Final Fantasy III Review for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

Gnomes and spells

Final Fantasy III is actually the sixth in the Japanese series, totally reworked for the North American market. No more English broken to read from translation that makes sad.

Final Fantasy III screenshot

To see and play Final Fantasy III on the DS illustrates just how powerful this tiny handheld system is compared to the SNES.

Final Fantasy III for the DS is not the same version as Final Fantasy III for the SNES. This is actually the third version of the series culled from Japan’s Famicom system. It was originally released in 1990. It’s old-school role-playing at its classic best. All the classic RPG elements which are still adhered to this very day are included in FF3.

A tale is told that involves a hero out to save his world. It’s a storyline that hasn’t changed much over the decades. During his adventure, he meets various characters that will join forces with him. He will also face many enemies and numerous random battles. While searching, exploring, and dungeon crawling, the party will come across a variety of useful goodies, everything from weapons to magic potions. The hero and his friends earn experience points for their exploits which will be used to level-up their attributes. This is all standard RPG fare, but what the Final Fantasy series is able to do is to connect all these disparate elements with an engaging storyline filled with realistic characters displaying human emotions. You can’t help but find these characters endearing. And keep in mind that this was pretty heady stuff in its day.

Final Fantasy III screenshot

Unlike previously released versions of FF3, this DS version has been significantly upgraded to include new content as well as radically improved graphics. While the gameplay and storyline are the same, the graphics are rendered in full, glorious 3D. The characters have more visual depth which makes them more appealing than ever. And the story has been reworked specifically for the English speaking audience. This is not a rough translation. Even the music retains a vibrancy and richness that can’t help but betray this game’s impressive pedigree.

An ancient prophecy reveals that four beings with the gift of light will save the Earth from a catastrophic event. Such devastation and destruction appears imminent when a great earthquake disrupts the powers of the magical crystals that bring harmony to the planet. The crystals disappear into the depths of the earth. An orphan named Luneth encounters one of the crystals and embraces its power. He embarks on a journey with three other powerful souls to find the missing crystals and restore balance to the world.

Final Fantasy III screenshot

The game is not without its flaws, and as much as I am impressed with this reworking of a classic, I can’t overlook the fact that this version is not perfect. By no means is it unplayable. It’s just so darn close to being amazing that to miss the mark by such a small mark is almost too much. Those very same 3D graphics also slow down the gameplay. They don’t allow you to move as smoothly, and there are times when you will get stuck and confused when trying to get your sprite into the right position. Traveling on the map is equally slow and tedious. The DS’s touch control system is under-used, as is the dual screen. With the exception of a world map on the top screen during your travels, it remains virtually empty for most of the game. You don’t even get a map of the dungeons. A lack of save points makes saving in dungeons impossible. You can only save when you’re on the world map. This is annoying for two reasons. One, this doesn’t make this game very portable, even though it’s on a portable system. Two, you will often wind up having your butt handed to you by the boss at the end of the dungeon if you’re not sufficiently leveled-up to face him. This will result in you having to take part in various random battles to level-up and then re-visit the dungeon.

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