After launching exclusively in Japan on NES 17 years ago, and with the remake being available on DS in the US since late last year, Square Enix's 3D Final Fantasy III remake comes knocking on our door.
Upon firing FFIII up for the first time you'll probably be bowled over by how technically incredible it is, especially the game's FMV, which loops at the opening menu screen. It's mighty impressive stuff. Well, over 55 hours in and we haven't actually seen another one yet but we'll let you should one crop up.
This is a completely new, 3D make-over, with plenty of added bells and whistles. The game uses both DS screens, though not all the time. You get a detailed map in the top deck while most of the action goes on downstairs in the bottom screen.
We like a bit of Final Fantasy here at CVG but not enough to remember every single storyline, character, spell and summon. To us it's another tale of a group of kids going out there to battle evil and save the world from darkness. But if you require more, FFIII tells the tale of a once peaceful land (a floating continent, no less) that's gone downhill since an earthquake rolled into town. This dislodged the 'crystals of light' that protected it and you've got to go out and restore order.
As a party of four (that occasionally goes up to five when you pick up a character essential to the plot) you'll get to arm each character with all sorts of armour, weapons, objects and spells. Before you jump into the meat of the adventure though you'll need to decide what Job (or class), each character will be.
You can change Job whenever you want but if you go from a Job Level 6 Warrior to a Black Mage you'll have to start all over again, earning experience points under your new Job banner. You'll need to explore the various Jobs throughout the game as you'll need specific abilities for some of the more challenging situations ahead.
Events start off a nice peaceful pace. You'll visit a town, talk to all the inhabitants, arm yourselves with spells and weapons and head off on a new chapter in the story. Stick this formula on repeat, only with bigger and better spells, armour and weapons as you progress, and that's the way it works.
The game itself is huge, in typical Final Fantasy style. There are numerous areas, woods, forests and dungeons to explore, characters to meet, weapons to seek out and side quests to keep you busy for months. The only thing that gets in the way are the random battles, but as they're part and parcel of the franchise (except FFXII) it's no use complaining.
You can use the stylus and touch screen to manoeuvre your crew and tap menus when fighting but, to be honest; it's much easier and comfortable to just use the d-pad. Wi-Fi Connection options also allow you to communicate with other players.
Square Enix has seen fit to include a handy Quick Save option. You can only perform one quick save at a time and then the game shuts down. When you turn on the game again you have to select 'Continue' or else that save info will be erased. This little option comes in handy of you're playing on the move and have to shut down quickly. You can save anywhere at anytime in the open world but once you're in a dungeon, you're there 'till the outcome.
Final Fantasy III is a remarkable achievement on the DS in terms of what it makes the handheld do. It looks great, has an awesome musical score and is absolutely massive. Fans of the series will love the remake. But to casual observers it'll just come across as another Final Fantasy adventure that's more style over substance.
A technically impressive adventure that sticks to the tried and trusted traditional FF formula
- Incredible visuals and sounds
- Massive in size, absolutely MASSIVE!
- It's Final Fantasy in your hands
- Poor use of Touch Screen, using the stylus to move and select isn't new
- Random battles (they still bite)
- Same old formula