Rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes
Available for: Nintendo DS, Wii, Wii U, iOS port, Android, PSP, and Windows (via Steam)
Just to clear some things up before we get started here: I played the Nintendo DS version of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy III, the original third title of the Final Fantasy series, not the one that is also technically Final Fantasy VI due to a bunch of confusing localization stuff. It still kinda confuses me so I’m not going to explain it here, but you can go research it if you want to.
A few months ago, I found a box of old, unfinished games and decided that it would be good to explore them again in a blog series I’m calling “Revisited.”
I bought Final Fantasy III around the time I was just getting into story-heavy games. I believed that since Final Fantasy was a well known series, it would be good for me to know it. Turn-based mechanics and character classes very quickly ended up feeling like new territory to me. Not that I hadn’t seen it before, but I suddenly felt like a novice and that this was a game meant for better gamers than me. After a lot of stumbling around, various walkthroughs, and much level grinding later, I found myself in the final dungeon of the game, severely underleveled and in no condition to fight the bosses. Frustrated and not exactly enthusiastic about leveling up another 10 levels after this much work, I put the game down and didn’t finish it. That is, until I decided to pick it up again a few weeks ago. Revisiting the series, I discovered several things: Final Fantasy III has a great story and it could simultaneously greatly benefit from a modern day remake.
Square Enix’s Final Fantasy III starts with an earthquake and an orphan named Luneth trying to fight his way out of a cave after said earthquake. He stumbles upon a Crystal of Light, who tells him that he and three other orphans are destined to be the Warriors of Light to save the world from impending, eternal darkness. You very quickly meet up with your fellow Warriors of Light: Arc, Refia, and Ingus, and guide them through the world, while those influenced by the dark try to throw the world into chaos. Along the adventure, the Warriors of Light meet many important, temporary companions who will help bring hope to the world and help you find a way to defeat the culprit behind the chaos.
Throughout the game, you can immediately tell that it was written for a younger audience (though I would argue the difficulty level isn’t), and while the story can be simplistic, it does hold themes very popular to JRPGs, particularly the importance of hope and the balance between light and dark. Luneth, Arc, Refia, and Ingus are a constant presence of light and goodness, completing quests not as just a means to an end but because they are good people who want to help out others. What is especially great about them is that they are good people in different ways: Luneth is determined to do what’s right, Arc is kind and gentle, Refia has a good heart, and Ingus is loyal and noble. I believe a remake would really help this be expounded upon, since there is limited dialogue in the game and very little to chance to get a deep understanding of the main characters’ fleshed out personalities. The opening cinematic seems to suggest a really interesting dynamic between the group, and I felt that it was never really addressed in the entire game. Yes, there is a bit of banter with temporary companions, but it only has a couple of short exchanges and you have to remember to press a button to activate it. A remake would help create more dialogue/banter opportunities between the cast and really build up their bond.
Another way in which a remake could help this game is by filling in for some of the narrative gaps that happen throughout. I definitely felt like I was spending more time level grinding and dungeon crawling than I was focusing on the story, and it becomes especially prevalent in the final part of the game. Even with completing everything, I still found myself ten levels below where I needed to be to work through the final dungeon. This meant I had to spend a lot of time level grinding in a separate dungeon because that dungeon gave me more experience points per fight than the enemies in the final dungeon. I feel like this could be improved with side quests, by having the Warriors of Light bring hope and help to people in small ways and still ensuring that you are properly leveled up by the end of the game. This would also help make the long stretches of level grinding feel more interesting than endless running around in circles and hoping the enemies with more experience points attack you.
I don’t usually delve into this much, but mechanics that could also be improved with a remake:
1. Quest Markers: usually a character will just tell you the name of your next destination but otherwise doesn’t give you any sort of direction of where to go next (and when the world gets much bigger, yeah, it would have been a big help)
2. Not Limiting Saves to the World Map: as an obsessive saver, this would have saved me a lot of stress (at least a pre-boss checkpoint would have been nice)
3. Visible Enemy Encounters: okay, this one is more personal preference but I like deciding whether I want to fight an enemy or avoid it, rather than being forced into an encounter and trying to run away
4. Graphics Update: not that the style isn’t cute and nostalgic in its own way, but that opening cinematic was the biggest tease as a kid
Final Fantasy III is a wonderful game that I am so happy to have finally completed, and I would love to see it remade with modern day mechanics. There are a lot of opportunities to reinforce themes and characters in small ways throughout the narrative, while at the same time helping the player make sure they’re properly leveled up for the challenges ahead. Details like quest markers and more frequent save opportunities could help avoid annoyances and frustrations that don’t really add a beneficial challenge to the game. Final Fantasy III has a good story in its own right, but it also has great potential to be an even better story. It seems that now there are even more opportunities to play this title than when I first played it, so I would check it out if you have the chance!
P.S. My next post is going to be delayed a week since two weeks from now is San Diego Comic Con!! And I’ll be attending! See you all in three weeks!