Final Fantasy III

Well stroke my Chocobos, I’ve got another Final Fantasy game to enjoy.

Review Date: April 21, 2021

Release Date: April 27, 1990

Platform: NES Famicom

Publisher: Squaresoft

Genre: RPG

Anecdotes: It’s quite the travesty that the original version of this game never made it to North America. Of the three NES titles, this one is easily the best. Many of the traditions that define the Final Fantasy series either started with this game or got redefined here.

Description: Four blank slate children* get tasked with saving the world from Xande, who, along with Doga and Unei, were given realms to rule over. Xande wasn’t happy with the plan and took matters into his own hands. The kids* were in a cave for some reason and came across a crystal that told them what they need to do and it anointed them the Light Warriors. They went off on their adventure and began to realize the world was much bigger than they thought.

*The common myth is that they’re all boys, but I haven’t found any proof that is the case. I’ve only seen that in the fan translations, but they weren’t done by Square, so I don’t accept them as official.

For my party setup, the characters will be named after their DS remake counterparts in the order I got them. Those characters aren’t in this version, so I won’t be covering them. Anyway, Luneth (which is very close to the Spanish word for Monday) will be doing white magic the entire game. Arc is the floater character, starting as a red mage, then becoming a thief to open locked doors, and finally becoming a Mystic Knight to handle the splitters. Refia will be a barefisted monk and Ingus will be the knight. They both will be ninjas in the end.

Here’s how I’m using my party.


-Finally! Square fixed the battle system, at least partially, to allow autotargeting. Physical attacks no longer target dead enemies. This makes the battle system much smoother. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply to magic.

-Square also started to streamline things and got a much better idea of what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it. With the improvements mentioned above, Square created much better gameplay. They also made the first three quarters of the game much, much easier. Everything on the Floating Continent, plus Goldor Manor, is super easy and doable without grinding. Saronia is a matter of the proper strategy. Starting with the Ancient Ruins, though, that changes, and I’ll cover that later.

-This game created or codified many of Final Fantasy’s traditional elements. A few recurring elements had already been in place. The first game introduced crystals, spells, limited jobs, Princess Sara, and lots of other things. The second game introduced Cid and Chocobos.

Here, the Chocobo role was expanded beyond a single tile on the world map. There are now Chocobo forests all over the map, each of which has multiple Chobocos, plus a Fat Chocobo that can be summoned by using carrots. Fat Chocobos are purely awesome, but more importantly, they serve as storage devices, making inventory practically unlimited. As long as there’s a carrot (better known as Gysahl Greens) to summon the FC, inventory can be transferred back and forth. Final Fantasy VII fans may know what Gysahl Greens are, but do they know that was a nod to this game? Some will, some won’t.

The job system was brought back from I, but with a major expansion. First, jobs can be changed any time outside of battle, as long as the party has the capacity points. Second, there is a much wider variety to choose from once the second crystal is reached. Warriors, Monks, White Mages, Black Mages, and Thieves all return, as well as the upgraded version of those jobs. There are plenty of new jobs joining in, though. For example, there’s the Geomancer, who can use the elements against enemies. It’s a fun job, but not really super useful. There’s the bard, who I never used in this version, but was excellent in the remake. There’s a Viking, who I never bothered with because the Monk did the job better. There’s the Mystic Knight, who is extremely useful to reduce the amount of splitting enemies do. There are others, but the only one I used extensively is the Mystic Knight.

This game also introduced Moogles to the world, where they were hanging around with Doga and Unei.

Moogles! This is their first appearance, ever.

-There seems to be lots of debate over whether to dual wield or to use a weapon and a shield. I nearly always go with the shield. Dual wielding causes more damage, but at the same time, I’m taking more damage. Dual wielding scales up everything, but it’s much tougher to notice the healing point, plus if the enemies gang up on someone, they’re done. Shields are a lot safer and later in the game, they can add agility bonuses that may increase the offense anyway.


-It occurs throughout the entire game. There is one in the very first dungeon. There are many in the final dungeon. There are tons in between. That’s right; I’m talking about secret passages. This game just abuses them. This isn’t like Metroid, where discovering hidden passages leads to new areas or items. Sometimes that’s true; but often they either lead to dead ends, lead to hidden rooms with nothing special in them, or are just a method to lengthen the game by taking longer routes by hiding the correct route.

-That leads me to an evil part of the game, Saronia. To start, players have just finished Goldor Manor to get the key to unchain the airship, which had been anchored near Amur. Players get in the airship and wonder how FF3 is the ONLY game in the series where no airship can fly over mountains. But then, players will just fly around, anyway, eventually finding a large city with a castle. The airship gets shot down. Players are stuck in Saronia, so they’ll have to explore the town, all four parts of it. They first have to find Prince Allus in a bar and win a fight in there. Then they have to go to the annoying secret passage filled Dragon Spire to get some equipment as the game is hinting at changing everyone to Dragoons.

Oh, players will learn to “love” hidden passages in this game. This is a maze of them in Saronia’s Dragon Spire.

Eventually, players catch on and change the whole party to Dragoons and equip them with spears. The only place left will be the castle, so players go there. There will be a long, boring cutscene, followed by a boss battle. New players will lose and have to watch those cutscenes all over again. Eventually, Garuda goes down, then players still have to find the right person to fix the airship. It’s rough, and once the airship is shot down, players are stuck there.

-After Saronia, the difficulty spikes. The Ancient Ruins is a long dungeon full of splitting enemies, but there are no weapons available yet to stop the splitting. There is an inn to help out, though. The Cave of Shadows is even worse. “No Split” weapons are available, but the dungeon is MUCH longer and full of splitting enemies, dead ends, and out of the way treasures.

Those are bad, especially the latter, but then the game tops itself. The airship can fly to the entrance of the Ancients’ Maze, but no further. There are five floors to cross, but the player can walk back to the airship to heal at any time. After five floors of that, there is one tile of overworld, which can be used to save, but doesn’t have special ways to heal. From there, players can do Eureka, which isn’t required but would be foolish to skip, and traverse eight floors to get Shurikens, the Ninja and Sage jobs, and a free healing spring, then players have to return. They can exit the Crystal Tower to save, but that’s it. Once the climb up the tower starts, players have to climb lots of floors, then defeat Xande, which will send them to the Dark World. There is NO way to exit from there. Players must defeat four more bosses and Dark Cloud to finish the game. There is NO save point anywhere in these dungeons. Any mistake, or even just an unfair back attack, could be a game over, and that will send players back to the base of the Crystal Tower to try again. It’s a long, grueling gauntlet and it’s brutal.

-A big part of that problem is that marathon dungeons like the Cave of Shadows, Crystal Tower, or Dark World is that players can be doing great and handling business. They’re getting confident, but then the game hits them with the awful Back Attack. Back Attacks are horrible. First, each enemy gets a free shot. Second, the rows get reversed, so mages are sitting ducks. It also cripples the fighters by reducing damage. Fighting the battles is slow and tedious, but running is even worse. That’s because this game’s run penalty is that defense is dropped to 0, so now everyone is a sitting duck and that can result in party wipes.


Final Fantasy III starts players in a dungeon.
These crystals offer jobs. This is the first one, which gives us the FF1 jobs, minus Thief.
That’s Cid, believe it or not, and he’s ready to outline the first act of the game.
What a brilliant group I have. They just walk into Sara’s room, take her treasures, and use her bed. They really think this is a good idea?
“Oh, hi Sara! Did I mention that I slept in your bed and took your treasures?”
I guess Sara never found out I was in her bed. Anyway, she’s tossing that ring away to break the curse that turned Cid and company into outlines.
Hold it. Nothing in the outline showed that Cid had a Jay Leno chin!
I assume all those huevos will turn into baby Bahamuts?
The game flat out says to run from this fight. If the player ignores that, it’s game over.
This is pointless, but I love the fact that I can shoot a cannonball into the water.
This set of Knockers caught my attention. I couldn’t help it.
Medusa’s a complete joke in this game, but bring a Soft along in the .000000000000005% chance she stones someone.
And now Desch throws himself into the fire and we move on.
Sure. What’s the address?
It’s about time someone guards their property around here. Notice the sheep on the left; this is the awesome town of Gysahl.
Behold the greatness that is…THE FAT CHOCOBO!
I went from having Desch follow me to having Dash follow me.
I was having serious trouble with this thing, then I figured out the biggest problem: I had the Flame Mail equipped. Oops.
No kidding. Did I really need a text box to tell me that?
Enough. I’m out of here. I’m off to another world.
Three’s Company, come and dance on our floor.
Aria is trapped, and the end result isn’t good.
I like this dungeon, Goldor Manor. It’s short, the enemies are all gold themed, there are 11 swords here to sell for good cash, and the boss can be beaten with good weapons.
Something tells me I should get out of here.
There are two great reasons to have a thief: they save money on keys by opening locked doors and they can escape battles easier, making back attacks tolerable.
Splitting enemies are the bane of my playing this game.
So, I’m on a blimp with vending machines that sell magic spells. Yeah, that makes sense.
And the giant airship with vending machines can’t protect me from Harpy attacks? What a disappointment.
Excluding final dungeons, the Cave of Shadows could be the worst dungeon in the series.
The reasons are the splitting enemies, the excessive length, and these hidden passage mazes.
After 7 floors and over an hour of playing, the game shows mercy by having a boss that doesn’t split and isn’t super tough to beat.
This woman needs to get her head on straight.
This is the last legitimate save point in the game. Eureka, the Sylx/Crystal Tower, and the Dark World all await ahead. No warping is allowed, Eureka and the Crystal Tower can be U-turned and walked out of. The Dark World, though, is a point of no return.
There are two reasons to go through the optional Eureka dungeon. The first is this shop at the top that sells Shurikens. As a bonus, there is a free healing spring in the area.
The other reason is to gain the ultimate jobs. That “every weapon” is a lie; they can’t equip the Onion Sword.
This woman blows my mind, so she got her picture up.
We’re stuck now; time to go fight Xande.
Xande actually wiped me out, so I went and leveled up in the Crystal Tower.
During the leveling, I got an Onion Sword by defeating a Red Dragon! Too bad no one can use it.
Here’s the final boss, but this is the first battle that’s just storyline and we’re supposed to lose.
Eight people, and every single one is wearing red. It’s like going to a Cardinals game. Sara is making sure we can’t return, of course.
Not counting the door above, the Dark World is divided into quadrants. Each quadrant has a tough boss at the end and they must be defeated to take on Dark Cloud through the upper door.
This is one of those bosses. This one drops Meteors every four rounds. Yay.

Final Opinion: I really like this game, but the marathon dungeons, back attacks, and run penalty really hurt the experience. The final dungeons area wasn’t thought out very well, either.

Grade: B

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