Final Fantasy Flop

User Rating: 3 | Final Fantasy III DS
III on the DS is disappointing. It gives so much promise at the start, but after a couple of hours of playing the facade drops and the game shows its true colours. This game is plagued with problems.

In every other Final Fantasy game, including the remakes, the game was spaced out nice and evenly with plenty of save points. Sure, if some boss creature at the end of the dungeon was too hard, there was nearly always a save point stuck handily in front of that big mean looking door that has a gigantic Behemoth waiting behind it. III does not possess this. The majority of your adventure is spent dungeon crawling and there are no save points hidden in any of the architecture. Coupled with the endless random monster encounters (that either make or break a Final Fantasy game for some people, as there is no way to avoid these occurring), it makes for an extremely frustrating gaming experience. The only place you can save your progress is on the world map. From there on, you're on your own. Try to avoid hurling the DS out the window after having spent an hour of playing through a tiresome dungeon, only to be zapped into oblivion by the boss at the end. Bam. Another hour of your life, wasted, with nothing to show for it.

Overshadowing, and contributing to, the afore said save point dilemma, is the Job system. The Job system allows each of your four party members to switch their roles within the party. For instance, say you need someone to heal your burly warriors. Switch one of your characters to a White Mage and he or she can start casting Cure magic. Or maybe certain enemies are only susceptible to arrows. In which case, you will need to switch a couple of your characters to bow-wielders. In total there are about twenty jobs that reveal themselves through the course of the game. Fine and dandy. The problem arises, on at least three occasions, whereby you *have* to switch all of your party members to a specific group in order to conquer a dungeon or beat a boss. When jobs are switched there is a specific adjustment period and during this time the character in question is terribly vulnerable and underpowered. This means you have to hang around even longer practising with your group until they are boss capable. In terms of continuity, the difficulty is all over the place. One moment you are happily trotting along squishing the local beasts and baddies, the next you are suddenly being pulverised by some stupid bird creature because you didn't change your entire team to a group of Dragoons.

From a technical viewpoint, the game doesn't even incorporate what the DS is capable of. The top screen's only real use is displaying the world map outside of the dungeons. Other than that, within dungeons and during fights, it is totally blank. Stuff using it for providing information on the creatures you are currently slashing at or as a mini map within the dungeon, eh? The touch screen almost gets taken advantage of, in that you can use the stylus to click stuff and move your character across the screen, but it has been programmed in such a cack-handed manner that the stylus will frequently select the wrong option for you during a fight, or when navigating the menu screens. Luckily you can use the normal d-pad for movement and buttons for selecting everything. Nothing in the game incorporates the microphone either. The DS Wi-Fi feature does have a use, in that you can send messages to other FF users if you know their "friend code", but if you don't have Wi-Fi access then this is meaningless. III totally wastes the dozens of opportunities available on the DS that could have enhanced the Final Fantasy experience.

All the creators Square Enix have done is taken the original game and jazzed up the visuals. Admittedly it does look and sound great. All the characters and sprites have been jazzed up to three dimensions. The themes to each location plink and plonk along nicely without grating the ears. Spells cast and beasts summoned during fights are impressive. Graphically it is very reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation, but that is where the similarities end. In terms of gameplay, all the other Final Fantasies, including the Gameboy Advance remakes, enjoyed bonus sub-quests stuck in. III does boast a couple of these but they only way they are made available is through sending other III users messages through the previously mentioned Wi-Fi service. Again, if you don't have Wi-Fi access then you are unfairly missing out on content that you have paid more than enough money for.

Final Fantasy III is a poorly structured and ludicrously difficult remake of what was one of the most influential games in the series. Running through the game will take you the better part of thirty hours, and most of those will be spent level grinding just so you can become strong enough to make your way through the next section. The plot is okay, a bit haphazard and unexplained in most parts - but we are living in the days of voice acting and grand theft autos, so the cutesy style of early nineties games is a bit defunct. The glaring faults that could have been so easily fixed sully what could have become the stalwart RPG for the DS. So, unless you are a Final Fantasy purist, avoid this game.