Final Fantasy III (Steam)
Nostalgia is a funny thing. It makes everything seem wonderful. You wonder why TV shows aren’t the same as when you were a kid or how horrible pop stars are today compared to the old ones. Games hold a special place in the hearts of many 80s and 90s kids, and if there ever was a series that makes people yearn for the good old days, it’s Final Fantasy. But what if you suddenly had access to a game you wanted but never got to play when you were a kid? Could you tap into that love of old things despite the lack of rediscovery?
Final Fantasy III is just such a challenge. Originally released in 1990 in Japan for the NES, it was 16 years until the rest of us got a look-in when it was remastered and released for the Nintendo DS. From there, it saw another rebirth on for iOS, Android, and PSN. Now, in case you missed it on any of those, it has come to Steam so that dear PC gamers can get in on the action they might have wanted in their childhoods.
The story remains the same, obviously. Four young orphans receive powers from a crystal of light after a world-changing earthquake. This crystal gives them the task of restoring balance to the world by defeating the Cloud of Darkness and anyone aiding it. This version has the same changes to the starting sequence as the DS version, with Luneth exploring the Altar Cave alone and then receiving his powers before finding the other party members. This helps to provide some back-story for the four main characters, as the original Japanese version gave them very little.
You get to witness the beginning of the job system, the character development process that would later become an integral part of gameplay. These jobs are similar to classes, with each having unique abilities to help them in battle. It’s not too hard to guess what benefits you receive from each job, as they have simple names like Thief or Sage. Characters can change from job to job whenever they like, but it’s obviously a good idea for them to only specialise in a couple, lest their experience get too spread out and make them useless. It still has (had?) some ways to go but we can already see how it evolved in the future.
One of the things I really look forward to with PC games is using my keyboard. It’s usually comfortable and it also reminds me of how I used to play as a kid. Unfortunately, the controls for FFIII are, for lack of a better word, awkward. Everything is focused over the right side of the keys, so you can only use one hand to do everything. There doesn’t appear to be any option to change this. It’s just lucky that maneuverability isn’t extremely important in turn-based combat. So this isn’t the downside it could be.
You can’t expect a game from 1990 to be visually impressive, even if it received some work later on. FFIII is an old game and it definitely shows. This is more acceptable if you really enjoy going back to old games, particularly those from the Final Fantasy series. Sometimes it’s nice to depart from the ultra-realistic games of today. The heroes are cute and the monsters are scary. Things are just that simple. The soundtrack would have been much easier to rework and that is where the game pulls you into a cool 90s flashback. Final Fantasy games are well-known for their unique sound and this is just an early example of that.
If you’re liable to get frustrated with a game, well, why are you playing a JRPG? They’re notoriously difficult, with long areas of level grinding, and this is no exception. Older games tend to be a little more challenging as well. Combine all of this with the fact that there is no way to save in a dungeon and you’ve got yourself one doozy of a game. Then again, since it’s an old game there is no shortage of guides if you’re really struggling. I’ll admit, I’m used to playing these games with the ability to speed things up to cut down on the sheer amount of time spent grinding. Modern games may have ruined my ability to pay attention to hard work. That’s a pretty depressing realisation.
In short, I was able to get some weird feeling of nostalgia despite never having played the game in my childhood, though I can’t help but feel that there are other Final Fantasy titles I would enjoy on PC more (*cough* FFVII *cough*). I probably wouldn’t go back and play through it again soon. That’s not so different from other games in the series, though. Perhaps in another 10 years.
- Offers a pretty good challenge
- Great soundtrack
- Introduction of the job system
- No save points in dungeons
- Rough visuals
- Poorly planned keyboard mapping