. Final Fantasy III is much more though – superficially at least, it’s a beautiful remake of the seventeen year old NES original. Better yet, it’s the first time the original Final Fantasy III has been translated and released outside of Japan (the western SNES Final Fantasy III was actually the Japanese Final Fantasy VI, due to the poor numeracy skills of some Americans or something like that.)

Final Fantasy III DS screenFinal Fantasy III is a lovely bundle of contradictions. Graphically, it’s sumptuous – adorable doll-like characters roam around a simple 3D engine that fits the DS perfectly. It even opens with a high quality FMV sequence. Yes, it’s a sexy little bugger that makes the DS shine. That’s the contradiction, because apart from the facelift and nifty use of the touchscreen, Final Fantasy III hasn’t changed at all since it appeared on the NES. It’s an old classic.

The early Final Fantasy games helped set the formula for practically every roleplaying game since, so there’s nothing terribly wrong with this playing just like an NES game. Some people might find it a little hard or unforgiving though – for starters, you can’t save inside dungeons, and if you don’t keep your characters up with the level curve, you might suddenly be staring at the Game Over screen. If you’re unlucky you might lose an hour of progress, but it’s a mistake you’re unlikely to make twice. So basically this is an NES game with lovely updated graphics, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you’ve never played an RPG before, you’ll be happy to know the game involves saving the world (and the occasional monarch), as you adventure and battle your way through challenging dungeons with your trusty party. There’ll be lots of battles – frequent, random battles – that help your characters gain experience and level up. It’s all dandy.

The job system is where things get lovely and bring out the obsessive compulsive in us. There are about two dozen jobs available, which are basically different character classes – everything from warriors, knights and ninjas to mages, summoners and bards. Character and job levels are separate though, so you can switch your characters’ jobs at any time to fight strategic battles or just mix things up a bit. Collecting various gear sets and building the perfect four man party makes for literally hours of shameful fun.

If you don’t like the idea of a really traditional RPG, then feel free to ignore this. If you do however, Final Fantasy III is a superb remake. Completely true to the original, but given the perfect form for the DS. It’s not too small or simple either – over thirty hours of gameplay are squeezed onto the tiny cartridge and there’s even an online Mognet messaging system. It doesn’t really make use of both screens, but the stylus works brilliantly and this is a game that feels perfectly at home on the DS.

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