Released for Famicom in 1990. Initially released only in Japan. First came to North America when it was re-released for Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, PCs and mobile phones.
1,000 years ago, an advanced civilization on a floating continent hovering above the world decided to harness the power of the four Crystals of Light, but their technology was too weak – they were unprepared for the responsibility, and ultimately unable to contain the full force of the crystals’ power.
The power of light thankfully did not consume the world as the Crystals of Light had natural counterparts: the four dark elemental crystals. Because of the sudden imbalance of power caused by the consumption of light, four warriors were granted the power of the Dark Crystals to recapture the power of the Light Crystals.
The skilled dark warriors succeeded in restoring harmony, but their victory came too late to save the doomed civilization on the floating continent, which was now in ruin from the uncontained power of the Light Crystals.
In the present day, there were four orphans who lived on the floating continent in the remote village of Ur.
Luneth, an adventurous young man whose personality symbolizes courage.
Arc, a shy but intelligent young childhood friend of Luneth whose personality symbolizes kindness.
Refia, a girl from the village of Kazus who often runs away from home after she grew tired of her father’s blacksmith training. Her personality symbolizes affection.
Ingus, a loyal soldier who serves the King of Sasune and has a soft spot for Princess Sara. His personality symbolizes determination.
One day, an earthquake occurs on the continent and opens a pathway to a hidden cave. The four friends explore the cave and come across a Crystal of Light which grants them its power, deems them the Light Warriors and instructs them to restore balance to the world.
They leave their village and set out to explore the world, eventually learning during their adventure that there is another world beyond their own.
When the warriors explore the world beneath the floating continent, they discover a warlock named Xande who is trying to possess the Crystals of Light to bring forth chaos. The reasoning behind this comes to light when the warriors arrive at the Crystal Tower and discover the one behind Xande’s actions is actually a vicious deity known as the Cloud of Darkness.
She seeks to wreck the balance of light and darkness to allow the Void to consume the world, similar to the flood of light that mankind caused a thousand years earlier.
The Light Warriors must go to the domain of the Dark Crystals to defeat the Cloud of Darkness, freeing the Dark Warriors of olde and saving the world.
Kenji Terada once again returned to write the scenario for the story by Hironobu Sakaguchi, who would direct.
Final Fantasy III would bring back the experience points level-up system emitted from FFII, but also introduce many firsts for the series. One of the most significant being the job system. Jobs, or professions, that differentiate your characters from each other have been used in role-playing games since Dungeons & Dragons. The job system from Final Fantasy III allowed characters in your party to change classes, advance their classes and combine two different classes as you progress through the game. The series would become known for this mechanic.
Other things introduced in FFIII:
- During enemy battles, hit points are shown above the targets following your attacks and above you following enemy attacks, in addition to following healing actions. The status of you and your enemy’s health being displayed during battles made the game more user-friendly.
- In a lot of turn-based RPGs, if you plan an attack with multiple attackers and targets, your target will sometimes be defeated by an ally before your pre-planned attack can damage them, in which case the attack will automatically target the undefeated enemy next to them instead. The auto-targeting mechanic was first introduced in this game.
- This game also introduced one of the most popular Final Fantasy features, which is the ability to summon creatures to fight with you in battle through the use of the “Summon” command.
Final Fantasy III was well-received in Japan when it first came out on Famicom. The job system was revolutionary and completely new and many gaming publications called it one of the best games of 1990, but it is not for everyone. The constant monster fighting required to build experience can be a tedious grind and it is not an easy game to beat. The things that do not hold up were especially noticeable in the re-releases, but many of the modern publications reviewing the Nintendo DS remake still gave it positive reviews. Many of the fun things about the game made the grinds tolerable.
Final Fantasy was still in its beginning stages. The 8-bit era was coming to an end and the nineties was the decade where the franchise would show what it was made of and retain legendary status.