final fantasy iii (DS)

a review of Final Fantasy III (DS)
a videogame developed by matrix software & square/enix
and published by square/enix
for the nintendo DS
text by Brendan Lee

1 star

Bottom line: Final Fantasy III (DS) is “Bending from the waist.”

Final Fantasy III on the DS sees Square at its most sweaty and desperate . . . an oozing carnival barker, equal parts chin oil and elephant ear crumbs, swinging a sodden stub of Swisher Sweet toward a tattered Tent of Terrors.

You know, perhaps, exactly what you’re going to find; some pickled multi-necked cow fetus, horrifyingly illuminated by a guttering fluorescent bulb. You’ll stand there, you and your best pal, give the thing a tight-lipped once-over, thrill a bit, slap a few mosquito bites, and shuffle your way out.

Did you just get scammed by that guy?

Did you just flush an E ticket on an A-ticket attraction?

Well, that’s kind of up to you. Matrix has done a fair job of porting the NES classic to the DS – – it uses what 3D the DS has to good effect; the sound is more or less in order. Full-motion video inserts the pastel-colored natsukashiiiiiiiiii knife directly at the base of the spinal column and twists until the blade snaps. Weary of tiresome buttons? Whip out the stylus and castrate what few Pavlovian illusions tapping them still hold – – though not to a FFXII-Gambit level, I guess, which came as breathtakingly close to an Emperor-Sans-Clothes scenario as any in recent RPG memory.

That’s it! If you like this you like this, which means that you like it and you like it so you’ll like it again. In a certain sense, this continual retreading of musty IP is perfectly understandable, even divorced from Square/Enix’s conscienceless coffer-stuffing: it fleshes out all of the fiddly little gaps that previously had to be filled in by the player’s imagination . . . you’re waddling further and further toward making the Final Fantasy universe (gasp!) real. A few more generations, and maybe that’ll be me jumping in place to the victory music from the comfort of my gravy-stained sofa. You never can tell about the future: maybe some scraggle-bearded, wrap-around Oakley version of me will even put out the extra eighty bucks for the vibrating wireless scabbard.

Clips right there onto the sweatpants!

So! A port – – and a pretty darn competent one at that. Somewhere at the Cheeto-scented end of all of our chained realities there’s a version of rendered largely in bright pink Macromedia Flash, and in that version this review’s lone star is a brilliant shade of gold. Sadly, we toil here at this end of reality, where good children sometimes go hungry and it rains on chocolate layer cakes and mastheads must be followed to the absolute immutable letter.

So! A well-carved statue to the past, placed on a carefully tended hill. You’ve got a backpack full of the very finest sandwiches. You glance at your wrist. Your watch has stopped. A cool breeze ruffles through your hair. What on earth could possibly be wrong with that?

It’s . . . well, it’s quite poignantly wrong. You’re really gnawing the hecking paint chips when you cave to idolatry like that. Think back: when Square killed Aeris . . . why was that the defining moment of Final Fantasy VII? Was Aeris this fascinating, multi-faceted corker of a gal symbolizing innocence and the purity of nature in a World Gone Mad? Or . . . was she kind of a glassy-eyed dud that said […] an awful lot?

Both, I suppose, depending on your views on pressurized cheese. Still, the reason that moment had actual emotional resonance was that she hecking well died. No materia could rescue those perfect brown locks; no amount of gil could rewind the sword out of her angelic vertebrae. Even the mighty Pro Action Replay could only dance her hollow ghost tantalizingly in front of you, like a Kit Kat wrapper caught in a persistent updraft. Sad!

In a medium that, almost by definition, always affords you One More Chance, it said a hell of a lot. There’s only so much that you can save. You’ve got a limited sphere of influence, and sooner or later you’ve got to grab your jacket and head for the exits. It was – – by video game design standards – – a gutsy move.

One that’s been torn from the playbook, sadly. Rather than leaving her in the box, the poor gal’s electrified corpse has been pimped again and again for a few coke-stained twenties per throw . . . and Final Fantasy III is right there beside her, bending from the waist, two black eyes and a run in her stocking.

Saying goodbye stings like battery acid, I guess, but at the end of the day it’s right, and it’s honest.


FFIII woah 

Give us some honesty.

If Square/Enix has even the faintest desire to avoid the continued strip-mine Disneyfication of its sagging intellectual property, this dry-hump farce-fest needs to end. Square should look the Past right in the eyes, whisper a dry-lipped adieu, and let the overdose of morphine do its hecking job.

–Brendan Lee


6 Responses to final fantasy iii (DS)

  1. You know, the truly sick, sad, miserable part of all this is that for the discriminating nostalgianeer, nearly all of Squeenix’s ports are flawed in one way or another– either inadequate sound emulation, or horribly overdone translation, or needlessly censored content — meaning that even if you do want to soak in the hot gravy of your wasted youth, you’ll still be running back to your old SNES.

  2. Actually I am of the honest opinion that this “remake” of FFIII is in many, many ways superior to the remakes of FFIV, FFV, and FFVI for GBA. Those remakes just up the graphics a tiny bit, add face portraits to the dialogue boxes, and stuff up the music. At least FFIII redoes the graphics / input method, et cetera.

    Also, it adds character to the characters. In the original Famicom version, the characters were all blank slates. You just chose a class at the outset and there you had it. In the DS version, the characters have names, faces, and personalities. That kind of means a lot. It’s like, Square wanted to make an original FF for the DS, only they couldn’t not put a number in the title, because then no one would want it. Much as I hate 99% of the stuff they do these days (of course, not counting Enix), I can fully understand why they would make this game a “remake” of a “classic” instead of some original “spin-off” game that people would most likely ignore. The Famicom version of FFIII was widely regarded as completely underrated, mostly forgotten, and also as the point where the Final Fantasy series started to show signs that it might be exceedingly popular someday. Final Fantasy III was an imitation of Dragon Quest III, though it was also an experiment with the dynamic storytelling that would make IV and VI qualified hits. V had an evolution of the job system and only fragments of a story. What this remake of III proves is that you can have story, character, and a “deep” “system”, all hard-wired into the game, and still let the player “express” himself through job changes or what have you.

    Also, you don’t give the stylus thing enough credit. Like this: to use magic on an enemy, you have to click on “Magic”, then the name of the spell, then the enemy. To attack an enemy as a character, when it’s that character’s turn, you just click on the enemy. That’s cutting out a lot of bullstuff right there.

    Why I’m so optimistic about these RPGs, I don’t know. It just seems like something to do, I guess.

  3. With all that effort you could be making something new and good, instead of just reheating the same tin of beans.

  4. Well just to be fair Nintendo requested that they remake FFIII along with thousands and thousands of fans making the same request; many of those fans being westerners who never got to play an official domestic release.

    We’ve known this game was coming for a long time so I think it’s a waste to base a review on the fact that Square rereleases old stuff instead of new stuff all the time.

  5. > swinging a sodden stub of Swisher Sweet toward a tattered Tent of Terrors.

    ooh I see what you did there.

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