The third in the Final Fantasy series, this one was never released in North America – so to play it you need to find a reproduction translated in to English, or get a Famicom and get the cartridge from Japan. Or a translated ROM with an emulator of course.
Once again 4 heroes must set out and save the world. This time they are very young looking kids, and their starter job is “Onion Knight”. I have no idea what the translation is behind that, but it continues through the rest of the Final Fantasy series.
Another change from the previous two games, this is the introduction of the classic Final Fantasy job system. Where characters have a job, and depending on what their job is they have certain skills and/or powers available to them. In addition to gaining overall character levels – characters gain class levels (which I think makes them more powerful in that specific class but I’m not sure).
Switching jobs can be done on the fly, it just requires class change points, which you earn through combat. Different jobs cost more to change to. As long as you aren’t changing all the time you shouldn’t have a problem keeping enough points in the bank.
I have an English translated manual which I will upload for you HERE. It’s designed to be printed out double sided and folded together, so if you are reading on the computer make sure to follow the page numbers down to the bottom then back up the other side.
Not much has changed here. There are grass, desert, forest, mountain and ocean tiles. Throughout the course of the game you will get access to multiple different types of conveyance. There are different types of airships, and water ships that you’ll make use of in your journey. Interestingly in this installment, mountains can’t be crossed by airships – thought there is one that can “jump” over small sections of mountain.
You begin on the floating continent, which is cool and a big enough world in of itself. But it’s just a very small part of the overall world. There is the flooded world below, the unflooded world, and the underwater world. Needless to say there is lots to do and explore.
Once more talking to everyone is super important in figuring out what to do next. There are actually legitimate side quests in this edition that you can skip and never even know you missed if you weren’t paying attention. Unfortunately all they do is provide access to summons earlier than the very end of the game, but they are useful summons.
Another unique thing about this Final Fantasy is the requirement to use certain jobs at certain points of the game to continue to proceed. There are a few areas that you have to be “mini” to access. The mini status makes your character miniature (you can cast it on yourself) which makes their attacks do basically no damage. So swapping your characters all to magic using types is necessary. Similarly to kill one of the bosses your whole party needs to be dragoons, and you need to have some luck on your side.
There are other points that having a certain type of character in your party makes the game easier. If you have a thief you can unlock doors without keys (you can change which character is leading on the map screen). Thieves can also run away (100%) from combat which is useful in some areas. Dark knights are the only characters able to equip weapons that prevent enemies from duplicating themselves in certain dungeons – having one or more is pretty much required.
Combat has some elements of the previous games. You can swap your equipped weapons during combat, they don’ t have to be equipped beforehand either. There is a front and back row – though characters in the back row can be attacked, just for lesser damage. If the enemy you have selected to attack dies before your turn, you will attack another random enemy. The selection is unfortunately completely random, so taking care still yields better results. Magic is the exception, it doesn’t re-target. Though you can cast magic on all enemies at once, so in that case it doesn’t matter as much.
Different jobs have some special abilities in combat. These can be accessed in the standard menu. Fighters have a defend ability, mages can cast magic, black belts can charge up their power, thieves have the escape power etc. Some of these powers are pretty cool and unique – like the Geomancer terrain ability that basically casts magic based on what background your’re fighting on.
This is the first time you see summons in a Final Fantasy game. Something that has become a staple in future games. There are three different types of summoners – the basic one that has a chance of doing a single target or a multi-target spell based on the summon. The advance summoner that always does multi-target damage. And the final Sage class that can basically do everything including summons.
We’re back to having magic levels, and specific spells for each level again similar to Final Fantasy 1. Characters can only learn 3 spells for each level, and can cast them a number of times based on their character level and the job they are assigned.
There are three types of spells this time – white, black and summon. Any character can learn any or all of the three types, but only certain jobs can cast them. Magic can be swapped between characters en masse, or you can individually turn spells back in to items that you can give to new characters (or sell).
There are 3 types of white and black magic for each spell level, and 1 summon spell for each level. The most powerful summon spells can be fought and defeated to obtain them, or bought very close to the end of the game (in case you wanted more than one summoner I guess).
The only way to replenish magic outside of an Inn is to use an elixir. These become very important at the end of the game where you have to run through really long dungeons in succession.
Plot Outline – (spoilers)
This is the longest game to date, lots of stuff happens and it takes a while to find your way around. The addition of various new vehicles gives you tons of new territory to explore.
An earthquake opens up a previously hidden cavern. Four young orphans explore the cave and come across a crystal of light that grants them special powers (new jobs). Returning to town the orphans speak with their adoptive family and the village elder and are sent out to save the world.
The four young heroes first must break the curse of a nearby village and castle. Defeating some djinn or mage that has turned everyone in to ghosts. They must first rescue the princess from a cave and use the mithril ring to seal the evil creature.
With that accomplished they locate Cid at the nearby village who grants them use of his airship and loads it with a weapon to destroy the boulder blocking the way south. Unfortunately the experimental weapon doesn’t work as planned and the heroes have to hoof it south.
From there the heroes climb to the top of a mountain peak, are captured by Bahamut and locate Desh, who has lost his memory and the five of them escape the huge dragon before it can turn them in to dinner for it’s hatchlings.
Then it’s a trip to the viking stronghold where they have to convince Nepto (the dragon) to go back to sleep and stop guarding the bay so they can sail (the Enterprise) the ship out on the open waters. After a stop at the Gulgan (not gungan) village, the heroes climb a tower to defeat the Medusa who is trying to crash the whole flying continent. After a touching scene where Desh regains his memory he sacrifices himself to save the floating continent. This opens the way north for the ship.
Then to the dwarven city to save the horns (which they fail at), but they do kill the bad guy eventually and get new jobs from the Fire crystal. After some fedex work and travelling around their ship flies again and they fly off the edge of the floating continent to find the rest of the world flooded below.
Some flying around and finding another “princess” to save leads them to the water crystal and they manage to fix the flooding and unfreeze the world beneath. Then to the mansion of the biggest gold tycoon in any world, where they almost get the fourth crystal, which isn’t actually the fourth crystal they are looking for.
Afterward are heroes need to spend some time fixing the biggest city I’ve ever seen from a full out civil war. Which is accomplished by returning the prince, and saving him when his father attempts to slaughter him while everyone is sleeping (messed up right?).
Now with a new ship (is this three, four?) the heroes meet the first moogles! So cute, but they aren’t all kupo! kupo! – they speak better than I do. From here is a long complicated quest to find all the stuff needed to get to the tower that has the earth crystal and then go down and save it. This probably takes longer than the other three crystals put together.
Though the end of the game is close after that, just a matter of climbing the tower, killing the real enemy of the game (dark cloud). Then following it to the dark world and killing it for real. The dungeon is looong and you need to make sure you are powered up before killing the cloud the first time because there is no escape after you enter the dark world. I made that mistake the first time and couldn’t beat the revived cloud. This final boss is actually quite hard. So make sure you’re ready.
Final Thoughts –
I really enjoyed this game. Having the ability to change jobs and mix up the party was fun. I didn’t change too much throughout. I started with a black belt and fighter, white mage and black mage. I ended up swapping the black mage for a thief when they became available since the game really favours physical damage at that point. I traded the black belt in for a karateka, then to a dark knight (mystic knight?). Eventually I swapped the thief for a Summoner.
That was my core party until discovering the earth crystal when you unlock the ultimate jobs (ninja and sage). Ninjas can use all weapons and armor, and Sages can use all magic. What’s the point of using anything else? I swapped to two ninjas and two sages. one white magic sage, and one black/summoner.
There is a final class that isn’t really mentioned and is super hard to put together. This is called a Fully Equipped Onion Knight (FEOK). Yes, that’s right, the first class in the game is also the most powerful – but only if you equip them will a full set of Onion equipment (onion sword, onion armor, etc). The onion equipment is only available by killing dragons in the crystal tower (each dragon has the chance to drop one piece of equipment). The dragons are very rare encounters (4 in 256). They also regularly drop elixirs and not equipment. You need to kill them in the “right” way for them to drop the equipment. The right way is usually some type of death spell – death, odin, exit, mini, toad, etc. There are 3 colours of dragon and each one drops different equipment. Is this complicated enough for you yet? It took me many hours to collect one full set and make a FEOK – one was enough, though it’s possible to change your whole party and be successful.
I really enjoyed the summons and the game in general. I was also unhappily surprised that I had to jump back to a previous save and level up to actually defeat the final boss – I like a challenge. It gave me the chance to make a FEOK and explore some more of the game.
Oh! and Ninjas can throw Shurikens (which are crazy expensive to buy) and do a crap ton of damage. You equip them normally, then attack. They are one use only, but you can equip more during the battle and keep throwing. It’s worth it for the final fights, what else are you going to spend your money on?