The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy III, part 9
If you take nothing away from this series of columns, aside from the fact that I really enjoy this game, let it be this: the remake does a whole lot of things that aren’t to its credit. The last set of jobs is this in a microcosm.
See, in the original version of Final Fantasy III, the jobs were not anything remotely approaching balanced. Vikings were completely forgettable, for example, having nothing to recommend them aside from HP and some weapons that weren’t needed. Scholars were a joke. And everything in the game was outclassed by the last two jobs you got, which didn’t become available until the last dungeon of the game was well underway.
When Matrix Software remade the game, they really wanted to ensure that all of the jobs had some purpose. Certainly, the remake succeeds in making some of them far more viable – I just listed a couple of them, but even Geomancers, Bards, and Rangers became more viable with the remake. But the last set of jobs now includes Ninja and Sage, and it kind of makes a mess out of things. The efforts to “balance” these jobs ultimately just make the last set less interesting.
For starters, the last set doesn’t even try to balance the Magus and the Devout against the Black Mage and White Mage; these two classes are straight upgrades of the previous forms, with more magic and access to better spells. So the balancing sort of stopped halfway. Both of the above have nothing to recommend them over Sages except a larger amount of MP. Summoners get a slight edge simply because Sages only use the lower-power version of summons while Summoners get the best versions… all of which are straight damage spells, compared to the utility offered by Evokers and Sages. (Unreliable utility, but utility.)
In the physical department, you gain Black Belts and Ninjas. Black Belts can punch things really hard and boost their physical attack after waiting for a term. Ninjas, meanwhile, can equip Dark Blades and throw weapons for massive damage while being insanely fast. Ninjas are no longer the Unbelievable Best At All Things Physical class, but they still make Black Belts look like a dog’s breakfast by comparison.
Mercifully, by this point in the game, it’s no longer necessary to swap classes back and forth, so you can pick your lineup and just go. After some deliberation I went with a Ninja, Summoner, and Sage to fill out the group, while my Viking remained at the front of the pack. Provoke works nicely.
As always happens when this group gets a new ride, there are new sidequests to be explored, which mostly means “you can get to places with new treasure lists.” In this case, both of those sidequests take us back to the Floating Continent, starting with Lake Dohr. Flying overhead, you can see something the size of your airship swimming under the water, which of course means that you should land to find out what’s in there. And what do we find but a waiting crapton of experience.
Yes, much like the Sunken Cave before, Lake Dohr is filled with enemies that can easily be dispatched and have notable weaknesses to lightning while handing out huge buckets of experience. It’s especially nice when you keep getting the packs of three Ouroboroses (Ouroborosi?) at once, which I was hitting constantly right by the entrance. And, of course, it’s easy to just swing out, go back to the airship, and heal up whenever it becomes necessary. So it’s well worth the time spent to just grind in here to make the remainder of the game that much easier, since we’ve established that the game’s overall experience curve is kind of a mess.
The overall group experience can get screwed with pretty thoroughly if the snakefaces get lucky and Petrify a person or two before the battle ends, but that’s the nature of the game at this point.
Anyway, actually running the dungeon is fairly easy, capping off with a fight with everyone’s favorite oarfish, Leviabeetus. This was a fight that was almost trivially easy despite being crazy annoying, mostly because the damn oarfish stoned my healer and then killed him before I could do anything about it. No one else really even got singed. Stupid fish. Leviathan is slapped on my Summoner, and we’re off for our adventures in killing the King of Dragons, Bahamut, who we last saw as we fled from a fight in a puff of smoke and fear-sweat.
Bahamut’s Lair is a fairly short and uneventful dungeon; the actual fight against Bahamut himself is another matter, probably the only other place in the entire game where having a Dragoon is actually an advantage. Even without a Dragoon he’s not so bad if you can burn him down quickly, but weathering unexpected Mega Flares can wear you down quickly. A few summons of Leviathan and plenty of thrown Wind Spears took him down in reasonably short order, since I really didn’t want to change to Dragoon for a single fight, and the most powerful summon in the game can be slapped on my Summoner. So what’s left to be done?
Oh, right, we’ve been ignoring the main story. Again. Unei wanted to see us after we got the Fang of Earth and that was, like, a week ago. We should probably go see her.
Getting back to Doga’s Manor requires going back and picking up the Nautilus again, which is thematically consistent but annoying as hell. Stupid wind. Our arrival prompts a message from Doga, which is only incredibly ominous, so we promptly jump into the summoned portal and head in to see the old folks. This naturally requires another dungeon, which is fairly straightforward and only contains one bit of branching. The enemies aren’t too tough, either, although part of this is no doubt due to my level grinding back in Lake Dohr. Visually, it’s a bit drab, but the graphics do a good job of making you really feel as if you’re descending a vast abyss.
Doga and Unei greet you at the end, explaining that they need to make the key to Eureka whole once again. For reasons that are not adequately explained, this means you’ve got to fight and kill both of them. Doga is pretty easy, but Unei can seriously ruin your day with a combination of Tornado, Aeroga, and Holy. Upon their death, Doga ensures the group that their spirits are eternal, hands over the keys necessary to enter the final areas of the game, and then pass away. They also tell us where to find the Earth Crystal and such, which the group collectively is polite enough to not point out having already visited.
Back to the Nautilus, then back to the Invincible, then up to the same place we got the last set of jobs. We’re loaded for bear, we’re mad as hell, and quite frankly we’re not going to take it any more. Time to go kick Xande’s teeth in and end the game!