An Epic Adventure.

User Rating: 9.4 | Final Fantasy III DS
I really don’t know where to begin. Like many of you, I had been in anticipation for Final Fantasy III (FFIII) for a long time. As it grew closer to its release date, the last bits of waiting became almost unbearable. I wound up buying two other DS titles within the last two weeks of FFIII’s scheduled release just to take my mind off of it. And when it finally arrived…

The Magic of Square-Enix

Magical, wondrous, inspiring – these are all words that come to mind after having experienced what is, without a doubt, the finest RPG (role-playing game) we’ve yet seen, and will perhaps ever see, on the Nintendo DS system. The story and characters tickle the imagination, and carry the player along on an adventure that weaves through all the colors of the rainbow.

Four orphans are – not by chance – chosen to become the Warriors of Light, and it is their quest to bring balance back to a world left shaken by darkness. Heavy!

Final Fantasy III does consist of some of those deeply-human themes we’ve come to expect in most RPGs today, but it is also a light and lilting journey through a magical world. Along your travels you’ll encounter cute dancing maidens, fat, cuddly birds called chocobos, as well as scores of evil creatures let loose by a dark force that must be overcome.

“But what makes this game so special, and why do you refer to it as ‘the finest RPG’? Is it the battles? Great graphics, right? You love the graphics! Or is it that you just like a good story?”

It is the presentation.

As the game begins, your DS screen lights up with the setting of seabirds soaring through a burnt-orange sky. The bottom screen reads, “Square-Enix Presents…” And from that moment on you become part of another world. Battles are fun, but require skill; characters are often comical, but also complex. You will need to investigate each town and area along your travels in order to know how to best proceed with your journey. Battles: When venturing inside caves or in the field, outside towns & villages, you will randomly encounter creatures of the FFIII world. If you cross paths with monsters, you will be taken into a battle screen, and the fight will begin. Occasionally, monsters will get the jump on you, and will be afforded an opportunity to attack your party before you have a chance to prepare. Likewise, you will oftentimes get the jump on them. However, most battles begin with you choosing the actions for your characters to perform during the melee round, and depending on the speed of your characters (which is based on agility) and the creatures they encounter each party member and monster executes their selected action in order. The battle continues in this fashion until either the monsters are destroyed, or your party is defeated. Of course, you can always attempt to flee from battle…

Some of the actions that can be engaged – depending on the job classes of your characters – during battle include: Attack, Magic, Guard and Item – other actions are available as well. Jobs are the focus of discipline that your characters take on. By the latter part of the adventure there will be 23 different job classes to choose from, and making sure you round out your party in a way that offers balance is integral to your success.

Just to get an idea of what you can expect, there is, for instance, the white mage (job class), who specializes in healing arts. He / she can heal a single party member or all party members at once. They can also lend defensive or offensive status effects to your characters. Black mages, on the other hand, specialize in combat magic, and can call upon the earthly elements in order to cast spells that inflict a nasty sting. Lightning, fire and ice are all powerful tools that can be harnessed by these students of the dark arts. Later in the game more powerful forms of these job classes become available, and there are, of course, a list of jobs that cover many other specialties, such as physical combat (of whom the warrior, knight, dragoon and ninja are masters), the power of song (belonging to the bard), and control over the surrounding environment (geomancer), as well as other disciplines. There’s no right or wrong way to build your party however, so there’s plenty of room in FFIII for each player to have a fighting force that they will enjoy.

You’ll make your way through the world of Final Fantasy III not only on foot, but also by way of various vessels, including airships and a submarine of sorts. And through twists & turns in the story, you will find yourself in some of the most exotic and beautiful environments ever to be presented on the DS.

The visuals of the game are everything they were hyped up to be, but not necessarily because of high polygon count. But rather because of the incredibly delicious art design. The variety and depth of landscapes in FFIII are unrivaled, and they lend perfectly to the story that you will experience. Nothing seems wasted for sheer voyeurism, and the meticulous graphic detail helps only to allow the player to become completely immersed in the fantasy.

Also adding to an already-enormous presentation are the musical themes. In every other way Final Fantasy III shines among games, and so it is fitting that its music is equally exquisite. Like the fine details of the game’s graphics, the music is as lovingly strewn throughout. Each area has a different theme, and each matches its environment perfectly. From the somber yet eerie movements that accompany you while traversing caverns, to the softly-comical lilt played for the dancing gals, you will enjoy yourself fully within the colorful array of musical expressions. Even the battle music will likely become a tune you’ll be humming to yourself when not playing the game.

This adventure is, my friends, a work of art. It was obviously put together with a lot of care and a lot of love and attention. It is the role-playing experience many have been waiting for on the platform (DS), and should be a model for other games – in the genre – to come.