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State of Emergency
On the day this game was released in Japan it caused quite a commotion. Riots ensued, kids skipped school, and copies were stolen amidst the chaos. This caused the Japanese Diet to declare that a Dragon Quest game must be released on either a holiday or a Sunday. Such is the pull that this game has over there. Yet this has many (western) gamers wondering what is so special about this series, which is famous for its unimpressive graphics and stark adherence to traditionalistic gameplay.
In order for one to understand the Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior series, it is necessary not to judge it in terms of the conventions of the venerable Final Fantasy series. Heck, it shouldn’t be judged on the terms of just about any other series, as it subscribes to a totally different wavelength than they do. Dragon Warrior games do not place the greatest emphasis on story (which in this context is separate from plot). Instead, they try to emphasize the bare essence of the adventure itself (in this context, the plot).
Thus, you do not play these games looking for dramatic character studies or to explore profound revelations or whatever. You do play these games if you’re looking to go on fetch quests, to collect miscellaneous items, to fight countless battles, and to go on old-school dungeon romps—all with a little dash of humor, of course.
Dragon Warrior III in my opinion basically set the template for the rest of series after it. It has more in common with its sequels than with its prequels. The GBC remake (the version of which I am reviewing) even added Tinymedals and the casino, which weren’t in the original version but have been in every Dragon Quest/Warrior title since. The Class system that this series is so famous for was also first implemented in this game. At the beginning, everyone in your party of four besides the Hero (you) chooses one of seven classes to train in. Later they have the ability to switch to another class, keeping the abilities learned from the former class. The option is there to create extremely formidable characters, albeit it takes a VERY long time to do so. Accordingly as it pertains to this series this entry is highly original, though since these games are extremely formulaic that does not account for much in the scope of the genre.
Like with the first two games, it is highly recommended that you play this game in remixed form. That way you do not have to deal with the inane command window in order to perform the most menial tasks. With all of the customizations that involve the class system in this game it is remarkable that the menus are well designed and user-friendly, given the GBC has two action buttons! Also, the swift walking speed and relative low enemy encounter rate makes playing this game in long stretches a breeze, since it is significantly less difficult than its tortuous prequel.
Speaking of the battles, given the inclusion of the class system they are MUCH more enjoyable than in the first two games. There are so much more options, and this means battles are also more strategic and rewarding (in terms of turned-based battles, of course). And since you have four characters in your party, battles even go by quicker than they did in the previous game!
This is also the first game in the series with a semblance of a story—excuse me, I should say ‘refined plot’. There only is a ‘story’ in the weakest, broadest sense. Your father has set out to defeat the demon lord Baramos, and since he hasn’t come back in a while you decide on your 16th birthday to leave your town and search for him. The story is not complex at all, but a great surprise twist lurks for those who have played the first two games (of which along with this game makes up the Loto/Roto trilogy of this series). Like I stated before though, the meat of this game is definitely not the story but in the dungeons you romp and the miscellaneous items you collect. The remixed version also includes two bonus dungeons (another future series staple) that greatly enhances this game’s replay value, though it could take you over 50 hours to just beat the game!
The music of this game sounds just like the music from the first two, which in and of itself is not too bad. Now though there are more tracks, so it does not feel like you are listening to a CD that is stuck on repeat. If you are into game music though the arranged version of these soundtracks are wonderful and boast a significant improvement to these tunes, but I digress. The graphics on the GBC are quite impressive, a considerable improvement over both the original version and the graphics of the Dragon Warrior I & 2 remake. There’s even monster animations in battle!
Even without the additions present in the remixed version, I still feel that this game set the tone for its sequels. Dragon Warrior III was a major improvement over the first two titles and was the first great game in this series. If you’re itching for some old-school action, or just want to play an RPG without the burdening weight of an extensive story, then this game is just as good as any to take for a spin.
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