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September 2021

Final Fantasy III

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PC
Genre: Role-Playing
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: July 28, 2021


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PC Review - 'Final Fantasy III: Pixel Remaster'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 4, 2021 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

The original Final Fantasy III comes to life with completely new graphics and audio! A remodeled 2D take on the third game in the world-renowned Final Fantasy series! Enjoy the timeless story told through charming retro graphics.

Final Fantasy III: Pixel Remaster is the one mainline Final Fantasy title to never get an official North American release. The only version that exists is the 3D remake, which is a very different beast. For many, this will be the first chance to play the original game, which is pretty shocking, as it is a heavy inspiration for later games in the franchise.

Final Fantasy III has a bare-bones plot compared to Final Fantasy II. You play as four youths who are blessed by the crystals and set out to fight a great evil. The youths are fairly basic characters. The more distinctive characters in the 3DS remake were specifically created for that game. FF3PR has a darn enjoyable world to explore. The villains and world are a heavy influence on later games, and it's nice to see them in their original glory.

Compared to FF2, FF3 feels more standard for the franchise. In many ways, it plays like an upgraded version of the original game, rather than the somewhat unusual deviation that was its predecessor. It returns to the spell slot system of the first game, which was the last title in the franchise to use that. Its tone and general feeling are also more akin to the first. It's more complex than the original game, with more special moves and abilities, but it's still something that is going to feel like a baseline Final Fantasy title.

FF3PR is the first game in the series to have a true "job" system, setting the groundwork for titles like FF5 down the line. Similar to that offering, you get new jobs as you progress. Most of the jobs set the standard for later games, and you can still see them showing up in modern releases like FF14. All of the classics are present, including Red Mage and Summoner, and the classes get unique abilities, including the debut of the Dragoon's Jump ability. Several skills will go on to become iconic parts of a job's move list.

One thing that isn't as fun is that FF3PR's job choices are not as varied as they are in FF5. For the most part, jobs you get later are better than jobs you get early on. The PR version seems to try to rebalance things to keep some earlier jobs viable, but there is a noticeable trend upward to make jobs similar to FF1's class upgrades over what would come later. One huge blessing is that you can swap jobs freely, rather than being penalized like you were in previous versions of the title. That alone comes very close to making FF3PR the definitive version of the game.

FF3PR seems to be the title that got the most work done. While all of the games have been rebalanced, FF3 has received the most. Enemies, moves, basic gameplay mechanics, and even some incredibly tedious dungeon mechanics have been reworked or removed. This includes some blessings, like early bosses not having multi-attacks, but some early foes seem to hit harder than they did in the NES version. Of the three Pixel Remaster titles released thus far, FF3PR feels like it benefited the most from the remaster.

Likewise, it has the same nice UI changes that go a long way toward making the game easier to play. The minimap is a godsend, auto-battle works wonderfully with the larger skill lineup, and generally, it feels like the game it should have been. Even some of the annoying foibles, like the distance between save points, are rendered moot by the Quick Save that lets you create an instant save anywhere in the game. If you know why FF3's last dungeon is such a horror, then you'll understand why this is a blessing.

If you've read the other reviews, I've done for the other Pixel Remaster titles, then everything that I've said about the graphics and the music still stands. The updated visuals are pretty nice, but I noticed some bad screen-tearing and odd water effects. The new font is awful and detracts from the game, but it can be easily replaced. The new music is largely excellent and captures the feel of the original NES tunes, while remastering them in such a way that they sound better than ever. There are a few tunes I'm not as fond of, but as usual for the franchise, the music is among its strengths.

Final Fantasy III: Pixel Remaster is the best version of the game to date. It feels more modern and polished than the NES version, and it lacks some of the annoying foibles and flaws of the 3D version. It's still a dated JRPG, but with the Pixel Remaster, it feels a lot easier to pick up and play. I had previously said that FF3 was my least favorite of the NES trilogy, but I enjoyed this title the most in the three Pixel Remaster offerings. If you're only going to get one of the Pixel Remaster titles, then FF3PR is the one to get.

Score: 8.0/10

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