The first, the original, and some say the best: Symphonic Suite Dragon Quest III. Along with its CD print, Apollon also released this album on casette and vinyl. It was with Dragon Quest III that Sugiyama solidified his presence on the VGM scene, and he has held firm since.
What’s funny about this, from my perspective, is that despite its fame, Dragon Quest III’s soundtrack is one of the least creative Sugiyama has ever made. It refined the styles of Dragon Quest I and II, and added a bit of ethnic flair (such as “Jipangu” and “Pyramid” within track 3’s medley), but all in all it’s just a longer version of DQI+II. And by longer, I mean it in the negative, “long-winded” sense.
Though I am not a huge fan of the composition, I do love the performance and recording quality from the NHK Orchestra. I also love the contrast from this raw, life-like performance with the hard synths of the Famicom on the 30 minute “Original Sound Story” track (arranged by Koichi Nakamura). Listening to this track is like playing through the whole game in 30 minutes, since it includes relevant sound effects, as though you’re going through the game. They had this “nostalgia” thing worked out years in advance, as if they knew people would still enjoy this sort of thing 20 years later. And, I dare say, I do enjoy it!
There are many versions of the DQIII Symphonic Suite out there, so you can certainly pick and choose which you want. But for the real, oldschool fans, this is the one to have. And if you’re a real nut, you might want to hunt down the vinyl version. Whatever you choose to do, I wish you well on your quest!