My hope dwindled as Refia, a Devout, stood alone in front of the cloud of Darkness. The lifeblood of the party, she had arisen her party members repeatedly, but they could not survive the onslaught of magic and physical attacks. The particle beam was making it impossible to drain the Cloud of that last 30,000hp. When Refia fell, and the party lay face down, I too fell face down into the couch. I knew what this meant. Six boss battles, four Ribbons, and a couple hours were wasted. I loaded the game just to confirm my suspicions: Arc was standing in front of the Crystal Tower again. The music playing was sorrowful, anxious, and apologetic. The game clock reads 50 hours, which doesn’t account for other resets I’ve faced after my party was defeated. Now I’m left debating whether I should bother beating this game. I have a week left in the month, but… going back into that tower is the last thing I want to do.
If I do try to finish this game, I’ll have to level up for a few HOURS before attempting the final boss again, which may also take a couple HOURS to get through. A conservative estimate would be another 8 hours, pulling my total time spent close to 60 hours. I told my cousin that, at the point I was at yesterday, I had simply put too much time into the game to not finish it. Now I’m trying to convince myself that it’s still worth beating.
My cousin asked me yesterday if the game was fun. I answered honestly:
“No. It’s not fun. I can’t save in the dungeon, so I’m walking in, grabbing items, then walking out so that I can save, over and over, and no. It’s not fun.”
The world is so expansive, and some of the areas so dense that not being able to save feels less like a challenge and more like a punishment. You are rewarded for leveling, but the process is painfully slow and quite boring. The story fine, but not strong enough to keep you sufficiently interested as you do the necessary work of level grinding. I had my party in the 50s when I took on the end of the game. The boss battles leading up to the end were a cinch, but the damage dealt by the Cloud in the final fight seemed unreasonable. I’ve already collected the most powerful items and equipment in the game, played for 50 hours and still the final fight was out of reach. After dealing about 70,000 hp I couldn’t keep everyone alive and fighting. Shurikens were the best bet, but with only one ninja the damage wasn’t dealt fast enough.
My favorite parts about FFIII are the music, Chocobos, and the Invincible (an air ship you get somewhat late in the game). The score for this game pulls you through the slow parts. It’s complex enough that you don’t tire from the melody, and changes for each new locale. Riding the Chocobos was one of the better ways to travel the large map. The ship has a place to rest inside, along with a shop and a storage Chocobo (which was strange…).
Sadly, I can’t say I loved anything else. The world map is essentially layered upon itself, giving you two full worlds to explore. If you aren’t focused on beating the game, I imagine it’s a nice place to wander through. When you are focused on beating the game, it’s annoyingly large and convoluted. It was tedious and unrewarding. It was big and unwieldy.
With such an expansive map, you would think that completing the story’s challenges would be enough to sufficiently strengthen your party, but this is not the case. The difficulty came not from the challenges themselves, but how long you were willing to run in circles, randomly encountering foes until you were strong enough to continue. You cannot buy phoenix downs, you can only save on the world map, and (until you get the Invincible) you must haul to the nearest town to be restored.
The job system is expansive, almost to a fault. There was a lone old man in a few inns who would tell you about the jobs you had. Otherwise, you had to just waste time, I mean, take time to figure out which ones worked best. Certain battles would call for certain jobs, which meant you needed to keep extra sets of equipment on hand just in case you needed to switch. The release of the jobs was staggered a little too wide throughout the game. By the time you are given the last set of jobs, it’s hard to justify switching from your seasoned positions to something new.
The variety of magic, items, and equipment to be found is extensive. However, most of it was job specific, and with only a party of four, I collected a lot of items that were of no use (but I had to keep it all in case I needed to switch jobs). These items are necessary to keep your aimless wandering somewhat interesting, as you are given very little instruction on where to go or what to do next in the story.
Many people told me that playing all the Final Fantasy games in order was a horrible idea, because they aren’t all good. They were right. I’ve already forgotten much of FFI and FFII. I’d like to forget FFIII, but I know I can’t. I will remember that it was long, drawn out, and rarely rewarding. I will remember that the fun moments are drowned out by the incessant traveling about. I’ll remember that the triumph of becoming more powerful over time is trounced by the monotony of the encounters. I’ll remember that the variety of jobs is a poor exchange for the unnecessary length of this game. I’ll remember that all new mechanics and features came at the cost of engaging gameplay. I’ll remember, because FFIII is now the benchmark for the worst Final Fantasy game I have played.