Dragon Warrior 3 - Review

Dragon Warrior 3 - Review

By: Rising Phoenix

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 5
   Originality 6
   Plot 7
   Localization 9
   Replay Value 3
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Medium.
   Time to Complete

24-50 hours


Title Screen

   With the death of your father at the hands of an evil monster, you must take up the quest to destroy the Archfiend Baramos, and save the world from impending darkness. Sound old, tired, and unoriginal? Maybe it is, but Enix does a good job of keeping the idea fresh in Dragon Warrior 3 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. There are few games on the NES that managed to grab my attention so well and so fully.

   Battles in Dragon Warrior 3 are straight-forward and simple. When you encounter a group of enemies, you are given the standard options of Fight, Parry, Spell, Run and so forth. Unfortunately, once the Hero learns a spell, he loses the ability to parry, but that should not impact too heavily on your strategy. The spells in the game are divided into Wizard and Pilgrim spells, essentially healing and defense for the Pilgrim, and attack for the Wizard, although both classes have spells that "bleed" into the other category, such as the Infernos attack spell for the Pilgrim and the Bikill spell for the Wizard. The combination of successful magic with powerful attacks will determine whether or not you will be victorious. Strategy is required from about the halfway point of the game on, as enemies will routinely be stronger than you, however, at the outset, battles are typically easy to survive.

   The interface is fairly well-implemented. The Hero and his/her party move quite slowly for the most part, and at some points, such as going through a large town or castle, you start to wish that you had a run button. The menus are simple and easy to understand, but doing any action other than talking or searching involves opening windows that begin to cascade and clutter up the game screen. Thankfully, all these menu screens disappear when you are finished. Lamentably, you never really get into the Hero's role. There are points in the game when you might feel sad, or angry, but for the most part, you feel more than you are following the story of a very untalkative person, and that excludes any chance to really get into the character.

No path to weapon shop
Path? PATH? We don't need no stinkin' path!  

   The music of Dragon Warrior 3 is, more often than not, repetitive and boring. The town theme, heard in Aliahan at the beginning, becomes particularly annoying when you hear it again and again. That said, the battle theme is well done, and the cave theme gives a certain sense of darkness surrounding you. The sound effects are very drab and boring. There is only one sound for hitting an enemy with anything, spells or weapons. There is only one sound for casting a spell, and the text printing sound could make you go out of your mind if you don't learn to block it out. The sound effects don't necessarily bring the game down, as they are effective in conveying meaning, but they certainly don't measure up to today's standards.

   While the overall plot of the game itself has been done before, this installment of the Dragon Warrior franchise introduced a new concept to keep the gamer gaming. This is the first DW in which you can choose how to make up your party. While there always has to be a Hero, since he/she is the main character, you can choose to have a Soldier, Pilgrim, Wizard, Fighter, Merchant, and Goof-off in your four person party. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Also, upon reaching level twenty, you can choose to have any of your characters pursue a new class. You can change a Wizard into a soldier, for instance, and the new Soldier will still know every spell that he/she learned as a Wizard. Also, every character can become a Sage, a master of both Wizard and Pilgrim spells, by acquiring a certain item. The class system is well done, and adds a new degree of playability. Finished the game? Try playing with three Goof-offs for a challenge.

   The plot of Dragon Warrior 3 stays relatively consistent throughout. You begin by looking for a way to assault the Archfiend Baramos, and the game follows this track for a long time. Along the way, you level up, discover secrets, look for keys and orbs, and generally search the world. There are several minor plot twists in the game as well, just to keep you guessing, and a couple of very major twists towards the end that will have you screaming "WHAT THE?!" just because you never say it coming. That said, just because you didn't see it coming does not mean that it's inappropriate to the game. It all fits very well, and the game is wrapped up nicely at the end, with little to no dangling plot material, depending on how much you learned as you went through the game.

   Enix has always been spot on with translations in the Dragon Warrior series, and this is no exception. Everything everyone says makes sense, even if it is sometimes inane.

Don't moon me you big, green...dragons?!
Don't moon me you big, green...dragons?! AAHHHHH!!!  

   Unfortunately, if you go through the entire game once, you haven't missed anything. There is little replay value, unless you really weren't paying attention during a certain segment. Given the length of the game, chances are you won't replay it.

   The graphics tend to leave something to be desired. The sprites are colourful but lack detail; the battle graphics are static, with nothing moving and no backgrounds; items are all text-based with no visuals. That said, there are some high points. Day and night is accurately depicted, with differences in shading as the day progresses. Towns are bright and colourful, and caves are dark and drab. Towers are light, but darkly coloured. The colours are the best selling point of the visuals, and are well implemented. Regretfully, they cannot make up for the lack of graphic attention.

   The game starts off with a very easy difficulty, but once you leave the first island, there is a marked increase in the difficulty of the game. By the time you get a boat, about the midpoint, strategy becomes essential to survival, and running away from fights begins to look more and more appealing. Of course, if you run away, the game only gets harder, since you gain no experience or levels to deal with the more powerful monsters...

You mean I shouldn't try to knock the wall down?
So I shouldn't try to knock the wall down, huh?  

   The game will probably take a least 24 hours to finish, and then it will be very difficult to do. About 50 hours should be spent before the game is completed to level up and build power to deal with the final boss.

Dragon Warrior 3 may not have impressive graphics, stunning FMVs, orchestrated music scores, or astounding sound effects, but it has a well thought up plot and keeps you coming back for more, just to see how it ends. It's not a backbreaker of a game, and you might not play it again, but it is definately something you should give a least one try, if you can find it. And trust me on one thing: get the Sphere of Light before the final boss, otherwise you're in very deep trouble.

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