Right around this time last month, we learned that Final Fantasy III might be coming to iOS by way of a scanned image from Japanese gaming magazine V-Jump, and the very next day it was confirmed by a tweet on Square Enix’s Twitter account. Next we wondered which version of Final Fantasy III it would be, and this was also quickly discovered to be an enhanced remake of the 2006 Nintendo DS title, which itself was a remake of the original Japanese Famicom (NES) game from 1990.

Following along? Good, because it gets even more confusing. Most Americans fondly remember playing Final Fantasy III on their Super Nintendo, but due to Square skipping several Final Fantasy releases outside of Japan, what we know as Final Fantasy III on Super NIntendo is actually Final Fantasy VI chronologically. The 2006 DS remake marked the first time the true Final Fantasy III had been officially released in North America, and now an enhanced version of this game is available for download on the App Store.

Whew! Despite all the confusing backstory, Final Fantasy III is a highly regarded entry in the series. This new iOS version takes the 3D graphics from the DS and enhances them both with higher quality textures and support for Retina Displays. It doesn’t quite look as visually impressive as some games that have been built from the ground up for the power of iOS devices, but it looks far and away better than the DS version and the reworked controls for the touch screen work extremely well. A touch anywhere virtual analog stick handles character movement, and practically everything in the game from the menus to the battles themselves is tap friendly.

The big feature from this Final Fantasy that set it apart from most other RPGs at the time is the job system. You control a party of 4 members and have the ability to switch up each of their jobs, or classes, at any time. More than 20 jobs become available as you progress in the game, and each job will level up independently from the character itself, adding an interesting layer of strategy and variation to the combat. Also your character's appearance changes with the job you choose for them, and part of the fun is decking out your party with new digs, of which there are many different combinations.

Apart from the job system and shiny new graphics, Final Fantasy III is a fairly typical RPG. Not that this is a bad thing, as Square is a master of this genre, but it’s important to note that much of the gameplay retains the shortcomings of a game that was designed over 20 years ago. The story is the typical tale of a ragtag group of youngsters out to save the world from certain doom, but at the time of the original game it was pretty epic. Now it's fairly cliché and largely forgettable, but not terrible. Random battle encounters are abundant, and cannot be turned off. This is fine since there are points in the game where grinding is necessary, but it does really slow down the pace of the game.

Battles take place in true turn-based fashion, meaning you will preselect the actions of your characters and then watch them play out in front of you, followed by the actions of your enemies. It’s fun and very tactical, but again the whole process is slow and prevents the game from flowing well. It would be handy to be able to skip through some of the battle animations or the victory sequences if you wanted to, since battling is so frequent that these extra bits grow tiresome during the course of the game.

Another thing to consider is that Final Fantasy III is a brutally difficult game. You can save to a save slot when in the world map, which can be loaded at any time, or use a quick save while in dungeons which can't be loaded repeatedly and only serves to continue one time right from where you left off. So should you die at a boss after making it all the way through a dungeon, your only option is to load from your save slot and start the dungeon over from the beginning.

This sort of save system isn't as friendly as some more modern games, but it's how games were back in the day and it does prevent people cheesing the system and saving right before a particularly hard part. It's also worth pointing out that your exact state is saved upon exiting the game or receiving a call or text, which is an incredibly important feature to have in a game like this.

It might sound like I'm being pretty negative, but the truth is that I like Final Fantasy III a whole lot, as do many players in our forums, and the iOS version is definitely the premiere edition of the game. More than anything, I point out these shortcomings just so you're fully aware of what you're getting into. If you’re prepared to deal with some of the old-school RPG trappings contained in Final Fantasy III, then you’ll likely find it one of the best role-playing experiences in the App Store. But if you’re mostly used to newer RPGs and the advancements that have come with them over the years, then Final Fantasy III may be too retro for your taste.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Truth

    Anyone know when the iPad version is coming out?

    • http://twitter.com/Kamuro Kamuro

      The iPad version is included.

      • Anonymous

        Not universal.

      • Diceman

        I really wish more Apps, especially games were Universal Apps. It is really annoying to buy things multiple times. I tend to just not buy games that aren't Universal.

      • Diceman

        I really wish more Apps, especially games were Universal Apps. It is really annoying to buy things multiple times. I tend to just not buy games that aren't Universal.

    • Fezzyness

      April :)

  • http://edulacerda.tumblr.com/ edulacerda

    Very, very expansive.

    "Another thing to consider is that Final Fantasy III is a brutally difficult game" → Playstation generation detected. Contra, Ghosts in Goblins (Nes version) Battletoads are hard game, not Final Fantay III.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      Yeah, I've beaten all the games you mention. Playing a dungeon for an hour or more, after engaging in 50+ random battles, only to die at the end and have to do it all over = brutally difficult in my book. You can bypass this by grinding your ass off so your potential of dying is lowered, but a fairly typical playthrough can be pretty hard.

      • http://twitter.com/Kamuro Kamuro

        I remember the last time I played Final Fantasy VII. I fighted enemies on the world map for hours until I was so tough to finish the dungeons easily. There was this snake in the swamp after midgar. I run through the swamp without a chocobo, grinded in the area afterwards and came back to kick it's ass before leaving the first island. That's the spirit to play FFs I guess ;)

      • Anonymous

        Imagine how many hours of your life were lost just sitting through the epic, unskippable 20 second animation that precedes every fight.

      • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

        "Lost" or "filled with 32-bit 1997 joy"? hahahah..

        joking

      • http://twitter.com/Kamuro Kamuro

        HaHa, that's true.

      • Zit

        You've beaten Battletoads? Somehow I don't believe it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrzej-Raczynski/668591493 Andrzej Raczynski

        that's the type of gameplay/game i don't bother with at all. i play to relax/unwind, i have enough of the real world in the real world.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      Yeah, I've beaten all the games you mention. Playing a dungeon for an hour or more, after engaging in 50+ random battles, only to die at the end and have to do it all over = brutally difficult in my book. You can bypass this by grinding your ass off so your potential of dying is lowered, but a fairly typical playthrough can be pretty hard.

    • Moocow

      Contra is very easy. Ghosts and Goblinsm Battletoads and the first Mega Man games are what I would call "brutally hard".

    • seriously?

      HURHURHUR FINAL FANTASY WAS A NES GAME NOT PSX. :/

  • Blueknight1st

    I might have bought this if the art style would have been anything other than that awful chibi style.

    • Jay

      I concur, I honestly find it to be, well, vile. I know it's personal preference, but damn it why couldn't they have just used the graphical style from their FFI and FFII remakes? Sigh...

      • http://twitter.com/Thanatist Ivo

        What's vile about it?

      • Jay

        Mostly how androgynous/effeminate they've made the male characters. Yick!

        I'm pretty biased about that sort of thing though...

  • Awesome

    The Square enix full console like pricing has scared away all the crackers LOL

    • http://twitter.com/Thanatist Ivo

      That's full console pricing? I wish...

    • http://www.facebook.com/Fi2do Brian Gonzalez

      You are so wrong... A lot of 'crackers' do it just for fun, they don't even play the games or use the apps. 16 bucks is nothing compared to what k'ers like M_U (hoping you know who is he) have spent, I've heard he have spent almost 3,000 bucks in AppStore apps and just for fun, in his words: "This is an expensive hobby"...

  • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

    It's worth pointing out that there are some nasty technical problems with this port. The textures, while higher res than their DS originals are still pretty chunky, and are totally unfiltered. This means when up close everything looks extremely blocky and crude.

    Worse though is the frame rate, which at best is 30fps but is usually lower. On the world map it's around 5fps.

    It's another shoddy port from Square unfortunately. I wish someone at Apple would tell Square how to actually code for the iPhone's GPU properly.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      What device? I have none of those problems on an iPhone 4, but I do notice a diminished frame rate on the world map. But FAR from 5fps. The rest of the game is smooth as butter.

      Also, I've never had problems with other Square games, except Secret of Mana. But even that wasn't so bad.

    • Zandog

      Im playing on an itouch 4. No slow down here. The game feels and plays well. The textures are abit bland but it doesn't take away from the quality of the experience.

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      Yeah, I'm guessing that's because of your iPod touch. I have a 4G and don't expect any slowdown for a remake of a friggin DS game.

      Again, have you seen Infinity Blade?

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      Yeah, I'm guessing that's because of your iPod touch. I have a 4G and don't expect any slowdown for a remake of a friggin DS game.

      Again, have you seen Infinity Blade?

      • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

        I'm using an iPhone 4.

        FF3 ran at a solid 30fps on the DS. An iPhone 4 is many times more powerful but in the hands of Square is completely unable to match the DS' frame rate. Something isn't right, and it sure isn't the iPhone 4's CPU or GPU.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Sounds like a problem with your phone. I have the DS version and it runs far more smoothly on iOS. I haven't seen anybody else complain about the frame rate either *shrugs*

      • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

        It runs beautifully for me on iPod touch 4G

  • Fredrik Jackson

    Looks very good. I just wish I liked Final Fantasy..

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      Not a video game fan...

      • Fredrik Jackson

        I am, but I'm just not into Final Fantasy. I can't help it. Everyone has different taste, I prefer platform games and first person shooters.

      • Gnarkill

        I like you normally. I prefer to play Counter Strike or Battlefield most days. But this FF game is the only one I've actually managed to take the time to beat, twice, and am now gonna go through it a third time. It is a great game.

  • http://twitter.com/BulkSlash BulkSlash

    I wish they'd done something about the difficulty. I don't mind hard games in general, but I cannot stand losing 30 mins+ of progress and being made to do it all over again (and again and again etc). I don't mind fighting a hard boss over and over, but having to do the whole level again just to get to the boss is just unnecessary punishment IMHO. I suppose they did it this way so you can grind extra EXP if you get stuck on the boss. Oh well...

    • http://tinyurl.com/26qdufz qbgabe12

      the old school solution is to gain EXP over and over before enter any dungeon...

  • RetinaOrBust

    I'll wait for a sale. If Square-Enix is going to sell a 16 dollar remake on the iPhone, it has to be pixel perfect. I like that it supports Retina displays but the low res textures makes me want to wait for a price decrease.

    Also, considering Square-Enix has no track record of actually putting out big updates (they're usually tiny bug fixes), I'm 99% confident that FFIII will never see an update that increases the texture resolution.

    • Imtheonlyninja

      Probably true on grafics update.
      But square enix DID bring us a sweet lloking game for a lower price than the initial DS release which was great.

      I dont find this game to be difficult, yet the grinding will be a bit of a bother.
      Well done square enix, a great port in my books.

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      Not sure how this isn't pixel perfect when the graphics have been majorly improved over the original DS (and obviously, the 2D original). What more do you want?

      Anyway, I never played this game, so it should be a treat.

      • RetinaOrBust

        The 2D sprite overlays have been majorly improved but the 3D textures are, like Phil Baxter mentioned, are low resolution. Pixel-perfect quality would mean high quality textures.

      • Anonymous

        I agree with RetinaOrBust, while it does look slightly better than the DS version, it could have gotten the Retina Display treatment at the very least. I still would have preferred the 2D remake that FFI and FFII got. I'll buy when on sale.

        Hopefully FF4 and FF5 are 2D.

  • RazJUK

    £9.49??? I will wait for the sale then, I bought Secret of Mana for £5.99 and felt that was overpriced. Chaos Rings certainly wasn't worth £7.99.
    I find it hard to stomache when Gameloft release 'new' games for £3.99 and then Square release old ports for more than double the price.
    Anyway I actually enjoyed Eternal Legacy more than Chaos Rings even with the Shoddy voiceovers.

    • Anonymous

      Good point. Though Gameloft's games don't have as much content, they still do have a more modern feel that this old port lacks.

  • UltiMatE

    Outworn story or not, I found myself liking these "retro" games much more than the current titles, at least in the AppStore definitely.
    By then a feature wasn't added to an RPG, because it's an RPG, and must have certain gameplay elements, either done well or not, but because the developers tought they would be cool.

  • burnit

    i wish we could turn of battle animations and get grinding over with quickly.

  • Johnny15

    $15.99??!! OMG LOL!! Great game, but definitely the most ridiculous price I have ever seen to date. $5.99 and universal would be much more reasonable.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed... If it was a new game, maybe. But a port from 2006/1990? Nowhere near this value.

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      Just admit that you don't have a job and move on. If this game takes about 20-30 hrs to complete that's about 50 cents an hour. Do you think you can afford it? I sure can.

  • SantanaClaus89

    If this supported iPad natively I would have bought it already. Shame.

    • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

      Square will surely do an iPad version soon enough, which will involve them changing the render target size from 960x640 to 1024x768, the hitting 'compile', then 'publish to app store'. Oh and they'll edit the price to add another 50% on no doubt to cover the 10 seconds of work they put into it.

      Square have no money so it's hardly surprising they're going to milk their old cash cows until they drop dead.

      • shadowcockend

        not sure how you would know how much money square have lol. im pretty sure they have more money than you wil ever earn in a lifetime.:)

      • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

        what a stupid thing to say, are you aware that the creative team behind the original FF series has left the company about 10 years ago? Have they released anything remarkable since then? What a stupid thing to say, to compare the revenues of a company to those of a single individual. Moron.

  • Endersgame21

    Go beat Dragon Warrior 1 for the NES and THEN you can complain about grinding. That game was nothing but grinding with a few moments of dialog thrown in. (And yes, I've beaten it—using Nescaline for iOS, before it got pulled, no less!)

  • Relytgninroht

    Funny... The ds version is cheaper than this at $9.99. So much for dirt cheap games- it just couldn't last forever. Eventually, more publishers/developers will be more bold with their prices. They have to eat too ya'know!

    • Relytgninroht

      Might get it, but already beat the ds version (I don't have it anymore though). Depends on whether they significantly improved it and added more content...

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      They're not the same game since.. you know.. the DS graphics are pretty gross. That's a used game, after all. When it first came out it was about 40 bucks, no?

  • Steven H.

    Final Fantasy III for the DS is a horrible, horrible game. Terrible. Worthless. Rip your eyes out exasperating. What is the point? What is the point?

  • raaaaaaaandy

    i have the ipad version but there is a glitch it wont let me use mini spell even though i have mp and this is outside of battle

  • Chris Heino

    I like the original nes version best.

    • Dirk

      Yeah, in Japanese, on the Famicom.

  • http://www.fri-v.com/ Friv

    I'm using an samsung galaxy s4.

FINAL FANTASY III Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 4