On the internet I've found that I'm not the only guy who likes Dragon Warrior, which we now know by their original title Dragon Quest. I'm resistant of that title change, which occasionally annoys many fans of the series. One of my discussions of the series brought the third game up as having been someones favorite in the series, so of course I had to give it another try. And of course, I didn't beat it again, but that wasn't the first time I tried the game or even heard of it.
Dragon Warrior three eluded me for many years. While not as "rare" as Dragon Warrior IV, I just couldn't seem to find a copy that was under a hundred dollars online. I don't know about you guys, but a hundred dollars for an old RPG on a finicky system that may or may not even work right seemed like a bad idea. Every RPG I play on Nintendo seems to erase my saves pretty consistently. Plus take into account that Dragon Warrior III and IV both look like a step back from the revamped American graphics of the first Dragon Warrior. Nintendo or Enix seemed to think Americans would reject the original art from that first game, changing it, and setting unrealistic expectations for not only myself, but other fans from that same time.
And then, they released it on the gameboy! After fiddling a few hours with that, I happened upon a flea market where amongst copies of the usual suspects like Punch Out or Double Dribble, Dragon Warrior III and IV, both just sitting there, and both way under priced. I'm sorry, but that was too awesome to pass up, even ten years ago this was like finding gold! These old Dragon Warrior games hold a place in my heart like no other game possibly ever could.
I got it. I played a good bit of it. And like a lot of role playing enthusiasts, I didn't finish what I started. For whatever reason, this is a thing we do across the board. I feel so ashamed of myself. I don't know if it was the lower quality graphics of three compared to the first two games that did it to me. I hate to say that, but the game is incredibly ugly and moving around the world was painful to watch on the NES version in motion. Plus at this point, I still was insisting on only listening to the music and sound of the games I was playing, much to the pain of everyone around me. It isn't that the music was bad or anything like that. Most people who don't appreciate classic chip tune sounds are irritated by them, for whatever reason!
The Super Nintendo remake looks so amazing!
Some guy I know, a friend of a friend, got a copy of the translated Super Nintendo thing that was circulating a couple years back. I played it at his house for about an hour, and was so impressed by the graphical styling of this thing. All the tricks that Square figured out for Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 3 were used here, Enix was able to do comparable, if not better, with this game. Do you realize what I'm saying? This is a new sixteen bit RPG for the super Nintendo, even if it is a remake of a NES game. This came out in 1996, that really feels like the all or nothing glory days of RPGS. A new old game is like the greatest gift I as an classic gaming enthusiast could ever ask for. If I was ever going to go back to this again, I would very much like to play the Super Nintendo version.
Just look at the opening intro's mode 7 effects!
I know that looks really amazing in motion, but I'll aslo argue for the original version. Much more to the point, and for whatever reason the regular Nintendo and that limited color pallet work to its advantage.
Four paragraphs in, I think I should talk about the game itself. This game features an especially compelling premise, your father was a great warrior who went after the biggest bad guy and was killed in that battle. You now go after this ancient evil, and in doing so you'll recruit several generic class-based characters instead of how most games give you named story characters. Not that the designs don't ooze with personality, but these characters never speak within the game or contribute anything outside of combat. Not that I have a problem with that.
The classes you get are a mix of the usual soldier, wizard, and "pilgrim" (a healer type.) This is pretty cool, but you can also get merchants and goof-offs. I love the idea of the goof-off, a jester character that can attack or do some poor attempt at humor in battle, and they're completely uncontrollable. The goof-off was brought to my attention in a phone conversation back in the Nintendo 64 and Playstation days, where myself and two other kids my age would have long discussions about how great old games were. I was particularly fascinated by the concept of a character you couldn't control that has the potential to be the best party member of your group.
Instead of how most job class based games where you can change jobs all over the place, you only get the option to switch jobs after level twenty at one specific spot in the world. The best of these being that lovable Goof Off, who can become a Sage with the use of a special item. The Sage has both healing and attack magic, so you can see the use of a character like that within the party structure. This idea of having multiple characters and changing jobs really does it for me mechanically. It was why I loved Final Fantasy V and Tactics so much, and I'm I love it here in Dragon Warrior III.
Plus the "pilgrim" or cleric in later translations has the best art design ever.
Speaking of your party, when I played this game first, I tried with a soldier and two fighter type characters. Something about having damage dealing characters without magic seemed like a good idea. Until I needed to heal them. When I recently tried again on the NES copy, my party started as the more diverse Soldier, Pilgrim, and Wizard. This worked out much better, but the first couple hours of the game that poor wizard just seemed allergic to living. If I can make a proper attempt at the game again, I've made up my mind to go two soldiers and a goof off, and see how that turns out. Party structure is interesting to me, did any of you guys try out strange combinations within the game? An all merchant army, for example?
But I'd like to spend a little time discussing how compelling that first section of the game is.
For whatever reason, I find the idea of completing your fathers work a fascinating literary device. Seeing as how highly I think of my own Dad, the chance at not only avenging him and becoming a hero, but completing the he couldn't is really good motivation. Your father sets out after this big bad guy, it kills him, and so upon your sixteenth birthday you're the bad enough dude to go do what literally killed him? Sounds like an excellent premise to me. While I can't speak for mid to late game plot shifts, as the Dragon Warrior games are known for, this early premise intrigues me more than any other set up for a storyline in a game. I mean that.
I'll go ahead an quickly spoil the storyline as it partains to the overall Dragon Warrior mythology, this game is actually a prequel to the first two games! I've been told this isn't revealed until the very end of the game, and because of translation issues, it was kind of confusing, but the legendary hero mentioned in the first Dragon Warrior, the guy your characters in that and from second game descend from, is the hero of this game! I found that really cool! His name, Loto, is actually a title given to him! Using the loto sword and all the other legendary items from those first two games seems so much more special, having actually seen the adventure that character has. Even if I didn't finish it all out myself, I was satisfied with my experiences in the game.
I'm so bummed that I've not completed Dragon Warrior III. I occasionally pick up the cartridge and look at it, thinking I'll jump back in, but I've not done it yet. If I could get a cartridge that had the recent translation of that Super Nintendo remake on it, that would be about the coolest thing possible, I think. The idea that there is literally a sixteen bit classic RPG that hardly anyone has played with all those fancy graphical effects, excellent music, and the fact that it wasn't translated until just recently make it all the more alluring. You could easily pick up the Gameboy Color remake, which is quite nice from what I played of that, or you could go with the original Nintendo game which still has that charming 8-bit look, but for me, I'm looking forward to that sixteen bit version. Once I saw that Super Nintendo translation, I knew which version I needed to play.
Take a look at the American box artwork. Quite possibly a contender for the greatest collection objects things on a cover of all time.
That Gameboy Color remake to keep an eye out for still has the Dragon Warrior name.
And the famicom version featuring Akira Toriyama's fanciful artwork.
How about you guys, did you ever play Dragon Warrior III?