If you've been following along since I started chronicling the Final Fantasy series, you're already familiar with four heroic Light Warriors and the collapse of a previously massive empire caused by a band of rebels. Assuming you haven't already played Final Fantasy 3, it'll likely come as a surprise that four Light Warriors once again return to the series.
These nameless, altruistic individuals may lack personalities (unless you're counting the DS version), but they make up for it with their ability to change professions as many times as necessary. Unlike the original Final Fantasy, your characters initially begin with no roles. Technically, they're given the unusual title of Onion Knight, but really, they're jack-of-all-trades characters who only later develop job specializations.
Final Fantasy 3 begins with its four child-heroes seeking adventure. They stumble upon a cavern by accident after falling in a pit, and their quest begins.
While spelunking ancient catacombs, the soon-to-be Light Warriors stumble upon a Land Turtle who was introduced to the series as a standard enemy in Final Fantasy 2. The humongous turtle soon became an endangered species, however, as the children quickly bested him.
This encounter is quiet interesting — not only because it serves as the starting point for the Light Warriors' adventure, but also because it reveals important advancements in Final Fantasy's battle system.
Enhancements Viagra Users Could Only Dream Of
In previous Final Fantasys, characters attacked enemies selected during their respective turns. But if a pre-selected target perished before a particular character's turn executed, then the character would strike at thin air instead of automatically targeting another opponent. Final Fantasy 3 changed this, by allowing characters to attack other opponents perfunctorily.
Another unique feature is the addition of numbered damage over the heads of allies and enemies. Previously, damage in Final Fantasy games was relegated to text menus, but Final Fantasy 3 made walls of slow-moving text unnecessary.
But returning to the adventure, once the four youth slew the giant reptile, they discovered an enormous crystal — which granted them the ability to change jobs and revealed their destiny as Light Warriors who'd bring about the world's salvation.
The Job Search
The jobs they received were a class above modern day minimum wage work. Instead of flipping burgers at McDonalds or scrubbing urinals, Final Fantasy 3's Light Warriors could become Warriors, Monks, White Mages, Black Mages, Red Mages, and Thieves.
After changing classes for the first time, the four youth become indistinguishable from the original Final Fantasy's heroes, but unlike characters in that title, they can switch classes whenever. Their jobs provide unique abilities and attributes that are fully effective after a few battles. All of Final Fantasy 3's characters have the same default statistics, so each class has an equal effect on each character — assuming they have the same experience.
As the adventure progresses, new jobs become available, but they're obtained differently from promotions in the original Final Fantasy. At certain points in their quest, the heroes gain additional classes through encountering three other large crystals scattered throughout the world.
From Blue To White Collar
The second crystal bestows four new classes upon the heroes: Knight, Ranger, Scholar, and Geomancer. As you might imagine, the Knight can wield heavy weapons and armor, but he also serves as a protector of critically wounded allies and can cast basic healing spells. The Ranger on the other hand performs ranged attacks and can unleash an entire quiver of arrows.
Just like any dignified academician, scholars attack with books, but they're known for their ability to cast mid-level spells and identify enemy weaknesses. Unlike Scholars, Geomancers aren't bookworms, but they're physical powerhouses and can manipulate the land to destroy their enemies.
The third crystal provides even more specialization. The Dragoon — first introduced in FF2 — can leap into the air with his legendary 'Jump' ability, which is useful for dodging absurdly powerful attacks and retaliating with a deadly lance blow upon landing.
The 'Viking' class is special as well, because it's only found in Final Fantasy 3. Vikings look similar to the dwarves of Final Fantasy 4, and they can wield axes and hammers in addition to acting as a tank.
Another benefit of reaching tier three is the 'Dark Knight' class. It's similar in appearance to Cecil from Final Fantasy 4, and also grants his class-specific technique: Soul Eater. This particular ability drains some of the attacker's HP, then unleashes a devastating blow on all opponents.
The Evoker class is a bit more unique, as it allows characters to summon monsters that have a restorative and an offensive effect. Evokers aren't very powerful, but they were the first opportunity for Final Fantasy fans to use eidolons such as Ramuh and Ifrit.
The third crystal also bestows a final class: the Bard. These pied pipers are famous for their melodious ballads that either provide status enhancements or break through enemy weaknesses.
Living Like A CEO
But that's not the end of Final Fantasy 3's classes. The fourth crystal grants the heroes with six additional jobs: Black Belt, Devout, Magus, Summoner, Sage, and Ninja.
The Black Belt is one of the strongest classes in Final Fantasy 3, and has an ability that enables him to charge his power for an additional turn before unleashing his fists of fury. Unlike the Black Belt, the Devout class is physically weak, but its 'Full Life' restorative magic more than makes up for it.
Unfortunately, the Magus class isn't as useful as a Devout, because the ultimate Black Magic spells can't match the might of Summon Magic. The Summoner on the other hand is an invaluable class that provides its user with powerful spells that strike all enemies.
The next class sounds useful, but the Sage was butchered for the DS version of Final Fantasy 3. The Sage still has the ability to cast Black, White, and Summon Magic, but it now has relatively few turns and its Summon spells are similar to that of the pathetic Evoker instead of the almighty Summoner.
And now to the final class: the Ninja. It can wield ninja swords and boomerangs and throw shurikens and weapons which disappear, permanently.
Final Fantasy 3's Job System is complex, but it makes for more strategic combat. Instead of leveling individual spells and weapon types as in Final Fantasy 2, characters simply need to shift to different jobs when the situation requires it. When a particular boss seems unbeatable because of its frequent, powerful attacks, all characters can become Dragoons before battle and prevail after avoiding his deadly abilities via the move 'Jump.'
The last Famicom Final Fantasy significantly evolved the Job System, but that's not the only thing that makes Final Fantasy 3 special. Its story may be as thin as rice paper, but it's the game's individual events, locales, and vehicles that make it special.
Shortly after receiving their first classes and returning to town, your four heroes are sent on a mission to save the world by their caretaker, Elder Topapa. Soon, they encounter a man named Cid in a ghost town called Kazus. The old engineer takes a break from pounding beers and tells the four youth about his airship hidden in the desert to the west, and like any wise heroes, they take it.
After flying to Sasune Castle where they're told about the Djinn who'd transformed Kazus citizens into ghosts, the heroes embarkon a journey to the Sealed Cave to permanently banish that fiery spirit with Princess Sara's ring, whom they meet in the cave. Once their mission is complete, Cid's pal Takka installs a drill on the Light Warriors' airship, which they use to smash a boulder impeding their progress. Shortly thereafter, they crash, and have to reach their destination on foot.
Eventually, the party reaches the village of Canaan where they're told a boy named Desch is trapped on Dragon's Peak. Once the four youth scale the mountain, they're grabbed by Bahamut who sets them down in his nest until meal time. After being mocked by Desch because of their capture, they engage in battle with Bahamut — only to flee, because they realize he's far too powerful. The child-heroes are then given the spell 'Mini' and escape by jumping off the cliff with their buddy, Desch.
With the spell 'Mini' in hand, they shrink down to gnome-size and enter a forest before reaching the village of Tozus — the land of gnomes. After living out their 'Honey, I Shrunk The Kids' fantasy, they head through a tunnel that extends to the nearby Viking's Cove.
Pillage And Plunder
The Viking boss offers the Light Warriors a boat, but first they have to defeat the sea serpent, Nepto, in his temple up north. Instead of defeating the dragon, they recover Nepto's eye from a giant rat, and he decides to leave the sea raiders alone. Finally, the heroes are awarded with a sponge-worthy vessel called the Enterprise.
Next, the four youth head to the troubled village of Tokkul and are told of the Village of the Ancients that lies beyond a vast desert. After stocking up on equipment and items, the heroes ride off into the sunset on their chocobos — or actually, towards the Living Wood. While there, the warriors learn of the forest's cursed tree and the evil wizard Hein from the faeries. Before meeting this wizard, however, the heroes head to Castle Argus to gather supplies and then Gulgan Gulch where they learn the essential 'Toad' spell.
Afterwards, they head towards the Tower of Owen and pass an obstacle thanks to the Toad spell. Before battling Medusa, they learn of a fearsome opponent named Xande who resides in a distant tower. After defeating Medusa, the heroes return to Desch who tells them of a dwarf cave to the northwest, but first, they head to the town of Gysahl to buy spells and meet the unusual Fat Chocobo — a chubby item- storing creature.
Once they reach the Dwarven Hollows, they're given the task of securing the stolen Ice Horn. They defeat the culprit and retrieve the item at a subterranean lake, but he secretly follows the warriors and steals it again in addition to the other horn. This time, they take the item back for good at the Molten Cave and find the Fire Crystal which grants the warriors their second set of job classes.
The warriors are then given a Magic Key by the dwarves, and they're told by a dying man from Tokkul that the village is in danger. Thinking they'll be able to set things straight, the heroes enter the village, but are captured.
After being left to rot in the dungeon, the four youth meet King Argus and discover a way out with the 'Mini' spell. Instead of leaving, however, they pursue the evil wizard Hein and put an end to his hocus pocus. The Light Warriors are then told to head to the main continent by the formerly cursed tree. But before embarking, they receive a 'Wheel of Time' from King Argus and are told to give it to Cid.
Cid upgrades the Enterprise into an airship only capable of landing on water, then tells the heroes that they're not originally from this floating continent. Cid and four orphans were the only survivors from an incident that occurred on the mainland, and they escaped to the floating island via airship.
After hearing this senile man's tale, the child-heroes head towards the mainland, which is now covered in water. While scouring the skies, they discover a sunken ship with a sleeping woman named Aria whom they cure with a healing item. She then asks the four brave youth to take her to the water temple, and of course they can't resist a pretty lady's offer.
At the abandoned temple, she gains a crystal shard that allows the party to enter the Cave of Tides –home of the Water Crystal. Once they reach the sparkling orb, the party is ambushed by Kraken, but they prevail, gain new classes, and the water level recedes. Before leaving, however, an old woman tells the team that they must meet Doga who will explain how to defeat the mastermind behind the world's decay, Xande.
Moored With No Place To Go
After the earthquake (which caused the change in water level), the party awakes in Amur village. There, they learn their ship was moored by a greedy individual, and they discover that four old men are pretending to be the Light Warriors.
The heroes follow these decrepit imposters into the sewers and aid them against fearsome gigantoads despite their sham. At the end of the tunnel, they meet with Delilah who gives them Levigrass Shoes, which are necessary to cross a swamp that separates them from Goldor Manor where the key to their ship is held.
At Goldor, the heroes encounter the man responsible for locking up their ship due to his fear of the Light Warriors obtaining "his" crystal. They swiftly defeat him in combat, but he destroys the crystal as a final act of sabotage. Not knowing what to do, the heroes return to their airship with their newly retrieved key.
Shortly thereafter, the Light Warriors briefly stop at the uneventful town of Duster before continuing to the kingdom of Saronia where their airship is shot down. To the heroes' dismay, they discover that Saronia is in the midst of a civil war, but they enter anyway, with the goal of rescuing Prince Alus.
After clearing Saronia's four towers of monsters and rescuing Alus, the king attempts to kill his rescued son. Then, the heroes battle the aerial beast Garuda and dethrone the king. The new monarch, Alus, allows them to enter any buildings they desire, and one generous individual awards the four youth with the Nautilus — the fastest airship in the world.
Next, the Light Warriors fly to Doga's Manor on the southern continent. Upon entering, the heroes are surrounded by moogles who take them to Doga.
Doga informs them about Xande, explaining that he plans to consume the world with the powers of darkness. This nefarious individual hatched his plan to destroy the world after being snubbed by a Magus known as Noah who was Doga and Xande's teacher.
Before passing away, Noah awarded his three apprentices with gifts. Doga was granted the ability to use Noah's magic, Unei received 'The World of Dreams,' and Xande was unfortunate enough to receive the "gift" of mortality. Like any reasonable man would do, Xande decided to exact revenge by halting time and summoning the Cloud of Darkness.
After a lengthy explanation, Doga asks the Light Warriors to take her to the Cave of the Circle where she casts a spell on the Nautilus that enables it to submerge. She also tells the four youth to use Noah's Lute at an underwater cape. Once they pilfer the sacred lute from an unsuspecting horde of behemoths and chimera mages in a nearby temple, the Light Warriors travel to Unei's Cave.
The heroes end Unei's slumber, and she decides to accompany them to the Ancient Ruins. There, the four youth encounter a group of scholars who can't advance because of a cave-in, so Unei solves the problem with her magic. After traversing the cavern, the bold warriors discover an enormous airship known as the Invincible. The heroes were impressed with its on-board amenities including shops, an inn, a Fat Chocobo, and its ability to fly over previously impassable mountains.
With their new airship, the Light Warriors pass through a town of Dark Knights, then head towards the Cave of Shadows to obtain the Fang of Earth. After it's in their hands, they return to Doga.
Doga tells the warriors to enter a nearby, formerly inaccessible grotto. Once they reach the end, the heroes are forced to battle Doga and Unei for the Eureka Key. This key is required to open the forbidden land of Eureka which contains weapons necessary for defeating Xande.
With the Eureka Key and fangs in hand, the Light Warriors march north of Amur past monolithic statues. There, they enter the Ancients' Maze where a monster infestation is remedied on their way to a tower which contains the gate to Eureka.
Inside Eureka, the heroes encounter various bosses, and receive the Ragnarok, Masamune, and Elder's Staff as rewards. They also discover a hidden village that sells powerful summons and spells. With amazing magic and weapons in hand, the Light Warriors finally proceed to Xande's keep — otherwise known as Crystal Tower.
The labyrinthine Crystal Tower delays the heroes temporarily, but they eventually reach Xande after emptying countless treasure chests. He appears in a mirror that blocks the Light Warriors' path — but it's merely an illusion. The heroes' progress is impeded thanks to a curse, but Doga immediately works to save them.
Doga quickly scours the world for Princess Sara, Cid, Desch, one of the Light Warrior imposters, and Prince Alus, and together, their powers shatter the curse. With their path now clear, the Light Warriors enter the mirror prepared to stop Xande's evil plan.
Once the heroes defeat their bluish foe in hand-to-hand combat, they realize their lack of timeliness. Xande had already summoned the Cloud of Darkness who'd return the world to the void. To avoid a period of nothingness, the heroes challenge the voluptuous cloud.
She proves too much for the four youth, but the Light Warriors' allies come to their aid and revive the fallen. The bold heroes then enter a portal, where they'd defeat four bosses: Cerberus, Echidna, Ahriman, and a Two-Headed Dragon. Vanquishing these foes reveals four Dark Warriors who would aid the heroes during their final confrontation.
Before engaging the Cloud of Darkness, the Dark Warriors weaken her defenses. Then, the Light Warriors charge in and make the angry lady's raindrop tears pour for eternity.
With the world saved and the powers of light and darkness overcome, the heroes rejoice. Soon thereafter, they meet with their romantic interests, make babies, and tranquility replaces chaos (okay, one of those is a lie).
Even though the story is complete, it's important not to forget Final Fantasy 3's last key innovation: Side-quests. Final Fantasy 1 and 2 had a couple small secrets (hidden treasures and one extremely hard enemy), but Final Fantasy 3 was where side-quests truly got their start.
For starters, a hidden cave lay underwater that contained treasures and was also the best place to gain experience. Besides this treasure cove, there were hidden dungeons home to Odin, Leviathan, and Bahamut, which could all be obtained through their defeat in battle (or in a hidden shop).
A List of Summons
Cid's airship with drill attached
The Enterprise (a boat that later becomes an airship)
The Nautilus (the fastest airship in the world that also acts as a submarine)
The Invincible (a large airship with a shop, inn, and a Fat Chocobo on-board)
Versions of Final Fantasy 3
Famicom: April 27, 1990 (JPN)
Nintendo DS: November 14, 2006 (US)
Virtual Console: July 21, 2009 (JPN)
Includes 22 Job Classes (including the default class: Onion Knight)
Final Fantasy 3 has five vehicles
Fat Chocobos make their first appearance
Dwarves return for the first time since the original Final Fantasy
There's a Viking village and a town of gnomes
Status effects such as 'Toad' and 'Mini' are necessary to enter certain areas
First FF with numerical damage over enemies and allies' heads
When opponents are defeated, attacks automatically transfer to other foes
In the Famicom version of Final Fantasy 3, the characters didn't have names
Crystals and light versus dark return after their hiatus in FF2
Certain sprite designs such as scholars would carry over to FF4
Summon Magic makes its first appearance
You begin the game on a floating continent
Features the first female final boss in the Final Fantasy series
Moogles make their first appearance
The first Final Fantasy with a boss theme