June 03, 2014

[Game 045] Final Fantasy III (NES - 1990)

Translation by Alex W. Jackson, Neill Corlett & SoM2Freak

Whilst us plebs in North America still had yet to experience the awesomeness that is the first Final Fantasy, our gaming bros over in Japan were already kicking it with the third installment in the series.  FF3 blends elements from the first two games while adding some fresh ingredients as well.  The most notable of the new additions is the class job system, which has been a mainstay ever since.  Characters are free to change classes whenever they like, although the frequency of changes are limited by the amount of capacity points the party has.  Caps are gained through combat, just like gil (gold) is.  Cap costs also vary depending on how closely related the two classes are (e.g. a Red Mage switching to a Black Mage is cheaper than going to a Fighter).  The initial set of jobs are the same as what was available in the first FF, with the exception of the Thief class.  The majority of classes are not available at the beginning and must be unlocked as the game progresses.  New jobs come in bunches as they are gained by finding and conversing with the elemental light crystals which the story revolves around.  As with what seems like >50% of the JRPGs out there, the world is currently in disharmony between the forces of light and dark and only a handful of spunky orphans can possibly restore the balance.  Before the gang of youths even get access to the first set of jobs, though, they all start off as Onion Knights, which is the suckiest class that ever did suck (unless one grinds them to a ridiculously high level; then their stat gains go through the roof).  A brief introductory adventure has the group of friends falling into a fissure after a recent earthquake and discovering a cave which, of course, is packed with monsters.

Babby's first class meets a select
choice of nightmare fuel.

It's within this cave that the quirky quartet stumble across the first of the light crystals which dumps the responsibility of restoring world order on them.  But the crystal makes up for this by granting access to some classic, er, classes.

Comes with a much-needed wardrobe change.

After admiring their new threads, the party bids farewell to their adoptive father and head out of the hamlet of Ur to seek out the remaining crystals.  Their first stop is the nearby village of Kazus, which is built near a mithril mine from which the citizens make their living from.  Kazus has recently been cursed by a djinn named Jinn, rendering all the inhabitants as ghostly outlines, though they can still walk and talk like normal.  They can't handle items, however, and so no new equipment can be bought until this Jinn character is dealt with.  Unfortunately, Jinn is located in the Cave of the Seal which has a lake blocking off its entrance.  Fortunately, one of the ghosts in Kazus is Cid, the airship engineer found throughout the FF series.

I'll take the airship but I can't guarantee
that I won't just bugger off with it.

Getting access to the airship this early in the game fills half my circuits with joy and the other half with disappointment.  I'm always happier when I have an airship in my possession but I like to work my up to the airship and earn it.  Come on, FFIII, transportation mode progression is suppose to go: land, sea, then air.  At any rate, the airship performs admirably and gets the party across the lake to the cave where Jinn resides.  While searching the cave, Princess Sara from Sasoon Castle joins, although she doesn't help in combat at all.  However, she does possess the Mithril Ring, which is the only thing that can seal Jinn away after he is defeated in combat.

You might think you're hot stuff, Jinn,
but Shen is as cool as I-C-E.

After extinguishing the djinn, the quixotic quintet travel to Sasoon Castle to get their bangs trimmed a bit and maybe get some highlights as well.  Oh yeah, and to seal away Jinn forever.  Sara would like to join the party, but deep down she realizes that there is only room for four characters in the battle screen.

Also, the princess job is pretty
worthless outside the monarchy.

With the princess out of Shen's hairdo, he is free to roam around Castle Sasoon, looting at will and pilfering at whim.  The castle harbours many secret passages; some are marked by an obvious flaw in the wall tile (à la Ultima IV: QotA), others require a little more intuition.

No illusionary walls are going to keep ME
from stealing your hard-earned treasures.

Even Princess Sara isn't safe from the sticky fingers of Shen and, in his audacity, he even decides for the party to take a nap in her bed while she's still in the room.

Princess Sara begins to doubt the wisdom
of the light crystal's choice in heroes.

With Sasoon Castle sufficiently sacked, it's time to progress to the next area but the only way out of this little valley in the mountains is blocked by a huge boulder.  It's so huge that even the airship can't fly over it (or any of the mountains for that matter).  Hrmm, does FFIII take place previous to FFI or FFII, before Cid had mastered the construction of airships?  Further proof comes after Cid suggests installing a battering ram to destroy the humongous boulder.  A bold, and seemingly stupid, plan but Shen doesn't have any better suggestions, so Cid goes ahead with his crazy idea and duct-tapes a tree trunk to the airship.

With predictable results (except
for the surviving part).

I don't feel particularly bad about losing this airship, since it barely functions as one as well as coming too early in the game for my liking.  Low level characters should have to do a fair amount of walking anyway — helps to build up their endurance, dontcha know.  A short ways south lies the town of Canaan, where Cid gets dropped off to take care of his ailing grandmother, but not before promising to be of more help in the future.

Try making one without particle
board and pine resin this time.

Shen and the others actually cure Cid's grammy gram with an elixir found hidden right in the town.  This turned out to be a much better solution than Cid's method of standing in one spot near her bed.  Well, at least now Cid can focus on making that airship, though methinks that Shen will have to hire a certified inspector before piloting any more of Cid's flying death traps.