After the mild disappointment that was Dragon Warrior 2, some of us were a bit wary of Dragon Warrior 3. Did they fix the experience system? Was the music actually worth listening to? Did they actually decide to animate something? To these questions I can definitely answer yes. DW3 is a very large step up from its predecessors and is my favorite Dragon Warrior game.
Once again the graphics are just an upgrade to the previous games. However, they have finally decided to animate the characters on the overworld and in the towns a bit more. Battles are, alas, still on the black background and have no movement whatsoever. Enemies are far more interesting and different than in previous DW games. Characters are also more detailed than in previous games and don't look quite as generic as they used to.
Well, they definitely fixed that experience problem that DW2 had. Though it still takes some time and effort to raise levels, it's much easier than in previous DW games. Actual gameplay remains much the same as in the other DW games, but with some important changes. First is the Class system. You start only with your main character and you recruit your other characters at a place in the first castle. You choose what kind of character they are. They range from the combat monster Solider to the healing Pilgrim to the weird Goof-Off. This is essentially the same as the original Final Fantasy but with more choices.
One feature related to the class system is the ability to change classes for an existing character at a specific town. They'll retain all the abilities of their old class, but will be able to learn the abilities of their new class as well. For example you can take your Wizard and change him into a Solider. The new Solider will have the strength and HP of his class, but will also be able to cast any spells that he'd learned as a Wizard. In addition there is a special item that will allow you to change into a Sage, the most powerful class in the game. Unfortunately this class change comes with a price. When you change classes you automatically revert back to level 1 and have to start collecting experience from scratch.
Another interesting feature is that you are not required to take out any characters other than your main character. The fewer characters you take out the more experience each character gets, and you can switch out characters at any time. This gives the game tremendous replay value. You can try out entirely different parties of characters to go through the game.
Wow! There's actually pretty good music in DW3. The compositions are well done. The sound quality is still pretty bad, but it doesn't detract too much from the quality of the music itself. The SFX are still pretty standard fare and won't make too much of a difference one way or another.
The story in DW3 is yet another large step up from its predecessor. Though character development is totally non-existent due to the plug-and-play nature of how you chose your characters, the story itself is fairly interesting. You are the son of a famous Knight and you are sent off to defeat the Archfiend Baramos. It's pretty cliche, but along the way you will meet interesting recurring enemies, cool subplots (the Haunted Ship), and one HUGE plot twist that will leave fans of the original Dragon Warrior cheering and yelling for joy. With cool locations, characters, and dungeons the story is definitely a strong point of Dragon Warrior 3.
What can I say that I haven't said before? Dragon Warrior is a great game and easily one of the best on the NES. The plot twist near the end of the game was just mind-blowing and I loved every minute of it. If you haven't played a Dragon Warrior game yet pick this one up first. You won't be disappointed.