Final Fantasy III Review by: Crazy LiAn Example of SNES RPG Greatness
Most gamers have heard of the Final Fantasy series, I'm sure. However most people only know about the more modern games. Final Fantasy VII was the first game to really become known worldwide and the largest commercial success for Squaresoft. As a result, most people know it and the games that came after it... but what about the games that built the foundation for that series? Just because they weren't as widely known doesn't mean they weren't good in their own rights.
In this review, I'll cover the game that came before FF7, Final Fantasy VI. It was only the third Final Fantasy game released in North America, and as such, the original North American Super Nintendo release was entitled "Final Fantasy III". Squaresoft of America later corrected this by correctly naming it FFVI in every English re-release.
At any rate, I find Final Fantasy VI to be one of the best games in the series. It had a large cast of interesting characters, each with their own complex personalities and character development. It's also unique in not having a clear main character. Most consider Terra to be the protagonist of the game (which would make her the first Final Fantasy heroine) as the most significant parts of the story are related to her... however the primary character you control changes several times over the course of the story. Sometimes you follow Terra, other times Locke, Sabin, Edgar, or Celes. This was really an innovate story-telling approach, as it breaks away from the "generic protagonist" concept that games have continued to do afterwards and some still do to this day. It also provides more story and character depth.
Another interesting aspect of the game is its Esper system for learning skills. Once you obtain an Esper, you can attach it to a character and as you gain EXP, unlock spells that can be used. FF7 provided a modified take on this with its Materia system, but unlike Materia, Espers can teach you skills permanently once you gain enough experience with them on. They don't just go way when you un-equip them.
Due to the large cast of the game, you're sometimes required to split your characters up into multiple parties. This is best executed at the final dungeon when you form three separate parties to explore the dungeon. You can switch between them and use each party cooperatively to solve puzzles and help each other advance. I've always loved this idea in RPGs that do them. It makes dungeons so much more interesting.
Now for the ratings...
For SNES, these were very good. The sprite work was top-notch with upgraded battle sprites from Final Fantasy V. The game really shows off the system's graphical capabilities when you're doing things like riding Chocobos.
As standard from Nobuo Uematsu, the soundtrack is excellent. There are so many great themes in this game. Just about every area has catchy background music, the battle theme is great, and so is the boss battle theme. Sound effects are on par with the best games for SNES.
RPGs for me are once-through games. They're so long that replaying them doesn't seem to have much purpose. Plus, it's not like the story changes any. That said, I still want to play the game again. I wouldn't replay the original, but perhaps the GBA port to compare the differences. I'm also really hoping for a 3DS remake in the vain of FF4DS, as that would be a great gaming experience for certain.
The story is stellar... one of the best I've seen in a SNES game. Each character has their own stories and most intertwine with the over-arcing plot in a beautiful way. It also has a pretty good villain, which is actually kind of rare. Most RPG villains are kind of boring and just some "evil force" to take down with nothing really else to them. I also love all the transitions that the story goes through. You start as Terra under Kefka's command, then you end up playing Locke to rescue her. You end up meeting all these interesting characters along the way and seeing their contributions to the plot as things twist and turn and you learn more about what's going on with everyone and the world.
The game is very expansive with two halves of its story... one part where you meet every character and have the story set up for you... then after that, you go on a recruitment drive to re-gather your friends. There's a lot of things you can go out and obtain at this point... you can hunt down every single playable character in the game... get an airship, find all the Espers... there's a lot to do in this game if you're a completionist and want it all.
I'd say the game has average difficulty for a RPG of its time period... it's not all that hard if you're used to playing ATB RPGs... but at the same time, it's not like you can just breeze through it if you don't know what you're doing. It does get fairly challenging at some points, but overall, isn't too tough. I've seen harder games in the series.
All-in-all, it's a great game and if you've never tried it, I recommend playing some version. If you like Final Fantasy or SNES RPGs, this is definitely an above average game in both categories.