Dragon Quest III (2000)


Review by · August 22, 2001

It was a dark and stormy night (okay, so it was really a bright, sunny day. Work with me here.) The infamous Pocket Squirrel had just returned from working in the place where he worked. Sitting on his bed was a brown paper package. Our adept rodent hero picked the package up in his paws and peered at the label pasted on the package. Then, without warning, our hero ripped open the brown paper package to reveal Dragon Warrior 3 for Game Boy Color! With a quick leap to his backpack, our hero reached inside and took out his Game Boy Color! Then he took out his Game Boy Advance! Then he took out his Super Game Boy! (Squirrels tend to be rather thorough.) Our furry bundle of LOVE nestled down into a cozy corner of his well-lit room; and prepared to play.

Dragon Warrior III is a port of an SNES port of an NES game. It is a standard RPG, with a turn based battle system, mini-games, a hero that doesn’t talk, and lots of leveling up. The game has been toned down, difficulty wise, to make it more accessible to the general public. Most of the game involves working in menus; there’s lots of reading to do in this game, and absolutely no need to catch monsters to fight for you.

Dragon Warrior III has several wonderful little play mechanics that I will rattle on about in detail. First off, the game features a lot of character creation. When you turn on the game, you name the hero (or heroine) and are then subjected to an Ogre Battle-esque questioning by an omnipresent voice. After a series of questions, you are given a short scenario to complete. How you do in this determines your characters “personality”.

The personalities range from “Silly” to “Sexy”. My personality was “Romantic”. You can change your personality by reading books (HA!), or by doing certain things. My personality soon changed to “Diligent”. The personality of a character determines which statistics they will most likely increase when they level up. For example, a “Silly” character may have their luck go up more often, while an “Angry” character will have their offense rise faster.

The game also features day and night. When you enter a city during the night, you may find things, or people that were not around during the day.

You do not go alone in Dragon Warrior! You can recruit up to three new travel companions from the local tavern. There are eight different classes: seven you can recruit from, and one that they can “evolve into” later. Each class has different abilities and weaknesses. You can make your own travel companions from these classes and customize their stats with the ability seeds you are given when you create them. They also have a personality, which affects their performance and growth.

There are also mini-games, including a Monster Battle Betting Arena and a “Pachisi” board game. Those are fun and worth your time for money and items. The other “mini-games” are a search for “Tiny Medals”, and collecting “Monster Medals”. Each monster has a medal, and they randomly drop one when defeated. Collect them all!

I also love the “Plan” option in the menu: it can help RPG Newbies to learn the ropes, which is a nice feature! Overall, nothing to complain about here!

Despite the mini-games, and wonderful character creation, Dragon Warrior 3 is an RPG, and like most RPGs, you can sum up the gameplay in five words: “Talk, Walk, Kill, Find, Repeat.” That’s the gist of it. Now, if the story was pretty awesome, then you could let monotonous leveling slide. However, next time you are in the store, pick up the box for Dragon Warrior III and look at it. Do you see Kemco/Seika anywhere on the box? How about the words “Great Greed” or “Final Fantasy Adventure”? Nope? Then why would you expect tons of character development, or a tragic/deep storyline?

Dragon Warrior III is almost TEN years old! The game is perpetually about leveling up and challenging enemies. Do I care about the hero/heroine’s long lost father? No. I cannot honestly say I care about him. Does Lord Baramos make my blood boil? Absolutely not. There is NO character development for the playable characters. Considering you made them yourself; why should there be? When one looks at other RPGs where you create a character, the lack of depth in the lead character comes as no surprise.

The storyline revolves around defeating a great evil guy that your daddy (“El Manuel” Ortega) was supposed to defeat when he disappeared. Yay. The story is mildly entertaining; there are no brutal plot twists ala Phantasy Star 2, or sappy human drama ala Final Fantasy. I like this game because it has a short plot and a loooooooooooong jacket.

Graphics in Dragon Warrior are a step above the NES and a small step below the SNES. You have NES-style sprites on SNES-style backgrounds. The enemies are animated during battle, and, in short, everything looks wonderful. The game seems a tad dark on the Game Boy Advance screen, but that should not be too much of a problem for the majority of Game Boy Advance owners. The areas and maps are wonderful and the colorful details are gorgeous. The game looks nice and plays nicely.

The music in this game is also a step above the NES and a step below the Super Nintendo. We are treated to wonderful Dragon Warrior music, like always. The music is regal sounding and thoroughly addictive. It never comes off as annoying to me. There are even classic compositions that have been in previous Dragon Warrior games.

Attacks sound like they were borrowed from the Game Boy library of sound effects. In other words, you’ve heard these sounds before. There is no voice acting in this game, which is fine with me; if I want tons of minutes worth of clear voice acting in a Game Boy Color game, I’d play Perfect Dark or Cannon Fodder. In any case, the game sounds great, you’ll like it.

Control in this game is not a problem because you depend on a lot of easy-to-navigate windows.

So, I have given you my opinion and I stand by it. Dragon Warrior III is a great game and I think you should own it. For the NES players out there, the game offers new features and areas(!!) that were not in the NES game! For the new player, Dragon Warrior III offers you fun, and lots of leveling up. I enjoyed it immensely, and I think you will too. Pocket Squirrel out!

Overall Score 91
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Pocket Squirrel

Pocket Squirrel

Pocket Squirrel was part of RPGFan's reviews team in 2001. During their tenure, Pocket Squirrel bolstered our review offerings by lending their unique voice and critique of the world of RPGs. Being a critic can be tough work sometimes, but their steadfast work helped maintain the quality of reviews RPGFan is known for.