Like many of the other NES and Super NES marquee titles of the era, a Final Fantasy appearance on the Game Boy was almost a foregone conclusion. The series began life in Japan under the title of SaGa, but thankfully Squaresoft was kind enough to bring the three Japanese Game Boy releases over to the US. While all three releases managed to capture that unique Final Fantasy magic, it's this third and final Game Boy release that many RPG fans consider to be the pinnacle of the series. While there are a few minor annoyances, it's difficult to fault just how much of a quest Squaresoft was able to squeeze into this Game Boy-sized RPG package.
Final Fantasy Legend III doesn't stray too far from the traditional Final Fantasy RPG experience, and while it looks and feels quite similar to the two previous Final Fantasy Legend releases, there are enough new twists to keep things interesting. You'll still travel on the overworld map, doing battle as you travel across the various landscapes, and this is where you can level your characters up and earn gold to buy better armor, weapons and specialty items. Combat is executed in traditional turn-based fashion in which you can attack using your weapons, and some characters can even make use of magic spells and special talents that can be acquired throughout the game. It's a simple combat system, but there's enough strategy to at least give it some semblance of depth.
You'll also be required to travel through time using your special time travel space craft called the Talon. You'll have to locate engine parts and weapons upgrades if you're to make use of the full range of the ship's capabilities, but it's worth it once you get it all powered up. One new twist to the game comes in the way you can constantly change your character's class by making use of certain foods and robotic parts that are dropped by enemies during battles. These range from meats which can turn your character into a beast class character to cyborg parts that can add a robotic edge to your characters. Each class type has its own unique characteristics, and it's up to you to choose how and when to make use of them.
The visuals in Final Fantasy Legend III are actually quite impressive by Game Boy standards. Most of the surroundings are very impressive and the individual enemies themselves show a great amount of detail in their designs. While you could complain that they're not very lifelike given their complete lack of any type of animation, their attention to detail does make this lack of movement a bit easier to swallow. About the only real complaint to be found with the visual presentation is that many areas look quite similar to each other, which tends to give off a feeling of a lack of variety during your travels: a small price to pay considering the level of detail in the visual presentation.
The musical score in the game is good, but certainly nothing to get overly excited about. It's even a bit of a step down from the previous two Final Fantasy Legend releases in terms of overall quality and listenability. While most of the tracks are brand new, they just don't have that special catchiness that many of the tracks in the previous releases featured. Couple this with a very familiar group of sound effects from the previous titles and you have a good, albeit somewhat uninspiring audio experience.
The control itself is very basic and intuitive, but the lack of a run button can make traveling around on foot a bit time consuming, especially considering how frequently you'll have to do battle along the way in certain areas. The weapons and armor selection can also be a bit tricky as you're not shown which characters can make use of certain weapons and which weapons are actually upgrades while you're purchasing them in the various shops. It's still simple enough to use, but RPG veterans who are used to a more organized system might find it a bit tedious to make use of. The length of the quest is very impressive considering this is a Game Boy title, and you'll certainly get your money's worth out of it if you can keep your expectations in check. It's an enjoyable and challenging quest, but also one that's beginning to show its age a bit.
Final Fantasy Legend III is a fitting end for the Game Boy series, but you can't help but feel that it could have been even better had some extra time been spent fixing a few of the nagging issues, although it's still a very solid RPG experience that features a surprising degree of depth for a Game Boy title. If you like your quests long and your combat systems very basic and traditional in design, you're likely to find a lot to like with this release, but if you've grown to expect some of the more modern conveniences found in many of the later RPG releases of this time period, you might find this release a bit too tedious in nature. Either way it's still a game worth checking out for RPG enthusiasts, especially those who just can't seem to get enough of the Final Fantasy experience.