Retro: VC Weekly #159

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

If you're an avid RPG fan then there's a treat for you with the latest VC release as it just so happens to be one of the best from the 16-Bit era. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Final Fantasy III

Points: 900
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Squaresoft
Released: 1994
System: SNES

You only have to utter the two words 'Final' and 'Fantasy' together in order to get some sort of response out of anyone who has played games because largely regardless of era they will have heard of the series at some point; so assuming that anyone reading this knows what I'm talking about then I shall continue with a lesser known fact. The series started off as being most popular in Japan and due to this decided against releasing the fifth instalment outside of the country, instead they released the more highly regarded sixth game but under the name Final Fantasy III in the US and this is the game that has now been released on the Virtual Console in Europe, hence the slightly inflated pricetag but be assured that it is worth it.

Thankfully not straying too much from the tried and tested formula seems to work well as you'll still be travelling between places whilst having many random battle encounters while on foot which gets you into the habit of levelling up early on; later though you are able to pilot an airship or even ride a Chocobo which makes journeying less tedious at times when you just want to get somewhere fast. Ensuring your party has the best possible equipment still plays a vital role but on top of the usual armour, items and weapons you can also equip 'Relics' which bestow special skills unto the character who equips them, plus being that you can hold up to two on each party member you'll want to experiment with the different combinations.

Battles play out beautifully thanks to the enhanced version of the famed 'ATB' or 'Active Time Battle' system which was employed by Crono Trigger, this time while you still have to wait for the meter to fill up alongside each character you now have varied menu selections determined by each characters individual class; these range from forms of magic to a variety of skills that can prove very useful. There is also a 'last resort' attack that can be used at times when your characters health is running ridiculously low and the tensions are running high, these are excellent tweaks that add so much to a battle system that's already exceptionally enjoyable.

From a visual standpoint there has been a great deal of detail added throughout whilst still ensuring that the charm from the previous titles isn't lost in translation, the result is an aesthetically pleasing title that doesn't quite push the boundaries of the consoles capabilities so much as it makes use of what's available in a way that fits in perfectly with the style while adding a bit of variety by incorporating a Mode-7 map which serves the game well while looking presentable. The soundtrack is nothing short of stunning featuring many marvellous compositions that fit perfectly not just with each new area that's discovered but with each and every moment within the game binding everything together beautifully.

All of the aforementioned elements would be for nought if the game didn't have an engaging story with excellent characters that bring it all to life plus genuinely decent elements that make the game fun to play; thankfully though all of this is present as the story is fascinating making you want to play on, so you do while the game keeps giving goodness in many forms such as having the ability to not only choose from many different characters throughout but also being able to control multiple parties. As the story progresses you'll find yourself becoming more involved with the characters as the plot unravels unrelentingly, also worthy of note is the main antagonist 'Kefka' who provides much of the games enjoyment for me personally and while I shan't spoil any plot details, suffice to say he's one of the best villains I've ever witnessed and adds so much to the overall experience.

Undeniably this is truly a classic game of its genre that still shines brightly even today as one of the best within the Final Fantasy series and has already gone down in history for it, playing the game now just reinforces what has been said before as rest assured that this is a title of real quality. This is something that Square should be proud of and undoubtedly are as I'd consider it to be one of their crowning achievements; now it stands tall as one of the best RPG's that you can purchase on the Virtual Console and I would recommend it to anyone who has yet to experience its excellence.

Verdict : A masterfully crafted and magical title that truly mesmerises.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins
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