Although Final Fantasy III was first released in Japan in 1990, it didn't make its way out of the country until Square Enix released a 3D version for the Nintendo DS in 2007. This iOS re-release of the classic RPG is a slightly enhanced version of that DS version, fresh with Retina Display support, some better textures, and even new story sequences.
For those unfamiliar with Final Fantasy III, it’s an interesting role-playing game, even by modern standards. It features a numerous genre tropes that experienced players will be familiar with – random battle encounters, overworld exploration, turn-based battles – but it also introduced some new ideas to the series: the "jobs" system, for example, which allows your party members to change class throughout the journey, and monster summoning, which is now a staple of the Final Fantasy experience. Although the story is full if clichés, this was actually the first Final Fantasy game to be legitimately story-focused.
Square Enix has been gracing the App Store with a combination of original and old IPs for quite some time, and as a re-release/port Final Fantasy III is nothing short of fantastic. These aren’t the best graphics on the iPhone, but it’s a major improvement over the already-decent DS version. I was also surprised by how well the interface works: everything has been re-designed to work with a touch interface, and subtle touches like allowing you to just tap the monster you want to attack are nice.
For all its improvements, though, Final Fantasy III is a 21-year-old game at its core, and it shows. Contemporary RPGs moved past random battles long ago, and the turn-based combat system is just too slow to maintain interest for long. In classic JRPG style there’s also quite a bit of loading and swooping camera action before each battle and in-between attacks.
Modern gamers might not have the patience for that anymore, especially with recent trends leaning towards the adoption of real-time "action" RPG battle systems that move quickly and don't waste time with unnecessary dramatics -- particularly on mobile platforms.
However, while individual experiences may vary, Final Fantasy III is old-school in length as well as design, with up to 50 hours of gameplay for those willing to seek it out. The one drawback is the price, with Square Enix ignoring the App Store pricing scheme altogether. However, while £9.49 is almost unheard of by current standards, the fact is that Final Fantasy III cost more than twice that when it came out on the DS, and this is by far the best version of the game available.
Next page: Our expert verdict