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Video Game / Final Fantasy III

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The cast of Final Fantasy III DS. From left to right: Refia, Luneth, Ingus, and Arc.

Not to be confused with Final Fantasy VI, which was originally released in North America on SNES as Final Fantasy III.

Four souls shall be blessed with light, and so it shall begin...

The third entry in the brain-freezingly popular Final Fantasy series. It was originally released for the Famicom in 1990.

Kids will be kids, right? And if you tell them that a particular abandoned and unguarded cave is dangerous, you can pretty much expect the kids to wander in. This goes double if the kids in question are a ragtag group of adventurous orphans.

Little do the orphans know, they're about to stumble on a power which will change their lives. With the crystals of light sensing that darkness is about to take over, they bestow their powers onto the four. It's now up to these kids, so inexperienced that they're called Onion Knights (after the Japanese term negibozu, literally a green onion sprout but also meaning a callow youth), to save the world.

Similar to II, your party consists of 4 nondescript characters who can become whatever you want them to be. By far the biggest innovation in III lies in the Job System, which builds on what Dragon Quest III rolled out two years earlier. Although Final Fantasy has character and prestige classes, it does not feature an interchangeable system like this game does. You can move all of your Onion Knights into any job at any time, albeit for the right amount of Capacity Points (won by fighting battles and spent whenever you change jobs). III's Job system set the framework for V, X-2, and Ivalice Alliance.

For a long time this game was considered one of the 'lost' Final Fantasy games, as it was not released outside of Japan for many years; after II and V were finally released in English (in 2003 and 1999, respectively), III stood as the last Japan-only mainline entry. In 2006, it was finally remade for the Nintendo DS, with 3D graphics, more plot, and extended characterization, thus exposing the game to a wider audience. The DS remake was again tweaked to improve some gameplay issues and has been ported to the iOS, Android, and PSP, as well as PC via Steam. In 2021, a Truer to the Text remaster of the original Famicom game was released on mobile devices and Steam as part of the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster line, making it the first time that version has been translated into English. 2023 saw the Pixel Remaster version brought over to the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

It's certainly one of the most formative games in the series, with the Job System, Moogles, Summon Magic, Gysahl and the Fat Chocobo, and terrain effects (this is relevant to the Geomancer job) all finding their origins in this installment.

This game provides examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The Sage and Ninja classes in the original. They're better balanced in the remakes.
  • Ability Required to Proceed: Both the Mini and Toad spells are required for a few dungeons (the former also pretty much forces you to use magic-using classes).
  • Actionized Sequel: On a technical note, in the previous games, if you had more than one party member target the same monster and the first character killed it, the remaining characters’ attacks would "miss". III does away with this and automatically has your characters attack a new target, making battles go much faster. This process had not yet been employed for magic, however.
  • Adaptation Displacement: Invoked by Word of God, though subject to a Flip-Flop of God — some materials state the four orphans from Ur are now considered the same characters as the DS heroes. Spin-offs still use the Onion Knight as the game's representative heronote , and he's mentioned to be one of the four orphans from Ur, even though in appearance and personality he's a distinct character from any of the DS heroes.
  • Affirmative Action Girl:
    • Refia was the only one of the original Onion Knights to be given a gender change along with a name and personality.
    • In the official manga for the original game, there was a female Warrior of the Wind named Melfi.
  • All in a Row: More like Both in a Row, as guests will follow your party leader perfectly.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: The DS remake lets you zoom-in using L/R, with spots hiding objects giving off a yellow-gold sparkle.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The Pixel Remaster provides a few:
    • Unlike the Famicom or DS versions, there is no penalty or requirement for switching jobs.
    • From Amur onwards, Phoenix Downs can be purchased, meaning they are no longer finitenote 
    • There is an autosave which kicks in prior to fighting a boss and loads back right before it, cutting down on the Checkpoint Starvation.
    • Meanwhile, the DS remake automatically heals the party after a boss fight, which is a blessing during the final gauntlet in the World of Darkness. While the Pixel Remaster does not do this directly, interacting with a crystal will restore your party to full health, including the Dark Crystals in the aforementioned gauntlet.. The PSP versions onward, including the Pixel Remaster also add an autobattle feature which repeats the last action taken, making it ideal for grinding levels and job levels.
    • Arrows in the Pixel Remaster function like equipment instead of consumables, and do not deplete when used.
    • The Pixel Remaster adds mini-maps and item collection tracking, which makes navigating the areas and collecting everything from them much easier than it would be without them.
    • Unlike the previous two titles, magic can be freely equipped and exchanged among party-members. Where in the past removing a spell would permanently lose it unless bought again, here when a spell is removed it is turned back into a consumable and sent to your inventory. It is not possible to sell any Mini or Toad spells as they are needed to progress the story.
  • Anti-Villain: Xande, in theory. He only wants the timer on his life removed after his master stripped him of his immortality after mastering magic. That said, he spends what little screen time he has acting like a pretty standard Evil Sorceror.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Most notable in the DS version, where only three enemies can be onscreen at once. Most of them are buffed to compensate.
  • The Artifact: Fat Chocobo stores items for you. In the Famicom version, where you had limited inventory space, this was useful and important. The remake versions have an unlimited inventory, so Fat Chocobo serves no purpose (unless you want your inventory to be a little less cluttered).
  • Backported Development: Although the Pixel Remaster is based on the original 2D version, the Ranger, Scholar, Viking, and Dark Knight jobs use the ability modifications from the 3D remake.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: Light and Darkness variation; the game is clear that an excess of either is dangerous, and in the past, the Warriors of Darkness had to save the world from a flood of light.
  • Balance Buff:
    • Another plus is that they made mages truly dangerous, probably moreso than in any other FF game past or present: In I, they were limited to only a few castings (there was no way to restore MP apart from Trauma Inns), and in II they were only useful for their Death spells, and were only there to haste and heal while other party members attacked bosses...who were immune to Death spells. In this game, mages can adapt to whatever situation the game throws at them. Useful status ailments like Shade (paralyzes), Blind, Sleep, and Break 2 (petrifies) are all included. They also have access to the now-familiar Meteo, Holy, Bio, Quake, Aero, and the almighty Summons: Franchise staples such as Bahamut, Leviathan, Titan, Ifrit, Ramuh, Shiva, and Odin all make their debut as summons here.
    • The remakes buff just about every non-Sage/Ninja job, while nerfing those two jobs. As a result, jobs no longer follow a Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness they had in the NES version. The Pixel Remaster inherits the mechanics that improved those jobs, although not the expanded armor/weapon pools.
  • Bewitched Amphibians: The status ailment inflicted via the Toad spell. Notable in that a couple of dungeons actually require that your whole party be inflicted with the status in order to pass certain thresholds.
  • Black and White Magic: Naturally, this being Final Fantasy. The Black Mage and its upgraded form Magus are the primary black magic-users, while the White Mage and its upgraded form Devout specialize in white magic. The Scholar, Red Mage, and Sage jobs can all use both schools of magic, listed here in increasing order of proficiency. In the DS remake, Onion Knights are capable of learning and casting any spell from either school, as well.
  • Blind Seer: The Gulgans appear to be an entire race of these.
  • Blow You Away: This is the first FF installment to feature Wind element magic (Aero / Aerora / Aeroga). Strangely, it is classified as White Magic, and Aerora is nowhere to be found.
  • Boss Bonanza: The game has the Crystal Tower and the World of Darkness dungeon crawl. After the battle with Xande, you have a Hopeless Boss Fight with the Cloud of Darkness, followed by four more battles with the Guardians of the Dark Crystals, and finally the rematch battle with the Cloud of Darkness. As this is Final Fantasy III, you have to beat all these bosses with no opportunities to save between them.
  • Bonus Dungeon:
    • The game has a good few optional dungeons in its latter half which contain some pretty helpful goodies, such as the ability to summon Odin, Leviathan, and Bahamut. There's also an undersea cave chock full of gear that's pretty solid for when you first gain access to it. On a smaller scale, Kazus, Saronia, and Falgabard also contain small dungeons where you can obtain a few pieces of gear sold in the shops in town for free.
    • Strictly speaking, Eureka is optional. You know, the caves with about a dozen weapons that Doga and Unei gave their lives to unlock, saying they were all supposedly necessary? Granted, climbing Crystal Tower without them is tantamount to suicide (within the context of Final Fantasy III), but there's nothing stopping you from giving it a try!
    • The DS remake adds a new "???" bonus dungeon, which is a single tiny room with dragons as random encounters, no treasure, and a superboss.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The dragons in the Crystal Tower.
  • Breather Episode: This game brought in some much needed frivolity after Final Fantasy II.
  • Broken Aesop: The Dark Is Not Evil and Light Is Not Good message is undermined in the DS Updated Re-release by extra lines in the pre-ending crawl going on and on about evil being defeated by "the light of hope." Ultimately subverted with the Cloud of Darkness, though — it applies only in name (it's really a neutral Omnicidal Maniac whose current tenure just happens to result from the Flood of Darkness this time), and it (or some other incarnation) was a byproduct of the Flood of Light as well.
  • Broken Bridge: The game is just a string of Broken Bridges. First, you need to turn the people back from ghosts to break a large rock. Then you need to Get on the Boat and beat Nepto. Then you need to destroy the whirlpool. After that, you need to get the horns back from Gutsco. Followed by getting locked up in prison by Hein. And then you need to lower the water level. After that, you need to unchain the ship. But to do that, you need the Levigrass Shoes. Then your airship gets shot down and you're stuck in a Civil War. Then you need to wake up Unei. Then when she gives you the Invincible, you need to get the last Fang. Then you need the Eureka and Syrcus keys... And then finally you can get to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • But Thou Must!: After defeating Gutsco the Rogue, you may notice that an unusual shadow is following you back through the dungeon. Naturally, this is Gutsco trying to pull a fast one on the party. Even then, you have to fall for the trick to progress the story.
  • Canon Name: The manga adaption names the quartet Muuchi, Doug, J. Bowie, and Melfi. The DS remake names them Luneth, Arc, Refia, and Ingus.
  • Casting a Shadow: The Geomancer's Shadowflare and the Dark Knight's Souleater are explicitly dark-based.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: There's a small one in Falgabard, where an elderly shinobi will test your might and reward with a Kikuichimonji if you defeat him.
  • Challenge Run: The Switch and PS4 versions of the Pixel Remaster, in addition to providing the option to make the game easier by increasing the amount of experience gained, provide an option to make the game harder by having characters gain either half as much experience as usual or no experience at all.
  • Character Select Forcing: Certain parts of the game are made much more difficult if you're not using certain jobs.
    • A couple of dungeons require the entire party to be in the Mini status. Since the Mini status reduces Strength to the absolute minimum, any character that isn't a mage is effectively dead weight.
    • Hein basically requires you to have either a scholar to remove his shield or a White/Red Mage casting libra (a 4th level white magic spell), as well as either a Ranger or Red/Black mage to take advantage of his weakness.
    • Goldor is immune to elemental magic, meaning you have to beat him with combat classes.
    • Pretty much the only viable way to defeat Garuda in the NES version is to use Dragoons. Fortunately, the game drops several obvious hints about this, including a tower full of free Dragoon gear you can visit before taking him on.
    • Every enemy in the Cave of Shadows is highly resistant to magic and multiplies when hit with any weapon other than a katana. Any party without a Dark Knight will struggle to get through the dungeon.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: The Monk and Black Belt class rely on muscle power, and with the former you're better served to leave them unarmed.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: The final tower does this to you. After the last time you can save, you have to go up eight or nine floors of the Crystal Tower, gaining experience along the way, and then you defeat a boss, get warped to the World of Darkness where you have to beat four more tough mini bosses, get items, gain more experience, defeat the final boss, and then watch the whole ending scene before you can finally save again.
  • Climax Boss: Xande is the Evil Overlord behind all the conflict in the game, until you kill him, at which point the Cloud of Darkness appears and you're transported to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon to fight it.
  • Contrived Coincidence: It just so happens that a guy who fell down a hole one day, his best friend in town, a girl they meet on a ship, and a guard who greets them at a gate are all the chosen ones.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: King Alus of Saronia.
  • Color-Coded Characters: In the original game, the Onion Knights each had a different color to tell them apart (red/blue/green/purple). Due to palette limitations, the purple Onion Knight appears red in battle.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Lampshaded in the DS version.
  • Cool Helmet: Worn by the Knight, Dragoon, Viking, and Dark Knight classes.
  • Cool Old Guy: Doga and Cid both qualify.
  • Cool Old Lady: Unei doesn't even let the party suggest she's too frail to come along and thinks nothing of blasting apart giant adamantine boulders. With her mind. And antimatter.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: Xande's doings bring the Cloud of Darkness around.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The Onion Knight class (but not the corresponding Freelancer class), due to Magikarp Power.
  • Cutting the Knot: The sorcerer Hein is a trick boss whose elemental weakness changes every three rounds. The developers intended for the player to use a Scholar along with a couple black magic-users, so they could determine his weaknesses as they changed and use the appropriate magic. However it's even easier to just change everyone into a fighting class and pummel him until he stops moving.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Present in the backstory, when the Dark Warriors have to save the world against abuse of the elemental powers of light. They also can help out your party if they are freed, as, like the Light Warriors, they are dedicated to preserving the balance between light and dark, which the Cloud of Darkness is currently upsetting.
    • The Dark Knight class is not inherently evil at all, instead simply specializing in the use of darkness as a weapon. They're also extremely useful when it comes to enemies that split, as the power of darkness prevents that from happening.
    • Even though the ultimate final boss of the game, Cloud of Darkness, is a Dark Form who intends to destroy both worlds, she is not evil for being comprised of darkness, but for being the embodiment of the imbalance between light and dark, and she is a manifestation of the excess darkness rather than darkness itself. Her light equivalent from the past was just as evil and destructive as she is.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Getting a Non Standard Game Over from either the ancient statues or bottomless bog in the Pixel Remaster does not return the player to the title screen, rather the party is just sent back to the previous tile and the game resumes.
  • Disney Death: Desch jumps into the Tower of Owen's furnace. No One Could Survive That!... But when Doga is looking for people to help the Light Warriors at the end, he pops up without a scratch, and in fact quite surprised that anyone would think he'd been in mortal danger. It just took him that long to fix it.
  • Double-Edged Buff: The Warrior Job can use the Advance command to raise their strength and reduce their defense. Both effects scale with the job level.
  • Drought Level of Doom: The endgame is infamous for this, forcing the player to go through not one, not two, but three consecutive dungeons (plus a fourth dungeon in the Famicom version if the player wants to get the Ninja and Sage classes) and the Final Boss without a single chance to save. Even worse, once you reach the final dungeon, you don't even get the option to backtrack to the world map to save. Even worse than that, there's a ton of boss fights on your way to the Final Boss, with four of them in the final dungeon. Even worse still, one of those four bosses is That One Boss, who'll almost certainly slaughter you at least once until you can figure out what to do.
  • Dual Wielding:
    • In a twist, everyone (except the Bard) can do it. Yes, even Scholars, who can dual-wield books. There's at least one viable strategy that involves dual wielding shields.
    • One of the most famous pieces of the Amano concept art (now used as the background of the game's logo) is one warrior dual wielding swords.
  • Early Game Hell: In the DS version, the area right after the Altar Cave can feel like this if you don't know where to find the rest of your party. There are a few randomly-spawning enemies in the overworld that will easily overpower Luneth if fought on his own.
  • Elemental Powers: As usual for the series, black magic is mostly based on this. The game also introduces the series' Summon Magic (in which most of the summons are elemental). The Geomancer stands out for being able to use all of them... Albeit at random.
  • Enemy Scan: The first game in the series with it, and intended to be required for a boss fight at one point. It's also the specialty of the Scholar class.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The "Four Old Men" who believe that they are the true Warriors of Light. One of them is even referred to as "Gramps" by everyone who speaks to him, including the other three.
  • Fake Difficulty:
  • Featureless Protagonist: Only in the Famicom version.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The Warrior, Black Mage, and Thief classes. They each have upgrades as well — Knight, Magus, and Ninja.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: It's a Final Fantasy game, of course this is in here. The specialty of Black Mages, Red Mages, Evokers, Summoners, and Sages.
  • Floating Continent: Unusually, that's where the game actually starts. It was split off from the surface world as a result of Xande's activities.
  • Foreboding Architecture: This game continues the Final Fantasy trend of "lots of stark crystal structures" at or near the end of the game.
  • Gendered Outfit: Refia's Job outfits are sometimes at-odds with the three boys of the group, such as the Thief, Summoner, and Ninja. It's not hard to pick her out of the line-up. Arc's outfit as Devout subverts this somewhat.
  • Get on the Boat: Viking's Cove. The Vikings give the party their prized ship in gratitude for calming the Nepto Dragon, which opens up most of the Floating Continent.
  • The Ghost: Despite being mentioned as the main villain for most of the storyline, Xande is only seen in person when you battle him. In fact, he actually appears less in the game than the Giant Space Flea from Nowhere does.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: You didn't really think Xande was going to be the final boss, did you?
  • Glass Cannon: Quite a few. The Black Mage/Magus and Monk stand out, but the Warrior can be as well thanks to their Advance ability, and Dark Knights with Souleater.
  • Global Airship: Four of them. One of which is a submarine, and another which fires cannons at random encounters and is so massive that it doesn't actually land. Three out of the four, however, aren't that good at flying over mountains, which limits exploration a little. And the fourth cannot fly over every mountain, either.
  • Gratuitous English: Roaming Sheep.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: A few characters tag along with the party throughout the game; in the DS remake, they'll randomly appear and attack during battle.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: The Famicom version has shades of this. If you can make your way through Checkpoint Starvation, Goddamn Bats, and Wolfpack Bosses in Mooks Clothing without bleeding your mages dry, the bosses have HP you can shear off in five turns. Contrast the 3D versions, where bosses act twice a turn and have their HP multiplied by ten.
  • Healing Hands: The White Mage and Devout classes.
  • Healing Shiv: One of its earliest appearances. Of course, like all other weapons, they can be Dual Wielded.
  • Healing Spring: The first appearance in the series. There's one that heals hit points and magic, one that revives KO'ed characters, and one that heals status effects.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: In the Famicom version, you name all four of the characters. Sometimes those four names appear in list form when a character is addressing everybody in the group; other times, only the character currently being used as your sprite is addressed. However, since you can use the Select key to rotate which of the four is your sprite, this can (depending on the translation) make some follow-up conversations a bit jarring.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: The Warrior and Knight classes.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: The red-clad Ninja class returns to the series.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: Holy, an offensive White Magic under the level so high, it's exclusive to the Devout class.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight:
    • The Cloud of Darkness will kill most parties in the first round the first time you fight her.
    • Bahamut near the beginning. You have to escape, not win, because although he's not dangerous, your party will still be unable to kill him.
    • The Nepto Dragon attacks the party if they try to leave the Vikings Cove area on the Enterprise without pacifying it. Unlike most cases, you don't get to fight it proper, instead it peacefully lets the party leave.
  • Horny Vikings: The Vikings all wear horned helmets and heavy armor; naturally the job class does the same.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Geomancers with bells and Scholars with books.
  • Infinity Plus One Equipment: Onion equipment.
  • In the Hood: The Devout class, joined in this trope by the Geomancer in the DS remake. The Devout's cat-eared hood would be referenced in future Final Fantasy titles.
  • Jack of All Trades: The Onion Knight, Red Mage, and Freelancer classes.
  • Job System: While Final Fantasy lets you choose your jobs at the beginning of the game, this game codifies the job changing system used in later Final Fantasy games.
  • Joke Item: The Gold Sword has an attack power of one, making it the weakest weapon in the game, but it can be sold for 10,000 gil, logically enough for a valuable yet soft metal.
  • Jump Physics: Dragoons and their signature Jump attack, setting series tradition.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Want to kill splitting enemies without them splitting? It's either a katana, or burn through all your magic. They're also the preferred weapons of Dark Knights and Ninjas.
  • Leitmotif: One four-man group has one, called simply "The Four Old Men."
  • Lethal Joke Character:
    • Geomancers definitely fall into this in the remakes. Their effects are laughable for the first few levels — but when they do screen clearing non elemental attacks at higher levels for no cost, you'll wonder why you bothered with other magical attacking classes.
    • There's a curious build to turn a Viking into this. Make one character a Viking, equip them with the best two shields and best armor you have, stick them in the back row, and continually have them use Provoke. This attracts enemy attacks, absorbed by the Viking's high defense (and improves as the character's shield skill increases), freeing the other characters to wail on foes (though one of the other three is usually on "heal the Viking" duty). The strategy breaks down against attacks that hit the whole party, but works extremely well if the enemies lack those attacks.
    • With clever item use, Scholars can also do this with their doubled effectiveness with items. It is quite expensive and time-consuming to sustain, though.
    • In the Famicom version, the Onion Knight is the starting class and not very good, but can use some endgame equipment and gets insane stat growths past Level 90 in all versions.
    • The magic oriented jobs have very low physical attack power even at high levels, but equip them with Golem staffs and you can insta-kill even some high level monsters with only a couple attacks, due to the gradual petrification effect they have
  • Level-Map Display: The Sight spell displays a map. Gnomish bread has the same effect.
  • Light/Darkness Juxtaposition: The game focuses around the fabled "Warriors of Light" banding together to put a stop to the evil Cloud of Darkness. Near the end of the game, when the Warriors enter the Cloud of Darkness' own dimension, they come across the Warriors of Darkness. It's only after battling against each other that they learn that the Warriors of Darkness were the chosen fighters from an alternate dimension where light and dark are switched around, and were also sent to defeat the evil Cloud of Darkness.
  • Lighter and Softer: It's not as dark and grim as its predecessor or its successor, but it does have its share of sad and serious moments.
  • Light Is Not Good: Books in Saronia and a couple of bards in Duster will offer details about the previous "Flood of Light" cataclysm. This entity that the Warriors of the Dark had to fight, comprised of the excess light when the Ancients shifted the balance in light's favor as Xande does with the darkness, was a pure evil being no different from the Cloud of Darkness whose sole objective was to destroy both worlds.
  • Lost in Translation: Western players are very unlikely to fall for the Red Herring of the Gold Crystal; after all, even though gold is an element, it isn't a ''classical'' element. In the Chinese system, however, Gold—or more broadly "Metal"—is one of their classical Natural, so a player might be excused if they believe one of the elemental crystals was just destroyed. They might also expect there to be a Wood Crystal in the game somewhere.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • The final series of bosses (and Garuda) due to random turn order. Their offensive power necessitates a party-wide Curaja almost every turn.
    • The Geomancer can behave like this, particularly at lower job levels when their most powerful abilities are less likely to occur. This intersects with Magikarp Power, as the odds swing heavily in the player's favor after enough work in the class.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Shields are only useful for classes that aren't physically attacking. Because every class, without exception, can dual-wield, and there's no inherent penalty to dual-wielding, and because it's always more useful to kill enemies as fast as possible than it is to weather their attacks, shields are functionally useless for any physical attacker: it's better to give them two of whatever weapon they can wield and let them go to town. Classes that don't physically attack instead benefit from dual-wielding shields, which won't boost their stats, but make them much harder to kill.
  • Macro Zone: The game has a number of dungeons where the party has to be shrunk via the "Mini" spell to pass through, with ordinary creatures now proving a dire threat.
  • Magic Knight: Both the Dark Knight and Ranger classes can use some White Magic in the Famicom release, while the Knight class gains White Magic in the DS remake.
  • Magikarp Power: The Onion Knight is the most extreme, starting off useless but becoming the most powerful class by a ridiculous margin at Level 90 or so, but the Geomancer and Black Belt also deserve special mention.
  • Master of None: The Red Mage, Freelancer, and Sage.
  • The Medic: The White Mage and Devout classes.
  • Money Spider: Most obvious when you go into Goldor's castle. As his Meaningful Name suggests, everything there, including the minions, are made of gold for you to harvest.
  • Mortality Ensues: The great sage Noah awards each of his three students with a gift; Doga is bestowed with great magical power while Unei is given control over the world of dreams while she slept, and both go on to become renowned sages in their own right. Xande? He receives the "gift" of mortality. He doesn't take well to this snubbing.
  • Mortality Phobia: The villain Xande's motivation is this. He wants to freeze the world into eternal darkness and stop time in order to prevent his death and mortality. This is because, in his Back Story, he was a pupil of the Magus Noah. His other two pupils were given the gift of great magical power, but Xande was instead given the "gift" of mortality. This was an honest gesture, but it caused him to go over the edge.
  • Mugging the Monster: The Viking's Provoke ability — particularly effective if the Viking in question dual wields shields.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Defied. Xande seems to disagree that mortality is more awesome than magical omnipotence or ownership of a dream realm.
  • Musical Assassin: The Bard class uses harps as weapons.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The classes granted by the Wind Crystal in the DS remake are the six classes from the original Final Fantasy.
    • The Water Crystal boss is a Kraken.
    • If you unlock the special Onion Knight class in the DS version, it starts with Luneth rescuing a group of four Onion Knights who also fell into the cavern you did. In other words, the four Onion Knights from the original game.
    • In the Pixel Remaster version, a bedroom shows the paintings of the Warrior of Light and the opening scene, also both from the original Final Fantasy.
  • Nerf: The Sage and Ninja classes, which were the best classes in the Famicom version, are balanced in respect to the other classes in the DS remake. The Evoker and Summoner are slightly weaker as well note .
  • Never Mess with Granny: Unei is this in spades.
  • Nintendo Hard: While there's many debates over which game in the NES trilogy is the absolute hardest of them all, FFIII, like its predecessors, pulls absolutely no punches with its difficulty:
    • Even more so in the DS version, since engine limitations meant that they simply upped the stats of existing monsters rather than make you fight multiple groupings of them. Said monsters can often attack two or even three times per round, making bosses more dangerous. Oh, and one more little detail — THERE ARE NO SAVE POINTS, EVER. The only place to save your game is on the world map. Enjoy traipsing through a three hour dungeon with no save points and dying at the end!
    • Moreover, with one or two exceptions, there are no healing points in the dungeons either. This isn't such a big problem with HP, as you can restore that with potions, but MP restoring items are much rarer. Which means you have to do each dungeon twice — one run to collect all the items and level up your characters, and a second run where you run from every random encounter to make sure you have enough HP and MP to face off against the boss.
    • The game's magic system is also a huge factor in its difficulty: Rather than the "Magic Points" system used in II and in most games from the SNES-era onward, III reuses the Vancian Magic system from the original game where characters are given a limited number of casts of any spell within that tier, with higher tiers having less "charges" compared to the weaker, lower level spells. The spell charges aren't restored when you switch jobs and there are no Ether-like items to restore the spent charges in a pinch, so you had to rest in an inn/tent or use the extremely rare Elixir to recover. The DS version actually reduces the charges you get, especially for low-level spells. This is much worse than it sounds, since Cure and Cura are extremely valuable in the late game because they're not competing with Raise or other high-level White Magic for MP and can be used to patch up your party after fights, and high-end black magic is often overkill against most random encounters.
    • Phoenix Downs cannot be bought in stores in the NES or DS versions of this game (the Pixel Remaster averts this by having shops start selling them as you progress thru the story). You can only find them in treasure chests, by stealing them from rust birds, or in hidden locations. There are about 30 of them to find throughout the entire game -- unless you use a thief to steal an infinite number from the rust birds on the dragon mountain. Moreover, they only revive a fallen character with just a single hitpoint left, making it very risky to use in the middle of a fight.
    • The final room in the World Of Darkness has random encounters with offensive power comparable to the most difficult of the four bosses you just fought — except they're additionally capable of Back Attacking you, attacking three times to wipe out half your party and leave the other half in the red before you get the chance to input commands, then attacking three more times to finish you before any of those commands go off. And you thought Warmech was bad?!?
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • Trying to cross the swamp in front of Goldor Manor without the Levigrass Shoes causes your entire party to sink into the swamp.
    • Also, trying to pass the statues without all of the Fangs towards the end of the game will result in the party instantly dying from touching a magical barrier the statues keep in place.
  • Not Completely Useless:
    • A few classes fall into this. The Scholar is most prominent because although the job isn't one that you'll be using all the time, at certain parts of the game their abilities can help you a lot.
    • The Geomancer especially. They've been joke characters/shrugged off in other games with them, but in this game, they're actually feasible damage dealers with just melee damage and their abilities are actually rather useful if a bit random. It's not uncommon for them to get Shadowflare and hit for damage near the cap in the middle of the game.
    • Bards in both versions. There specialty is teamwork so they are best when used with other characters. In the Famicom version they are great with other Vikings, Evokers, and Bards who need more setup for attacks. In the DS version Dark Knights will love their free healing.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The final room of the Crystal Tower has no music, no enemies, statues of dragons, and a mirror. Yeah, not foreboding at all!
  • Notice This: Hidden items are indicated with a sparkle.
  • One-Time Dungeon: The floating Hein Castle, which after finishing, gets planted into a forest you're not allowed to get back to.
  • One-Winged Angel: No matter how human an enemy looks, they WILL be a monster after the Fight Woosh. The Cloud of Darkness is an inversion, in that she looks more human during the boss fight. This is especially jarring in the case of Doga and Unei, who appear to be helpful, sweet old people... Until their in-fight forms reveal them to be horrifying creatures, regardless of their good character.
  • Optional Boss: This game was the first in the series to have optional-bosses, and they make up a third of the boss bestiary. You can fight Odin, Leviathan, and Bahamut for their respective summons; the six foes in Eureka that guard the best weapons and the final jobs; and four clones of Xande that guard chests in the World of Darkness.
  • Our Hippocamps Are Different: Tangies and noggles are hostile NPCs depicted in hippocamp form.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Cloud of Darkness is completely unknown until she manifests, but apparently was manipulating Xande all along.
  • Palette Swap: Aside from the monsters, the Onion Knights in the Famicom version. The other classes use the same sprite for all the characters, though.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling:
    • If the party can handle the splitting monsters with ease without needing to rely on katanas, then any cave can count. Since each half has the hit points of the first one after the hit, and each gives full experience, it's possible to farm a whole bunch of weak ones that will split from a mage's punch and then die in a single hit, for mountains of experience. The DS version's limit of three enemies on screen at once hampers the effectiveness of this strategy.
    • In the original once you have unchained the airship the party can visit the Ruin of Ancients. The Bone Dragons and Pyralis in the first room can be killed with Cure or Life, and Ice from the back row.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Quite a few of the class outfits qualify. Refia's Summoner outfit is the most stand-out example and it's one of the most elaborate job costumes in the game.
  • Planet of Hats:
    • Duster, an optional island village, is populated almost entirely by Bards and Geomancers. The shops sell gear specifically for those two classes. The bards around town will also sing bits of songs about the world's previous catastrophe, the Flood of Light, to provide some backstory.
    • Falgabard is likewise the home of Dark Knights. The nearby Cave of Shadows contains an optional boss who will grant a powerful katana if defeated.
  • Player Nudge: Although not all of the jobs are useful, there are points in the game where you are forced to use certain jobs because of their special abilities. Take a look at these underrated job classes! You might like one of them! These include the Scholar's Scan (only useful for one battle) and the Viking's Provoke, and it's telling that neither of those classes reappear very often. (The 'Scholar' in IV: The After Years was pretty much treated as a Joke Character.) At the very least, it gives everybody a chance to get changed up. What's nice, though, is that if you're clever enough, sometimes you can find ways around such restrictions.
  • Plotline Death: Several of the additional party members, although only a few (Aria, Doga, and Unei) stay dead.
  • Power-Up Letdown: Although the Summoner class is mostly a straight upgrade over the unreliable Evoker, both Ifrit and Odin's Evoker abilities are more useful than their Summoner counterparts. Evoked Ifrit has a 50% chance to heal the party, which can help during long dungeon treks, while Summoned Ifrit is already outclassed by other summons by the time you get the class. Evoked Odin either casts Reflect on the entire party or deals damage to one target, both options more beneficial than his notoriously unreliable One-Hit Kill Zantetsuken from being Summoned. These still aren't good reasons to use the Evoker, but in the remakes, the Sage was nerfed to use the Evoker abilities, and these two occupy spell tiers where the others are conditionally useful at best, offering a way to conserve spell points in more important tiers.
  • Powers as Programs:
    • The Job System, in its first Final Fantasy appearance.
    • To a lesser extent, the magic system with spells being items that can be equipped / transferred.
  • Power Crystal: Not worn, but sought out for new jobs. They govern the world's natural forces as in other entries and grant the heroes their "light."
  • Power of the Void: The Cloud of Darkness.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: The Thief, Ranger, and Ninja classes can use these.
  • Precursor Heroes: Many years before the main storyline, the Warriors of Darkness were forced to defend their own world from being swallowed by the light.
  • Prestige Class: In the Famicom version, some of the classes introduced by later Crystals are upgraded versions of earlier classes, and for the most part are better in every way. The Ninja (ultimate physical class) and Sage (ultimate magic class) are not only the best classes, but pretty much impossible to win without. (The DS version rebalances all of the classes to make them more even.)
  • Quirky Bard: The Bard class in the Famicom version. Avoided in the DS version, where it's simply Difficult, but Awesome.
  • Randomly Drops: Onion equipment are rare drops from dragons. The dragons are rare Random Encounters in the Crystal Tower (and common encounters in the DS remake's ??? Bonus Dungeon).
  • Recurring Riff: Several recurring Final Fantasy themes (the battle theme, Chocobo theme, the Prelude / Crystal Theme, and the main theme) are found in this game.
  • The Red Mage:
    • Downplayed with the White Mage and Devout. While they only use White Magic that is usually for healing, they can learn Aero and Aeroga, two offensive spells that deals Wind-elemental damage at spell levels much lower than Holy.
    • The Red Mage class, of course. The Sage can be considered an upgraded version of the job especially in the Famicom version.
    • The Onion Knight in the DS remake ones-up the Sage by being able to use all levels of Black and White Magic!
  • Respawning Enemies: The splitting enemies, spawning by being hit by melee attacks. The splitting enemies use up half their remaining HP when they split, however, so in the original you can split them enough to wipe them out with a magic attack.
  • Retraux: A few parts of the Pixel Remaster's remix of the main battle theme incorporate chiptune drumbeats from the original Famicom version of the track.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Sara and Alus, who both help out your party several times on their quest.
  • The Smurfette Principle:
    • In the DS remake, Refia is the only girl of the four orphans. In the original, they're apparently all male.
    • In the manga, Melfi was also the only girl among the other orphans.
  • Socialization Bonus: In the DS version of the game, sending a sufficient number of mail messages to other owners of that game via the Nintendo DS e-mailer unlocks the Lethal Joke Character class and extra dungeon.
  • Spell My Name with an S: One of the final bosses, Zande (straight romanization) / Xande (official localization).
  • Squishy Wizard: HP growth is dependent on Vitality, which is dependent on what class a character is, so if you keep one character as a mage the entire game, their HP total will reflect it. Conversely, if you give them a few levels as a Black Belt or Viking, they can end up with quite a bit more.
  • Status Buff: The White Mage, Bard, and Devout classes.
  • Status Effects: The Black Mage and Magus classes specialize in these.
  • Stealth Pun: The Onion Knights. The Japanese word for onion can be read as a callow youth.
  • Stripperific:
    • The Cloud of Darkness has zebra stripes and Barbie Doll Anatomy. The Amano art gave her a cape and not much else (which was lampshaded in Dissidia Final Fantasy).
    • Averted by Refia, whose default outfit is possibly the most sensible one seen on a female FF character. Although played straight with her Thief outfit.
    • Also played straight with Princess Sara's cleavage enhancing, midriff baring top. Seriously, that thing can't be comfortable.
  • Summon Magic: The first appearance in the series, used by the Evoker, Summoner, and Sage. Also the only time summons had 3 different effects, depending on what class summoned them.
  • Suspend Save: Added to the DS and later remakes.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • The Knight class, introducing the series staple Cover / Defend command.
    • Aria does this in the storyline before the fight with the Water Temple guardian, taking an arrow meant for the heroes.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The World of Darkness, which infamously comes directly after the Crystal Tower.
  • Thematic Sequel Logo Change: The original logo for III was written completely in gold, with a crystalized roman number three behind it. From the DS remake onward, it features a drawing for the generic Warrior of Light representing the player's party and many suspect was the inspiration for Luneth's design.
  • Throw the Book at Them: This is the only weapon available to the Scholar class. The first ones you get somehow come in Fire, Ice, Lightning flavors.
  • Too Awesome to Use:
    • Ninja Stars. They do a ton of damage, but they're so easy to run through and very expensive to buy.
    • Also Phoenix Downs and Elixirs, as they're rare finds and can't be purchased anywhere in the game.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: The aptly named "Legendary Smith" shows up in the DS remake.
  • Unscaled Merfolk: Kraken has tentacles for a lower half.
  • Updated Re-release: The first version to be released outside of Japan.
  • Useless Useful Spell:
    • Although, in this case, it's more of a case of Useless Useful Classes. The Bard, Evoker, and many others simply do not have the statistical leanings and/or skills to survive later-game battles. Oddly, however, the Geomancer's skillset starts and stays insanely powerful, especially if you're lucky enough to consistently roll Shadowflare.
    • In the Famicom and Pixel Remaster versions, the Onion Knight was just the weak, no abilities starting class instead of a separate ultimate class that it is in the 3D version; however, it still grows super-high stats starting at Level 90 and is able to equip the ultimate Onion equipment, which granted huge stats bonuses itself. So the class becomes useless as soon as the first set of jobs becomes available — unless you powerlevel, at which point it becomes the ultimate killing machine.
    • Bard does get a single use — their healing song is a free 10-20% party heal. This scales nicely until the later parts of the game, and when combined with the Dark Knight's self-damaging attack, works as a good 1-2 punch.
    • Evoker. Obtained before any summon spell is, and their use of summon spells are extremely impotent.
  • Vancian Magic: Rather than Mana, this is the system used for casting in the game. Adjusting to it (and how it changes between casting classes) is frequently cited as one of the harder parts of the game.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: The DS remake swapped sprites for full polygonal graphics.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Bahamut falls easily to a Dragoon dual-wielding Gungnirs.
  • We Win Because You Didn't: Subverted. Though Goldor shattered the golden crystal that the Warriors of Light believed to be the Earth Crystal, it was a fake made by Doga to provide him with gold.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Unei's parrot. It shows sapience and is at least 1000 years old, making it an actual character. But after a certain point it just disappears and is never mentioned again. Since it isn't part of Unei's field sprite, it's also hard to tell when it went away. The ending depicts it on Unei's shoulder in the line-up of character portraits, though that also includes dead ones so it doesn't make its current location or state any clearer.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Xande got the gift of mortality from his master, the Great Magus Noah. Thus, he became frightened of dying and unleashed the Cloud of Darkness on the world.
    • Notably, Doga and Unei, who got ultimate magical power and power over dreams respectively, point out that their gift pales in comparison to Xande's gift of mortality. Given the fact that you have to fight and kill both of them, but they both continue to live afterwards, for a specific definition of living, implies that they may be on to something.
  • White Mage: The second appearance in the series as a job class. There's also the Devout, which is the Prestige Class version in the original.
  • White Magic: In addition to the White Mage and Devout, usable by the Ranger, Scholar, and the Dark Knight (Famicom version), and the Knight (DS version).
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: This seems to be what Noah, Doga, and Unei feel, as they all considered being able to die a great gift.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Refia hates frogs and toads. Guess what the party needs to turn into in order to infiltrate a couple of dungeons? She even whimpers the second time it comes up. Somewhat ironic if you made her the White Magic user, which means that she has to cast the Toad spell on the party.
  • Windmill Crusader: A bunch of old men in Amur who think they're the real Light Warriors.
  • The Woman Behind the Man: The Cloud of Darkness is more or less controlling Xande's actions to institute her release.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: To defeat the Cloud of Darkness, the Warriors of the Light seek out the Warriors of the Dark, the latter sacrificing themselves to give the former a shot at defeating it.

Hey, where are you four brats off to now? What...? You're going to go save the world? Did you get hit on the head or something?


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Final Fantasy 3


Titan (Final Fantasy III OG)

Titan is one of the summons the player can use in the game. His attacks are a powerful punch and a powerful kick that damages a single enemy, and Earthquake, which causes an earthquake that damages all enemies. (Gameplay done by rulesofachia and Xenomic) ( (

How well does it match the trope?

3 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / SummonMagic

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