Final Fantasy Legend 3 - Retroview

It took Pokemon to dethrone this beast...

By: Paul Koehler

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 5
   Originality 4
   Plot 5
   Localization 9
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

15-20 Hours


Title Screen
Not your average Gameboy RPG...

  While growing up, my parents had a certain stigma over gaming consoles in general: NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, you name it! Only since January can I say I own one (a Playstation, to be specific). My younger brother and I did manage to get an old-school Game Boy, and while I watched my friends play slick titles like Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger…Final Fantasy Legend III (FFL3) was the only RPG for the Game Boy that mattered. In all honesty, this was as close to a decent RPG that you could get on a Game Boy for a long time…Pokemon eventually took that title.

FFL3 is old-school, no doubt. You have a party of four characters, and your monsters are lined up in front of you. Think about the most of the turn-based RPG's that ever existed after Dragon Warrior, and you know what I mean. Battle effects are nothing special, but for the time, nothing could really compare. At a certain point in the game, you receive a ship (the Talon), and when you equip its weapons, they will blast the enemy with a pre-emptive strike. Your mutants learn spells, and powerful ones at that. Learn Flare at the end of the game, and watch Xagor fall to his knees!

FFL3 is really part of the SaGa series. Squaresoft decided to rename the game for its American release so it could sell more. Unlike its unique descendant, SaGa Frontier for the Playstation, FFL3 is very linear. Sure, there are some secret spells, weapons, and items you can obtain. Your goal, however, is spelled out from the beginning. Following tradition with Final Fantasy Legend 1 and 2, your party consists of humans and mutants. After winning some battles, you have the option to "morph" your characters into either humans or robots. Those monsters and robots have abilities that are equal to your characters level. Unlike the previous 2 SaGa Games, there is a distinct leveling system. After playing the original Final Fantasy Legend, it is nice to be able to gage your progress. The features are not mind-boggling, but keep in mind that Game Boy had no RPG that could even compare until Pokemon Red/Blue.

However, FFL3's interface is better than Pokemon. Yes, it's a Game Boy RPG, so there's nothing huge to debate. A nice detail, however, was the ability to "jump" over certain spots. This really becomes useful in towns and dungeons. At least you don't need to shove that annoying villager standing in your way…

FFL3 provides a fairly standard plot, with some time travel elements in it. This isn't time travel in the sense of Chrono Trigger, but it serves the game's purpose well. At a certain point in the game, you will "warp" to the final world. This comes as no shock, many RPG's have been following this same concept for a long time, and few seem to break that mold. Unlike some games, Square's translation department performed well with this game. There is not a plot with the depth and complexity of FF7, and it's not like we had an old sage yelling "You spoony bard!". The decision to rename SaGa 3 actually started with the original SaGa game, as Squaresoft felt the games would not sell in America with such an obscure name. That was probably a wise move at the time, though it is confusing to decipher the series of each game. Final Fantasy Legend III is SaGa 3, and Final Fantasy Adventure is actually Seiken Densetsu (Secret of Mana) 1! Go figure.

The graphics are done a lot better than Pokemon, IMHO. The only comparison I can see to this game would be with the Zelda games made for the system. I liked the artwork done for Sol (near the end of the game), and several of the bosses. Squaresoft obviously tried to milk as much as they could, and in the graphics department, they succeeded. The soundtrack, however, was nothing special. I didn't mind the temple or the final boss theme. After playing through the game once, it gets old. Square had one of its better Game Boy tracks early on: the Creator theme for FFL1. Despite being created in 1989, that song beats anything in FFL3.

As far as a challenge…this game was a lot easier than FFL1. I wouldn't suggest replaying it though, there isn't much else to do. You'd be a lot better off going back to your Playstation or playing with Pikachu.

Despite its notable detractions, FFL3, from its North American release in 1992 until Pokemon in 1998, was the only game in town during those years for a traditional Game Boy RPG. Trust me…I looked! When I hear talk of "old school vs. new school" RPG's, FFL3 actually holds its own amongst many old retro titles. Just remember that it took six years for a better RPG to be released for Game Boy, and that was Pokemon. And the rest is history…


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