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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Final Fantasy III (3D Remake)

Final Fantasy III's 3D remake was notable for being the first time the game was released on something other than the Famicom - throughout the slew of remakes and enhanced ports the series got on the Playstation and the GBA and even the Wonderswan, Final Fantasy III was conspicuously absent.  Of course, having played the original Famicom release emulated I picked it up as soon as I could, but what I found was a pretty stark departure from that version.  The opening sequence of events is changed slightly, the protagonists are given prefab names and designs (by Akihiko Yoshida, who also designed characters in the Ivalice games) and the gameplay was pretty heavily reworked.  Everything feels considerably slower and battles are scaled down quite a bit, generally having no more than 4 enemies (whereas the Famicom version had double that at times).  The job system is also reworked to be more "balanced", with lackluster results - rather than the specialized jobs of original FF3, most are now more-or-less hybrid classes, adding more spell slots and abilities rather than having you focus on their individual strengths.  Worse is that there's more grinding involved now; class levels were a thing in the original FF3 and did affect stats, but to such a small degree that it was hardly worth the effort of grinding them out.  Here, it's basically mandatory, and you get to do it all again each time you find a crystal and unlock more jobs to use.  Even dopier is the fact that they've significantly nerfed the two endgame classes - Ninja and Sage - giving them low stats to offset their ability to use any equipment or spell respectively.  Onion Knights (the default class in the original) become a hidden class that comes late in the game, and like their original counterparts they are pathetically weak until you get their class to level 92, at which point their stat gains skyrocket; and gain spellcasting abilities too, which they completely lacked in the original.  There is at least an attempt to spice up some of the more lacking elements of the original game by adding in an optional boss and tweaking the final battle to be more involved, but they're only marginal improvements on a rather dragging and overall slow experience.  Final Fantasy III's 3D remake doesn't add a lot of substance and actively subtracts from the original in many other ways.  It may have provided a passable experience to some fans who were eager to check out the long-neglected third entry in the franchise back in the mid 2000s, but with the subsequent release of the Pixel Remaster (which is far more faithful to the original game), there's no reason to come back to this one.

Developer: Matrix Software, Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo DS, iOS, Android, PC
Released: 2006, 2012, 2013, 2014