Final Fantasy is a particularly well-regarded series for RPGs, with III being the latest retro port to Windows Phone. In this case, it's a port of the 2006 DS version, largely remaining the same.
For clarification, due to confusing naming early on, this is not
the Final Fantasy III from the Super Nintendo. STORY
As an earthquake rocks a continent, four children are chosen by the crystals as the Warriors of Light, tasked with restoring the balance between darkness and light. And... that's about it, really. The story largely tasks the player into visiting one dungeon after another, meeting new people who don't stay relevant for long, meeting the other crystals to receive new blessings... it's fairly barebones.
This would be fine, if the ports didn't try to add more of a story on top of it. Paradoxically, the story actually suffers from the additions, as it was not a comprehensive rewrite. For example, text in one area will tell you that a cataclysm rocked the world a thousand years ago, whereas another NPC will assert that the same event was only ten years ago. If you're not paying attention to the story overmuch, this is hardly a game killer, but following the story will raise a few eyebrows where the original and the additions collide.
The story also includes MogNet, which lets you read letters from previous characters you've met. This mainly serves as filler text and the starting point for a handful of sidequests.GAMEPLAY
Battles are fought within a real-time turn-based system. At the beginning of each turn, queue up actions such as Attack, Magic, Guard, Item, and so on. When the turn starts, turn order is decided automagically between allies and enemies, with actions taken in that order.
Automagically was not a joke; one of the sticking points of the combat system is an unreliable turn order. In similar systems, and in fact similar Final Fantasy games, an Agility stat would determine order. Nimble and quick classes like thieves and ninjas went first, with slower classes like knights going last. Instead, turn order seems to be semi-randomized. In my case, it liked the order of light armor classes, then mages, then heavy armor, but that didn't stop thieves from going last or knights going first for no reason at all. This makes strategizing particularly difficult, if not pointless, especially in regards to healing.
This is also the first Final Fantasy game to feature a job system. After meeting each crystal, you get more jobs to choose from. Ideally, this involves regularly changing around your party to meet new threats, but there's a damper on it in the form of adjustment phases and job levels. As soon as you change jobs, there's an adjustment phase that lowers stats until the period is over, which can be anywhere from 1 to 10 battles. After dealing with this a few times, it only serves to make you wary about changing jobs. Each character has job levels for each individual job, and as they rise, they become more proficient at that job. This also means that when changing to a new job, even if it's otherwise an upgrade, will have a different adjustment phase, where the better job is actually weaker due solely to less job levels in the new job. Both of these combine to make the player wary to really try out a new party after committing without a significant upgrade.DIFFICULTY
The difficulty is fairly erratic, with early parts being somewhat easy to mildly challenging, depending what enemies appear, to sudden roadblocks of death that are overcome by grinding levels. You may blaze through a few dungeons in a row, just to get tripped up on the next one, only for it to be smooth sailing for the next few dungeons.
In other ways, the difficulty is offset by the Continue function. Other ports of the game have the distinction of very few save points, especially in long dungeons. If you need to close the game immediately, Continue brings you back to the point you were at. This can also be used to skip some annoyingly difficult areas by closing the app during a fight if things aren't going your way. While this stops needlessly difficult random fights, it won't get through boss fights and may just leave you underpowered for them, so it doesn't eliminate the need for grinding.AUDIO/VISUAL
The game is an eight year old DS remake, and looks alright given its age, but it's not likely to wow anyone looking at it with a modern eye.ACHIEVEMENTS
By playing through the game normally, you are guaranteed 5 of the game's 18 achievements. There are also two achievements for earning money, another for completing a specific MogNet sidequest, obtaining summonable creatures, completing the bestiary, finding every treasure chest, and defeating the optional superboss. Two of these, for completing the bestiary and finding every treasure chest, are missable due to one-time-only areas. Outside of that, only the superboss, Iron Giant, is likely to give any dedicated player pause.
The real grind comes with job levels. There is one achievement for getting any job to level 99, but the difficult one is getting job level 99 on all 23 jobs on all 4 characters. For that alone, don't expect this to be an easy completion.SUMMARY
I typically don't bring up prices in reviews, but it bears noting here. For comparison, what's typically considered an expensive mobile game is around $5. This game's predecessor, Final Fantasy (WP)
, is $7. Final Fantasy III is $16. Even if this were the greatest game on WP, this price alone would cause hesitation. I've docked it half a star based on that. Should the game be on sale, knock it back up half a star.
Even with the questionable design choices of being able to switch party roles but being punished for it, an unpredictable turn order, and a rewritten story that occasionally offers more confusion than clarity, it is still worth being called Final Fantasy and a decent choice if you're looking for another turn-based RPG. However, it's one of the weaker games by comparison.