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Final Fantasy III
Ff3cover.jpg
Developer(s) Square
Matrix Software (Nintendo DS)
Publisher(s) Square
Square Enix (Nintendo DS, Virtual Console)
Designer(s) Hironobu Sakaguchi (Famicom)
Hiromichi Tanaka (all versions)
Kazuhiko Aoki (all versions)
Artist(s) Yoshitaka Amano (Famicom)
Akihiko Yoshida (Nintendo DS)
Writer(s) Kenji Terada (Famicom)
Composer(s) Nobuo Uematsu
Series Final Fantasy
Platform(s) Famicom[1]
Nintendo DS[2]
Virtual Console
Release date(s) Famicom
JP April 27, 1990[1]
Nintendo DS
JP August 24, 2006[3][4]
NA November 14, 2006[5]
EU May 4, 2007[6]
Virtual Console
JP July 21, 2009[7]
Genre(s) Console role-playing game[1]
Mode(s) Single-player,[1] multiplayer (Nintendo DS)[2]
Rating(s) Nintendo DS
CERO: A[2]
ESRB: E10+
OFLC: PG
PEGI: 12+
Media 4 megabit cartridge
1-gigabit Nintendo DS Game Card[2]
Input methods Game controller

Final Fantasy III (ファイナルファンタジーIII?) is a console role-playing game developed and published by Square in 1990 for the Family Computer as the third installment in the Final Fantasy series. It is the first numbered Final Fantasy game to feature the job-change system.

The story revolves around four orphaned youths drawn to a crystal of light. The crystal grants them some of its power, and instructs them to go forth and restore balance to the world. Not knowing what to make of the crystal's pronouncements, but nonetheless recognizing the importance of its words, the four inform their adoptive families of their mission and set out to explore and bring back balance to the world.

The game was released in Japan on April 27, 1990. It had never been released outside of Japan until a remake was released on the Nintendo DS on August 24, 2006. At that time, it was the only Final Fantasy game not previously released in North America or Europe.[8] There had been earlier plans to remake the game for Bandai's WonderSwan Color handheld, as had been done with the first, second, and fourth installments of the series, but the game faced several delays and was eventually canceled after the premature cancellation of the platform. The Nintendo DS version of the game was positively received internationally, selling over one million copies in Japan. The Famicom version of the game was released on the Wii Virtual Console service in Japan on July 21, 2009.[7]

Contents

Gameplay

The battle screen, showing the party battling three monsters. Like earlier games in the series, Final Fantasy III displays battle messages in text windows, such as the "Miss" displayed in the central box. Like later games in the series, animated messages or symbols are also shown on the character in question.

The gameplay of Final Fantasy III combines elements of the first two Final Fantasy games with new features. The turn-based combat system remains in place from the first two games, but hit points are now shown above the target following attacks or healing actions, rather than captioned as in the previous two games. Auto-targeting for physical attacks after a friendly or enemy unit is killed is also featured for the first time. Unlike subsequent games in the series, however, magical attacks are not auto-targeted in the same fashion.[9]

The experience point system featured in Final Fantasy makes a return following its absence from Final Fantasy II. The character class system featured in the first game in the franchise also reappears, with some modifications. Whereas in the original game the player chooses each character's class alignment at the start of the game, Final Fantasy III introduces the "job system" for which the series would later become famous. Jobs are presented as interchangeable classes: in the Famicom version of the game, all four characters begin as "Onion Knights", with a variety of additional jobs becoming available as the game progresses. Any playable character has access to every currently available job.[10] Switching jobs consumes "capacity points" which are awarded to the entire party following every battle, much like gil. Different weapons, armor and accessories, and magic spells are utilized by each job. A character's level of proficiency at a particular job increases the longer the character remains with that job. Higher job levels increase the battle statistics of the character and reduce the cost in capacity points to switch to that job.[9]

Final Fantasy III is the first game in the series to feature special battle commands such as "Steal" or "Jump", each of which is associated with a particular job ("Steal" is the Thief's specialty, while "Jump" is the Dragoon's forte). Certain jobs also feature innate, non-battle abilities, such as the Thief's ability to open passages that would otherwise require a special key item.[11] It is also the first game in the series to feature summoned creatures which are called with the "Summon" skill.[10]

Plot

Setting

One thousand years before the events in the game, on a floating continent hovering high above the surface of an unnamed planet, a technologically advanced civilization sought to harness the power of the four elemental crystals of light. They did not realize that they could not control such fundamental forces of nature. This power of light would have consumed the world itself had the light crystals not had their natural counterparts: the four dark elemental crystals. Disturbed by the sudden interruption of the careful balance of light and dark, four warriors were granted the power of the dark crystals to recapture the power of the light crystals. These so-called Dark Warriors succeeded in their quest, and restored harmony to the world. But their victory came too late to save the doomed civilization. Their culture was reduced to ruin, though their floating continent remained. On that continent, the circle of Gulgans, a race of blind soothsayers and fortune-tellers, predicted that these events will ultimately repeat.[12]

Characters

Render of the four main characters Luneth, Ingus, Arc, and Refia, for the DS remake of Final Fantasy III

Final Fantasy III focuses around four orphans from the remote village of Ur, each of them starting off as Freelancers. The Nintendo DS version of the game individualized the party members, giving them unique appearances (designed by Akihiko Yoshida), backstories, personalities and names: Luneth (ルーネス?), who symbolizes courage, an adventurous orphan boy raised in the village of Ur; Arc (アルクゥ?), who symbolizes kindness, Luneth's childhood best friend and a timid yet intelligent young man; Refia (レフィア?), who symbolizes affection, a girl raised in the village of Kazus who tires of her father's blacksmith training and often runs away from home; and Ingus (イングス?), who symbolizes determination, a loyal soldier serving the King of Sasune, with a (mutual) soft spot for the princess Sara.[13]

Though Xande (ザンデ Zande?) is the one they have to stop for the most of the game, he is eventually revealed to be merely a pawn of the Cloud of Darkness (暗闇の雲 Kurayami no Kumo?), a malevolent and vicious deity who wishes to push the world into a state of chaos and destruction by upsetting the balance between light and darkness, allowing the Void to consume the world. Appearing in a female-like form, she refers to herself in first-person plurals. Although she initially defeats the Warriors of the Light, they are resurrected with Unei and Doga's help, and, with help from the Dark Warriors, they defeat the Cloud of Darkness.

The Onion Knight (seemingly based on both Luneth and the unnamed lead character of the Famicom version, with an alternate costume based on Luneth) and the Cloud of Darkness are the respective hero and villainess representing Final Fantasy III in Dissidia: Final Fantasy, where they are voiced by Jun Fukuyama and Masako Ikeda respectively in the Japanese version, and by Aaron Spann and Laura Bailey, respectively, in English. In the game, the Onion Knight is a child prodigy sort who accompanies Terra Branford in their search for their crystals. But from getting his after battling the Cloud of Darkness, learns to feel from his heart as he and Cloud Strife help Terra get her crystal from Kefka Palazzo.

The Cloud of Darkness is referenced in Ivalice-set titles Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift as a summonable entity (known as an "Esper" in the first, a "Totema" in the second and a "Scion" in the third) by the name of Famfrit, also known as "the Darkening Cloud".

Story

An earthquake opens up a previously hidden cavern in Altar Cave near the village of Ur on the floating continent. Four young orphans under the care of Topapa, the village elder, explore the earthquake's impact and come across a crystal of light. The crystal grants them a portion of its power, and instructs them to go forth and restore balance to the world. Not knowing what to make of the crystal's pronouncements, but nonetheless recognizing the importance of its words, the four inform their adoptive family of their mission and set out to explore an overworld outside the area in which they were brought up to bring back balance to the world.[12]

Their adventures bring them to discover that there lies a whole world beyond the boundaries of the floating continent upon which they were living. In the world below, they discover that a warlock named Xande, one of three apprentices to the legendary Archmage Noah, is trying to possess the crystals of light to bring forth chaos and disorder. The four warriors eventually arrive at the Crystal Tower where they discover that the Cloud of Darkness is the source of the recent events. The Cloud attempts to bring back a similar situation as the Flood of Light a millennia earlier so that the world is pulled into the void. The warriors from the light traverse into the domain of the dark crystals to free the imprisoned dark warriors and defeat the Cloud of Darkness, thereby restoring the crystals and balance to the world.[12]

Development

Director Hironobu Sakaguchi, designer Hiromichi Tanaka, character designer Yoshitaka Amano, scenario writer Kenji Terada, and music composer Nobuo Uematsu returned from the two previous Final Fantasy games to contribute to the development of Final Fantasy III.[14] As with the previous two installments of the series, Final Fantasy III was programmed for the Famicom by Nasir Gebelli. It was the last original Final Fantasy title worked on by Gebelli.[15] The finished game was one of the largest ever produced for the Famicom.[16] Like many console role-playing games of the era, Final Fantasy III is noted for its difficulty.[16]

Square developed and released Final Fantasy III during the same period that Nintendo released its 16-bit Super Famicom console, intended as the successor to the original 8-bit Famicom. Designer Hiromichi Tanaka said that the original game was never released outside of Japan because Square was focused on developing for Nintendo's new console.

Nowadays we know that when you've got a platform like PlayStation, you'll have PlayStation 2 and then PlayStation 3, and where you've got Xbox, you move on to Xbox 360 - you can sort of assume what's going to happen in the future. But back then, that was the first time that we'd seen a new generation of consoles, and it was really difficult to predict what was going to happen. At that time, then, we were working so hard to catch up on the new technology that we didn't have enough manpower to work on an English version of Final Fantasy III.
—Hiromichi Tanaka[16]

Cancelled WonderSwan Color remake

Bandai unveiled their WonderSwan Color handheld system in 2000 and had immediately headed up a deal with Square Co. to release enhanced remakes of their first three Final Fantasy titles on the new console.[17] Although Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II were both released within a year of the announcement, Final Fantasy III was ultimately delayed from its late 2001 release date, even after Bandai picked up the game's publishing rights.[18] While a port of Final Fantasy IV was eventually released for the WonderSwan Color, Square remained silent regarding Final Fantasy III. Although the game was never formally canceled, the official website was taken offline once production of the WonderSwan Color consoles ceased in 2002.[19]

In 2007, Hiromichi Tanaka explained in an interview that the WonderSwan Color remake had been abandoned because the size and structure of the coding of the original Famicom game was too difficult to recreate on the WonderSwan Color:

When we developed FF3, the volume of content in the game was so huge that the cartridge was completely full, and when new platforms emerged, there simply wasn't enough storage space available for an update of FF3, because that would have required new graphics, music and other content. There was also a difficulty with how much manpower it would take to remake all of that content.
—Hiromichi Tanaka[16]

Nintendo DS remake

Following the failure of the effort to remake the game for the WonderSwan Color, and Square's merger with former competitor Enix to form Square Enix in 2003, the company posted assurance that the game's promised remake would not be completely forgotten, and there was speculation that it might find its way to Sony's PlayStation or Nintendo's Game Boy Advance as its predecessors had.[20][21] Square Enix considered porting the game to the PlayStation 2, but was eventually convinced by Nintendo to develop the title for their new handheld system, the Nintendo DS, a decision that would later be positively reinforced by the commercial success of the Nintendo DS.[22] The Final Fantasy III remake was first announced to be in development on 2004-10-07, but detailed information did not emerge until a year later. Hiromichi Tanaka headed the project as both the executive producer and director. His guidance and supervision were needed because the remake was not a mere graphical update as Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II's remakes were, but a total overhaul using the Nintendo DS's 3D capabilities. Along with 3D graphics, a full motion video opening scene was produced for the game, similar to those found in the ports of the 2D Final Fantasy games for the PlayStation. Developer Matrix Software handled the programming of the game.[23]

The remake was produced by Tomoya Asano and co-developed by Matrix Software and Square Enix. In addition, Ryosuke Aiba (Final Fantasy XI) was the art director. Akihiko Yoshida (Final Fantasy XII) redesigned the original characters for use in 3D, and designed the looks of the new playable characters.[24] The formerly generic and nameless party characters were replaced with more concrete characters with new personalities and background stories, and additional scenes were added to develop their individuality; however, the main storyline was not altered significantly.[25] Along with these four, additional characters (called "sub-characters") also join the party temporarily, like in the original. Unlike the original, however, these characters may randomly participate in battle.[26]

Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS features overhauls to the job system, including the rebalancing of the classes, the addition of new abilities, a new "Freelancer" class that replaces "Onion Knight" as the default job at the beginning of the game (Onion Knight is retained as a secret class), new events, a new crystal and dungeon, and the removal of capacity points. Unlike the original Famicom version, most of the jobs remain useful for the entire game. The ultimate jobs – the Ninja and the Sage – and some of the lesser-used jobs like the Geomancer - were redesigned to have the same level of abilities as the Warrior. Also new are special job-specific items available only if a character has fully mastered a certain job.[27]

In place of capacity points, each character incurs a small temporary penalty for switching jobs. This penalty decreases the character's statistics for the next 0 to 10 battles. This period is called a "Job Transition Phase" and its length is based on how similar the new job is to the old job, and how proficient the character already is at the new job.[27]

The remake takes advantage of the Wi-Fi feature of the Nintendo DS in the form of a Mail/Mognet system similar to Final Fantasy IX. Various moogles in the game allow the player to send mail to others. Players are also able to send mail to various characters in the game as well as to other players.[13] Side quests can also be unlocked using this system, such as the quest to unlock the Onion Knight.[28] An interruption-save option is also available that lets the player turn off the DS and continue when turning it back on. Like in the original, there is no way to make permanent saves while inside a dungeon.[29]

Music

Final Fantasy III was composed by Nobuo Uematsu and is his 21st video game score. Final Fantasy III: Yūkyū no Kaze Densetsu, an arranged album by Uematsu featuring vocals by Dido, a Japanese vocal duo of Michiaki Kato and Shizuru Ohtaka, was also issued shortly following the release of the Famicom game in 1990.[30] A soundtrack album of the original game score followed a year later.[31]

Selected tracks the game were featured in various Final Fantasy arranged music compilation albums, including Final Fantasy: Pray and Final Fantasy: Love Will Grow (with lyrical renditions performed by singer Risa Ohki),[32][33] and the second and third albums from Uematsu's progressive metal group, The Black Mages.[34][35] Several tracks from the game were subsequently remixed and featured in later Square or Square Enix titles, including Chocobo Racing[36] and Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon.[37]

The score was arranged for the Nintendo DS remake by Tsuyoshi Sekito and Keiji Kawamori, working under Uematsu's supervision.[38] This score was released on compact disc under the title Final Fantasy III: Original Soundtrack. A remix of "This is the Final Battle" by The Black Mages, as well as a techno version of "Eternal Wind" by muZik, appeared on the DS game's soundtrack, released in Japan on 2006-09-20.[39]

Reception and legacy

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 77%[40] (DS)
Metacritic 77 out of 100[41] (DS)
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com B+[42] (DS)
Famitsu 36 out of 40[43] (Famicom)
34 out of 40[43] (DS)
GamePro 4 out of 5[44] (DS)
GameSpy 8 out of 10[45] (DS)
GameTrailers 8.2 out of 10[46] (DS)
IGN 7.8 out of 10 (DS)[47]
Nintendo Power 8 out of 10[48] (DS)

The Famicom version Final Fantasy III was thought to be typical of RPGs of its day, with a high degree of difficulty requiring a significant amount of grinding.[16] It was influential in the development of the magic system and job systems of Final Fantasy XI.[49] In 2006, readers of the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu voted the original Final Fantasy III the eighth-best video game of all-time.[50] As of March 31, 2003, the game had shipped 1.4 million copies in Japan,[51] and is regarded as one of the top-selling games of 1994.[52]

The remake's reception has been mostly positive with high sales and fair reviews from video game critics. IGN notes that "interest in FFIII should come as no surprise given...the popularity of the DS".[53] The game sold 500,000 units within the first week in Japan, beating Square Enix's original prediction that they would only sell 350,000.[54] As of August 6, 2007, the game has sold 990,000 units in Japan and 460,000 units in North America.[55] As of August 8, 2008, it has sold 480,000 units in Europe.[56] Figurines of the characters from the game have been created.[57]

Reviews of the DS remake of Final Fantasy III have been mostly positive, with the game holding an aggregate score of 77% on GameRankings.[40] 1UP.com described the gameplay as "an RPG for dedicated RPG enthusiasts", and noted that while the job system had been heavily improved over the original title, it still felt at times "very limiting". The review however stated that it was important to remember Final Fantasy III as "a slice of history and a missing piece of a blockbuster series", citing that "hardcore RPG players" may enjoy the title more than other Final Fantasy games and calling it "one of the best portable RPGs to date".[42] GameSpy stated enjoyment hinged "entirely on your desire to play a game with decidedly archaic game mechanics that may seem primitive and uninviting" compared to other recent Square Enix titles, noting the game as "quite challenging" and adding "Some people live for this stuff, but others may be annoyed at the game's often unfriendly nature."[45]

GameTrailers noted that while the plot was simple and the party members generic, the game's scenarios were "top notch". It additionally noted that while players should expect to have to do some level grinding, the game offers "lots of little areas to explore."[40] IGN described the game as one that may be "amazingly frustrating for the now mainstream Final Fantasy fan", and noted that while at the time the unique concept of the job class was one that "simply blew gamers' minds", comparing it to Final Fantasy XII' license board system was "literally no contest". The review additionally argued that the remake hampered the game, citing that battles that would take "mere seconds to scroll through" to now be "lengthened to nearly a minute". Another complaint was in the game's presentation on the Nintendo DS, noting that the handheld's top screen was inactive for "75% of the game", and that even displaying only artwork on the screen during those periods would have been a preferable outcome. However IGN described the game as "graphically phenomenal and is set to a simply beautiful musical score", and that the transition from 2D to 3D was "a good call".[47]

From 1991 to 1992, Kadokawa Shoten's Famicom gaming magazine, Maru Katsu Famicom (マル勝ファミコン?) published Legend of the Eternal Wind, from Final Fantasy III (悠久の風伝説 ファイナルファンタジーIIIより Yūkyū no Kaze Densetsu Fainaru Fantajī Surī-yori?), a manga serialization of Final Fantasy III illustrated by Yu Kinutani. Based on the original story by Kenji Terada, the manga chronicles the events that take place throughout the course of the game. It was subsequently collected into three tankōbon under Kadokawa Shoten's Dragon Comics imprint: Legend of the Eternal Wind 1, from Final Fantasy III, Legend of the Eternal Wind 2, from Final Fantasy III, and Legend of the Eternal Wind 3, from Final Fantasy III.

In the PSP game Dissidia: Final Fantasy, the Onion Knight is a playable character. The attacks in Dissidia: Final Fantasy are based on the attacks in the original game. The Onion Knight's outfit is taken from aspects of all incarnations of the hero of Final Fantasy III. It is possible to unlock an alternate look that resembles Luneth in the DS remake. While in EX Mode, the Onion Knight changes job to a mage when performing a magical attack, and a ninja when performing a physical attack.

See also


References

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External links

Nintendo DS version







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