Final Fantasy III (not to be confused with VI in North America) was released on the NES in 1990. A franchise with established critical acclaim, the game did not disappoint. Final Fantasy was still a fairly new concept at this point, however, and one of the things you’ll notice from either playing the 3D remake, or the original NES cartridge, is that the altruistically thematic environment within the games at this stage were still very similar with each release.
What made III special over some of the other installments was the fact that it never saw a release outside of Japan. That means that fans of the series never got to officially complete their collection, short of translated fan-copies and learning Japanese. For those of us who’ve played the series religiously from whatever juncture they slipped into Final Fantasy, the original DS remake was therefore an incredible treat; able to rekindle our love for the games from a time before the franchise was a little tarnished by a decline in what made Final Fantasy… well… Final Fantasy.
Not everyone had a DS, though, and whilst the recreation was a fantastic experiment for the hand-held device, it wasn’t really worthy of the AAA price tag. It didn’t look great, and although it played really well the DS didn’t really feel like a natural home for our foreign exchange student.
You don’t know if a fight is going to be too hard until it’s too late.
No mere graphical update, Final Fantasy III was overhauled completely, with improved character stories and more unique character design. We won’t be talking about the differences between the Japanese NES release and the DS release however, let’s focus on how it plays for Android.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself “well, how can Android be a better home for the game than the DS?” and to be completely honest with you I don’t know. It just works. The game is sharp and vibrant on my Samsung Galaxy Note, with crystal clear audio and a soundtrack by the incredible Nobuo Uematsu. One of the features that harmed the experience on the DS somewhat was the low-resolution screen. Although the game had 3D visuals which were later improved upon in Final Fantasy V, the characters themselves looked more like paper cut-outs than solid 3D models. The problem is completely resolved in this Android release, and although there isn’t a huge amount of detail in the character models themselves, they look animated, vibrant and sharp.
The GUI and touch controls have also been recreated for the device, with razor sharp menus and text with all new labels and layout for my chubby fingers to navigate. Battling is also orchestrated with touch controls, and although at times you can accidentally hit the wrong command, you can just hit back and choose your command again.
Unlike revisiting most games from our childhoods, playing Final Fantasy III doesn’t simply feel like a nostalgia kick. It feels like a playable game in its own right, and although the story and linearity remain from the original NES titles from that era, the charm and altruism of Final Fantasy is rife. You’ll find yourself immersed in the play-fields and music of the series long-time contributor just as you would in some of the more modern games, and to be completely honest it’s refreshing to read the story at my own pace and not have to keep pausing for endless cut-scenes and dialogues.
Final Fantasy III is much harder, certainly at the start, than some of the modern Final Fantasy games. There’s no tutorial and you’ve really got to work out what to do and how to do it. You need to talk to people around the world and towns, old-school style, who’ll point you in the right direction or give you tips. One guy, standing by a well, even told me how to use the touch controls. Thanks, guy!
A punishing game, Final Fantasy III won’t have you grinding for hours just because you’re not a high enough level – but you might have to take a few battles on the chin in order to boost yourself up a bit to move on. No way near the same scale as XIII or XIII-2, but there are steep difficulty curves between story areas.
III features a fun and unique job mechanic, too, where you pick whichrole each of your characters play – complete with it’s own out-fit and gear set. You’ll have hours of fun dictating who does what based on your impression of them as a character.
At £10.99 or $16.99, Final Fantasy III is a bit steep considering Rockstar’s recent re-releases, but you can see there’s been a lot of love and dedication put into the release. It isn’t a simple port from the DS version, and every care has been taken in order to give gamers the best possible experience. With hours of fun that doesn’t really eat your battery as much as some of the beefier Gameloft games, is Android the natural home for classic Final Fantasy reboots? It certainly seems so, however unlikely.
The familiar GUI of Final Fantasy makes a triumphant touch-screen return.
Fans of the series should run out and buy this today – I promise you won’t be disappointed. Those of you who aren’t especially keen on Final Fantasy, but would love a decent RPG on Android, you get the same treatment. It kicks the competition in the teeth, and on that alone I can safely recommend the purchase to everyone looking for a serious RPG on their mobile device.
Not a mere history lesson, Final Fantasy III is there to be played – and it plays beautifully.