Final Fantasy III review
Best DS RPG to Date?

The good:

Grpahics (although this is both a blessing and a curse - see below).
Touch-screen controls well.
Excellent, engaging and addictive gameplay.
Wi-fi opens up a few extra side-quests.

The bad:

Graphics limit on-screen action.
Music can get slightly repitive.
Touch screen controls are completely pointless.
Job system feels slightly shallow compared to other entries in the series.
No permanent saves during dungeons.
A bit on the short side.
Wi-fi could've been used in more intuitive ways.
NDS's unique features (e.g dual screen, microphone etc.) are barely used.
Minimal plot.


Graphics (4.2/5):

The game is in "virtual 3D" graphics. Meaning you can't manipulate the camera but the game still allows you to zoom in abd out of the action (outside of battles), for a better view of the gorgeous enviorments.

The art stlye is similar to that FFIX, striking a familiar FF note between the uber-realistic and the bobble-headed cartoony.

Character models for NPCs get somewhat repitive halfway through the game, and alot of enemies are merely pallete-swapped versions of already exsisiting enemies.

And during battles, only a maximum of 3 enemies can be displayed at one time.

However, this (like alot of other shortcomings of this otherwise brilliant game) is probably due to techincal issues with the DS hardware.

Animations are rather good for a DS game, and are kept varied enough to never seem repitive.

The enviorments stay in the short RPG range of 'dungeon - cave - village - castle', but like I've already mentioned; the brillitantly detailed locales in FFIII are something of a miracle to pull off on the DS's wimpy hardware.

Overall, I'm very pleased. Being a fan of the 2 dimensional, I wouldn't have minded scrapping the 3D in favour of something a bit more pracrtical; but the game still works perfectly well none-the-less.

Gameplay (4.9/5):

Like the Famicom origional, the game is a traditonal turn-based, stat-based RPG. There is no ATB (realtime/timelimit gameplay like some other FFs), so you can take your time working out monsters weaknesses and planning your strategy. Battles are initated randomly and I never really had a big problem with that, as the encounter rate seems fair. Fun, but fairly standard stuff.

Magic can be bought and "equipped" to an approptiate charecter and each charecter can equip two different weapons (one for each hand), as well as a myriad of armour and accesories.

What really stands out here, is the acessible yet deep Job/Class system, giving you a pool of 22 different classes to assign to one (of four) of your characters. Anyone of the games four big-headed charecters can be any job you desire.

While you start out with an underpowered, "nobody" class; you unlock more as you proceed through the game. There are four different intervals throughout the adventure where you gain a couple of jobs, 4, 5, or 6 at a time.

This offers some very flexible gameplay. Cave full of monsters weak to magic? Just change your party to magic-casting classes and nuke your way in. Sounds perfect, right?

Well, there IS a catch. When changing from class to another, theres a so-called "Job-adjustment" phase (for example 3 or 4 battles) that will significantly lower your Job's stats.

This was perhaps implemetned to encourage the player to stick to only a couple of classes, and develop your own custom play-style; as opposed to an overpowered party of super-knights and super-mages.

Experience and level gaining is by-the-book Final Fantasy stuff. Each charecter has his or her own job-level for each individual job, as well as a normal-exp level.

Meaning Refia might be a level 13 Black Mage, level 3 Thief and have a normal level of 21; while Ingus might be a levl 67 Thief and a level 27 black mage with a normal level of 30. The level cap is always 99.

Each job also has it's own class-specific command (for example, a Dark Knight can sacrfice some of it's HP for major damge to all enemies) during battle making it better suited for different dungeons and your playstyle. Certain kinds of jobs can also equip only certain types of equippment. There's also a front-row and a back-row during battle. The difference? Characters placed in the fron-row hit harder but take more damege, whereas back-row characters have higher defence but weakened physical attack. All of the above makes for some supremely fun and stratgeic battles.

Outside of battles, you can chat with NPCs, send mail to your friends or other charecters via Nintendo WFC, shop for new equippment and magic or simply explore the vast landscape.

My only complaint here is the save system. You can suspened you game at anytime outside of an event or battle, but this save-file is only temporary, and is deleted once you start playing again.

Permanent saves can only be done on the world map.

The difficulty is also a bit on the unwelcoming side to new-comers.

Otherwise, a brilliantly designed game, with fun, deep gameplay.

Music (4.8/5):

Nobou Uematsu (responsible for the sublime 'One-Winged Angel' of FFVII fame) is piloting the music FFIII.

Excellent, catchy and well-suited for eachg instance it's used, there really isin't much to say about the music.

It can get repitive at time (mostly during battles and dungeons, where you'll be spending most of your time), but that doesn't exactly break the game.

Verdict: What's there is superb, but the variety is sorely lacking.

Plot (3.3/55):

<I'm not going to include any story details here, so rest assured this review is 100% spoiler free.>

The 'plot' is a boring stroll through FF stereotypes and offers nothing new or even faintly intresting. It may be a 20-year old game, but the new parts added to flesh out the story only save the game from being a complete snooze.

Localisation is quite good, and the dialouge can shine when it wants too.

However, if not for the rest of the game's amazing presentation and exceution, a few points would've had to have been deducted.

Overall (4.7/5):

The best RPG avaiable on ANY handheld, unrivaled by even some of it's console counterparts.
"Classic gameplay" is the first phrase that pops to mind when asked why I would reccomend this game to someone. Sure, it's a bit on the short side, but it's a freaking DS game! I constantly have to remind myself that when playing this masterpiece.
A definite must-buy for RPG fans of any caliber.

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