Lovingly redone throwback to a simpler age of RPGs
In bringing this 1990 adventure to the modern DS, Square Enix has kept its simple mechanics—kill this monster, win that sword, boost that stat—and changed only one thing: The graphics, updated to a three-dimensional doll-house look, now pull you fully into the simple but graceful world. You control a quartet of characters who look like kids—in fact, they’re all young, orphaned and infectiously spunky—and as they gain experience, you’ll assign them new jobs and outfit them in colorful costumes and floppy, oversized hats. If half the point of retro gaming is to make you feel like a kid, there’s no faster way than making you play with dolls.
The Final Fantasy series has grown more epic with every sequel, but this throwback returns you to a simpler world that opens up bit by bit: a cave leads into a valley, opens onto an ocean and then to new continents, and while there’s a story to pull you along, making your way through the world is your primary adventure. The underlying treadmill of fighting and leveling may strike newer gamers as old-fashioned, but it’s only half the point: Final Fantasy III is less about growing powerful than simply growing up.