An early-1990s RPG classic, Final Fantasy III has come to the Android Market with a very high price ($16.99 on Google Play) and equally high expectations. With mobile-focused producers like Kemco and Gamevil dominating the Android RPG space, can PC and console giant Square Enix show them how it’s done? Not quite.
The Android version of FF3 is a slightly updated port of the 2007 Nintendo DS release, which was a pretty major rewrite of the original 1990 Nintendo game. This is a classic Japanese console RPG: a party of four characters explores a world with two scales (outdoor and town/dungeon), collecting items and fighting monsters using turn-based combat as they grow in power.
Graphics are pretty much a direct DS port as well, with an overhead view at three-quarters perspective. They don’t stress Android devices, but they’re a cut above some of the purely 8-bit RPGs you find on Google Play.
The best aspect of game mechanics is the job system, which lets characters change classes at will. New classes get unlocked as the game goes on. Switching around classes adds a lot to the fun of the game, although unfortunately it’s difficult to figure out what each one does without consulting online strategy guides.
What’s The Story?
One of my biases comes to the fore here: I love a good story, and FF3 doesn’t have one. For the first three hours or so of the game, you’re left bumbling around knowing the main quest is something vague involving a crystal. Then you find out more, but the plot is still a vague MacGuffin, not the passionate and character-driven stuff you see from games like Symphony of Eternity.
The characters, meanwhile, each get a bit of an origin but then act blandly generic throughout the game. Contrast that once again to Symphony, which keeps hitting notes of mystery, humor and romantic tension as time goes on.
That said, if the journey is the destination, FF3 has plenty of journey—at least 40 hours’ worth, if you’re not already a Final Fantasy expert. While this is a linear quest with only a few side quests, every step of the linear quest is different. And the little sub-quests do have plots—save this town, rescue that princess—to keep you occupied.
Not For Beginners
The game’s length extends because this game is hard. Many RPG crutches don’t exist here. You can’t save in dungeons. You can’t buy resurrect items—you have to find them, and they’re strictly limited. It’s very difficult to find anything to restore your magic points outside a town. I had to break from the quest a few times to grind levels so I didn’t get mowed down as frequently. After the first eight hours or so, things get a lot easier, but the beginning is tough going.
Dungeons and towns, meanwhile, are studded with secret doors that can be impossible to find without resorting to strategy guides or online walkthroughs. Of course, this being a famous, 20-year-old game, there are plenty of walkthroughs online.
I just looked back there and I’m being a bit too negative overall. Beggars can’t be choosers, and RPG fans on Android are beggars with a slim selection of apps. FF3 hits all the basic RPG pleasure buttons, and its difficulty level is refreshing for folks who might find Kemco’s lineup too straightforward.
That said, Symphony of Eternity is still my Android RPG pick. With compelling characters, a modern plot, and less frustrating gameplay – even though it doesn’t measure up to FF3 on graphics—it’s a more enjoyable experience.
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