I don’t remember particularly caring for Final Fantasy III, but I don’t remember despising it quite like I did FFII, either. It’s a game that I admittedly don’t have much past experience with, largely owing to its relative rarity in the US; although it was released in Japan in 1990, it wasn’t available anywhere else until 2006, when it received a 3D remake on the DS. (Again, as when I differentiated the Final Fantasy II I just completed from the North American FFII—which was actually FFIV—I’m referring here to the actual Final Fantasy III, and not the SNES release with the same name, which was actually FFVI. Is everyone good and confused yet? Silly Square.)
I *do* remember being very excited at the time of the DS release; it poked me right in the completionist gland, since it had always bothered me just a bit that there was a title in the series I couldn’t get my hands on. When the game actually came out, though, I finished it, but was a bit underwhelmed by the experience. I honestly don’t remember why, though. It has, after all, many of the hallmarks that usually endear a JRPG to me, most notably a job system, which, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, is one of my favorite mechanics. So why didn’t it stick?
So far, I’ve only been through the early stages of the game, so I don’t have an answer to that just yet. I’ve been dropped into the world—quite literally, I fell from the sky into a big hole in the ground—have acquired a full party through suspiciously contrived means (and guess what? We’re all orphans! That’s surely not relevant at all!), and have made my way through the first “real” dungeon, at the end of which I smacked the boss down in a single round of combat before he got to act, thereby gaining access to my first round of jobs (I now have a thief, a white mage, a black mage, and a warrior).
I haven’t had much opportunity to play with the job system just yet, but so far the most notable thing about it seems to be that swapping your characters’ jobs isn’t free; each time you do so, you must go through an “adjustment phase” of several battles where your stats, and thus your combat ability, will be reduced. This is fairly easily surmountable if you simply return to a low-risk area and run around in circles for a bit until you return to normal (the number of battles needed for this to occur is clearly stated when you switch, so there aren’t any surprises there). However, it does mean that you have to be at least a little smart about how you have your party set up, particularly before you attempt any major challenges or dungeons, as you can’t simply swap at will as the situation dictates.
There are, so far, two things that I’m very glad about regarding differences between FFIII and FFII, which I recently completed. First of all, the way that “guest characters” are handled is, in my opinion, MUCH better. I’ve already had my first extra character, Princess Sara, accompany me through the first major dungeon, and have picked up Cid to replace her. Rather than actually taking up a slot in your party, though, these characters are much more random; you don’t actually control them, but they will occasionally show up in your battles to (in Sara’s case) cast a healing spell, or perhaps to assist in combat. Rather than having to manage them and ensure that they are on par with the rest of your “regular” party, they simply provide an extra bonus while they’re around, thus allowing you to focus your leveling and management efforts on the permanent members of your party, who do not change throughout the story.
Secondly, you simply gain experience points which allow your characters to level up, rather than having to hit them in the face yourself in order to toughen them up. I think we all know how I feel about this.
WEEK 13 PROGRESS: 1 hour 56 minutes into Final Fantasy III