Final Fantasy III review
Square Enix started developing mobile phone games in 2004, when they first released a remake of Final Fantasy. Ever since then they’ve been really busy, especially in recent years with the appearance of iOS and Android operative systems. Although most of their games published on these platforms are ports and remakes and although the price of these games is pretty high in comparison with the competition, they still managed to get a fair slice of the market. Are all of their buyers fanboys or did the mobile gamers recognize the quality of Square Enix and their ability to offer them an excellent experience with these ports and remakes of (very) old games for their favorite smartphones?
First of all, let’s be clear about which game has been ported here. This is not a port of the 1994 SNES game of the same name. This is a port of a remake of the 1990 NES game that was originally released only in Japan and remained an exclusive of theirs for almost 17 years, when it was remade for Nintendo Dual Screen. If you’re confused, the SNES game used the number “3” in its title because no one thought that the original third installment will ever see the shores of the western world. So here we are, 5 years after the NDS remake with its port for the iOS and Android. Now enough of history.
After picking out the name of your character, Final Fantasy III starts slow and in a very confusing manner. For the first few hours, you’ll have no idea what’s going on and neither will your characters. The story may have been epic back at the day, but today it’s just a classical “bunch-of-kids-save-the-world” cliché. Still, it’s told through quite a lot fun animations and well thought-of dialogues, so although the final destination isn’t too interesting, the way of getting to it definitely is. Like the most parts of the Final Fantasy series, there are no mundane side-quests in Final Fantasy III. All of the side quests are connected to the main story line in one way or another and are pretty epic in their scope.
The NDS version went through a lot of additional polishing and the Android version has by far the best visuals. Still, since the game wasn’t made from scratch this title is still heavily behind the top graphical accomplishments of the platform(s). The game looks okay, but upon zooming-in the camera (which is necessary for discovering secret items and passages) you can see how crude the character models really are and how textures look outdated, although more detailed than the iOS and the NDS version. The upside is that the game is optimised for a whole lot of devices, more precisely any that are running Android 2.2 or higher. The frame rate issue was worked on since the iOS version (which also got its problems resolved with recent updates) and the frame rate is now completely stable. I haven’t experienced any performance problems during my whole playthrough. The sound effects of swords and lances cutting and piercing your enemies will become annoying as time passes, but the soundtrack is beautiful. There are a lot of varying tunes for for every kind of situation in every setting you’ll be in and music is definitely a big part of this game’s charm.
If you lived under a rock for the past 25 years, Final Fantasy is not an action RPG. Gameplay is divided into combat and exploration and random encounters happen very often. Fights are turn-based and can sometimes go on for a few minutes, depending on the type of enemy you encounter. Your characters gain levels and job levels separately. You can change jobs (classes) at any time during the course of game, once you unlock them, that is. The game rewards exploration, especially in the first 10-15 hours of gameplay when you’ll really struggle to survive. It’s funny how Final Fantasy III was never regarded as a hard game back in the nineties, but in comparison to today’s action RPG’s where it’s all about button mashing, this game is hardcore. Don’t be surprised if you die in the first 5 minutes of the game in the tutorial dungeon. Also, although you have the option to quicksave the game at any moment, that’s only implemented for the sake of practicality (this is a mobile game, after all). So, if you die after a quicksave, you can only load a manual save, which you can only make while being on the world map. Although I get the idea of not being able to do a manual save in dungeons, it’s sometimes annoying to have to walk out of non-hostile town only to save the game. The gameplay’s plus side is that even with the random encounter rate as it is, grinding is still not nearly as often as in a lot of other RPG’s on the platform. The controls are fantastic and every other non-action RPG can learn from Square Enix. The HUD is practically non-existent, except for the small menu button which appears while you’re standing and the movement joystick which appears anywhere on the screen while moving. Interaction with people and objects is done by simply clicking anywhere on the screen while standing. It sounds simple, but it’s funny how long we had to wait for a traditional RPG which actually feels like it’s played better over a touchscreen.
Final Fantasy III is a long game, hence the price of 17 dollars. It’s all about perspective: some people will say that’s too much because it’s a mobile game, others will say that’s a steal because it’s an updated version of a NDS game that cost over thirty dollars when it was first released (it’s 20 today). If you belong to neither one of these two groups of people listed above, ask yourself what kind of a gamer you are. If you’re a casual gamer, this game is definitely not for you because the only thing that makes it “mobile” is its platform. If you consider yourself a real gamer and you’re sick of all these Angry Birds and action RPG’s that overwhelmed Google Play and you think of your phone as a gaming console that can also make phone calls, at par with every other portable console that ever existed, then you should really think about getting this game. Finally, if you’re a Final Fantasy fan, I have no idea why you’re still reading this and not playing the game. All in all, this is maybe not the best RPG on the market, but it’s still at the top. Ladies and gentlemen, Final Fantasy III. A game you’ll either love or hate.
Graphics – 6/10 – mobile hardware surpassed NDS a long time ago, even though this port is polished quite a bit
Sound – 8/10 – sound effects are nothing special, but the OST is beautiful and variable
Gameplay – 8/10 – anyone up for a bit of traditional JRPG?
Duration – 9/10 – no real replay value, but around 45 hours long
Score – 8/10 – FF III is not a game for everyone, but that doesn’t diminish its value
The game score is not an average of other rated elements (since not all of them are equally important), just the reviewer’s overall opinion of the game.