Midgets vs. Dragon!
Final Fantasy III was one of the first RPGs that I had the pleasure to play through at E3 2006, and I was met with a very nice experience. This is a game that manages to stay true to its roots while going leaps and bounds beyond at the very same time.
The demo began with the elder of a quaint village who asked my party to explore a nearby cave. Before I left on the quest, however, I looked around the town, and was very excited by what I saw. The graphics on the DS version of the game are wonderfully styled, and look something like a combination of Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, though slightly more pixelated. Play control seems to be very standard and solid, with a familiar interface and menu screen. To run through areas instead of walking, the A button simply needs to be held down.
In the cave, my four juvenile party members, named Luneth, Arc, Refia, and Ingus, fell down into a hole, and after landing I was treated to an interesting little cut-scene that demonstrated some of the additional detail inserted into this remake. Exploring the cave itself was exciting at first; the area was lush with colour and texture. The battle scenario was good, but not great. The turn-based battles themselves seem to be very solid, but they got repetitive quickly with a somewhat high encounter rate and few possible arrangements of enemies. The class system returns from the original, and the idea of the "OnionKid" is gone, replaced by a more understandable "Freelancer" title. Several options were available in battle. In addition to "Fight," each character could use "Magic," "Guard," "Row," "Item," and "Run Away" options, again demonstrating a bit of a difference from the original version of the game. In the demo I played, each character was outfitted with a Fire and Cure Level 1 spell, both of which were helpful and graphically quite nice in battle. An interesting inclusion is Job Levels, which weren't present in the original game; it's unclear at this time what their role in the remake is exactly. Loading times were a bit of an issue, but that may have been something present in the demo version; several months of development remain before we see the final release, after all.
Final Fantasy III is the last title of the main series to finally make it to North American shores, and should be available sometime by the end of this year. By the looks of it, we're in for a real treat.