Dragon Quest III is the final portion of the original trilogy that started off the series. Going back in time compared to the other two which followed the descendants of Erdrick, players take on the role the Hero Erdrick themselves before they were a Hero as he or she sets out upon their sixteenth birthday in order to travel the land and save it from an oncoming evil.
Unlike the previous two entries, Dragon Quest III does not start players off inside of a throne room getting a speech. Instead it is quite an interesting experience to be asked several in which a lot of them boil down to the yes or no variation. Are you male or female? How do you feel about confrontation? Do you believe that a promise once made can never be broken? The one asking the questions wishes to know exactly what kind of person you are before setting out on your journey. Once these are over however, your Mother unceremoniously wakes you up from your comfy bed and drags your half sleeping butt over to the castle in order to get a speech from the king. Here we thought that we could avoid it.
Visiting the King, he tells you of the deeds and type of man that your father was. Blessing your want to set out for adventure, he also goes ahead and tells you to save the world in the process from an evil that has yet to make its appearance. Vague? Just a little bit. At least he tells you to make your way over to Patty’s place in order to recruit adventurers and gives you fifty gold to start off with some very basic equipment. It’s more than nothing so we’ll take it!
Dragon Quest was a solo affair. Dragon Quest 2 saw the inclusion of two other Royal Members on the Erdrick bloodline to help the Hero see his quest through. Dragon Quest 3? Solo or within a party bring whoever you want whenever you want to. This was a drastic change from the other two in the manner that whoever you bring along for the journey, well they are really just hired help. No other party member that is brought along has their own likes, wants, or needs. Instead they are just there are a fighting force to help you continue moving forward. In a way, this was the same concept later used in Dragon Quest 9 but the difference was that the ninth entry allowed for a coop experience with other players who could say something. In this case however, the story of exploration throughout the land with these silent members will need to be enough.
The party system itself however is a huge change from not only the second entry, but also a change in how various situations may be approached. By using the services of Patty, any number of NPCs can be created from different classes over to the same ones. Need a Healer? A Wizard? Two Fighters and a Monk because brute force is required? Go for it. These options are entirely up to what is needed at that current point in time. Most players will generally opt for a static group that suits a variety of situations even if it means that things are tougher for a little bit. This is honestly not a bad idea as once any character hits level twenty and the monastery has been found and can be travelled to, characters can change classes while gaining extra experience points to make leveling back up faster than it was the first time while retaining their previous stat bonuses. Who needs a slew of different characters when four can become insanely more powerful and keep abilities from their previous field of study?
Unfortunately for all of the third entry’s great points, there is a portion of the adventure that starts to falls short near the second half of the adventure. Prior to this point Erdrick’s quest was a non-linear but still focused in a particular direction as all roads essentially lead to Rome. I found this out as I could not continue moving forward due to the fact that I had yet to encounter a famous rogue and thus he had yet to return back to his base of operations for the final encounter. This was brilliantly done as it fanned the fires of exploration by any means necessary as the party did not have access to a ship as of yet and instead explored everything by foot. Once a ship is acquired and the world which interestingly enough is a mirrored version of our own, exploration will still play a huge role but the focus is gone as there is only the hunt for colored orbs that remain.
The hunt for the orbs is not an easy one. This is made worse yet by the fact that there is no real narrative to push our party further onto their quest. The orbs themselves are honestly scattered to the winds and it is only by the playing of a flute that will discern their locations. To finding these orbs essentially requires the party to cover every inch of the world, talk to everyone in hopes that someone leaves a hint, visit every town, dungeon, and pathway for the hope that the flute when played will indeed return an echo. Let’s just say that the world while some days feeling like a tiny sphere in the vast star ocean of our galaxy, is a big place when on foot and by boat with a fair amount of random encounters to go through.
Back onto a brighter note however is the better balanced encounter system from the second. Random encounters are now seemingly random again with more encounters at night than during the day or depending upon the region or the waters being explored. This after the previous entry was honestly a breath of fresh air as the adventure was essentially put first and not second to the overwhelming amount of combat every other step. Items or spells that reduce the rate of combat also work rather well and if the foes of a particular region are that much more powerful, then there are less of them compared to their weaker comrades that will simply not show up to the party.
Dragon Quest III was honestly a breath of fresh air after having gone through its predecessor. While it may not have been the greatest near the end due to the sheer lack of direction forcing a player to scour the four corners and even then potentially missing something if they hadn’t talked to someone, it was worth the time spent with it. With new system implementations and character classes to experiment with there was more than enough JRPG to satisfy a fan of the genre.
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Note: Background designs provided by Hamza
Screenshots provided through a Google Nexus 6 during playthrough
Article by Pierre-Yves