is a console role-playing game developed and published by Square in for the Famicom as the third installment in the Final Fantasy series. It is the first numbered Final Fantasy game to feature the job-change system.
The story revolves around four orphaned youths drawn to a crystal of light. The crystal grants them some of its power, and instructs them to go forth and restore balance to the world. Not knowing what to make of the crystal's pronouncements, but nonetheless recognizing the importance of its words, the four inform their adoptive families of their mission and set out to explore and bring back balance to the world.
The game was released in Japan on April 27, 1990. It had never been released outside of Japan until an enhanced remake was released on the Nintendo DS on August 24, 2006. At the time, this made it the only Final Fantasy game not released in North America or Europe. There had been earlier plans to remake the game for Bandai's WonderSwan Color handheld, as had been done with the first, second, and fourth installments of the series, but the game faced several delays and was eventually canceled after the premature cancellation of the platform. The Nintendo DS version of the game was positively received internationally, selling over one million copies in Japan.
The gameplay of Final Fantasy III combines elements of the first two Final Fantasy games with new features. The turn-based combat system remains in place from the first two games, but hit points are now shown above the target following attacks or healing actions, rather than captioned as in the previous two games. Auto-targeting for physical attacks after a friendly or enemy unit is killed is also featured for the first time. Unlike subsequent games in the series, however, magical attacks are not auto-targeted in the same fashion.
The experience point system featured in Final Fantasy makes a return following its absence from Final Fantasy II. The character class system featured in the first game in the franchise also reappears, with some modifications. Whereas in the original game the player chooses each character's class alignment at the start of the game, Final Fantasy III introduces the "job system" for which the series would later become famous. Jobs are presented as interchangeable classes: in the Famicom version of the game, all four characters begin as "Onion Knights", with a variety of additional jobs becoming available as the game progresses. Any playable character has access to every currently available job. Switching jobs consumes "capacity points" which are awarded to the entire party following every battle, much like gil. Different weapons, armor and accessories, and magic spells are utilized by each job. A character's level of proficiency at a particular job increases the longer the character remains with that job. Higher job levels increase the battle statistics of the character and reduce the cost in capacity points to switch to that job.
Final Fantasy III is the first game in the series to feature special battle commands such as "Steal" or "Jump", each of which is associated with a particular job ("Steal" is the Thief's specialty, while "Jump" is the Dragoon's forte). Certain jobs also feature innate, non-battle abilities, such as the Thief's ability to open passages that would otherwise require a special key item. It is also the first game in the series to feature summoned creatures which are called with the "Summon" skill.
In place of capacity points, each character incurs a small penalty for switching jobs. This penalty decreases the character's statistics for the next 0 to 10 battles. This period is called a "Job Transition Phase" and its length is based on "job compatibility" and the difference in job levels between the new job and old job. The transition phase length is determined by the sum of the distance between the two jobs on both axes of a graph (every class can be graphed chaotic to lawful versus magical to physical), minus the job level of the new job divided by 10.
The remake takes advantage of the Wi-Fi feature of the Nintendo DS in the form of a Mail/Mognet system similar to Final Fantasy IX. Various moogles in the game allow the player to send mail to others. Players are also able to send mail to various characters in the game as well as to other players. Side quests can also be unlocked using this system, such as the quest to unlock the Onion Knight. A quick save option is also available, similar to other 2D Final Fantasy remakes, except for Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls. However, like in the original, there are no save points in the game's dungeons.
Final Fantasy III focuses around four orphans from the remote village of Ur. The remake of the game for the Nintendo DS Revealed the default names of the party members redesigned by Akihiko Yoshida, each with new backstories and personalities: , an orphan raised in the village of Ur who is curious and adventurous by nature; , who tires of her father's blacksmith training and often runs away from home; , who is Luneth's childhood best friend and a timid yet intelligent young man; and , who is a loyal soldier serving the King of Sasune, who is trying to save the missing Lady Sara.
Their adventures bring them to discover that there lies a whole world beyond the boundaries of the floating continent upon which they were living. In the world below, they discover that a warlock named Xande, one of three apprentices to the legendary Archmage Noah, is trying to possess the crystals of light to bring forth chaos and disorder. The four warriors eventually arrive at the Crystal Tower where they discover that the Cloud of Darkness is the source of the recent events. The Cloud attempts to bring back a similar situation as the Flood of Light a millennia earlier so that the world is pulled into the void. The warriors from the light traverse into the domain of the dark crystals to free the imprisoned dark warriors and defeat the Cloud of Darkness, thereby restoring the crystals and balance to the world.
Square developed and released Final Fantasy III during the same period that Nintendo released its 16-bit Super Famicom console, intended as the successor to the original 8-bit Famicom. Designer Hiromichi Tanaka said that the original game was never released outside of Japan because Square was focused on developing for Nintendo's new console.
In 2007, Hiromichi Tanaka explained in an interview that the WonderSwan Color remake had been abandoned because the size and structure of the coding of the original Famicom game was too difficult to recreate on the WonderSwan Color:
Following the failure of the effort to remake the game for the WonderSwan Color, and Square's merger with former competitor Enix to form Square Enix in , the company posted assurance that the game's promised remake would not be completely forgotten, and there was speculation that it might find its way to Sony's PlayStation or Nintendo's Game Boy Advance as its predecessors had. Square Enix considered porting the game to the PlayStation 2, but was eventually convinced by Nintendo to develop the title for their new handheld system, the Nintendo DS, a decision that would later be positively reinforced by the commercial success of the Nintendo DS. The Final Fantasy III remake was first announced to be in development on 2004-10-07, but detailed information did not emerge until a year later. Hiromichi Tanaka headed the project as both the executive producer and director. His guidance and supervision were needed because the remake was not a mere graphical update as Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy IIs remakes were, but a total overhaul using the Nintendo DS's 3D capabilities. Along with 3D graphics, a full motion video opening scene was produced for the game, similar to those found in the ports of the 2D Final Fantasy games for the PlayStation. Developer Matrix Software handled the programming of the game.
The remake was produced by Tomoya Asano and co-developed by Matrix Software and Square Enix. In addition, Ryosuke Aiba (Final Fantasy XI) was the art director. Akihiko Yoshida (Final Fantasy XII) redesigned the original characters for use in 3D, and designed the looks of the new playable characters. The formerly generic and nameless party characters were replaced with more concrete characters with new personalities and background stories, and additional scenes were added to develop their individuality; however, the main storyline was not altered significantly. Along with these four, additional characters (called "sub-characters") also join the party temporarily, like in the original. Unlike the original however, these characters may randomly participate in battle.
Selected tracks the game were featured in various Final Fantasy arranged music compilation albums, including Final Fantasy: Pray and Final Fantasy: Love Will Grow (with lyrical renditions performed by singer Risa Ohki), and the second and third albums from Uematsu's progressive metal group, The Black Mages. Several tracks from the game were subsequently remixed and featured in later Square or Square Enix titles, including Chocobo Racing and Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon.
The score was arranged for the Nintendo DS remake by Tsuyoshi Sekito and Keiji Kawamori, working under Uematsu's supervision. This score was released on compact disc under the title Final Fantasy III: Original Soundtrack. A remix of "This is the Final Battle" by The Black Mages, as well as a techno version of "Eternal Wind" by muZik, appeared on the DS game's soundtrack, released in Japan on 2006-09-20.