DIGRESSION BECAUSE NERD.
The original, 1990 Japanese Final Fantasy III starts out differently. It’s much more like FFI, with four completely generic, unnamed “Onion Knights” (aka “Onion Kids”) bumbling into a cave after an earthquake.
Here’s a derpy fan translation of the original:
Official Square material makes all four of them 14, whence the kawaii generic Onion Knight representing FFIII in Dissidia.
In 2006, FFIII finally came out in English via a Nintendo DS remaster that made the heroes more than cardboard and converted 8-bit sprites to 3D chibis. That’s the version that got ported to iOS. So with apologies to old-school purists…
Arc: BOING BOING BOING!
Me: *Takes 2 HP from TEH CUTE*
Now, let’s head out to the recap!
Oh, hey, there’s a paper-thin prologue that I totally missed on my first playthrough, because I hit “new game” and jumped right in from the start screen without waiting for any of this:
Gulgan, eh? Just once, I’d like a prophet to prophesy that he/she was destined to get up and do something, instead of passing the buck onto random unlucky Chosen Ones:
There’s a bit more (and more pretty sketches), but it boils down to “Darkness spreading, earthquakes swallow up crystals, four Warriors of Light get cleanup duty.”
So, it’s time to meet our first sucker, er, hero. Despite his purple eyes and silver hair, he’s not Evil, just for a change. At first I thought that was a pity, and that it would be much more entertaining if Luneth turned out to be the Evil Mastermind. Then I remembered Kuja. I am now more than content to look at our purple-besweatered Plucky Boy instead of a black leather thong for the entire game:
I wish they hadn’t said, “Please do not use emoticons.” Now I’m getting the urge to name our four heroes (in order of appearance):
But for fandom’s sake I’m going to go the simple route and stick with canon names.
So, Bishie Boy falls in the hole, gets attacked, fends off a goblin, and demonstrates a few synapses:
All hail retro graphics. While the fighting animation by FFXIII is basically “How can we break as many laws of physics as possible while flying through the air with our badass weapons and awesome kung fu?” this game challenges itself to be as kawaii as possible, with Luneth pirouetting like a ballerina to swat at things, monsters going “splat” like bouncing balls when struck, and so forth. It reminds me of Breath of Fire III.
Ah, here’s a healing pond. We’ll just stand here and admire the gratuitous crystals, bones, sparklies, and
liquid mako pyrefly water wellspring.
Eventually, we come to a wide-open boss-sized paved area, from which I prudently back away and level up for a while.
I imagine that most denizens of Final Fantasy universes have developed instinctive agoraphobia akin to a chick’s instinctive fear of hawk silhouettes, thanks to natural selection: “Wide featureless courtyard with no pillars or furniture…beware!” Unfortunately for Luneth, I have a game to recap, so I force the poor boy out into the open…
Take 2 HP damage from cuteness. Oh, yeah, and this boss:
There’s probably some inner circle of purgatory reserved for players who carefully calculate down to the last HP how long they can hold out without wasting a potion on their poor battered PCs. Sorry, Luneth. (It’s not actually an Adamantoise, but a Land Turtle, its close cousin.)
Afterwards, Luneth Hears Voices.
Rats. Somebody’s been reading The Hero With a Thousand Faces, and just said, “Tag, you’re it.”
Ding Dong, Destiny Calling.
In future games, it’ll be creatures like Occuria or the Fayth bossing around the heroes and sending them on dangerous quests. Luneth, lucky lad, gets to be errand boy for a rock:
Hooray for gratuitous use of Egyptian hieroglyphs (no, they’re not legible). For the nerds among us, the obelisks are not written in hieroglyphs, but in some made-up script.
The crystal gives the usual FF spiel about hope and light and darkness, folding in this wee backstory hint: “Warrior from the land of darkness…you have been chosen as the bringer of hope.”
Then Crystal McBossyPants teleports Luneth back to the surface.
For once, I remember to save BEFORE something creams me, instead of having to replay the last half hour.
Gratuitous battle screencap:
So we return to Luneth’s home town, the improbably-named village of Ur (above). Npcs advise him on the finer points of adventuring, even though none of them look to have set foot far outside the village:
“Tap the buggers!” Now this is a battle tutorial I’ll actually read.
In a field of flowers, we find our party’s bookworm providing an unwilling object lesson on the subject of bullying:
The bullies call Arc a gutless coward, the run away when they spot Bishie Boy approaching. Pot, kettle.Unfortunately, Arc runs away too, before Luneth can cheer him up.
He’s decided to go prove the bullies wrong. No, Arc, you totally don’t have to give in to that BS. Uh oh…
I stop by Elder Topapa’s house for marching orders before checking on his progress. I’m momentarily delighted to discover a Final Fantasy hero whose mother is alive and has a name (Nina)!
…but my hopes are soon dashed when Elder Topapa reminds me that Luneth is a Hero Baby Doorstep Delivery ™:
Nonetheless, Nina raised him, so she’s certainly his mother. Therefore, we’ll chalk her up alongside Ma Dincht as one of the rare instances of Living Mom With Actual Name.
Topapa is excited that Luneth has been chosen by a random rock for a possibly fatal mission to save the world. “It was the crystal’s will” and all that. Thanks so much, gramps. That’s just the sort of task you’d give to your 14-year-old son, right? Oh, wait, you just did.
Outside the elder’s cottage, we collect our next clue:
So, of course, that’s EXACTLY where to go. Toward danger. Damned crystals.
Where our dear bookworm is having second thoughts and not at all ready for a friendly tap on the shoulder:
Take 2 HP from cuteness. Poor Arc.
I do like the relationship between these two boys: one’s an adventurer, one’s a smart kid who’s a wimp, and that’s just fine.
So, in Kazus, we find the townsfolk in a bit of a pinch…
Get ahold of yourself, man! Oh, wait.
Also, we discover…
GINGERBREAD MAN CID!
He promptly offers up his airship so that the “lads” can “help me and these other saps.”
Interrogating invisible npcs, we learn that we need a Mythril Ring (of course!) to stop the Djinn.
The local smith isn’t much help on the subject of forging magic rings (eep)…
Buried in a nearby desert, we stumble across the airship. Woot. FREE airship, mind you. Take that, FFII Cid!
Here we find that the Djinn’s curse is conveniently confined to population centers, and the smith’s daughter is safe and sound.
Meet Refia. I want her entire costume. Actual practical clothing in a video game, who’d a thunk!
She says that Takka forged a Mythril Ring for one King Sasune, so we head for his castle.
There we find the Curse of the Gingerbread Men is rampant.
Meet Ingus, who, despite the Official Info claiming they’re all 14 (riiiiight), appears to be a Video Game Really Old Person of age 20 or so:
Naturally, all the rest of the knights in the castle are spineless…
Alas, the King also has a bad case of Gingerbread Man, and furthermore, he says, Princess Sara and the Mythril Ring have both disappeared.
Another Princess Sara(h), another distressed damsel rescue mission? Yawn.
Ingus volunteers to accompany the “younglings” to save Lady Sara at once. Any objections?
Snerk. Good to know what you think of your new companions, Refia.
Into the Sealed Cave we go to find ourselves a Djinn and a Distressed Damsel. Refreshingly, we discover that the damsel is in no way distressed, and had borrowed her father’s ring to lay the smackdown on the Djinn.
Wardrobe by the same person who did Princess Ashe’s midriff-baring rebel outfit, and with even less reason, since the climate here is temperate rather than hot as blazes.
Refia channels her inner Lulu with an impressive glare:
Unfortunately, Refia forfeits all the points she just gained a moment later, when she says THIS about Princess Sara’s plan to confront the Djinn:
RRRRGGGH. Sara was doing just fine before we got here, thankyouverymuch.
As usual, I’m grappling with my Inner Utena, since distressed damsel is a video game trope that needs to die, yet I go “awww” when I see this:
(Deep down, I’m still a seven-year-old-girl playing the role of Luke Skywalker protecting the princess. See the link above for why this is problematic.)
On we slog, much indebted to Princess Sara’s random backup spells as we fight our way through the dungeon to our first MiniBoss.
The Princess wastes no time in telling him off. (“Prepare to meet your doom, Djinn. This ring will banish you once and for all!)
All righty then, we’ll kick your ass and THEN let Sara banish you!
Spiffy polka dot pants. Also, he visited the same tattoo parlor as Seymour.
There we go. Yay Sara!
Alas, there’s no time to pat ourselves on the back
or check for treasure we missed, as we’ve all suddenly been seized by a plot device. Terribly inconvenient things, make you late for dinner.
You guessed it, Bossypants McCrystal has seized us again, teleporting us back to its lair to have another go at us. I’m going to start imagining it talking in the voice of Billy Crystal, just because.
Oh, wait, hold everything, it’s time for the Opening Credits. Much like an old Monty Python episode, they can happen at almost any time in these old Final Fantasy games (although actually, I think this was the start of the original FFIII, hence yanking the fully-assembled party back to the starter dungeon). We see bit more prelude plus the credits for most of the orignal Square team.
Here’s the magical Final Fantasy Opening Theme, which debuted during the opening credits of original FF, skipped II, returned here. I can’t believe I didn’t notice this tune until FFXII, but it was missing or obscure in the first several games I played. Jump to 0:20 and punch it, Uematsu!
Afterwards, we have our very first Final Fantasy Mog sighting!
One mini-tutorial later, I have my initial team:
- Refia: Black Mage
- Arc: White Mage
- Ingus: Monk
- Luneth: Thief
Thank Shiva. I finally have a thief who can steal, comma, dammit. As I’ve said before, my modus operandi is “Steal everything we can, sell loot to pay for everything we can’t.”
I usually make Refia a Ranger later, but I like giving her some magic to play around with for the Red Mage job.
Alas, the @%#! bossy crystal stranded our airship on the far side of the lake. I hate crystals.
Back to Castle SoSueMe, er, Sasune…
…then reverse the polarity of the neutron flow and poke the doohickey, because banishing the Djinn apparently did diddly squat. I’m also curious why Sara didn’t just go ahead and cleanse the ring without us. Maybe she’s annoyed at her Dad or something.
We head to the cellar to watch her toss the ring in.
Gosh, that was exciting.
Back up in the throne room, we get the great oompha oompha music. I’d forgotten how much I loved the music in this game.
Annnd … the king awards us with the magical folding canoe! Yes! Take that, bossypants McCrystal.
An npc also drops some foreshadowing on us…
Well may you ask, npc. HE’S A FRICKIN’ TIMELORD, and that’s no airship. It’s a TARDIS, with a stuck chameleon circuit. Too bad he never seems to remember his previous regenerations.
Suddenly the cold hard splash of Video Game Tropes throws Princess Sara back into passive mode for the rest of the game. She’s locked herself in her tower to have a good cry. Ingus goes to check on her…
Now she says she has to stay at her father’s side, because she’d only slow us down. Nevermind that her Aero and Cure-All were invaluable to us in the last dungeon. My teeth grinding drowns out the touching farewell between them. Luckily, Ingus’ purple gi and pajama bottoms put me back in a better humor.
Side note: there’s one small problem with the Black Mage job outfit in this game.
We get a hero’s sendoff. Sara does NOT wave like Queen Elizabeth, I’m glad to say:
I love stuffy Sir Ingus. I always hear his lines in the voice of Basch, whom he somewhat resembles:
Back in Kazus, things are looking up.
Except that Refia’s dad, who was worried about her, hauls her back to the smithy to resume her lessons. Hey! Give me back that bow I just bought for her!
(Aaaah, light bulb moment… FFIII lets black mages use bows because they were FFII Maria’s ultimate weapon.)
Cid joins us and asks for a lift home to Mrs. Cid, before he gives our FREE AIRSHIP.
Poor Arc almost always looks vaguely worried.
Also, we stop by the blacksmith’s shop to commission a ram for the airship, as there was a ginormous boulder barring our way to the Path of Plot Advancement (low-flying airships, a frequent problem during the early going of any Final Fantasy game).
Someone’s waiting for us back on the airship…
Take 2 HP damage from Luneth’s expression.
During the ensuing discussion, it comes out that all four Warriors of Light are orphans.
Cid’s all rarin’ to go… he is a Cid, after all. Sure, let’s go blow up a small mountain by ramming it. What could possibly go wrong?
Unfortunately, we chew through airships in this game about as fast as we chewed through guest npcs in the last one. Buh-bye, airship!
Having totally pulverized it, we have to walk to Canaan. What’s with all the Biblical names in this game, I wonder?
Cid Haze is unfazed:
“…It’s weird,” Luneth says. “I feel as if we’ve done this before.”
Arc channels his inner Rikku:
“FORESHADOWING, YOUR KEY TO QUALITY LITERATURE.”
So Cid ditches us in Kazus. He promises us a new airship, except it turns out HE’S A FRAUD and can only build the hull. For reasons best known to game script, it’s local King Argus who knows how to make engines. I guess I shouldn’t be quite so surprised, since Queen Elizabeth trained as a mechanic, but still.
First, time to chat up some npcs. There’s this girl, who has cloned herself in every village and baffles us with a little dance:
I miss Bibi. And I’m probably missing something… is there any point to this NPC?
Ah, Mrs. Cid’s feeling under the weather.
An elixir? Are you kidding? Do you know how rare those —
OW, Refia, that was my foot. Okay, okay.
She’s a nice old lady, and once she’s up and about, Cid lets us totally raid their life’s savings and goodies in the basement. He also sniffles about how much they’ve all grown up.
In a nearby cottage, Explication Lass is languishing over some bloke named Desch. Nice of her to give such precise directions in her anguish.
Salina’s mother, Jolina, informs us that the “vagrant” Desch was here for all of a fortnight before he wandered off muttering he had something to do. On such crumbs are the passions of a OTP established.
Okay, okay, we get the hint. Our next Guest Party member awaits.
Up Dragon Mountain we go:
….stealing like mad from Rust Bird, the ONLY SOURCE for Phoenix Down in the whole game, besides occasional treasure chests. (Luckily many towns and castles have “Revive” pools.)
Oh,hi, Bahamut! Nice to see you again and a— yipe!
Hey, Luneth, forgot to warn you about Final Fantasy Mythology Creep. Bahamut’s no longer King of the Noble Dragons, handing out costume changes and goodies to lawful good heroes.
Now, heroes are dragon kibble.
Cute baby dragons, mind you.
We can’t, either. Now what’s your excuse?
Our meeting is cut schort by the return of Mama Bahamut:
At least I assume it’s Bahamut.
Wise word from a wise man:
So we run. Or try to run, anyway.
I blame the crystal.
Luckily, gameplay and story segregation lets Refia lay into Desch for leaving Salina all sniffly.
But he’s a Man with a Destiny ™. So he gives us the “Mini” spell and joins our band of miscreants:
And off we go to find a Revive pool for Refia (who is looking remarkably spry in this screencap) and a reason to use our new Mini Spell.
Tune in next time, when we discover the secret of Men Who Wear Purple (or at least one of them)!