One day a great earthquake opens a cave near the village of Ur. Four orphaned youths decide to venture into the cave, to test their skills. After fighting an ambush of monsters, the four come accross a crystal. The crystal tells them of a immanent danger taking the world, and charges them with its power. The youths have no understanding of what is going on, but realize the importance of what was said to them. It is then they decide to venture out, and restore the balance of light and darkness in the world.
Final Fantasy III, released in Japan in 1990, was the last title to hit the NES. It is also the title with the most “firsts” for the series. This is the first title to feature a Job Class system, which you can change throughout the game. It is the first to introduce auto re-targeting. Basically if the enemy you are going for is killed, you will attack another enemy instead of the air. This is the first to introduce Summon creatures and Moogles. It is the first to have a airship that has full features such as shops and resting. It is the first to take you somewhere other then on the land (Underwater in this case). Final Fantasy III is certainly a turning point of the series.
The graphics were great for the NES. The detail is pushed literally as far as they could go. Some of the job sprites are very similar to past character sprites from I and II, but they were taken up a notch. The enemies are just fantastically detailed. NES hit the high spot for graphics here. While the 3rd run through of most other titles seemed to be the same as older titles, Final Fantasy III was taking the last steps forward for the system.
Sound was certainly of the quality Final Fantasy had become known for. You have fantastic classics from the two previous titles, as well as a whole host of new scores that are just as good. It fits the different scenarios and characters just right. It is also not overblown so much that it interferes in the game.
The new job system was a great shot at something new. It allowed for the ability to completely customize your party into exactly what you want it to be. But it was not quite there yet. You require Capacity Points (CP) won after battle to change jobs. Once changed, it will take a few fights to get the maximum ability of the job. It was a little trying in the middle of a dungeon, to switch to a job you might need at that point, and then try and get it to full potential before the major fight. And there are one or two classes that are just a waste of time. Overall, it was a great idea. And they would soon master this idea (V).
The greatest addition was the Summon monsters, which has become a staple of every title in the main series since. Summon monsters are beasts that can be called into battle and execute some form of action. Final Fantasy III is the first and last that has different summon outcomes, depending on the class you have. This is a neat idea, but ultimately becomes something of an annoyance when you want a certain attack, and have to change a class to get it. Thankfully this error was changed in all later titles.
The great innovation to the battle system in III is the targeting of another enemy, if the one you were going to attack gets killed. This is something that was a major step for the series, as well as RPG titles in general. I am not certain what it is called, but I have always called it auto re-targeting. I am sure everyone who ahs played I and II loved having this feature added. I know I did.
The experience system from I was also returned to the series. After battles, you gain a set amount of experience, based on the experience given from the enemy. It also took the challenge and difficulty up a notch. There was a lot more level grinding required than before, and a little bit more enemy encounters than before. But this just added to the game for the RPG lovers.
Overall, Final Fantasy III took the NES out with a bang. It was yet another success for Squaresoft, and was well received by critics throughout the east. Unfortunately the US did not see this title for 17 years. After all, Final Fantasy had not even hit the states at this time. But thanks to the internet and the fans, the NES version has received a great fan translation, and can be played using an emulator and rom.
If you can get your hands on it, give it a play. It is certainly not the greatest of the series, but you can see where a lot of the fantastic ideas from for those great titles. It was Final Fantasy III.