Final Fantasy Legend III
Based on: Square's oddest ongoing RPG franchise, desperate cross-branding, and a sweet jet plane.
By Ben Elgin | July 6, 2009
I came late to the handheld party; being something of a homebody, I had no problem getting in all of my gaming while sitting in front a TV with my NES or SNES hooked up. So I had never touched a portable game more sophisticated than a Game & Watch until a cousin unloaded an old beat-up Game Boy and a handful of cartridges on me late in its lifespan. Of that random assortment of games, by far the most interesting was Final Fantasy Legend III.
Having only played the first few U.S.-released Final Fantasy games to that point, this was my introduction to the strange and sometimes frustrating world of the SaGa series. Legend III keeps the variety of character-building systems used for monsters, beasts, humans, mutants, cyborgs and robots found in most SaGa games, and adds the wrinkle of allowing individual characters to transition between those classes, instead of picking a fixed party set-up and sticking with it throughout the game. I'm not really sure how well my younger self dealt with the vagaries of meat-eating and parts-installing without the benefit of GameFAQs, but I muddled through somehow.
I do remember that the setting was striking. Unlike Final Fantasy I and IV, which diverge from fantasy into sci-fi only in their endgame scenarios, Legend III starts you off in the future, with high tech all around and a world-ending catastrophe on your heels from day one. Swords and sorcery are always available, but lasers and missiles are just as common. What really caught my attention, though, was the airship.
Unlike the flying vehicles from other RPGs, which are usually only granted to the player only after sinking dozens of hours into the game, the Talon is yours right from the beginning. And what a sleek piece of equipment she is. Her capabilities start out modest, but they increase throughout the game as you install "Units" that allow her to travel over different terrain and warp to different time periods, as well as adding useful amenities like a free Inn and a class-changing utility. By the end of the game, she'll take you anywhere and is decked out with all the stores, workshops, and firepower an adventurer could want.
Yes, firepower -- the Talon can actually come to your aid in certain battles and blow enemies to smithereens with its upgradable armaments. If that's not satisfaction, I don't know what is.