Originally released in Japan in 1988 for the Famicom / NES, the DQ3 is a natural evolution of its predecessors (whose reviews can be read here and here).
As a novelty, this was the first in the series (in the Japanese version) to have a storage system instead of passwords. Also, this iteration takes place before the first two games in the series.
Here we are reviewing the version of Switch, a previously released remake for mobile phones. This port is heavily based on the original NES game, but also includes some of its earlier remakes made for SNES and Game Boy Color, respectively.
A fourth (!!) remake of the game was also announced for 2021, this time for modern consoles, with Unreal Engine 4 and with graphics similar to the Octopath Traveler game, which mixes sprites with 3D scenarios.
In this third iteration of Dragon Quest, we follow the journey of the nameless hero (or heroine), son of the legendary warrior Ortega, who, on his sixteenth birthday, is given the task of defeating the demon Baramos.
Much of the story revolves around the hero and his allies – more on that later – who traverse the entire game world in search of three keys that allow the player to access all areas of the map, with the cities and little stories knows that occur in each of the regions.
During this quest, the hero discovers that in order to enter the villain’s castle he will have to look for the six spheres (not those of the dragon) that are needed to revive the legendary bird Ramia.
Finally, we have the final chapter of the story (which acts as the third act of the game), but this part is best discovered by those who have not played it before.
My only recommendation is: play DQ3 after the first game as this part is fully tied to the two previous games and this makes life a lot easier for the player who wants to reset the game without resorting to guides.
Dragon Quest III isn’t much innovative compared to the second game. The party system is retained, but his allies are not determined by the story, but generated by the player himself, who chooses their names and classes at the beginning of the story.
This significantly reduces the quality of the narrative, but is interesting in terms of gameplay as the chosen classes can be changed / developed further at certain points in the game.
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In addition, the group’s own allies can be exchanged for new characters at any time, at the price of starting from the first level with the new character.
But don’t worry, as your previous characters will remain at the starting point, the change will not cause any stress for the player.
The available classes are: Hero (only for the main character), Soldier, Fighter, Pilgrim, Wizard, Merchant, Goof-Off, Sage and Thief.
Each of them obviously has its advantages and disadvantages that technically need to be discovered by the player on their journey, but most people will just look at online guides anyway.
With an even bigger map than its predecessor – plus an additional location towards the end of the game – DQ3 is further expanding DQ2’s open world concept.
For the first few hours, the player can explore any area that they can move around.
This causes a bit of frustration for those who like more guided and linear experiences as the player inevitably walks through places where enemies are much stronger than him and they get ruined very quickly as a result.
While Yuji Horii’s direction has been focused on this freedom of exploration, it is clear that there is a certain path dictated by the creators that is not clearly apparent to the player.
At different times the game can be a little tiring because even when talking to all sorts of NPCs in each area, the narrative often doesn’t make it clear which next destination or general area of the map to explore in order to continue.
This is a constant problem in the series up to this point and one that – as early as the next review – will be improved very little in Dragon Quest IV.
It’s that old situation of games designed for a time when the product was expected to be enjoyed longer than it is today and when trying to enjoy Dragon Quest III and expecting steady progress without crashes, it will the modern gamer will definitely be frustrated certain times.
Guides help a lot, but using them from the start takes away much of the conquering factor the producers were hoping for in the player at the time.
This limitation on the use of guides is a very complicated subject, and I believe it varies greatly from person to person.
My opinion is that everyone should play alone, but don’t waste more than 20 minutes not knowing what to do in this game. Because every moment of frustration like this can create a bad image about a game that is still a lot of fun and fun.
Improvements over previous games
In addition to changing the way the party is formed – with a system that will only be reused in Dragon Quest VI – the game has seen several changes from previous games.
Some changes / improvements:
- Ability to choose the gender of the character;
- Day and night cycle that changes what happens in cities and also affects monsters that appear on the map;
- New spells and skills.
Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation was the first big hit of the series in Japan and will therefore always be mentioned in future games.
Its huge open world, the soundtrack in line with previous games – and therefore not covered in the text above – and the turn-based combat reached a level well above the competition at that time.
To date, there are four different versions of the game, with Gameboy Color and SNES being considered the best quality. The modern port for cell phones and switches has its qualities, but it lacks a lot because for Nintendinho it is too tied to the limitations of the original.
This is the first game in the series reviewed here that I recommend to new players to the series as its structure is more similar to JRPGs from the 90s.
It escapes the painterly madness of the previous games of the genre and yet, due to its non-linearity and the somewhat high degree of difficulty, DQ3 demands a little more from the player.
The third game completes the original Erdrick hero trilogy. The fourth game, also released for the NES, begins a new trilogy that brings even more drastic changes to the series as it will be the last game developed for Nintendo’s 8-bit. Until then!
This review was made with a personal copy of the Nintendo Switch game.