Author Topic: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III  (Read 25123 times)

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Offline Rwinterhalter

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REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
« on: September 19, 2006, 08:17:30 PM »
We waited sixteen years for this?

Sixteen years after its original release in Japan, Matrix Software has remade Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS. Final Fantasy III came at the end of the Famicom (NES) lifecycle in Japan. As such, it was the most technically advanced of the three original Final Fantasy games. The game eschews the epic story line and deep characters, which began in Final Fantasy II and later became the hallmark of the series, in favor of the more combat oriented style of the original. This gameplay has aged considerably in the past sixteen years and does not hold up well today.    


FF III is a dungeon crawler at heart. Do not come expecting the epic stories of later games in the series. I can already hear the cheers from those who have chastised the series for being overwrought with drama and who welcome the return to a simpler time, but not so fast. Matrix Software did not leave the story alone; they added personality to the formerly faceless and nameless characters and expanded on a few story sequences as well. This compromise between story and action, between character development and gameplay, is actually worse than either extreme. What has been developed is a game that has a minimal story and almost zero character development but has pretensions of being a grand adventure story. The dialogue is terrible, filled with Japanese clichés and overdramatic word choice (this may yet be changed in localization). The story itself is predictable, and when it does take a dramatic turn, the ham-fisted dialogue robs the scenes of any dramatic flavor.    


The game does try to spice things up with humor occasionally, but these attempts fall flat or seem incredibly out of place. For example, if you activate a piano in a certain inn, the patrons of that inn will dance rather crudely to "Grease Lightning". Most other attempts at humor revolve around the "old man" stock character familiar to Japanese audiences.    


If you do not have a solid grasp on the Japanese language, it's better to just wait for the localized release in November. In order to understand the basics of the game, like where you need to go and how to get there, you will need to be able to read Japanese on a level most students don't obtain until at least their third year studying the language at a university level. Understanding the story (as simple as it is) would take an even higher level of proficiency.  However, if you are a fluent reader, you can import the game from our partners at http://www.lik-sang.com/info.php?category=275&products_id=5831&>Lik-Sang.    


The game is hard, and difficulty is something that tends to be rather rare in games these days. In the past sixteen years, developers have realized that being creamed by enemies within minutes of the first encounter is not fun. In this respect, Final Fantasy III is definitely old school. Most of the enemies you encounter will not be that difficult. There are a few annoying enemies that will replicate themselves if you cannot kill them in one hit, but this is more of an annoyance than a problem. The normal enemies are deceptively easy; the bosses are where the real problem lies. You can waltz through a dungeon, barely taking a hit, and then be slaughtered in two turns by the boss. The bosses in Final Fantasy III have moves that will kill most party members in two hits, or just one if it is a critical hit. This issue, combined with the fact that bosses have between two and four actions per turn, means that your characters will drop fast. Victory in combat is determined by the luck of the draw; if the enemy decides to take out your White Mage, and you do not have any precious and rare Phoenix Down items, there is not much you can do other than take the punishment the boss gives you and try again.    


The turn system only aggravates the issue. You issue orders to all four of your characters at the same time. The character's speed stat is then used to determine who goes first. This means that whether or not you can heal your party (healing is effectively required every turn in boss battles) before a boss gets his lethal strike off is just a matter of luck. Should a character die and you have to resurrect him, the battle turns into a game of whack-a-mole, with you reviving one character just as another is taken out. In most RPGs, you can level up if a boss is giving you trouble, and while this is a possibility in FF III, it doesn't do a whole lot of good. How much damage you deal and take is determined more by equipment than by level. There are many places in the game where the next best armor and weapons are available only after you take out a boss. This asinine system results in you having to fight boss battles repeatedly until you get lucky and actually win. As victory in battle is a result of being lucky rather than work or skill, it saps away a good chunk of the rewarding feelings you would normally have from beating the boss.    


Final Fantasy III introduced the “Job System" to the series. Since then variations on what FF III developed have appeared in no less than five Final Fantasy games since. The system in Final Fantasy III can be obtuse and counter-intuitive. It takes third fiddle to equipment and level in terms of taking and dealing damage. There was a large chunk of the game where my white mage was dealing as much damage as my character I was guiding through the fighting classes because I found a good staff for her, but I could not find a good blade for my Knight. Even worse was when my geomancer and my archer were outperforming him, in physical damage. The job effects how fast certain stats level up, but equipment and level are so much more important.    


The art style resembles that of Final Fantasy IX, which is not surprising as that game was a tribute to the older Final Fantasy games. The character models, while simple, remain faithful to the style of the original. What's more, the towns and dungeons are fully rendered, unlike the pre-rendered backgrounds of Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. These dungeons are actually the most impressive graphical feat of the game, which is good because you will be looking at them a lot.    


The game is controllable either through traditional a D-pad/button combo or the touch screen. Touch screen controls work pretty much as you would expect: you tap a command, then tap the character you want to attack or heal. The touch screen controls do not add much to the game though, and the D-pad is far simpler and more intuitive.    


The soundtrack is exactly what you would expect from Final Fantasy. Nobuo Uematsu's soundtrack hits all the right notes, and the new versions of these old tunes are perfect. There is even one track where the original 8-bit sound has been kept, and it is without a doubt the best track in the game. However, no new songs were composed for this remake. This results in a handful of excellent tracks being reused for a great number of scenarios. There is the town track, the castle track, the dungeon track, and the melodramatic story turn track, and over the course of the thirty or so hour quest, there are very few surprises. The sound is great but the lack of variety hurts it.    


It is only the production values: graphics, music, and pedigree that make this game stand out. At its heart, Final Fantasy III is a dated and mediocre RPG that will only please the most die-hard Final Fantasy fans. With all its problems and the North American release only two months away, with hope that the localization will be an improvement, there is little reason to import Final Fantasy III.

Pros:
       

  • Great graphics accompanied by a fantastic art style  
  • Incredible music (but see cons below)

           Cons:
           
  • Dated gameplay  
  • Ridiculous difficulty  
  • Little diversity in music  
  • Terrible writing

                   Graphics: 10.0
           The DS hardware is rarely shown off as in Final Fantasy III. The well-done art only highlights this technical feat.

                   Sound:  8.0
           The sound is great but it could use more variety. By hour fifteen, you will be turning down the volume and playing your own music out of boredom.

                   Control:  9.0
           FF III uses the same basic controls you've known since the first Dragon Warrior, and they work well enough. However, the touch screen option seems tacked on.

                          Gameplay:  5.0
           Dated, frustrating, and boring, FF III's gameplay has not aged well. The remake is faithful to the original, but that is not a good thing.

     


           Lastability:  8.0
           The quest is notably shorter than modern Final Fantasy games, but you'll die so often that while the clock may read twenty five or thirty hours, your actual play time will probably be closer to forty or fifty, which is not bad for a handheld game.

     


           Final:  6.5
           Great graphics and sound cannot make up for poor writing and frustrating gameplay.      


  • Offline Cap

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    RE:REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #1 on: September 20, 2006, 12:21:31 AM »
    this is interesting......sure dated gameplay is a con to the game, but it is impossible to change some of the aspects of the gameplay without completely changing the game itself. by changing the battle system for instance, you might as well go and create a new final fantasy. much like the story(although it seems like it could have still been cleaned up a little from some of your comments about it). i guess it really depends on how square intends to market this game...if they market it as a 16 year old game with prettier graphics, noone should really be dissapointed with what they get. at its core, it IS still a 16 year old game.

    hopefully square takes the graphics engine they used for this game and creates a new final fantasy for the ds.

    Offline Pale

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #2 on: September 20, 2006, 12:43:38 AM »
    Ouch.  The worst part is I am still enough of a square whore that I will be buying it.  ><
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    Offline Ceric

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #3 on: September 20, 2006, 01:04:12 AM »
    After reading the review I think the problem was that they tried to update it to much and not enough.  There are some games, Original Legend of Zelda comes to mind, that I would never want the characters to be "updated" to have more character.  I enjoy using my imagination to fill in the gaps.  Sort of like how in animation you only draw a picture of the key frames and then either the computer or lacky artist fill in the blanks.  Their actions and abilities let me get what the artist vision of the character should be.  From the review this sounds to be done like a bad cartoon.  In a good cartoon everything has a purpose and serves a purpose.  This allows what feels like a substantial amount of story to fit in only 20 or so minutes.  I feel RPGs need to be around the same.  Not short stories or novellas.  I'm going to stop because I seem to be degrading as I type.
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    Offline nitsu niflheim

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #4 on: September 20, 2006, 01:08:11 AM »
    Having played FF3 before the difficulty isn't new to me.  It's actually a nice thing, because the last batch of FF games have been so easy that in one you can't even die during the final boss fight.
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    Offline capamerica

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #5 on: September 20, 2006, 01:37:55 AM »
    I welcome the return of the Old Style Final Fantasy Games.
    I enjoy the Playstation era Final Fantasys but the Old School NES/SNES era games to me are still the best. I have replayed Final Fantasy 1 and 6 more times then I have any PS era FF games.

    I can't wait for the release of Final Fantasy III in the US.  
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    Offline KDR_11k

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #6 on: September 20, 2006, 02:35:39 AM »
    So much for "games have only advanced in graphics, not gameplay".

    Offline Jonnyboy117

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #7 on: September 20, 2006, 03:49:35 AM »
    It sounds to me like the gameplay could probably be improved just by rebalancing the difficulty to make normal enemies a bit harder and bosses a bit easier.  There are probably a lot of ways to make the game less frustrating without changing the fundamental nature of the battle system.  And with a couple of months for localization, SquareEnix USA could make some of these gameplay fixes.
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    Offline Ian Sane

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #8 on: September 20, 2006, 04:41:53 AM »
    It's not surprising that the game comes across as dated.  Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and Phantasy Star are all considered classic 8-bit RPGs but I can't play them for more than five minutes without wanting to tear my hair out.  They're classics because they're pioneers and at the time they were released they blew us away.  Some games however get dated and only really still work if you play them in a certain frame of mind where you ignore how things have improved in later years ("this is so amazing for a 1986 game!")  If we got to play Final Fantasy III 16 years ago we would probably consider it a classic.  But we didn't and our first time playing it we have later Final Fantasy games and later RPGs to compare it to.  We can't remember how amazing the game was when it came out.  There's no nostalgia.

    Offline KDR_11k

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #9 on: September 20, 2006, 05:39:57 AM »
    Of course. Though I can't imagine the mindset one would have to be in to enjoy Metroid.

    Offline Terranigma Freak

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #10 on: September 20, 2006, 06:41:51 AM »
    Thank you PGC for being honest and standing up against the millions of SE whores out there. Although personally, I would have given the game an even lower score. Gameplay is king, and most Square--no, most RPGs have about as much gameplay as ET. You randomly go into these repetitive battles that neither tests your skills/reflex nor does it test your mental abilities. Just repeat a battle enough to earn money and exp to level up and get the best stuff, rinse and repeat 1000x. Sure there are the occasional games like the Mario RPGs that actually provides fun and gameplay, but those games are the minority.  

    Offline nemyhlovecraft

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #11 on: September 20, 2006, 07:20:33 AM »
    So, you would have given the game a lower score because you've played it, or what? Eh, whatever, I won't give you a hard time for being stupid because thats not something you can really change. As for the review, I found it pretty shallow. You didn't like a classic JRPG because it featured the concepts inherent to a JRPG. Is that what I should be taking away from this? I would have liked to know how polished the engine is, how well MogNet worked, how well the Job system works. Maybe even how many hours of gameplay there actually was, of course you'd probably have to get past hour 5 to give a good reading on that. I can understand the desire to be known as "that guy" who thought it was cool to give an FF game a low review because their indie music sensabilities just have to leak over into every other aspect of their life, but I just have to think how bad it will look for PGC when every other media outlet is giving fairly decent scores and their reviewers have insightful things to say about game mechanics and the future of dense RPGs on the DS.
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    Offline PopeReal

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    RE:REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #12 on: September 20, 2006, 07:28:28 AM »
    It will be interesting to see what scores this game gets on gamerankings.  As I am not a Square whore I will rent this game first before buying it.  I am nervous of this site lately, it has been very negative so I have a feeling this game might be better than this review.  But unlike some people I will play it before I make my judgement.

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    Offline KnowsNothing

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #13 on: September 20, 2006, 08:01:58 AM »
    nemthlovecraft is "that guy" who nags the reviewer because he thinks the reviewer thinks giving the game a low score will make him cool but really he just can't handle that jrpgs suck.

    Look, if a reviewer hates jrpgs, then the game will get a low score.  Reviews are SUBJECTIVE pieces of writing.  You want someone who LIKES jrpgs to review it, but how would that be any different?  I'm not saying this review is perfect (actually, I haven't read it!  WIN!), but giving it a low score because it's a traditional jrpg is legit in my books, so long as the review says he doens't like that genre.  That's why I feel it's best for a site to have multiple reviews of major games, by different people with different tastes.  That way the reader can find the author they relate most to and follow their review.  Me?  This review told me exactly what I need to know, which is why I won't be buying the game.  For someone else who LIKES this sort of crap, they need more.

    PGC used to do more multi reviews, they should get back on that.  It could be because there haven't been too many major game releases lately though...
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    Offline ShyGuy

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    RE:REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #14 on: September 20, 2006, 08:23:15 AM »
    Something tells me that this review is going to generate a lot of content for a certain hate mail thread in the funhouse...

    Offline Strell

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #15 on: September 20, 2006, 08:34:54 AM »
    So what you are saying is that this is the Duke Nukem Forever of Final Fantasy?
    I must find a way to use "burninate" more in my daily speech.

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    Offline ThePerm

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #16 on: September 20, 2006, 08:38:52 AM »
    renting ds games..must be nice. my local blockbuster has a ton of psp games to rent and no ds games. It makes me laugh because none are checked out and at the same time ds is totally whooping the PSPs ass in sales.  
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    Offline ShyGuy

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #17 on: September 20, 2006, 08:43:53 AM »
    Blockbuster is full of Phail, I expect them to be gone in a few years.

    RE:REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #18 on: September 20, 2006, 09:08:01 AM »
    Quote

    You randomly go into these repetitive battles that neither tests your skills/reflex nor does it test your mental abilities.


    in my opinion I'd say Baiten Kaitos tests thoes things but that's just me. (And I'm in LOVE with baiten Kaitos)  
    I must admit that being dated is a common problem for me when it comes to playing old nintndo games, I honestly can't see how someone can finish Metroid or the original Zelda without something pointing you in the right direction like a map.  But Super mario Brothers is still fun to play even today, which shows how ahead of it's time it was.  So lets just say the NES will be the system I'll download from the least when I get my Wii.

    On another note, I was planning for this to be the first FF game I've played but if the writing is that horrable (I like an RPG with a good story which is why I love Baiten Kaitos so much) and the difficulty is unbalanced thn that's 30$ just added to my Wii fund.
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    Offline PopeReal

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    RE:REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #19 on: September 20, 2006, 09:58:21 AM »
    Quote

    Originally posted by: ThePerm
    renting ds games..must be nice. my local blockbuster has a ton of psp games to rent and no ds games. It makes me laugh because none are checked out and at the same time ds is totally whooping the PSPs ass in sales.


    yeah that does't make sense... blockbuster must not pay attention to how well the ds is doing...
    I rent from gamefly, I have never seen ds games at a video store
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    Offline Ian Sane

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #20 on: September 20, 2006, 11:03:11 AM »
    "Look, if a reviewer hates jrpgs, then the game will get a low score. Reviews are SUBJECTIVE pieces of writing. You want someone who LIKES jrpgs to review it, but how would that be any different?"

    Honestly I think having someone who likes the genre would provide a more useful review for those considering buying the game.  I'm not accusing the reviewer of anything, I'm just saying that a review by someone that hates the genre is a waste of time.  I don't like sports games.  What use is my review if I rip Madden apart?  It gives no indication that it's a good or bad sports game.  I wouldn't like ANY sports game so for the sports gamer my review isn't really a good indication of whether the game is worth playing or not.

    If someone specifically doesn't like a certain genre, and this applies to movies and music as well, they should probably not review it because they don't really know what the target audience likes and dislikes and is looking for.

    Offline KnowsNothing

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #21 on: September 20, 2006, 11:27:24 AM »
    Well, you do have a point.  I don't want someone who completely loathes a genre and rips it apart no matter what.  However, what if FFIII was really a great game that someone who generally hates jrpgs still might like?  I mean, there are a lot of differences between different games in the same genre.  Let's say I'm interested in Pikmin and I read a review that gives it a 10, and the reviewer loves strategy games.  I might say "Oh man, a strategy game?  I'm not interested."  But then I read a review from someone who dislikes strategy games, yet still gives pikmin a good score.  Now I'm more interested, because maybe this is a game even *I* can enjoy.

    Ideally, a reviewer will cover both sides of the coin, but that rarely happens, and even when it does the reviewer still has an opinion on it so it might not be fair for both sides.  Multiple reviews are great if the different reviewers have different tastes because it covers a broader audience.
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    Offline Svevan

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    RE:REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #22 on: September 20, 2006, 12:06:51 PM »
    At PGC we strive for a balanced perspective within each game review and, if necessary, with multiple reviews. I do not believe this "subjectivity" nonsense, as though one person's bent towards a genre qualifies or disqualifies him. I don't understand figting or sports games, but if I get one to review I had better be fair with it - however, there is such a thing as reviewing the genre after reviewing the game, as some genres (like sports and fighting) shouldn't exist.
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    Offline KnowsNothing

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #23 on: September 20, 2006, 12:24:22 PM »
    "Subjectivity" isn't sometime that qualifies/disqualifies someone, but it's something to keep in mind.  A review can never be completely objective, nor should it strive to be.  It's impossible, because it's a subjective piece by nature.  If a "review" turns out to be completely objective, then it is merely a discription of the final version of a game.  That's fine and dandy, and often a lot more helpful to a reader than someone just going "This game sucks," but in my mind it's not really a review.  It's a post-preview.  Or something.  I don't know.

    I feel a review should be a mix between a preview and impressions (of the final version of a game, of course), if that makes sense.  There should be factual description as well as subjective commentary.  A review with all facts sucks, and a review with all opinion sucks.  Both = yay.
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    Offline Infernal Monkey

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    RE: REVIEWS: Final Fantasy III
    « Reply #24 on: September 20, 2006, 01:05:52 PM »
    Finally, a review of a FF game with the correct score on the end!