Looking back, I don't know why I said "early 2011" is when we finished these playthroughs. In actuality, the project took us about ten months.
Dragon Quest III (SFC)
And so the tale of Erdrick's descendants comes to a close. But who was this Erdrick, hero of legend, who fell from the sky and defeated evil with a ball of light? A demi-god? The toughest of fighting men? Nope - Just a teenage girl with some awesome equipment and three hired lackeys.
We move from our least favorite game in the series to my personal favorite. DQIII is one of my all-time favorite games period. This game not only set the standard for the series, it blew the entire console RPG genre out of the water, introducing such elements as the day-night cycle, tiny medals, a class system and stat seeds. An amazing epic by any standard, it's hard to imagine III came out as early as it did.
Both of us have experience with the GBC version, which is great - I love Pahcisi (it's a kind of board game where you can earn items). But I've heard the SFC version is even better, and I can safely say that's correct. The jump in graphical quality from the II remake is stunning; this game takes full advantage of the hardware with detailed settings, animated monsters and battle backgrounds that fill the screen instead of a small box. It looks fantastic. The fan translation patch to this one has some bugs too, but at least we haven't run into any gameplay-affecting ones yet.
At the start of this game, you watch the epic quest of Ortega the Unbelievably Manly as he quests to defeat the Archfiend Baramos, beating up about half of the world's bosses all by himself (That's why there aren't many bosses in this game - Ortega got to them first). Fighting on top of an active volcano might not have been his best idea ever, though.
In Ortega's absence, it is foretold that his unborn child shall be Aliahan's next great warrior. When this child turns out to be a daughter, this gives only momentary pause - they've kind of got a lot riding on this. So, while the other girls play hopscotch, she's trained to kick ass, and she's sent off to save the world and avenge her father on her 16th birthday.
Trinity, daughter of Ortega, has a lot on her shoulders. It's not easy to live up to the reputation of a father she never met. While brave and strong, she's nonetheless a little fragile, and her resolve might be better if everyone weren't constantly mistaking her for a boy. Fortunately, unlike her dad, she's not alone. Before leaving town, she recruits three companions:
Isaac, a thief. This silver-haired little weirdo is not a little creepy and shifty, but his nimble fingers come in handy.
Milo, a cleric. This holy man's hat and moustache command respect. He's protective of Trinity, who is about his daughter's age.
Amy, a mage. No matter how much Trinity protests, she is definitely the party's token girl. She's cute and she blows stuff up, nuff said.
*Got the thief key from Najimi Tower.
*Got the Magic Ball and blew a hole through the Cave of Enticement in order to gain access to the rest of the world.
*Beat up Kandar the thief and recovered the crown of Romaly. Regal'd it up for a little while after being declared Queen. This bit is pretty entertaining - Stats just display the message "The Queen was strong once" and so on. You can't do a lot, though, so we had to renounce the throne and move on.
*Recovered the Dream Ruby from a cave in order to get a town of elves to wake up the sleeping village of Noaniels. They put the village to sleep as punishment for one of theirs eloping with an elf girl, but it turns out the young star-crossed couple committed lovers' suicide. Stupid racist elves.
*Currently hanging out in the desert. Levels are 11, 13, 12, 12.
Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor (referred to ingame from here on out as the Adventure Log):
*Ortega needs no party - he's so awesome he takes up four slots.
Ortega needs no keys - he looks at doors and they just know better than to stay closed.
Ortega needs no class change - his class is permanently "badass".
*This game marks the debut of the bag! Oh, bag! We've missed you so.
*Rumors of Erdrick using performance-enhancing seeds are unconfirmed at this time.
*Guy in weapons shop in Aliahan: Ah, you're the son of Ortega.
Trinity: No, I'm Trinity. The Girl. Y'know, lived here all my life? The whole town celebrated my birth as Ortega's successor?
Guy: Y'know, you look a little scrawny for a boy your age.
Trinity: I hate this town.
*Trinity's mom: Hello dear! You must be tired. Your friends can sleep here too.
Trinity: There's only one bed...
Mom: Well, you and Amy can share the bed. The boys can sleep in these barrels.
*Man in tower: You can use that book to change your personality. I recommend you try it!
Trinity: ...so just what are you saying, exactly?
Man: I'm saying you're a bitch! Geez, do I have to spell it out or what?
*Trinity: Hail, old man. What is this place called?
Geezer: Hoo hoo, this is the Cave of Enticement! *looks around* Want me to show you wh-
Amy: Ewwwwww. No.
*Isaac managed to get even creepier when he stole a "Plush suit" and revealed his inner furry. Now he looks like a cat. Mee-owwww.
*Mom: Your friends can sleep here. Your cat can sleep outside.
Isaac: I miss my barrel... ;_;
In contrast to II, III provides a rich and varied world open for exploration with tons of interesting things to do. The little stories really tug at your heartstrings, too - this week we reunited the souls of a couple torn apart by an evil curse, came across an entire town murdered and laid to ruin that came alive at night, a literal ghost town, and saved a town where an impostor took the place of a king, but not before he had an innocent man executed, his wife weeping "Why? Why?" over his grave. This game has one of the best, most varied RPG worlds ever - an exotic desert town with merchants who will try to swindle you, a castle full of snobs who deny the "hicks" in your party entry, a remote village where Ortega was apparently known by another name... every step is interesting in DQIII. We played plenty of Pachisi, too.
*Ground for a while before taking on the Pyramid, an annoying little dungeon with a slightly confusing puzzle, and retrieving the Magic Key.
*The King of Portoga wanted to trade his boat for some Pepper, so it was off to Baharata (is it us, or does that sound like a taco bell "Mexican" food?). There, we had to go rescue a kidnapped girl from a cave - It was Kandar again. Got the pepper and the ship.
*Got the Zen Book from Garuna tower. I'm not sure yet if we're going to bother with class changing, but hey, it's something to do.
*Immediately retrieved the Red Orb from a pirate hideout. This was hilariously easy.
*Used an Herb of invisibility to sneak into the snooty castle of Edinbear, where we stole... er, procured... the Thirsty Pitcher, which allowed us to raise from the sea a shrine where we found the Final Key.
*Headed to the town of Tedanki at night (because seriously, that place is totally dead during the day... no, really) to acquire the Green Orb.
*Visited Muor and picked up Ortega's Helmet.
*Got the Echo Flute from a Tower. Not that we need it, but this game is great and I'd hate to skip anything. Every dungeon has something clever in its design.
*At Lancel, Trinity braved Gaia's Pit all by herself to retrieve the Blue Orb.
*In Samano, we retrieved Ra's Mirror from a cave to reveal the "King" as a Boss Troll (mirror to show true form count: 2), whom we whupped. Got the Change Staff for our trouble.
*Gave the change staff to an old man for a pirate's bone, which enabled us to find a Ghost Ship. There, we retrieved the Lovely Memory, however that works, gaining us entry past a haunted strait to the Shrine Jail. There, we found the Gaia Sword next to the corpse of a hero named Simon (another sad story).
*Threw the Gaia Sword into a volcano to create a land bridge. After moving mountains to open the cave to Rhone in 2, this is the second time a hand-held object moves earth in the series. Thereafter, we fought through a VERY difficult cave and got the Silver Orb.
Four orbs down, two to go. The party is level 26 except for Milo, who's level 25.
Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:
*The Queen at Isis invited Trinity to "inspect" her bed in the middle of the night, and a servant there told us not to spread rumors. I am not entirely sure what team the Queen is playing for, if you know what I mean.
*Pyramid mummies: Who awakens us from our slumber? Who would steal our treasure?
Trinity: Me! I do! I would!
Milo: You know Trinity, there's such a thing as being TOO honest...
*I could try to write out all the instances of Trinity being mistaken for a boy (Hell, in Muor she was even mistaken for her dad!) but there's just too many. Suffice to say that I'm pretty sure she's got a complex by now. Poor kid.
*Isaac likes catsuits, whips, and sniffing absolutely anything and everything to find treasure. Totally normal.
*Isaac stole another Plush suit, but nobody else in the party would consent to wear it.
Trinity: It's bad enough nobody thinks I'm a girl... at least everybody thinks I'm a person.
Milo: Don't even think about it! What would my wife and daughter think?
Amy: The kitty suit is kind of cute but... you'd have to hand it to me, and I don't want to touch you.
*Kandar: OK, let me go again. I'm REALLY REALLY sorry this time.
Trinity: You've gotta be kidding me. How stupid do you think I am?
Kandar: Don't be so cold-hearted.... (inf. loop)
Trinity: Damn... how can we defeat a foe with the power of But Thou Must on his side?
*King of Romaly: If you can bring back my Crown, I will acknowledge you as a hero!
King of Portoga: If you can bring back some Pepper, I will acknowledge you as a hero!
King of... Town: If you do my grocery shopping, I'll acknowledge you as a hero!
Trinity: I'm beginning to think there's not a lot of difference between "Hero" and "Errand girl".
*Priest: To retrieve the Orb, you'll have to venture alone into Gaia's Pit.
Isaac: How horrible!
Priest: Yes, it is treacherous, and filled with monsters...
Isaac: No, I mean, when do you think was the last time she washed up there? Gross.
*Coming out of the pit:
Isaac: Thank God you're all right, Trinity!
Trinity: Awww. I missed you too, Kitty. ^_^
Isaac: Uh... I'm not even wearing the cat suit anymore.
Trinity: Yeah, but I kind of got used to thinking of you that way.
Milo: I'm going to go ahead and need this line of conversation to stop immediately.
DQIII is so awesome. You beat Baramos after a quest easily as long as II's, head home and the victory fanfare starts up and everything before the real villain shows himself. Nope, you're not done yet; you've got to make your way through Alefgard one more time, doing all the same stuff you did in the first game.
*Recruited a Merchant just long enough to found a brand new town, which eventually produced the Yellow Orb.
*Fought the Orochi in a fiery cave to save Zipangu and retrieve the Purple Orb. I know we did this way out of sequence, but the Orochi is a really devestating boss if fought earlier.
*Brought the fight to Baramos, or as we like to call him, Frog Face. It took a few tries, but we managed to beat him at level 33 with cunning use of Stopspell.
*In Alefgard, we got the sun stone, rain staff, and harp again en route to obtaining the rainbow drop. We also awoke Rubiss, the goddess who created Alefgard, at the top of Rubiss tower. Other highlights include doing the swamp cave again for no good reason, playing Pachisi at Kol to obtain the Gringham whip, and digging around in horse crap to find a chunk of Orichalcum, which you have to sell to a certain merchant in order to buy the best sword.
*At level 38, we changed Amy's class to Sage, thus resetting her level to 1 and cutting her stats in half. In the long run, it's really helpful. Sages are the best class in the game and only obtainable using the Zen book.
*Visited the dragon castle back up in the world of III to get the Ball of Light, an item that makes Zoma a LOT weaker.
*Got far enough into Zoma's castle to loot its treasures - most importantly the sage rock, which heals everyone in-battle for free and can be used infinitely - and left. Did some grinding and our party now awaits the final charge. Levels are 43, 42, 42, 32 (Amy reset her level to become a Sage, as mentioned above).
Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:
*Chancellor at Aliahan: The King can't help you right now; his ass is glued to the throne.
King: It's true! If you bring me some solvent I will recognize you as a hero!
*For some reason we laughed ourselves silly over an idea we came up with about "Momma Baramos". Think Baramos's sprite with a grey afro, a polka-dotted dress and angular old lady glasses.
*Baramos: I will feast on your innards!
Trinity: You bastard! This is for my father, Ortega!
Barmos: Who? Oh, you mean the guy who fell in a volcano? That was great! But seriously, your innards. Give me a second to tie my bib on...
*To continue their quest, the party had to jump in a big hole (called Gaia's Navel - they say the land below is the land of darkness, but it sounds to me like the land of lint). If you go there before defeating Baramos, you're told that it goes straight down into hell...
Us: So... are we in Hell now?
NPC: Welcome to Alefgard...
Us: Argh! We are!
*In this version the towns have some really lame names. "Domdora" instead of Hauskness is okay I guess, but "Ludatorm" instead of Tantagel? Are you freaking kidding me?
Greeter: Welcome to Ludatorm!
Trinity: Ludatorm? That's dumb. Give me a minute to think of something better...
Greeter: Well, Ludatorm is named for Luda, our founder, who first figured out how to keep monsters at bay using...
Trinity: ...okay, I got one. You're "Tantagel" now.
Greeter: What? B-but... for generations, we...
Trinity: It's Tantagel or we aren't going to kill Zoma.
Greeter: W.... Welcome to Tantagel. ;_;
*Amy learned Transform! She can now transform into other party members.
Amy: Hey, check this out!
[turns into Trinity]
Amy: I'm Trinity, son...DAUGHTER of Ortega. I'm a girl, dammit!
Trinity: Oh geez. Do I really look that mannish?
[Amy turns into Isaac]
Amy: Hey guys. I'm not creepy at all, honest. Now hold on while I put on this fursuit and sniff everyone and everything in sight.
Isaac: I'm not gonna lie; I'm so turned on right now.
[Amy turns into Milo]
Amy: Trinity, be careful! And stop walking that way, it's not ladylike. My moustache demands it!
Milo: Cease that mockery this instant! You don't know how to handle the power of the Stache.
*Actual ingame quote: "So, Sexy becomes Sage... I think it's terrible, but it can't be helped."
*We got all the equipment that doubtless becomes the Erdrick equipment, but Trinity's best armor nonetheless turns out to be... the 95 small medal reward, the Sacred Bikini. That's right, she's going to march up to Zoma, save two worlds and become immortalized as Erdrick, all with barely a stitch on. Ain't nobody calling her a boy now. I like to think she got called a boy one too many times and just snapped. Milo is horrified, of course.
*Trinity: So let me get this straight. Instead of giving us what we need to go save the world, you're going to make us go get some arbitrary "proof" that anybody could conceivably get, thereby screwing us out of said means to save the world?
Old guy: Well, it sounds crude when you put it like that...
Trinity: Man, I hope you teach your descendants better than this.
*Tragically, the party got to Zoma's castle just in time to see Ortega (by the way, he got this far by himself? And without any of that rainbow drop nonsense, either. Ortega needs no rainbow bridge, he briskly hops between continents.) lose his life in battle against King Hydra, the first of Zoma's guardians. The great hero's last words are that he only regrets not having been there for his child... Zoma is going to pay. Stay tuned.
Three down, six to go.
For the record, Thieves are really, really useful. They're always auto-stealing stat seeds, and their sniff and seek out abilities make finding every last hidden goodie in the game a cinch.
*Stormed Zoma's castle and quickly dispatched the minibosses, including King Hydra and a Baramos recolor.
*Used the ball of light to downgrade Zoma from the daunting Razzle Dazzle Blue Raspberry flavor to the more manageable Screaming Orange Blast flavor.
*Gave that rapscallion what for. What for, I say! Won the game at a max party level of about 43.
Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:
*Somebody in Alefgard says that their ancestors "migrated through Gaia's Navel." That sounds gross without even thinking about it, but once you do... Alefgard is descended from people who decided to jump into a big hole. This explains so much.
*Zoma busts out another "It is I." What is it with villains and bad grammar?
*King of Luda.... TANTAGEL: You have defeated the Archfiend! You will forever be known as Loto!
Trinity: ...Loto? Man, you people really do suck at naming things. Whatever, I'm just glad it's over with.
King: Do you remember what we were going to call the hero?
Chancellor: Well, I remember they didn't like "Loto"...
King: Okay, how about... Erdrick, then.
Chancellor: Doesn't that sound kind of... misleadingly male?
King: Wait, are you saying that wasn't a man?
Chancellor: *sigh* Never mind, your majesty. Erdrick it is.
And so, Trinity and her friends defeated Zoma, bringing peace to two worlds and delivering light to the dark land of Alefgard. Victory, however, came with a price. In the wake of Zoma's defeat, the hole between the two worlds closed, stranding the four heroes away from their home forever.
Her job done, Trinity found she had lost whatever taste she ever had for glory. She disappeared during the festivities in Tantagel, and when someone thought to search for her they found her sword, shield and armor left in her room at the Inn. These items would become treasured relics that would play important roles when darkness again shadowed the land of Alefgard.
Little is known about the rest of Trinity's life. After spending years as a wanderer, she eventually found a home in Alefgard and bore a child, whose descendants' stories have already been told. Her true name would eventually be forgotten by the ages, but her achievement would always be remembered. And everything that came before, and everything that came after was owed to the heroism of Trinity, the great Erdrick...
...The first Dragon Warrior.
Note: The Super Famicom version of III adds a bonus dungeon made up of rooms from the rest of the game. At the end you fight the dragon god Shenlon, who will grant you one wish each time you beat him, something that would eventually become a recurring element in the series. You can get an extra Pachisi track here, or bring Ortega back to life if you're broken up about his pointless death. It's also reminiscent of Dragon Quest character designer Akira Toriyama's comic book Dragon Ball.