While playing through Final Fantasy III over the last couple of weeks, I was unsure of how to tackle this review, and it left me pondering. Final Fantasy III is a port of a 2006 DS remake of a 1990 NES game which was never released outside of Japan. Considering that a 5 year-old port of a 20+ year-old game should have been played by the majority of people who intended to by now, which angle should I go for? Obviously I’m not going to be recommending whether or not you should buy Final Fantasy III, as I’m sure you either already have or you’re just not really that interested. Instead, I’ll look over the positives and negatives of the iOS port itself, and try and justify why you should or shouldn’t buy this particular version of the game.
Touch-Screen Controls - iOS controls can make or break a game. Poorly designed, placed or responsive controls can kill an otherwise well-designed game, particularly if a massive thumb is taking up half of the action. Final Fantasy III avoids this by allowing you to move by touching anywhere on the screen. Merely place your thumb at any point, and the joystick will appear. If your thumb gets in the way of what you’re trying to see, move it somewhere else and you can still control your character. It seems like a simple idea, and it is, but it works really well.
Important Phone Call In The Middle of a Dungeon? No Problem! - One of my greatest fears when playing old-school RPGs is that I’ll be miles away from a save-point and I’ll have to stop playing for one reason or another, rendering my progress gone. Thankfully, Final Fantasy avoids this by having three different types of saves. First off, you have your typical ‘on the world map’ hard save, which is a permanent save you can access at any time, provided you don’t overwrite it. Secondly, you have the quicksave, which allows you to save in towns and dungeons, but saving in this way propels you to the menu screen, and you can only re-access this save once, meaning you can’t spam the save system in order to make the game easier. Thirdly, and in my opinion, most importantly, you have the auto-save, which works similarly to the quicksave, but instead saves your game (and your sanity) whenever a text message or call comes in.
Solid Length - In a trend that is becoming more common for iOS games, Final Fantasy III offers players a lengthy, engrossing adventure. Encompassing epic bosses, heartbreak, discovery and adventure over its 30 hours+ narrative, Final Fantasy III will keep you going for a while. This is one of the few big RPGs on the system, and it has one of the better stories as well, making Final Fantasy III a worthwhile purchase if you want your games to last.
A REMAKE TOO FAR?
Loose Moose - I know I mentioned above how much I enjoyed the control system for Final Fantasy III, but I also need to mention that oh-so-common of problems that seem to strike often in iOS games: loose controls. I lost count of the number of times that my character would run repeatedly into a crate or a wall because I couldn’t get the precision needed from the virtual joystick. Unfortunately, for now, physical controls still rule supreme.
I’m Supposed To Go WHERE?! And Do WHAT?! - Old-school remakes still stick to old-school rules. What is one of the main things that have changed from the nineties to the present in gaming? The replacement of manuals by in-game tutorials. Final Fantasy III suffers for this. As the first game in the series to feature a job-changing system, you would think that there would be a guide as to what each type of job does. Sadly, this isn’t so, and you’re left to blindly stumble through job classes until you figure out which one does what you want it to. While on the subject of blindly stumbling, I found there were a couple of occasions in which I genuinely had no idea what I was supposed to do next. I’m against games holding your hand too much, but when you have no sense of direction whatsoever, I feel that takes independence a little too far.
Ouch! - I’m probably going to be chastised for saying this, but Final Fantasy III is hard, and generally unforgiving. Yes, it is a product of its time, but so is the iOS. The iOS and App Store are mainly full of pick-up-and-play games, with easy controls, a shallow difficulty curve and a constant sense of reward. Final Fantasy III is not afraid of kicking your ass and leaving you crying on the street. For a number of today’s gaming generation, this is an instant turn-off. For others, this is precisely why they play games in the first place. On a different platform, this point could have been placed in the ‘positives’ column, but for iOS, I feel that this is more of a negative.
Normally, I would recommend Final Fantasy III wholeheartedly, as it offers an RPG-experience of a type that cannot be found at this level of quality elsewhere on the iOS. Unfortunately, one aspect makes me stop short: the price. At $15.99, Final Fantasy III comes in as one of the pricier games on the system. Sure, the game is fantastic, but are you willing to pay almost 16 bucks for a game on your phone, particularly when you can pick up games of equal quality for $0.99? Ultimately the decision comes down to the buyer, but it’s a shame that an excellent game such as this may be largely ignored by a potential new audience due to its price. For those of you with large wallets though, I would strongly recommend this game, unless you’ve already been playing it for 5 years.