With a renewed spirit and some extra time: Final Fantasy III for the DS

When I picked up Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS in 2010, it had been a good long while since I had visited the series.

Final Fantasy III cover art © Square Enix, Nintendo (source)

My last attempt was with Final Fantasy X on the PS2.  I don’t think my departure from FF had anything to do with the series itself, but FF games are timesucks.  It’s so very easy to absolutely lose yourself in each game.  There’s so much to do, so much to learn, so many characters to manage, and so many places to explore.  All that is what makes the series great.  But it also means that one playthrough can last hours.  I remember loosing so much time to prolonged FFVII and FFX sessions.  (I eventually finished FFX, but, sadly, have yet to compete FFVII).  FFIII for the DS came out in 2006, and it was four years before I developed the courage (stamina?) to buy it.  I didn’t have days anymore to lose to games, and I had since resolved to stop buying games that I knew (or felt) I couldn’t complete.  (And did that resolution fall by the waist side, for sure.)  During my rounds with Professor Layton and older GBA games though, I was yearning for some handheld RPG action.  And I did have some extra time, what with my hour-long train rides to work and back.  Would that be enough to keep me interested in an expansive RPG?

Expaaaaaaaaaaansive? (source)

Having never played the original 1990s Final Fantasy III, the DS game was new but still familiar given my time with other FF games.  The basic FF mechanics of exploring, gaining experience, choosing classes, manipulating multiple characters in turn-based play were all there, but with different characters in a different land.  And like other titles, the game’s story was complex, and frankly, ridiculously confusing.  I do remember the four main characters very well, in their blocky, child-like forms (Luneth, Refia, Ingus, and Arc), a floating ship, and the land of Ur where most of the action took place.  Your characters were in search of magic crystals that would save their world from something dark, something Of Darkness.  I believe you started out playing as Luneth, who stumbled, literally, across the first crystal after an earthquake.  Luneth’s actions set the game into motion, and from there he set off with his friend Arc to find the other crystals, and the other characters. In addition to the crystals and the characters, there were numerous special items to retrieve and (maybe?) plenty of chocobos and moogles afoot.    The crystals matched up with the four primary elements: earth, wind, fire, and water; and they were hidden in lands that matched their elements.  And there were matching dark crystals, umm…?  Maybe just one dark crystal?  And I think there’s a Princess?

Attack!  Attack I say! (source)

Aaaargh.  Sorry.  Look it’s a very big story with lots of parts.  It’s interesting but, honestly, I lost track of what was going on about halfway through the game. That said, it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t figure out my way around or where to go next.  Besides all the traveling and finding and fighting, the game offered a fun class system, which I think was my favorite thing about it.  “Jobs,” they were called, and you could choose from several, though, not at first.  Everyone started out as a “freelancer,” and new jobs opened up as you got each crystal.  Each job brought with it certain traits, some positive some negative, and there were grouped under two classes: Physical (warrior, thief, viking, ninja, etc.) and Magic (er, spell-casters and such).  What I liked most about the jobs was that there were lots to choose from and each had obvious strengths and weaknesses, as well as a unique look. There was no guessing as to the difference between the White Mage and a Black Mage or a Dragoon and a Dark Knight.  Now, the system behind the jobs was fairly complex (if you want details, check out this FAQ), but it was easy to formulate your four players however you wanted.  The idea behind it all, of course, being balance.  With a four person team, you could have a melee fighter, a ranged fighter, a mage, and a healer.  But, you didn’t have to.  If you wanted three tanks and a scholar, you totally could.  Whether or not you progressed well as such was another matter.

Okay….wait, wait, don’t tell me…(left to right, top to bottom) Black Belt, Warrior, Red Mage, White Mage, Bard, Viking, Monk, Black Mage.  Whew! (source)

My experience with FFIII on the DS was fun and satisfying, and I did complete it, so there’s that.  It was a little difficult to keep up with the story, but the gameplay and mechanics were not so overwhelming that re-learning everything was required with each play.  If I didn’t get back to the game for a day or two, I knew it would be fairly easy for me to pick up where I had left off.  And I knew that my team would be waiting patiently for their next moves.  So maybe I didn’t get all the characters’ motives or the reasoning behind the crystals (aren’t their crystals in just about every FF game?), but I still had a fine time with the game. The DS graphics weren’t mind-blowing, but they were bright and spritely. FFIII kept me from falling on asleep during my long train rides and subsequently missing my stop.  And if that isn’t a good enough reason to get into handheld RPGs, well, then I don’t know what is.

P.S. Can’t get enough Final Fantasy?  Well then head on over to the newly re-vamped DISK READ ERROR.   They’re devoting a bunch of posts to music from the series.  Good reads!

8 thoughts on “With a renewed spirit and some extra time: Final Fantasy III for the DS”

  1. Wow, you’re blog is pretty colourful, I must say! I got to your blog through my friend Duck…but the only video games I played were on Gameboy, and a few, now and again, on my laptop, so all this is great info for me…thanks! Will keep in touch.. 🙂

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    1. Hello and welcome! You have a pretty nice blog as well. I hope yo visit regularly. 🙂 I hardly played anything on the Gameboy but I hope my stories appeal to anyone familiar with gaming.

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  2. Thanks much for the shout out!

    I never got around to playing FFIII for more than a few hours but I may pick it back up again after this read. 🙂 that Job class system has always been one of my favorite things ever put into a Final Fantasy game since it’s got that “complete customization” of a party feel to it.

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    1. You’re quite welcome!

      The job system was by far my most favorite thing about this game. Once I opened them all up, it was really fun to switch out jobs, see what did what, and try to progress with different combinations. That type of customization, though maybe not unique to this game, was new to me. I didn’t keep FFIII around to replay it, but if you get around to it, I’d love to hear another point of view.

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  3. That quality FF games have of sucking you into the game… I just didn’t feel it with this one. Perhaps it has something to do with the confusing story, or perhaps it’s easier to get sucked in a 3D environment (like FF X). I couldn’t even get halfway through FF III because it didn’t suck me in at all, and it ended up feeling like a pointless grindfest. It saddens me to think that my younger self would’ve probably enjoyed it a lot more.

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    1. I could certainly see this game appealing to a younger player, maybe one who had never played a FF game before. The story was just sort of there and there wasn’t much that was memorable about it. I played because it was a game to play, and because I kinda liked playing around with the job system. I also think playing in 3D environments is more engrossing, but as opposed to FFIII, I really liked the story in FFIV (on the DS), which (teaser!) I plan to talk about in my next post.

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