While the 8-bit and 16-bit Final Fantasy games have proven to be popular fodder for rereleases on the Game Boy Advance, PlayStation, and WonderSwan Color, the 1990 Famicom game Final Fantasy III (not to be confused with the Super Famicom Final Fantasy VI, released on the US SNES as Final Fantasy III) has for years eluded a remake. However, it's about to lose that distinction, as Square Enix is readying a DS conversion of a game most American Final Fantasy fans have never had a chance to play.

The latest issue of Famitsu contains new details on the game's development in an interview with executive producer Hiromichi Tanaka. Tanaka is best known as the head honcho of the Final Fantasy XI development team, but he's also an old-time Square staffer who worked on many of the early Final Fantasy home console games, including FFIII.

Tanaka was heavily involved in the original game's development as one of its three planners, together with Hironobu Sakaguchi and Kazuhiko Aoki. Tanaka commented to Famitsu that he plans to be very hands-on in seeing the DS project through to proper completion, especially since the members working on the remake are different from the staff that worked on the original.

Tanaka also addressed why it took so long for the game to be remade. Despite it being a Famicom game developed by a team of about 10 people, Tanaka said FFIII used some complicated programming techniques that couldn't be ported to other handheld gaming machines until now.

Tanaka added that having gone so long without a port, gamers will be getting to experience a vastly upgraded FFIII. For one thing, the developers are remaking the DS version with 3D graphics--sort of. Tanaka said that the game will actually use "virtual" 3D graphics so its maps can't be rotated around, but the camera can still be zoomed in to show details. The characters in FFIII are being overhauled for style, as well as technology. While the original four main heroes in the Famicom version looked like quadruplets thanks to reused character graphics, the DS version will have different models for each of them.

The visuals aren't the only thing being updated in the DS version. In the original Famicom release, the four main characters didn't have any personalities of their own. But with the DS remake, Tanaka will give different characteristics to each of them, which will have an impact on the game's storyline. There will also be fixes in the job system's balance so that gamers will have more freedom to choose how to fight in the game.

Finally, FFIII will take advantage of the DS hardware, including the touch screen. In fact, Tanaka said that he plans to make the game completely playable with just the stylus. FFIII will also make use of the DS's wireless capabilities, although the game's main mode will still be a single-player affair. Tanaka didn't go into specifics on how it would use the system's wireless features, except to say he wanted to give people a bonus so they could enjoy the game with friends.