[FINAL FANTASY III LOGO]

[THE MYSTERIOUS ESPER]
Console: Super NES

Company: Squaresoft

Release Date: November 1994

Genre: RPG

Number of Players: 1

Save Feature? Yes



Sometimes, it just seems like a game is destined for greatness. Final Fantasy III definitely falls into this special category with its beautiful graphics, epic music, and engaging plot. What makes FF3 so special, however, is the many "extras" in the game. There are special skills, magical weapons, a huge selection of Espers, and even secret characters as your disposal. Overall, Final Fantasy III has to be one of the greatest video games ever made.

Overview: Final Fantasy III is an RPG that is somewhat similar to Final Fantasy II in terms of gameplay. Throughout the game, a multitude of diverse characters join your party, gain experience, and learn new attacks and magic like in your typical RPG. However, there is so much more to the game than simply beating the tar out of your enemies! For one thing, the world in FF3 is, to quote Battletoads, gargantuan!! It took me nearly 65 hours to beat this epic my first time through compared with the 30 hours it took me to beat FF2! One reason for this is the non-linear approach in this game which was in stark contrast to the ultra-linear FF2. In Final Fantasy III, you don't always know where to go or what to do next. There even comes a point where the world completely opens up and you pretty much have complete freedom to go wherever you want! If you enjoy a true adventure, you'll eat this game up!

The battle system in FF3 plays a lot like FF2 with one exception. Like in FF2, enemies will not wait for you to choose your battle commands; they'll attack anyway! I like this "active" format because it's much more realistic. In addition, it makes the battles exciting! Unlike FF2, however, each character has an attack meter. When this meter is full, your character will be able to attack. I found this feature very helpful; it helps you to strategize more effectively.

One thing that I love about FF3 is the different skills of the various characters. For example, Sabin is able to use eight Blitz attacks (each one requiring you to punch in a different combination of buttons) and Cyan's Sword Tech is very powerful if you're patient enough. Other skills include Locke's ability to steal enemy possessions, Setzer's Slot Machine (great things can happen if you win...of course...it goes the other way too), and Gau's Rage skill (he can learn the attacks of monsters and use them himself). This is just scratching the surface but you can see that there is so much more to FF3 than simply selecting the "Fight" command.

Graphics: To be honest, I didn't expect Final Fantasy III to have much going for it in the graphics department. I figured that the graphics would be above average but nothing spectacular or revolutionary. Boy, was I ever wrong! While they don't come close to matching the gaudiness of Donkey Kong Country's ACM graphics, Final Fantasy III still features some of the most beautiful graphics that I have ever seen in a Super NES game. The realism is simply remarkable! The towns have a neat 3D-ish layout (a big improvement over other RPGs) and are very detailed. The attention to detail (e.g. stoves, tables, plants) is remarkable as is the somewhat dark atmosphere that pervades this game. You can tell that the programmers gave a 100 percent effort.

The various backgrounds in FF3 are nothing short of eye-popping! The blue sky scattered with cirrus clouds (above Mount Koltz) looks like a photograph! Some of the background graphics during battles are incredible as well (e.g. underwater and desert areas). I must mention that I was very impressed with the variety of background graphics during battles. Instead of seeing one background throughout the game, you're spoiled with over 15 different backgrounds! There is also some very impressive parallax-scrolling in FF3 (e.g. Mount Koltz and Phantom Forest). Combine amazing background graphics and parallax scrolling and you've got some beautiful eye candy!

Final Fantasy III also features some excellent Mode 7 effects like when you walk in the overworld. It's very nice and smooth. Flying the airship during a beautiful sunset is a lot of fun as well. Although some Mode 7 effects were a little too "pixilized," I was still satisfied.

Like the game's background graphics, the animation in FF3 is equally superb. The movement of various objects (characters, gears, clouds) is incredible! I always enjoy watching the animation at Figaro Castle. The character animation/expressions were exceptional as well. They laugh, frown, and look downcast depending on the situation at hand. The battle animation is excellent except for the enemy animation (or lack of it). The enemies in FF3 are drawn very well but they lack personality. I guess that Chrono Trigger spoiled me in this area. However, this is a minor gripe. Overall, the graphics in Final Fantasy III are simply amazing!

Music: Without the incredible music of the Final Fantasy series, you have to wonder if video game music would thrive the way that it does today. Although there are countless video game music CDs out there, it all started with Final Fantasy.

Needless to say, Final Fantasy III has a beautiful soundtrack. I have come across countless gamers who feel that FF3's soundtrack ranks among the best ever and it just might be true! Not only is the music enjoyable to hear but it also creates the perfect atmosphere. The Phantom Forest track is a perfect fit for the eerie forest area as well as other mysterious areas in the game. I really like the "Esper" theme as well; full of mystique and very mysterious. The music that plays during the various flashbacks (e.g. when Sabin thinks back to his childhood days) is very fitting as well. You can't forget the Opera either; some of that music almost sounds like a symphony (minus the goofy vocals...lol!). Whether the setting calls for joy, serenity, sadness, or terror, the music answers the call. I think that the sounds of FF3 stand out so much because of the flow. The music plays like good instrumental music; it goes somewhere and conveys feeling; it isn't just the same three beats over and over. Although I probably still prefer Chrono Trigger's soundtrack to this one, I can understand why many video game fans have such an affinity for FF3's soundtrack.

Play Control: While the play control in FF3 is royally overshadowed by the game's brilliant sights and sounds, it is equally important. It is also very, very good. Selecting different commands, punching in combinations (e.g. LRL...one of Sabin's Blitz manuevers), and arranging inventory couldn't be easier. I like the "Optimum" command too; this time-saver automatically equips your characters with the best weapons/armor in your inventory. Although the play control is excellent, it does take some time to learn. There are so many commands/options at your disposal; It actually took a second run through the game before I discovered a few commands!

Challenge: Like with just about any RPG, the gamer ultimately decides how difficult the game becomes. If you take the time to build experience and buy the best possible weapons/armor for your characters, you'll have a great shot at beating the game. However, you must become an ace at strategy as well. Many of the big battles in the game require a lot of thought. In a boss battle, you want to find out your enemy's weakness before he/she finds out yours! A perfect example of this is the dreaded Mage Master atop the Cult of Kefka Tower. Since his weakness changes every few seconds and the odds of finding his weakness is one in seven, you probably won't beat him by simply guessing. It turns out that there is one particular spell that works against this guy. However, you'll have to figure this out on your own. :)

Various battles such as this one make FF3 a very challenging game. However, the non-linear aspect of FF3 that I mentioned earlier also makes this epic tougher than other RPGs. The game is fairly straightforward for the first half of the game but the second half is very non-linear. Sometimes you'll have to fly across the world and visit many different places before you discover something new. While many people prefer FF2 because it's more linear, I like this aspect of FF3! True adventures should only be beaten by true adventurers.

Storyline: The overall plot in Final Fantasy III is nothing short of epic. It involves the classic conflict between magic and technology and an ancient war known as the "War of the Magi." Evidently, magical beings known as Espers lived 1,000 years ago but disappeared after the epic war. However, as the game begins, we learn that an Esper has been discovered in the arctic region of Narshe.

We learn that the Empire wants this Esper (and the others that are later discovered) so that it can rule the world with an iron fist. It is obvious from the beginning that the Empire is the epitomy of all that is evil and corrupt in the world. Although some members of the Empire are more ignorant than evil, the people at the top (Emperor Gestahl and Kefka) are as cruel as they come. Towns are destroyed and innocent people are murdered at their hands.

Although there is a resistance dubbed the "Returners," they aren't strong enough to battle the beefed up resources of the Empire. However, when all hope seems lost, a young woman named Terra (formerly brainwashed by the Empire) appears and gives the resistance some hope. She seems to have special powers and a mysterious "connection" with the frozen Esper near the beginning of the game.

As the game progresses, up to 13 characters join Terra on her quest to destroy the Empire. There's Locke (the treasure hunter who saves Terra from the enemy), King Edgar of Figaro, Celes (the former general of the Empire), and a host of others. Although their main goal is to defeat the Empire, there are countless side-quests that the Returners go through on their journey as well. Believe me, I have only scratched the surface. FF3's plot is very involved and much more complex than simply fighting the Empire.

One aspect of FF3 that I like a lot is the various subplots in the game. There are a lot of flashbacks in this game; every character has a story to tell. It's really cool just to sit back and watch the story unfold; it's like watching a movie! Although the main plot is excellent, the subplots are just as interesting! Who didn't get caught up in Shadow's dreams or Strago's childhood desire to destroy a legendary monster? FF3 truly is a little world of its own.

Funfactor: Is there any doubt? At the time of its release, Final Fantasy III delved into a region far beyond the scope of other RPGs. It took me nearly 65 hours to beat FF3; no other game from this era even come close (even Chrono Trigger!). The most important thing is that the culmination of stunning visuals, a rich soundtrack, and an epic storyline made FF3 a very enjoyable game to play. It's one of those games that you just can't put down very easily and that is a great thing! There's so much to see and do that FF3 gives you the sensation of being in a movie theatre at times. The cool thing is that you get to decide the ending of this movie.

Negatives: Even a game as super as FF3 isn't perfect. For some reason I don't understand, there is hardly any enemy animation in the game. It would have been nice for the various enemies to have more personality. Also, some of the graphics are very "pixilized." A perfect example is when you ride a mine car out of the Magitek Research Facility. You really need to see it to know what I mean.

[THE AIRSHIP]

Ratings: Graphics: 4.5 Music: 4.7 Play Control: 4.4 Challenge: 4.5 Storyline: 4.7 Funfactor: 4.5 Overall Score: 27.3 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Golden Classic!!

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Last Updated: May 23, 2006
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