Playthrough: Eternal Winds

The original Final Fantasy III Box Art

Welcome to our playthrough of Final Fantasy III, originally released in Japan for the Famicom in 1990, with a worldwide remake released for the DS, PSP, and iOS/Android.

When Square released Final Fantasy on the Famicom in 1987–famously as a last-ditch effort by Hironobu Sakaguchi to revive the flagging fortunes of himself and his company–it is unlikely that they expected demand to be so great that they would go on to produce two sequels for the Famicom, let alone a veritable avalanche of further titles in the series which continue to this day. However, those early days of Final Fantasy were formative for the series, establishing series concepts which would return in later games, eventually becoming central to the concept of Final Fantasy itself. The 1990 release of Final Fantasy III was significant in its inclusion of creations from Final Fantasy II such as Chocobos, airships, and the character Cid, which helped to ensure their centrality to the Final Fantasy series.

Hey! Cid!

But Final Fantasy III was itself an innovative title, forging genuinely new ground with its Job System–now a series mainstay. Although the original Final Fantasy had employed generic characters with classes derived (like the monsters and setting) from Dungeons and Dragons, Final Fantasy II had abandoned that approach in favour of named characters who developed individually in response to their actions and to the damage inflicted upon them, rather than based upon a class to which they belonged. Final Fantasy III, therefore, could have gone either way: that it did not changed not only the fate of the game itself, but the series. For, as a result of the sucess of Final Fantasy III, the Job System returned again in Final Fantasy V, X-2, XI, XIV, and Tactics, has been seen in various forms in spin-offs including Four Heroes of Light and Bravely Default.

The plot of Final Fantasy III was edited slightly in the remake. In the original release, four nameless children fall into an underground cavern wherein they encounter a crystal which encourages them to pursue their destiny. In the remake, only Luneth experiences those first scenes, and he encounters Arc, Refia, and Ingus in the course of his own story. Together, the four will face down an evil that threatens not only their world, but all worlds, as they become the LIGHT WARRIORS.

The original sprites retain their appeal.

Use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, secrets you have uncovered, and what you are getting out of your playthrough. Do you feel that the Famicom presentation of Final Fantasy III has held up since its original release in 1990? Or, do you prefer the aesthetics of the recent remake? How have your experiences with the Final Fantasy series, and other prominent JRPGs released after Final Fantasy III, affected your impressions of the game? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game in four weeks:
– Week 1: Obtain command of the Enterprise.
– Week 2: Gain the powers of the Water Crystal.
– Week 3: Gain the powers of the Earth Crystal.
– Week 4: Complete the game.

Feel free to join in, even if you are behind on the playthrough. Anyone and everyone is invited to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the series. Remember to comment, and please tell your friends!

Without further adieu, it is our pleasure to invite you to join the The Starlight Megaphone staff members, guests,
and readers as we seek out the crystals in Eternal Winds: A Final Fantasy III Playthrough!


  1. Because I played through the NES version last summer on stream, I will be playing through the PSP version this time (although not on stream). I’ve just defeated the Djinn and am out of the introduction. Getting the four party members together was a lot faster than I remember it being: as soon as the initial dungeon is completed, the player gets them almost immediately.

    One note: both the original NES game AND the remake use the Spell Per Day system–I had forgotten this when I mentioned it on the podcast because it has been so long since I played the PSP version, and other recent Squeenix remakes have replace SPD with MP (cf. the PSP and iOS remakes of the original FF). Apparently, they realised that this absolutely breaks the game, so they didn’t do that with FF3.

    Incidentally, this is why I suggest playing FF Origins for ‘remake’ editions of FF1/2–the difficulty isn’t nerfed and they utilise the original mechanics (although you can turn on/off things like Life potions in combat and no attacking of dead units).

    I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I do–FF3 is one of my favourite NES games!

  2. Absolutely looking forward to this playthrough of Final Fantasy III. Having been a fan of the job system from Final Fantasy V, it will be interesting seeing the difference in the origin of this mechanic in FFIII, considering it has also graced one of my more modern favorites as well, Bravely Default. This will also be my first playthrough so I’m looking forward to playing alongside everyone and enjoying the fun!

  3. I am now playing the PSP version of the game (on my PSP Go, baby!), and have made some slight progress thus far. I was quite surprised by how similar the graphics, music, battle system, and menus are to Bravely Default in this version, making me reevaluate the “effort” that SE put into that more recent title on the 3DS. Plus FFIII on PSP has far more depth, and more than just a handful of buildings that you can actually enter (as in, all of them).

  4. Readers may recall that I played through the classic AWJ fan translation of FF3 NES last summer. Readers may also recall my enthusiasm about it and my inability to tear myself away from the game (and hence the stream). This is because FF3 is either my favourite or my second-favourite NES RPG. competing with FF1, a game into which I have sunk many thousands of hours.

    This time, however, I am playing through the PSP version (on Vita), which I have only ever completed once, when it was released. My impressions of it now are not nearly so negative as they were at the time.

    I still am not a huge fan of the graphical overhaul. The FF3DS/FF4DS graphics are by no means bad, but they aren’t my cup of tea. I don’t find them actively offensive, I just prefer sprites and I think the game would have been much better had they simply updated the sprites as they did with FFIV Complete Collection (a masterful production, that).
    I am not a huge fan of the remade soundtrack either, although it is good and to some ears will be better than the original. However (as with all Final Fantasy games), I am very attached to the original presentation of the soundtrack and consequently prefer the original chiptunes to the remake.
    The translation is really good, however. It has a decent amount of whimsy without becoming too childish, and the mood fits for a game about four orphans. In fact, the translation is so good that it was used as the baseline against which Chaos Rush’s fan translation (incomplete; work in progress) was checked.
    The storyline and gameplay changes made in the remake (play does not begin with all four orphans; they are not all from Ur; jobs are not unlocked until the Djinn is defeated; capacity has been replaced by a short multi-battle cooldown) are much less significant than I remember, and in fact affect the game very little indeed. They also allow for more differentiated characterisation and the multi-battle cooldown system makes more sense than capacity (a rather obtuse mechanic which I did not fully understand when I first started playing FF3 NES ages ago).
    Battles in the remake can have fewer enemies because of limitations to the way in which enemies can be displayed; however, in practise, battles with more than 3-4 units in the NES version were not terribly common in any case, so this is not a really significant change.
    One can run in the remake. This cannot be understated. What a time-saver!

    So, on balance, I rather like the FF3 remake. I still prefer the original, because the presentation is something that I very much appreciate. However, players who are not fixated on classic NES Final Fantasy games will probably prefer the remake in every way. Enjoy!

  5. I’m going to have fun participating in this playthrough. The battery on my Vita mysteriously crapped out, so I am playing the iOS version. While the touch screen controls on some square ports are a bit cumbersome, the simplicity of FF3 makes it less of a hassle as opposed to my previous experiences playing g FF2 and Secret of Mana on the iOS. I bought FF3 and FF6 on the iOS a couple of weeks back, and they were both on sale for 6.99. I figured that was too good of a deal to pass up, as my Vita is not in a playable state.

    I originally played FF3 as a translated rom back in the late 90’s, and I agree that there was a certain charm to the old presentation, both audibly and visually. It was also nice to speed up the emulator to get through the times when you need to grind/level a little bit. The newer port designed originally for the DS seems a little nerfed, but perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me. I seem to remember there being more enemies in the random encounters, but it seems as far as I’ve played into it, I’ve never ran into more than 3 enemies at a time. On the other hand, I am enjoying building up my characters, and I feel like I’m getting more of an immediate improvement through raising the job levels of members of my party. Within a couple hours, my level one monk went from mostly missing, to being a level 14 monk which is doing an average of 8 hits per attack. I’m not sure if this mechanic differs from the original nes version, but it seems like my leveling is paying off more noticeably in the new version.

  6. BEGIN WEEK 2!

    @Fumunshu: Your memory is not playing tricks on you. The remake is significantly easier than the original. Gold and experience have been buffed, and as you notice, the number of enemies in an encounter is limited. Magic is typically more powerful across the board. And, being able to run speeds things up as well. The result is a much faster, and easier, experience.

    That said, Final Fantasy III represents a significant change in direction for the series. In the first two games, significant grinding was necessary for gold and experience. However, with Final Fantasy III, even on the NES this was significantly reduced. We can see Square moving towards easier gameplay, which would continue with the fourth, fifth, and sixth games in the series. By the time Final Fantasy VII was released, challenge had gone out the window.

  7. @Caspius Easy unless you’re talking about the first boss in FFVII, right? Then it’s GAME OVER!!! (Until you are shown how to play a JRPG. Then it’s easy.)

  8. One thing I’ve noticed about the NES version so far is that the hit ratio is pretty off. On more than one occasion, I’ve had turns result in misses from all 4 party members.

    I do like the capacity system in the game. It creates a certain amount of strategy in job selection for your party, especially in the beginning where you don’t have a lot of capacity points.

  9. @ST: that is on par for the NES games in the series. They all have fairly high miss chances, as was typical of rpgs of that period.

    I reached the Molten Cave this evening–but now to bed so I can get to the conferences in the morning!


    Everyone should have the powers of the WATER CRYSTAL now. We’re half-way there!

    I’ll be reading comments from this thread during next week’s podcast (TSM 430), so let us know how you’re finding it!


    I’m at Saronia, so I am a bit behind the acquisition of the Earth Crystal. Watch Reetin’s streams this week to see him finish the game, live!

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