Famous Japanese game developer Square-Enix has built its reputation for creating spell-binding role-playing games (RPGs) for dedicated gaming consoles for more than two decades. In an effort to expand its reach, it has begun to develop games for smartphones and tablets. One of its latest offerings is a port of one of its classic RPGs from the 90s – the third iteration from their beloved Final Fantasy franchise.
This version of Final Fantasy III is actually aport of the Nintendo DS version that gave the 2D sprite-based original a full 3D makeover with a couple of tweaks. The old NES graphics may have been awesome in 1990, but they certainly don’t cut it in today’s high-definition world so the visual update is definitely a good thing.
The game particularly shines in top-shelf smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 4 with their high-res screens. It definitely belongs in upper echelons of graphically impressive games on Android and iOS devices.
The Final Fantasy series is also well known for its memorable music, and the charming MIDI tunes of the NES version was upgraded with full instrumentation for the DS remake. Android and Apple mobile users get to enjoy the remastered edition of the soundtrack originally composed by renowned VG music maestro Nobuo Uematsu.
In the original game, the story is as bare-bones as it gets. The four main characters had no distinct personalities or any sort of development. They were simply orphans imbued with powers by a magical crystal so that they may bring peace back to a world plunged into chaos by a mysterious force of darkness. This latest port has the story additions of the DS remake which aimed to give more depth to each character players get to control.
A number of sidequests were also implemented to liven up the basic plot, but Final Fantasy 3 just wasn’t made with an epic narrative in mind so players shouldn’t expect to get swept up in its typical tale of good versus evil.
Final Fantasy 3 set itself apart from the first two games in the franchise with its then-innovative job system which allowed players the freedom to change the four characters’ classes. Switching between the classes opened up new skills and the ability to wield new weapons and equip new armor and accessories. This gave way to a more strategic way of playing the mostly linear RPG, and this system has since been used and modified for the following sequels.
The rebalancing of the jobs so players can still find use for each one throughout the entire game is a welcome adjustment. Players don’t have to go for the Ninja and Sage classes in the latter parts just to ensure victory in the turn-based battles. There are also plenty of dungeons filled with enemies for players to fight using all the different classes.
FF3 was also the first game in the series that featured the “summon” ability which let players summon magical creatures to aid them in battle. All these are staples in the genre now, but being the originator of such features earns the game deserved praise.
The relatively simple gameplay can be both a blessing and a curse in terms of difficulty. Experienced RPG gamers will know to level grind to get through the challenging beginning parts, but they will miss the conveniences of modern games such as save points in dungeons and revival items available for purchase in shops. They will have to actively look for Phoenix Downs if they want to bring their fallen characters back to life.
Newbies will struggle getting past the first couple of hours, but once they get into the groove, they’ll be grinding like the best of them with the addictive gameplay. The number of secrets littered throughout the game’s levels might be hard to find, but the compulsion to discover all of them can drive players regardless of experience to expend hours upon hours on the game.
The 3D graphics makes it stand out among most RPGs on mobile platforms, and the only games with comparable music are the other FF ports. Veterans and beginners alike will find something good with the gameplay – a nostalgic trip for older generations and a solid introduction to hardcore gaming for casual players. The story takes a backseat to the 40+ hours of dungeon-crawling, but gamers on the go probably won’t be looking to get lost in a compelling chronicle.
At $15.99, it might be a tad expensive compared to most paid games on the market. Those interested will have to consider if they’re willing to pay the relatively high price to play through a classic piece of gaming history.
This is a guest post by Jay Manangan who is an online marketing strategist for Repair Labs, An industry-recognized specialist in laptop and gadget repair. He spends most of his time on the internet, reading technology and computer blogs. He’s the axeman of a band called “ManMinusMachine”.