Final Fantasy Legend III
  • Genre:
    • RPG
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • Square
  • Publisher:
    • Square
  • Released:
    • JP 12/13/1991
    • US 09/29/1993
Score: 75%

This review was published on 08/08/2014.

Final Fantasy Legend III is a role-playing game developed and published by Square for the original Game Boy. It was released in Japan on December 13, 1991, and North America on September 29, 1993. North America later got a reprint of the game in July of 1998, which was published by SunSoft. Don't let the Final Fantasy name fool you, because this game is actually the third in a separate series known as SaGa. Final Fantasy is better known in North America, so Square released the game under that name in the hopes it'd sell better. The Final Fantasy Legend series was a stylistic departure from Final Fantasy, and Final Fantasy Legend III is, in itself, a slight departure from the previous Final Fantasy Legend games. Of the three games, Final Fantasy Legend III is the most modern and polished, but it abandons some of the uniqueness that the series was known for, resulting in a more generic experience.

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Something known as the Pureland Water Entity is flooding the wonderful world of Final Fantasy Legend III with copious amounts of water. Somehow, this entity has the capability to flood the past, present, and future. Countless cities have been fully submerged in water, forcing mankind to migrate to higher ground. In addition to the water, this strange entity is attracting monsters to the lands humans inhabit, making life that much tougher for everyone. To solve this calamitous catastrophe, three children are sent to the past from the distant future. The three children are then raised by a humble village elder until they're old enough to save the world. Upon coming of age, they embark on a journey through time to stop the flooding and save humanity. The time travel bit makes this game's story kind of nonsensical, but it's good fun if you don't think about it too much. This is the most cutscene heavy of the three Final Fantasy Legend games, which is good in that it makes the story feel more involving, but bad in that it can be excessive at times. While it won't win any awards, Final Fantasy Legend III has a better developed plot than the previous games.

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Talon is the name of your airship and it's a major part of the game. This awesome thing resembles a stealth bomber and has the ability to travel through time. Who wouldn't want to pilot a time traveling stealth bomber? If this sounds familiar, it's because the Talon went on to inspire the Epoch from Chrono Trigger, another time traveling airship. The Talon can be upgraded via special items called units. Collecting units is the game's primary objective, similar to the MAGI from Final Fantasy Legend II. Units enhance the Talon's functionality in all kinds of ways, one of which is to increase its exploratory scope. At first, the Talon can't fly over mountains, but with a couple of units, it can fly over everything. Another thing units can do is augment the Talon with weapons. Yes, that's right; the Talon can actually be used in battle! It can't do all of the fighting for you, but if a battle is fought while in the Talon, it will use its equipped weapon to damage enemies at the start of the fight. If you hate battles, then there's a unit later in the game that gets rid of all random encounters while on the Talon. The Talon's interior can also be explored to find more goodies. There's nothing to see within the Talon initially, but new stuff gets added to it throughout the game, like capsules that fully restore the whole party, shops, and other facilities. This nifty little airship is the best part of the game by far.

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Battles are far more streamlined than they once were. They're still turn-based and randomly encountered, but they've undergone some minor improvements. Party members actually have slight animations during battle this time around, and enemy sprites are more detailed than before. Unfortunately, while the sprites and animations have improved somewhat, there are still no backgrounds whatsoever. As far as mechanics go, the thing where multiple enemies were grouped into the same sprite has been dropped, which is good, because it makes battles less confusing. The problem of characters doing nothing if a targeted enemy is killed before they can act has been fixed, too. There's also an auto battle setting that lets you set certain characters to act automatically, though the poor AI makes this option pointless. Besides the bad AI, these are all good things, but battles are still unremarkable as a whole. Additionally, the random encounter rate is still way too high. There are brief moments of respite in which no battles will be encountered for a while, but these moments are contrasted by situations where a battle occurs at every step. Beyond that, there's not much else to say. The battles of Final Fantasy Legend III are like any other turn-based RPG.

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The game is divided into past, present, and future. Each era has its own world map to explore, and once the Talon has the proper units installed, travel between the different eras becomes instantaneous. The game still follows a similar multiple world structure like the previous Final Fantasy Legend titles, except it does so with time travel as its catalyst. Also, there are sub worlds within time periods, like Float Land, a land that floats in the sky, and also the dreaded underworld. Being that this game has time travel, it has both medieval fantasy and sci-fi themes in it, which is pretty cool. To navigate around the different environments of Final Fantasy Legend III, you can jump. If the jumping in this game reminds you of Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, then there's a reason for that: the team that made this game later made Mystic Quest. You can only jump one square at a time, but it's still neat. Anyway, the various worlds and time periods in Final Fantasy Legend III are a lot of fun to explore.

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Unlike the previous two games, character creation isn't possible in Final Fantasy Legend III. You begin the game with four predefined characters and they remain in your party for the entire duration of the game. There are temporary guest characters that occasionally join your party as a fifth member, but that's about it. To make up for the lack of character creation, this game has a unique class changing system. The two basic classes you start out with are humans and mutants. Humans are good with weapons, while mutants excel in magic. However, humans and mutants can transform into four other classes by eating meat or installing parts that enemies sometimes drop after battle. These four classes are beasts, monsters, cyborgs, and robots. Beasts are good at martial arts, monsters don't need equipment to fight, cyborgs grow stronger depending on their gear, and robots gain stats from capsules purchased at shops. There are countless forms in the four classes available to each character, with more becoming available all the time. Which form a character takes upon eating meat or installing parts depends on their level, what enemy dropped the spoils, and the character's current form. If you're ever unhappy with your transformations, you can change back to normal at the ship. Transformations are a unique and fun part of Final Fantasy Legend III, but they're not as good as the character creation system from the last game.

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Equipment and magic have undergone a massive change from the last two games. No longer are weapons limited in durability, meaning they will never break. Similarly, spells will no longer run out of uses, instead expending some of the caster's MP. Basically, everything works like a traditional RPG now. Spells are bought at magic shops and equipped onto characters, much like equipment. Some spells can be used to navigate the environment, like dive, which allows you to dive into the ocean to explore the seafloor. That's all fine and dandy, but there are a couple of problems. For one, there's no way to tell how good a piece of equipment is until it's equipped. It's particularly bad with weapons, since you won't be able to tell a weapon's strength until it's used in battle. This makes shopping for gear a real pain in the neck. Two, you can't see how much MP it takes to cast a given spell. These are problems that lots of early RPGs make, but that's no excuse. As for everything else, it's all pretty standard.

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Final Fantasy Legend III is a big improvement over its predecessors in many different ways, but it does so at the cost of some of the things that defined the series. The graphics and music are better than the last two games, though still not impressive for the Game Boy, and the mechanics have been modernized significantly. Flying around in a time traveling stealth bomber is easily the biggest highlight of the game. There is no character creation this time, though, and the equipment system is annoying due a lack of information. This game is also kind of on the short side. Final Fantasy Legend III is one of the best turn-based RPGs on the Game Boy, but it has no defining features outside of a time traveling airship.

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