Dragon Warrior III

One notable aspect of Square-Enix’s Dragon Quest series is the commonness of remakes, beginning with the collection of the first and second games in one cartridge on the Super Famicom, a set of remakes that didn’t cross the Pacific due to Enix not having an American office at the time. However, a port of the games to the GameBoy Color did indeed make it to North America, alongside the GameBoy Color version of the third game that had had a Super Famicom remake, called Dragon Warrior III outside Japan, a remake that is enjoyable like its predecessors.

When beginning a new game, the player, unlike in the original NES version, experiences a dream sequence where they answer questions that determine the male or female protagonist’s personality, after which he or she is summoned to the king’s court in his or her hometown of Aliahan, after which they can stop by the town’s tavern to recruit three allies, the defaults being a warrior, a priest, and a mage, each with their pros and cons. Battles with the four characters happen randomly on the overworld and in dungeons, the player able to reduce their presence with the Repel spell.

Fights follow a turn-based formula where the player inputs their party’s commands and lets them and the enemy beat each other up in a round. As usual, turn order is inconsistent, making for occasions where the player sets a character to heal an ally low on HP with an item or spell, only for the enemy to kill the weakened character before the healing can take place. The player can revive allies for a cost at churches, although they ultimately receive revival magic, the weaker incarnation, however, only working half of the time. Death, too, leaves only the protagonist revived, with the need to resurrect his or her allies, and costs half their money, as well, though fortunately, players can store money in Aliahan’s bank.

Winning battles nets the player experience, money, and occasional items, with level-ups happening sporadically, in which case characters may sometimes learn new spells. Once a character reaches level twenty, the player can change their class (although the protagonist is fixed in his or her abilities) at the cost of half their states and a reset to level one. This makes for some possibilities such as creating a warrior that can use magic, although grinding is in many instances necessary to advance past the toughest boss battles. Regardless, the battle system helps the game more than hurts.

As has been the case with most Dragon Quest titles, the third necessitates the player to endure multiple dialogues and conversations from merchants that burdens the pace of purchasing new equipment and items, the remake also being devoid of in-game dungeon maps, although fortunately, players eventually acquire a map of the overworld that shows where they visited. Those unfamiliar with the franchise might also find themselves lost in regards to the game’s main quest, although interaction does have some good points such as an easy menu system and easy item management, alongside an option that has all characters use healing spells to fully restore their health and quick-delete-save.

Though a remake, the third Dragon Quest doesn’t offer much new in terms of plot, with the narrative being generally scarce and disjointed alongside the poor direction at times on how to advance the main plotline, although there is a good twist once the player finishes the game. The translation is serviceable, despite the compression of many character and item names to a few letters, accounting for some oddly-named people and items at times, but otherwise, the plot and translation are functional at best.

Series composer Koichi Sugiyama, as usual, does a nice job with the soundtrack, with some notable tracks such as the sailing theme, although the battle music and sounds can be repetitive.

The visuals make nice use of the GameBoy Color’s hues, with decent character sprites, although they often look out of place with the scenery, which itself is perhaps the high point of the third Dragon Quest’s visual presentation. However, in battle, there is no scenery indicative of where the player is fighting, although Akira Toriyama’s enemy designs are animate. In the end, a decent-looking game.

Finally, completing the main quest takes somewhere from twenty to forty hours, depending upon whether the player needs to grind or not, with the diversity of character classes and the extra dungeon accessed upon beating the game adding decent replayability.

Overall, Dragon Warrior III is for the most part a solid sequel that hits most of the right notes, with regards to its gameplay, class system, nice soundtrack, good visuals, and plentiful lasting appeal, although it does have its share of flaws such as the need to grind levels at times, the tedium of shopping, the scarce story, and the lack of scenery in battle. Moreover, Square-Enix’s American branch today seems to have given up on the franchise outside Japan, making it unlikely that there will be a forthcoming contemporary means of playing the third Dragon Quest in English.

The Good:
+Enjoyable gameplay with diverse class system.
+Nice music.
+Good visuals.
+Plenty lasting appeal

The Bad:
-Some grinding necessary.
-Endless confirmations when shopping.
-Story is scarce.
-No battle scenery.

The Bottom Line:
A good conclusion to the Loto Trilogy.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: GameBoy Color
Game Mechanics: 7/10
Controls: 6/10
Story: 5/10
Music/Sound: 8/10
Graphics: 7/10
Localization: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Difficulty: Medium
Playing Time: 20-40 Hours

Overall: 7/10

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