Like canned fruit, Final Fantasy III is still sweet and satisfying years after inception. It's obviously not as fresh as a newly ripened game, yet that doesn't stop this well-done remake from being a treat.
In spite of its age - more than two decades has past since the original release in Japan - Square Enix has remade this straightforward role-playing game into a charming adventure packed with enough variety and depth to keep you entertained.
While not everything about the game's design is ideal, the iPhone and iPod touch-specific features are nicely implemented.A familiar tale
The story of an unlikely boy-turned-hero taking up arms to save the world with a band of equally inexperienced warriors seems cliche in the role-playing games of today, but revisiting the predictable tale redrawn in 3D is charming in its own way.
A mere hour into the lengthy adventure, your party is packed and you're casting magic, unsheathing swords, and plucking arrows against an array of classic Final Fantasy foes.
The series' iconic job system finds its roots here. Each of your four characters starts off as a generic freelancer capable of casting low level magic spells and wielding basic weapons. As you progress new jobs become available specialising in magic, melee attacks, ranged hits, and a variety of special abilities such as the thief's skill in nabbing items from enemies.
Along with generally levelling up your characters, you also level up their assigned job to unlock new abilities. Even more customisation is possible by outfitting five distinct equipment slots on each character, as well as slotting magic spells dependent on your party members' jobs.Sparklers
A basic turn-based combat system rekindles affection for the role-playing games of old. It's not sophisticated in the least and is clunky at times - the stiff turn order can be frustrating - yet to revamp the battle system would incite the fury of purists even if it resulted in something more flexible.
More problematic are the puzzles, which frequently involve scouting out interactive objects hidden in dungeons and towns. Using multi-touch to zoom in for a close look at your surroundings, you're able to find sparkles that signify an object of interest.
While this sort of interaction is great, actually discovering these trigger points is unnecessarily tricky. There isn't anything to identify these interactive points when zoomed out, which is to say you can only see the sparkling object when zoomed in. Without knowing exactly where to look, it's often difficult to know what to do.You can do it with just one screen
When it comes to the controls and interface, Square Enix has done a fine job configuring the game to iPhone and iPod touch. Battle menus are clear and concise, and you can directly tap on enemies to quickly issue weapon attack commands. A contextual virtual analogue stick allows you to move your party by placing a finger anywhere on the screen.
The graphics have been sharpened, too, although many of the textures remain blurry, resulting in an inconsistent presentation.
The visuals are occasionally choppy too, though it's not a killer. On the topic of disappointments, the curious decision to neuter the online Mognet messaging system is unfortunate - after all, iPhone and iPod touch do have wi-fi capability.
Nevertheless, Final Fantasy III is enjoyable without this minor feature attached. The solid controls and straightforward gameplay make for an easy-going portable adventure.