On the whole, it’s been a rough year for Xbox games on Windows Phone. Most weeks go by without new releases, and several publishers like Gameloft have stopped publishing their games as Xbox titles. And yet, a couple of new Xbox releases have turned up in the last few weeks: Temple Run 2 and Rabbids Big Bang.
Today another Xbox Windows Phone game showed up out of the blue as something of a late Christmas present for Xbox fans: Final Fantasy III from Square-Enix. This makes the third Japanese role-playing game the publisher has released on Windows Phone, following the first Final Fantasy and Chaos Rings. Final Fantasy III runs on both Windows Phone 7 and 8, but it carries a hefty price tag… Check out our hands on video, impressions, and Store link after the break!
A world reborn
Final Fantasy III first appeared on the Famicom, the Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Although the NES game never made it to America, Square-Enix did bring the 3D remake for the Nintendo DS to our shores in 2006. The remake boasts a slightly improved story and cinematics, new dungeons, gameplay tweaks, and other features.
The DS version of Final Fantasy III was the basis of the iOS game, which has now been ported to Windows Phone. Being a Windows Phone 7 game, Final Fantasy III doesn’t take advantage of higher Windows Phone 8 screen resolutions. But it does take up the whole screen, at least! And it still looks just as good as the DS game, with cute polygonal characters and colorful 3D environments.
Both modern and old-school
You’ll remember that the first Final Fantasy had only a threadbare storyline, with the player’s party having no personalities of their own. In Final Fantasy III, your party will include four distinct characters who actually do a little talking (via text) in the story scenes.
Their quest: to recover the four elemental crystals and heal the land. Don’t expect a riveting fantasy tale – that wouldn’t come until Final Fantasy IV for the Super Nintendo. But this one still feels more modern and engrossing than the previous Windows Phone entry.
Final Fantasy III adds one major gameplay system that would reappear in several subsequent sequels and spin-offs such as Final Fantasy Tactics: a job system. Jobs are like classes, and include such roles as Warrior, Thief, Summoner, White, Black, and Red Mage, Ninja, and more.
Each party member starts out as a freelancer, but they can freely change to new jobs as the story progresses. This gives players a lot of freedom – no need to pick a party and live your decision for the rest of the game this time out.
Playing on the go
Final Fantasy III has been optimized for mobile play much more than the first game. A virtual thumbstick appears wherever you touch the screen, much like in Chaos Rings. During battle, players can select menu options like always or simply tap enemies directly to attack them. That’s so much more convenient than before!
The save game system didn’t receive quite as much mobile love as the control and menu systems, however. In the overworld and towns, you can access the menu and save at any time. But there is no real saving once you step into a dungeon. You can make a temporary quick save there, but the save disappears after you resume from it. Die inside a dungeon and you’ll have to restart the dungeon from the beginning.
A costly fantasy
Square-Enix is known for pricing its mobile games much higher than other publishers, a trend they continue on Windows Phone. Up until now, their Chaos Rings was the most expensive Xbox Windows Phone game at $9.99. Final Fantasy III rings up a bit higher: $15.99. That’s a lot for a mobile game, but it is the regular price of the iOS version. Considering that Final Fantasy III sold for $29.99 on DS, paying about half of that for the mobile version doesn’t seem so bad.
Expensive or not, role-playing fans won’t want to miss Final Fantasy III. Remember, you’ll need at least four times as much storage space as the game’s file size in order to download it – so about 2 gigabytes in this case. We’ll have an Achievement Guide later today, followed by a full review in January!
- Final Fantasy III – Windows Phone 7 and 8 – 451 MB - $15.99 – Store Link
Thanks to Hengxiang32401 for the tip!