Far From: Final Fantasy 3 Hits Steam Today

By Ben Barrett on May 27th, 2014 at 8:00 am.

There’s been something of a PC kick from the classically console-only Japan-born publishers in recent times. We’ve had Platinum’s Revengeance, Capcom’s continued fighting game efforts and a whole host of seemingly random attention from Square-Enix. Following on from the re-release of the ancient PC ports of Final Fantasy VII and VIII in recent times, today brings Final Fantasy III to our noble borders. Unlike those, FFIII has never been encountered on our shores before, despite being ported to basically everything once it finally received an English release on DS in 2006. This version is presumably based on that, which (according to Wikipedia) improved the battle and job systems as well as adding character details while leaving the plot intact.

It’s cool to see console classics brought to PC now that everyone who’s capable of loading a modern web browser can easily run them. There’s some interesting debate as to where this could all lead. It’s been quite some time since Squeenix’s output was confined simply to the Sonybox, with FFXIII making the jump to Microsoft’s console in 2010 and its various sequels following suit. The next installment is hitting both of the latest TV-sitters whenever it leaves the development hell that’s locked it down for the past few years. Meanwhile MMOs XI and XIV have both been on PC – so what’s next?

Will we get XV at some point down the line, or ports of the obviously-doable XIII trilogy? How about the recent remakes of X and X-2? Is Squeenix testing the water for how much interest there is from a PC audience, given the incredible rise in popularity on the system with a pad plugged in (thanks, in part, to the poor quality of mouse and keyboard controls on ported titles)? Or will they simply work through their back catalogue of intensely popular 90s JRPGs, squeezing a last few pennies out of Chrono Trigger, FFIX and the like? There’s already evidence of a scattershot-strategy when it comes to releasing their classics, with mobile and even Ouya ports of some.

My bet for what’s next would go to FFIV, given it was ported at a similar time as FFIII to DS. Beyond that, it likely depends on sales, internal plans and so on. They’re struggling against a tide of emulation which offers benefits such as save states, turbo modes and graphical upgrades over the original versions, while still sitting in a legal grey area. There’s no news on pricing at time of writing, but keep an eye on the Steam page at 6pm brit-time tonight.

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47 Comments »

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  1. Philomelle says:

    “Or will they simply work through their back catalogue of intensely popular 90s JRPGs, squeezing a last few pennies out of Chrono Trigger, FFIX and the like?”

    A lot of people would actually appreciate a slightly updated version of FFIX. Unlike its many relatives, that game hasn’t been ported or re-released once and never got the kind of HD treatment FFX did. It was simply dumped onto PSN four years ago and once again forgotten about. It’s funny because it’s one of the better Final Fantasies, sluggish combat aside, yet SquareEnix desperately pretends that it doesn’t exist in their catalogue.

    Though I guess that’s better than how FFVI is doing, where its mobile remake was more of a severe graphical downgrade, with old sprites upscaled to the point where you could see their unfortunate lack of detail.

    I do wish the XIII trilogy would be ported to PC, simply because I feel RPS writers would have a field day with sexist garbage that is Lightning Returns.

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      Bluerps says:

      Square-Enix has a problem with FFIX? Do you know why? I liked that a lot, probably even more than VII.

      • Philomelle says:

        I honestly have no idea. I do know that FF6 and FF9 get the least merchandise and side material out of the entire series for some reason. FF4 has a sequel, while 7 and 10 got multiple web novels on top of their sequels. 8 didn’t get narrative merchandise, but it does get a lot of figurines and silver accessories due to its fantastic imagery. 6 and 9 have… a couple ports to more recent consoles. That’s it. I have no idea what reasons they have for that.

        Games I can name you that SquareEnix has problems with are Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy XII.

        Final Fantasy XII was developed by Yasumi Matsuno, the father of Tactics Ogre and the entire Ivalice cycles. FF12 was his major project and while he did his best to make it perfect, executive meddling ran rampant through the project. He had to fight so hard to maintain his vision of the project that the stress eventually caused him to go sick and hospitalized, at which point he left the company.

        Which means making a new Ivalice title or remaking an existing one involves contacting a developer who is no longer with the company and might not even want to work with them unless they make themselves contractually obligated to not repeat the same shit they pulled on him during FF12’s development.

        As you’ll discover from this and my rant about the Chrono series down the thread, SquareEnix’s foul executive meddling history is why we cannot have nice things in general.

        • Aysir says:

          FFIX had great cutscenes and Vivi was awesome – that’s about it. The story was a terrible remake of FFIV’s moon story, the final boss appears out of nowhere, the battle system is the slowest and dullest its ever been and the support characters (VIvi aside) are always annoying rather than endearing or supporting.
          FFV gets just as little attention.
          FFXII got a redone version in the form of Zodiac Job Edition – They don’t need Yazmat to do anything with FFXII.

          • Philomelle says:

            I would argue that the plot is a matter of taste. The combat definitely is sluggish, but there is plenty to love about FF9’s character cast. More to love than about FF4’s cast in my opinion, but I always felt FF4’s plot was basically Cecil, Kain and Golbez competing for the status of Irresponsible Douchebag Supreme.

            Zodiac Job Edition came out literally 8 months after the original’s international release, it was one of SquareEnix’s long tradition of re-releasing the game with improvements added for international markets + a couple additional bonus features. It also benefited from having a co-director who covered for Matsuno after the poor sod was hospitalized.

            SquareEnix hasn’t gone anywhere near the Ivalice setting for seven years now, ever since they completed the Alliance quartet that was conceptualized while Matsuno was still with the company. That should tell you volumes about how confident they are to do anything with FF12 or the rest of its series.

        • Drinking with Skeletons says:

          Well, they did release FFXII: Revenant Wings, added Balthier as a recruitable character in Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions (with a brief but obvious magical time-travel explanation rather than just throwing him in there), and have always included characters from the series–notably the ever-awesome Gabranth–in the various side games and spin-offs, such as Theatrhythm and Dissidia.

          I think the problem with XII is that it is much more well-tailored for Western audiences than the average JRPG and Square doesn’t really “get” it. Matsuno seems like a Japanese designer who meshes unusually well with Western sensibilities. His games tend to lack the overt silliness of the average JRPG–even chocobos are just steeds, and there’s no wacky minigame or anything associated with them–while also downplaying (but not eliminating) the androgynous pretty-boy stereotype that they’re stereotyped with in the West. Even the mechanics of FFXII ultimately resemble party-based Western RPGs like Neverwinter Nights more than a JRPG; Dragon Age’s Tactics are just a poor-man’s Gambits.

          Now that Game of Thrones is such a hit, it’s really easy to see his games slotting along side that type of gritty fantasy, and he was doing it before it was cool.

          • Philomelle says:

            As I mentioned above, Revenant Wings and War of the Lions were conceptualized while Matsuno was still with Square. They had this huge campaign called Ivalice Alliance made out that started with four games (FF12, War of the Lions, Revenant Wings and Tactics A2) and would go on to expand Ivalice further, thus catering to the fans of that gritty political fantasy Matsuno loves doing so much.

            Unfortunately executive meddling and stress brought by it completely wrecked Matsuno’s health, leading to his departure from SquareEnix and the quiet shelving of Ivalice Alliance after Revenant Wings. The last thing we got from Matsuno was Tactics Ogre on PSP, which was a brilliant thing and showed how much SquareEnix lost when they mistreated him as a designer. A darn shame, that.

            Fun fact about androgynous pretty boy stereotypes: Matsuno originally didn’t want Vaan to be in FF12 at all. He and Penelo were added long into development because executives got whiny about how there aren’t any pretty teenagers for players to ogle and associate with. Basch and Ashelia were the original protagonist duo of the game.

            That might explain why Vaan has a personality and character development in Revenant Wings, but has about as much presence as a background prop in XII. Only one of those games was developed with him in mind.

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            lowprices says:

            As far as I know (which, admittedly, isn’t very far), Matsuno came back to Square to do Tactics Ogre after the fall out from XII. Which suggests he’s made at least some degree of peace, though clearly not enough to go back full-time. Which is a shame. While I enjoy many of the other FF’s, XII and Tactics are my favourite games to wear the name. Always interested in what he’s doing.

      • Ben Barrett says:

        I am a big fan of 9 as well, it and 7 are the two I’ve most enjoyed. It has some of the best god damn music in gaming history, You Are Not Alone is incredible.

        • JFS says:

          8 and 9 all the way! :)

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            Never really clicked with 8 – I am absolutely sure it’s a fantastic game, just didn’t enjoy it much. But I am definitely adding my voice to the chorus of “Do 9 next please!”.

            I’d wish for a remake or update of 6, of course, but I don’t trust squeenix to not mess it up.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        It’s simple: the internal company politics regarding the FF series have become increasingly toxic over the years, and 9 was the last time the entire “original FF team” (mostly) worked on the series and it really shows. Certain people decided that other people were not nearly as essential as they had been treated up to that point, and between 9 and 10, and even more so between 12 and 13, tons of people who were actually responsible for the the earlier games left.

        For those who have been ignoring consoles, or just console Squeenix games, the quality of the various franchises did indeed take serious hits when the alumni left. The current Squeenix execs had apparently decided to try to take an EA/Activision style approach and start treating everyone as disposable assets while changing the methods by which the games were developed. FFX was bad (YES IT WAS, newbie fans whose first FF was X, yes it was), but FF13 was a whole new magnitude of awful that no one had any idea that the company was capable.

        Meanwhile, a mostly-new team was quietly put to work on FF3 remake (the DS version of the game in this article), then did the FF4 remake. And then they stupidly, stupidly made the mistake of doing Bravely Default and outselling the whole FF13 “trilogy” and getting a ton of attention for being far, far more successful than anyone in charge had predicted. Publicly, the execs are saying some of the right things such as “gee, maybe we should just let the devs be devs” (heavily paraphrasing), and the success of Bravely Default is 100% the reason why we are getting the FF3 DS game on PC, but behind the scenes there still seems to be some of the same symptoms that ruined the PS2 and PS3 games, because Squeenix is still hemorrhaging staff…

        We’ll see what happens. We’ll probably get at least four good DS ports out of it (3 remake, 4 remake, BD, BD2), but after that we’ll see. The Eye of Sauron has turned it’s gaze towards the plucky Bravely Default team toiling away in Mordor, and last time that happened we got Final Fantasy XIII.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          FFX was utterly freaking wonderful. It was and is one of the loveliest RPGs I have ever played and I will fight anybody who says otherwise.

          Yours
          a long-time FF fan who’s played just about all of them, although up until now, not III.

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            I’ve played a decent number of them at this point, and my top three are, in order, IX, X-2, and XII. The older ones are a real mixed bag (IV is just an inferior IX as far as I’m concerned), but you can tell that Square’s teams really matured over time. Their 90’s output was basically my entire PS1 library.

            But I’m currently working through X HD right now, and it’s great, aside from an over-reliance on mini-games and some iffy voice acting.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            Am I really the only one who finds X’s slightly dodgy voice acting kind of endearing? It’s not as if it’s ear-bleedingly bad…

            On the subject of the older games, they’re mostly very solid in terms of gameplay. V and VI in particular are favourites of mine. But I do agree that their characters and storytelling are pretty variable. Interesting that XII seems to be getting a lot of love on here, actually. One of the ones I’ve never really fallen for…

  2. Arexis says:

    I’m not sure if this an indication of the Steam price, but it’s listed on the Humble Store for US$16.

    Just a bit too pricey for what it is in my opinion.

    • ansionnach says:

      They’ve been a bit cheeky with the pricing of their other ports, too. Tricked around with this game on the DS but I’d already played the fan translation of the original NES version years beforehand. I find these updates pointless: whether they go for 3D graphics or not, they “rebalance” the gameplay to be ludicrously easy. I’ve played episodes I – X-2 (completing I – IV, VII and VIII) and barring the first one they’re all pretty easy, the newer ones (IV+, VII++) ridiculously so. They don’t need to be easier. It shouldn’t be a bother for them to include translated versions of the original games for the “hardcore” who prefer “easy” to “button-pushing simulator”, especially at these prices.

      For what it’s worth, I find III and V to be by far the best entries in the series, the rest (barring the archaic first one) waste your time with trite storytelling and undemanding, unchallenging gameplay. Chrono Trigger is great.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        VI was not easy. VI was not at any point easy.

        Some of us like some story in our games and that’s okay.

        Chrono Trigger is great.

        That is all.

        • ansionnach says:

          For clarity, I’ll define what I believe makes an RPG easy: when you can complete it with minimum levelling (or even avoiding it) and without having to pay much attention to its systems to survive.

          Most of my favourite games are heavily narrative-based. FF games’ poor storylines and character development wouldn’t be as big a deal if they didn’t make you sit through it all. Chrono Trigger doesn’t have a great story or characters but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, moves along at a fair clip and is just plain fun. Let’s assume I know other people have different opinions and what I write is my own in future. Save the “other people have opinions too, you intolerant sod” line for when you’re not merely assuming this to be the case.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            I was stating what I agreed with and what I didn’t.

            Didn’t call anyone an intolerant sod. Only one of us is making assumptions here. Not looking for an argument, I assure you.

          • ansionnach says:

            All I’ll add is that I’m happy with my interpretation of
            “Some of us like some story in our games and that’s okay.”

            As I said I both love narrative in games and am aware others have opinions too.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      My brother paid 39.99 for his copy on the DS, and says that it was worth every penny. Not a bargain, at $40, but still well worth it. From what little I’ve played, i think I agree.

      We Glorious PC Master Race customers are currently somewhat spoiled when it comes to game prices.

  3. hemmer says:

    “Or will they simply work through their back catalogue of intensely popular 90s JRPGs, squeezing a last few pennies out of Chrono Trigger, FFIX and the like?”

    Or will they finally make a playable version of Chrono Cross, which is impossible to get a hold of and doesn’t run well on emulators.
    I actually still have my copy, but no console to play it on and I’d happily buy it a second time if only it was available on PSN outside the US.

    • CaidKean says:

      Have you tried playing your copy via XEBRA http://drhell.web.fc2.com/ps1/ ?

      It is as far as I know the (by a notable degree) most accurate and compatible PlayStation emulator out there.

      That said, it would be nice if Square Enix brought over Chrono Cross to European PSN as an Import title. It’s kinda weird to see obscure Japanese-only PS1 titles on my PSN but no Chrono Cross.

      • Beva says:

        It is easy enough to set up a US account and get the prepaid cards through amazon, if all else fails.

      • mazzratazz says:

        Any more info on that emulator? The page you linked is entirely in Japanese, which it turns out is a language I don’t understand. I’ve played Chrono Cross on ePSXe and it’s worked reasonably well, with some minor niggles – the visual plugin has to be set up just so or the game looks crappy, some particular bug fixes need to be enabled to get some sections to be playable at all, and I’ve never managed to get the 2D backgrounds to look as they should. So a fresh playthrough with a super accurate emulator sounds pretty good to me.

    • ansionnach says:

      Chrono Cross should run well enough. I got it for one of my sisters back when it was relatively new and it was played to completion by her and another sister, probably on ePSXe. Didn’t complete it myself as I thought it was derivative and not remotely worthy of its association with Trigger. Ultimately, I think they felt the same.

    • Philomelle says:

      That won’t happen because of a conflict between the publisher and the series creator.

      The entire Chrono series is a child of Masato Kato, who would go on to develop Xenogears. Because Square at the time kept cutting budgets of all their games for the sake of wasting all their money on Final Fantasy: Spirits Within (an act that eventually caused them to go bankrupt and got them bought by Enix), Xenogears ended up rushed into production and maybe 60-70% finished. This soured the company’s relationship with its entire team and caused them to quit en masse. The majority of them went on to found MonolithSoft (Xenosaga, Soma Bringer, Xenoblade), while Masato Kato started freelancing.

      The result is that making or remaking a Chrono game these days involves contacting a freelancer whose relationship with the company is pretty sour. Something that has grown even harder to do since they hired him to write for Dawn of Mana, which was also rushed through development and shipped out maybe 60% finished, with a humongous chunk of the game literally being skipped over via a “A lot of things happened this last year…” cutscene.

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        Bluerps says:

        Oh, this happened with Xenogears too, didn’t it? It’s been a while, but if I remember correctly, the second CD of Xenogears consists to a large part of a single character who sits in a dark room, and who continues the story through monologue, which is interspersed with an occasional battle or dungeon.

        • Philomelle says:

          Yeah, Xenogears has been notoriously rushed through development. At some point Square came in and told them that most of their remaining budget is being funneled into the starving void that was Spirits Within production, so they had to chop off most of the second disc’s dungeons, all of the sidequests and any story thread that wasn’t critically important, then ship it out that way.

          In its defense, it’s slightly better than Dawn of Mana. That game’s story takes course over the span of one year. You experience the first two-three days, then are treated to a cutscene that hastily summarizes the rest of the year’s events (which involve a malicious power’s invasion of the world’s many continents, the various countries’ struggles to contain it and evacuate the citizens, as well as other things that scream “You wish you could’ve been there!”), at which point the game finally allows you to experience the last three days of the story.

          You can’t really blame the guy for minimizing his work for SquareEnix after that nonsense.

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            Bluerps says:

            It does sound terrible, yeah. I always wondered what happened to the second half of Xenogears, so thanks for explaining!

          • Aysir says:

            Xenosaga was just as messed up without Square’s help.

          • Philomelle says:

            It’s not like Xenosaga’s situation was much better. Namco fired the original creative team halfway through production and has been modifying the series to make it more marketable, complete with “gameplay improvements” that destroyed Episode 2’s reception.

            Seriously, name me another mainstream franchise where a company vetoed a young-looking character growing up because that might alienate their shotacon fans.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        But wait wait wait. I try to ignore the increasingly depressing politics surrounding square/squeenix but… haven’t they been churning out rereleases of Chrono Trigger with varying degrees of new/updated content on just about every platform imaginable for YEARS now? What’s so different about that?

        • Philomelle says:

          They actually only ported it twice, first time for PS1 and second time for DS. The first case happened back when he was still with Squaresoft, it was actually released before Chrono Cross so people had a better idea of what is going on in that game. For DS, they actually hired Kato on a freelancer basis; all of the new additions to the game were made under his supervision.

          The second case is actually when the possibility of another Chrono title came up. Kato commented back then that the game would have to sell boatloads if SquareEnix ever wanted to justify the costs of constantly hiring someone from outside the company in order to supervise and direct a franchise.

          If it helps, this is far from the only SquareEnix game or series that’s stuck in those conditions. Kato stuck around with Square a bit longer than the rest of the Xenogears team and ended up writing the entire plot for Final Fantasy XI, so they have to run to him every time they need plot for an expansion. Drakengard is also in that state. Yoko Taro quit SquareEnix soon after completing Nier due to that game’s gigantic embarrassment of a localization, so they had to hire him on freelancer basis for Drakengard 3.

          • mazzratazz says:

            This is all very interesting, thanks for posting. I’m wondering about Nier’s localisation, as it’s been on my to-play list for a while after hearing a bunch of positive things about it. Is it irredeemably bad? If I do end up playing it, is there an option for Japanese voice-overs (if the VO is the main problem)?

          • Philomelle says:

            DISCLAIMER: Nier is my favorite game of the last console generation and everything I say about it should be perceived as at least somewhat biased.

            Both the voice acting and writing are actually brilliant. It’s definitely Yoko’s best work and the localization team did its best to deliver on that.

            The change to the localization is much bigger. Nier was in development back when God of War was still big and popular; when the marketing execs saw it was kinda action-y and features the protagonist saving a young girl, they saw dollar signs in the idea of riffing off GoW’s success. So they forced the development team to change Nier, the protagonist, from a twenty-year old man saving his sister into a forty-year old saving his daughter. They even wanted to cancel the original version (released only in Japan as Nier: Replicant) and it reached the point where the creative team had to threaten the executive board with intentionally stalling and interfering with development unless they’re allowed to finish the proper version.

            The end result is that while the altered version with 40-year old Nier isn’t bad at its core (Jamieson Price provides some incredible acting for him), the act of releasing the game and protecting the creative vision proved so stressful for the development team that they disbanded completely soon after finishing the game.

            As for what that change means for the player… on the surface, it’s nothing serious. Like I said, voice acting is gorgeous and dialogue rolls smoothly, so it can be deeply enjoyable. However, papa!Nier (as he’s called in the fandom) was developed in the very last second and it really shows. Most of his animations were simple copies of the 20-year old Nier, so he often moves awkwardly. On top of that, some of the minor lore attached to the character ends up meshing poorly with what happens on-screen.

            One example stood out to me the most: there is a five-year old time-skip around one third into the game after which Nier and his companion have a dialogue. Nier comments that the sword in his hand seems to feel much lighter these days and the enemies are easier to read, to which his companion points out that it’s not the weight of the sword, but rather the growth and skill of the wielder. That line makes a lot of sense in the original, where Nier grows from a 15-year old runt to a 20-year old man. But it struggles to make sense in the localization, where Nier starts as a 35-year old man who traveled for most of his life and that 5-year gap should have little influence on his growth. Leveling makes less sense for the same reason, since a 15-year old kid starting at level 1 and growing over the course of the game makes much more sense than a 35-year old hulk.

            They’re small things that most people might not notice, but they all add up into a story that doesn’t flow as smoothly and has less impact as a result. It might have an impact if you’re a sucker for father/daughter relationships in fiction, but it loses the fragile coming-of-age air of the original game.

            Also, because the original version sold like hotcakes in Japan while the localized version was met with middling reception everywhere, all side material (short stories, audio dramas and so on) is written with the original version in mind. The only side material received by the localized version is a very badly drawn comic book.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I bought a PS1 copy of Chrono Cross off of Amazon last year for under twenty bucks. It’s readily available and, I believe, also on PSN.

  4. wilynumber13 says:

    This version (and every other remake of FF3) is so poorly balanced it’s not even worth playing. Stick to the NES original.

    • Moraven says:

      I have not played the other remakes, but FF1 remake just seemed a bit to easy. Not because of the updated battle system but there seemed to be no balance testing to keep the game at a challenge with the new changes.

      • Philomelle says:

        FF1 remake’s difficulty is fine if you play only the original areas and ignore the bonus dungeons added in PS1 and PSP remakes. The game outside those dungeons hasn’t been touched at all, so all abilities, classes and monsters have the exact same stats as before.

        But you’re right in that everything falls apart once you touch the bonus content. The core game doesn’t account for the EXP levels and overpowered gear you can obtain by doing bonus content, so completing even one of those dungeons makes you too powerful for the main campaign.

      • wilynumber13 says:

        The GBA remake of 1 isn’t terrible, but they did a lot of rebalancing and system mechanics changes to make it too easy. I’d say Final Fantasy Origins on Playstation was the last FF1 remake to get it right.

  5. Lemming says:

    “Or will they simply work through their back catalogue of intensely popular 90s JRPGs, squeezing a last few pennies out of Chrono Trigger, FFIX and the like?”

    Tbh, I’d be cool with this. I’ve no interest in modern Final Fantasy games. It’s FFIX I want. Give me that every 6-7 years with a new spangley shine and I’ll be happy.

    Although Namco Bandai need to release Ni No Kuni on PC as well. I’ve got a collector’s edition of that and no PS3, now.

  6. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I’d like FFIX and Final Fantasy Tactics the most. IX could use a little bit of anti-aliasing, though its art style keeps it looking surprisingly good, while Tactics is just amazing. I would want the War of the Lions retranslation, though.

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    Clement says:

    I sure wish I could get a steaming pile of Lunars and Lufias instead of Final Fantasies.

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    jrodman says:

    I tried this on the DS and found it dreadfully dull. I suspect this says more about me than the game.

    • wilynumber13 says:

      No, Final Fantasy 3 is pretty dry, especially the DS version (and any remake based on that version, which is all of them)