Video Game Thoughts: Final Fantasy III

Final Fantasy III was a 2006 Japanese role-playing game by Matrix Software and Square Enix that I played on the computer. The first version of this game was for the old Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). That version was never released outside Japan. Sixteen years later it was remade for the Nintendo DS. Over the years this more recent version has been ported to other platforms, first to mobile phones and tablets, and then computers. I’ve always really enjoyed the classic Final Fantasy games, but they were never available on the platforms I had. That has been changing as Square Enix has published computer ports of many of their old games in the last few years.

The story in Final Fantasy III wasn’t the most original. Four children were destined to become the Warriors of Light. When they came of age (became teenagers), the time for their destiny was at hand. The world of Final Fantasy III required a balance between the darkness and light. When the game started, darkness had overpowered light. It was up to the heroes to restore the balance by restoring the 4 crystals. Soon enough they discovered a bad guy who had created the problem before and who they needed to defeat to keep the balance. This story had been done before almost the same in the first Final Fantasy game, but it was also very similar to many fantasy stories. I didn’t play this game for the story though.

The two things I love in Final Fantasy games are exploring the world and improving characters. Both of those were done pretty well in Final Fantasy III. A few minutes into the game, I was able to see the world map. It looked like a nice-sized place with plenty of locations I wanted to examine in detail later. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that what I thought was the world was just a large continent. There was an entire other world to explore and much larger than this continent. I enjoyed leveling up the characters, so they were strong enough to go to the next area. There were also several secret areas with very useful bonus treasure. It is always fun to discover a secret.

Character progression was another strong point. Like all Final Fantasy games, the characters gained experience from defeating monsters, which allowed characters to level-up and become stronger. The new thing was the “job system”. I already had experience with this in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, but it was nice to see it again here. Since Final Fantasy III was based on the original NES game, it used a much more primitive job system.

Each crystal restored in the game unlocked around five new jobs (or classes). Each job had a unique skill and its own level. Most of a character’s power came from their character level, but the job levels improved the particular skill the job provided. I found every job fun to play in some way, though too many jobs were redundant, playing mostly the same as another job. The only real bad thing about jobs was that they took a while to level up.

Through the course of a whole game, I only got two or three jobs at the max level with each character. By the end of the game, jobs at low level were too weak. To try a different job required me to spend a few hours killing the same monsters over and over until the job got enough levels. I guess it was a good way to provide replay value — I could play the game again using different jobs — but ultimately, I would have preferred jobs that leveled up faster. I found the job leveling so slow I still haven’t finished the last achievement, which requires all 4 characters to have all 23 jobs mastered. So far I have spent 120 hours on the game with only 11 jobs mastered on all characters. This is a huge, repetitive grind. I may never even get that achievement because of how slow and boring it is.

The story wasn’t the best and the jobs leveled too slow, but otherwise, I really had fun playing Final Fantasy III. It cost around $17 and gave me over a hundred hours of gameplay, more than worth the money. Most of that gameplay was pure fun too. It was only at the end when I tried to level all the jobs that the game got boring. Games like Final Fantasy III are perfect for my current state in life. I have my rules for The Games I Don’t Play. This game passes all the rules, mainly because it is single player with the ability to save anywhere. This makes the game extremely flexible. I am always searching for flexible games because my goal is serving others not play games. I don’t want to play any game that gets in the way of serving others. I have to able to put aside the game on a moment’s notice.

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