Where Final Fantasy II felt like it was really trying to branch away from the original Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy III almost feels like a retread of the very first game. In both its storytelling and its core gameplay systems, the third instalment in Square’s series has much in common with its progenitor — although it does well to expand upon what came before.
The main attraction of Final Fantasy III is undoubtedly its job system — the first of its kind in the franchise. You start the game with four generic heroes, but at various points in the story, you unlock new jobs — character classes — allowing you to build and customise your party however you like. It’s a flexible and fun system, even today, and gaining access to shiny new jobs is always a joy.
There’s a really nice sense of character progression here, as you level up your heroes as well as their current class. Finding specialisations for each of your four protagonists can be an addictive and rewarding process, especially when you start finding job-specific equipment and all-powerful items later on in the adventure.
As mentioned, though, the plot does take a backseat in Final Fantasy III. Not necessarily to a detrimental degree, but it’s another streamlined, good-versus-evil fairy tale that rarely engages. Again, it’s the gameplay that’ll keep you hooked, between the jobs and some deceptively tricky turn-based combat.
Indeed, the game does kick up the difficulty at times, forcing you to prioritise team composition. There’s a strategic depth to this third title that previous entries didn’t achieve, and it makes for some surprisingly tense encounters.
In a world where the 3D remake of Final Fantasy III exists, it’s hard to argue that Final Fantasy III Pixel Remaster is the definitive version. However, there’s no denying that this classic RPG still holds up, even though it struggles to wow outside of its enjoyable job system.