Geomancer (Final Fantasy)

Final Fantasy III

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.

Gameplay

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.

Nintendo DS version

Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS features overhauls to the job system, including the rebalancing of the classes, the addition of new abilities, a new "Freelancer" class that replaces "Onion Knight" as the default job at the beginning of the game (Onion Knight is retained as a secret class), new events, a new crystal and dungeon, and the removal of capacity points. Unlike the original Famicom version, most of the jobs remain useful for the entire game. The ultimate jobs – the Ninja and the Sage – and some of the lesser-used jobs like the Geomancer were redesigned to have the same level of abilities as the Warrior. Also added was the Special job items you get if you get 99 in a certain job.

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.

Plot

Setting

One thousand years before the events in the game, on a floating continent hovering high above the surface of an unnamed planet, a technologically advanced civilization sought to harness the power of the four elemental crystals of light. They did not realize that they could not control such fundamental forces of nature. This power of light would have consumed the world itself had the light crystals not had their natural counterparts: the four dark elemental crystals. Disturbed by the sudden interruption of the careful balance of light and dark, four warriors were granted the power of the dark crystals to recapture the power of the light crystals. These so-called Dark Warriors succeeded in their quest, and restored harmony to the world. But their victory came too late to save the doomed civilization. Their culture was reduced to ruin, though their floating continent remained. On that continent, the circle of Gulgans, a race of blind soothsayers and fortune-tellers, predicted that these events will ultimately repeat.

Characters

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.

Story

An earthquake opens up a previously hidden cavern in Altar Cave near the village of Ur on the floating continent. Four young orphans under the care of Topapa, the village elder, explore the earthquake's impact and come across a crystal of light. The crystal grants them a portion 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 family of their mission and set out to explore an overworld outside the area in which they were brought up to bring back balance to the world.

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.

Development

Director Hironobu Sakaguchi, designer Hiromichi Tanaka, character designer Yoshitaka Amano, scenario writer Kenji Terada, and music composer Nobuo Uematsu returned from the two previous Final Fantasy games to contribute to the development of Final Fantasy III. As with the previous two installments of the series, Final Fantasy III was programmed for the Famicom by Nasir Gebelli. It was the last original Final Fantasy title worked on by Gebelli. The finished game was one of the largest ever produced for the Famicom. Like many console role-playing games of the era, Final Fantasy III is noted for its difficulty.

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.

Cancelled WonderSwan Color remake

Bandai unveiled their WonderSwan Color handheld system in and had immediately headed up a deal with Square Co. to release enhanced remakes of their first three Final Fantasy titles on the new console. Although Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II were both released within a year of the announcement, Final Fantasy III was ultimately delayed from its late release date, even after Bandai picked up the game's publishing rights. While a port of Final Fantasy IV was eventually released for the WonderSwan Color, Square remained silent regarding Final Fantasy III. Although the game was never formally canceled, the official website was taken offline once production of the WonderSwan Color consoles ceased in .

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:

Nintendo DS

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.

Musical score

Final Fantasy III was scored by Nobuo Uematsu, and it is Uematsu's twenty-first work of video game music. Final Fantasy III: Yūkyū no Kaze Densetsu, an arranged album by Uematsu featuring vocals by Dido, a Japanese vocal duo of Michiaki Kato and Shizuru Ohtaka, was also issued shortly following the release of the Famicom game in 1990. A soundtrack album of the original game score followed a year later.

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.

Manga adaptation

, a manga serialization of Final Fantasy III llustrated by Yu Kinutani, was published from 1991 through 1992 in Kadokawa Shoten's Famicom gaming magazine, . Based on the original story by Kenji Terada, the manga chronicles the events that take place throughout the course of the game. It was subsequently collected into three tankobon under Kadokawa Shoten's Dragon Comics imprint:

  • Legend of the Eternal Wind 1, from Final Fantasy III - ISBN 4-04-926028-X
  • Legend of the Eternal Wind 2, from Final Fantasy III - ISBN 4-04-926033-6
  • Legend of the Eternal Wind 3, from Final Fantasy III - ISBN 4-04-926037-9

Reception

The Famicom version Final Fantasy III was thought to be typical of RPGs of its day, with a high degree of difficulty requiring a significant amount of grinding. It was influential in the development of the magic system and job systems of Final Fantasy XI. In 2006, readers of the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu voted the original Final Fantasy III the eighth-best video game of all-time. The Famicom version of the game sold over one million copies.

Nintendo DS

The remake's reception has been mostly positive with high sales and fair reviews from video game critics. IGN states that "interest in FFIII should come as no surprise given...the popularity of the DS". The game sold 500,000 units within the first week in Japan, beating Square-Enix's original prediction that they would only sell 350,000. Figurines of the characters from the game have been created.

References

External links

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