Final Fantasy III Steam ReviewAugust 22, 2014
Final Fantasy III for Steam is a relic of a bygone era. An era in which Japanese RPGs ruled the world, and mechanics like turned-based combat and interchangeable job classes were the bee’s knees. Unfortunately, it’s 2014, and the things that once made these JRPGs fantastic now seem dated and played out. That is not to say that Final Fantasy III is a bad game at all. In fact, I enjoyed my time with this graphically updated remake of the 1990 classic, but I still can’t help but compare it to the masterpieces we have seen recently in the RPG genre, and be grateful for how far games have come in the past 24 years.
To begin, we might as well get the bad stuff out of the way. Firstly, the story of Final Fantasy III is paper-thin, centering around a group of four youngsters who are brought together by fate to save the world from dark forces. I’m not sure if there is more to it than that, because the game tells its story through a series of events that rarely seemed tied together. You go to one town or kingdom, save the locals by banishing some cackling foe, and then jump on a boat or airship to do it all over again, across multiple continents and locales. The only benchmarks I really had for story progress were the four elemental crystals your heroes are meant to find. Every time I came across one, I assumed I had passed a milestone, and was about a quarter of the way closer to completing the game.
The leveling system in Final Fantasy III is fun at times, and you get the satisfying feeling that your warriors, monks, mages, and dragoons are becoming more powerful as you adventure, but the overall grind of the game takes most of this fun away. You will frequently follow the story to various locations (when you can find these places with the limited direction you are given) only to find out your squad is far too weak to compete with the local enemies. To solve this, you are more or less forced to run around in the wilds of the world, where you will be randomly (but frequently) ambushed by monsters and other assorted goons who serve as your leveling sword-fodder. Maybe 20 years ago this was an acceptable way to stretch playtime, but if you take out these sections of tedium, I would guess you are easily cutting out half or more of the game’s total length, which seems ridiculous by today’s standards.
However, all is not lost! There is actually a lot to love within the pixelated world of Final Fantasy III. While leveling is a grind as mentioned above, the actual combat system is as much rock-paper-scissors fun as you can have with a JRPG. I had quite a time with figuring out what kind of attacks would do the most damage to certain enemies, and there is an outstanding sense of reward when you hurl Thundara at water based foes, and in turn watch them take massive amounts of shocking damage.
Related to combat is the job system, which some will find a chore, but I quite liked. After attaining the power of the four elemental crystals, you will have a huge selection of classes to change between, and they are varied enough that each one has its own specific combat functions. In reality, you will quickly discover that a handful of these classes (ninjas all day) are superior to their lesser alternatives (scholar, really?), but it is a joy to mix and match hero types to see which combinations have the synergy you are looking for.
Moreover, Final Fantasy III has an addicting loot system, which is constantly showering you with goodies to hold your interest. There are numerous hidden pathways and rooms, which contain insane amounts of treasure for you to use or sell. Because of this, you constantly feel the need to search every nook and cranny, trying to spot secret switches which open the doorways to riches!
More often than not, I was having a good time while playing Final Fantasy III, and the game was really only held back by the weathering and rust that time has cast on some of its mechanics. But if you are a fan of the series, a fan of the genre, or simply looking for a bit of nostalgia, I think Final Fantasy III is worth the playthrough, especially now that it is available on Steam with modern visuals. Oh, and the music is classic Nobuo Uematsu, so you’ll be treated to the playful melodies and sweeping battle scores we have all come to love!
- + Fun combat system
- + Nobuo Uematsu’s score
- – Some dated mechanics