Final Fantasy III

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Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

One of the first things many fans think of when they think of Final Fantasy is the fleshed out job system. You know the one, each of your character’s can be given a specific job like Fighter, Thief, Black Mage, Summoner, or any number of other combat roles. As they gain points in that class, they unlock permanent upgrades that they can then bring to other classes. Want a Thief with some healing abilities? Or a Summoner that can cast multiple spells in a single turn? Multi-classing possibilities are endless! So it comes as a surprise to many fans that the job system as people tend to remember it, has only ever been in a small handful of mainline Final Fantasy games, two of which weren’t even released in the US on their original platforms. Today, let’s talk about the game that introduced the Final Fantasy job system. Today’s game is Final Fantasy III, developed by Square and released on the Famicom in 1990.

Final Fantasy III starts off with four orphans who begin with the noble job of Onion Knight. While the later remakes individualized each character into their own person, the original version of Final Fantasy III had all of the characters be nameless and look generic. After an earthquake opens up a new cavern, the four kids explore and find the Crystal of Light which pronounces them the heroes of light and states that they must bring balance back to the world.

They soon learn that their floating continent is only one small part of the world as a whole and they must journey across the land, righting wrongs and discovering the cause behind the darkness shrouding the world. The turn-based battle system feels extremely similar to the other 8-bit Final Fantasy titles and it wasn’t until the next entry that we would be introduced to the Active Time Battle system famous in the series today. Nearly all of the changes made in Final Fantasy II were removed including the individual stat upgrades and the keyword conversation system to make this feel more like the classic Final Fantasy fans remember today. Characters level up by gaining experience but they also gain Job Points after every battle, leveling up their current job. 

Final Fantasy III was the last game made by the full original team as the programmer Nasir was brought back to the US on work visa issues. This move actually occurred mid-development and the rest of the team temporarily moved to San Francisco with him to finish the project. Somewhat ironic that Final Fantasy III was finished in the US but wouldn’t be released there until much, much later. Final Fantasy III was well received in Japan, making it onto Famitsu’s game of the year lists for 1990. Due to the high cost and long wait for localization at the time, and the SNES coming out less than a year later, it was decided to skip Final Fantasy III in the west. Of the classic Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy III was actually the last to be officially localized, not coming over until 2006 on the Nintendo DS. In retrospect, it’s interesting to try Final Fantasy III for the origins of the job system but it’s fairly limited and incredibly broken compared to Final Fantasy V’s much more fleshed out system. Still, fans almost universally consider III to be the best of the NES trilogy and the game’s remake is easy to play on Android, iOS and PC to this day.

Thank you so much for listening! If you haven’t heard, Adrian Simple and I have launched a weekly news podcast called The Gaming Observer Podcast. We release new episodes every Tuesday talking about the biggest gaming news of the week and our takes on what’s going on in the industry. Go check that out on iTunes or wherever you find your podcasts. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day!

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.