Readers of the Warp Zone section of the website, as well as listeners of the Warp Zone podcast, know that Dragon Warrior was my first introduction to the world of Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs). The original was released in the United States in August 1989, just over 30 years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. What some may not know is that Dragon Warrior III on the NES was one of my favorite games. He introduced a lot of new gameplay mechanics through his quest system, meaning that each member of the group can learn different skills and spells from each other. The story was more complicated than its predecessors, and the graphics and sound took a big step forward, which probably wasn’t much since the series wasn’t really known for its cutting-edge visuals. We missed the fantastic port to the Super NES, but the Game Boy Color version remains my favorite, with lots of extra content and improved graphics over the original NES version. We now have a modified version of Switch aptly named Dragon Quest III, and the base game is still addictive. With the ability to play on the go or on the TV, there’s no reason you can’t spend dozens of hours trying to outsmart the demon Baramos.
As I just mentioned, there have been several versions of this game released over the past 30 years. So, what can you expect from the exchange? This is essentially the same model that has appeared on mobile devices in recent years, but with essential D-pad and button support. This means that the graphics use highly detailed sprites in the backgrounds and scenery. The annoying static black background during battles is gone. Instead, beautifully illustrated portraits imitate the region you are exploring (e.g. forests, mountains, etc.). However, not everything is ideal for a graphic. If I can afford to be a little considerate (it’s kind of my job), all the enemies have lost their mind-based pixel art and are now some kind of high-resolution clip art for their old selves. Maybe this graphical update means they weren’t live like in the remasters for Game Boy Color and Super NES. This is a big step back in presentation that is uncomfortably palpable. The playable and non-playable characters are also in high resolution, but seem to retain some of their sprite properties, so they look good overall. Cities and environments are even more beautiful than on the Super NES and are very colorful and detailed, making it very popular on TV and in portable mode. Since you will spend a lot of time fighting different monsters, it would be good if you paid more attention to the animation of the enemies.
There have been a few other minor changes to the game, especially in the early days. In the original, you saw your father fight to the death with a demon and eventually they both fell into a volcano. This scene is no longer present in this new version. In the Game Boy Color and Super NES versions, you can even see the events unfold all the way to the battle at the top of the mountain, and that too has been cut. Square Enix may have wanted the player to get into the action faster, but I feel like it takes away from why you’re going on this adventure. It’s really the only thing that bothers me about this port, otherwise it’s just the way I remember it.
Dragon Quest III is a huge game where you have to explore different countries and interact with the inhabitants. As before, the enemy will appear at a fairly high speed, so don’t be surprised if you have to fight within a few steps of each other, especially in caves and towers. My best advice to beginners is to learn a bit of the ropes and try to fight every monster without trying to escape, which doesn’t work as often as I’d like. Bring medicinal herbs and antidotes! Of course, since you’re creating your party from scratch, it’s best to have a balanced group of heroes with you. The obvious choice is to include a warrior, a mage and a priest with your hero. So you have both serious offensive skills and magical backups. You will be grateful to learn some healing spells and others that can attack entire groups of enemies. There are other utilities that are fun, but they are a bit more nuanced and best left to experienced players. Looking for a guide can be a good idea if you want more information about what each person does, because the game doesn’t allow you to detail the pros and cons.
If you’ve played a Dragon Quest game in the past, you’ll feel right at home here. The basic power system is identical. You’ll often have to solve a local dilemma where the locals need help, and usually have to enter a cave or similar place to destroy an enemy or retrieve an object. Then solve this problem and move on to the next, while working towards your common goal of killing Baramos. The game has a day-night cycle, which directly affects the strength of the enemy monsters (the stronger they are at night), but also allows the inhabitants of the cities to communicate. You absolutely must check each place twice to discover all the secrets. You’ll also find mini tokens to collect that you can trade for more powerful weapons, so be sure to check every drawer cabinet and jar!
I’m happy to report that Dragon Quest III is doing well, even though it’s an old classic. The nicer graphics and fully orchestrated soundtrack certainly help, but the intriguing world design and story really push the game forward. There are tons of secrets to try and unlock, and the game always has a high difficulty level that can only be overcome with a little bite. Some dungeons are brutal with false floors and traps everywhere. On the NES I had the advantage of being able to include maps in the game, but today you have the internet at your disposal. Don’t be embarrassed to look at the dungeon maps or directions to where certain items are, as the game often doesn’t give you many clues in the right direction.
I know I have a fondness for this game because I once loved it so much. For those of you who are playing JRPG for the first time and have played in the modern era, I’m sure the story sounds pretty bizarre. The game focuses less on plot twists and long exposures than it does on short stories, and you can go out and discover something new on your own. In that regard, some people will enjoy it less than others, but I still think it’s one of the best games in the Dragon Quest series, and it’s still one of my favorite games of all time. The Switch has finally given US players the chance to play an updated version of the NES classic with the right controls, and I’m eternally grateful!
Dragon Quest III: Seed Healing – Overview
- Charts – 8.5/10
- Sound – 8.5/10
- Gameplay – 8/10
- Last call – 9/10
Final thoughts : GRAND
Dragon Quest III: Seeds of Salvation is the perfect blend of old and new. It features updated visuals and orchestral music, but retains the occasional encounter and perhaps a bit of the rarefied side to educate newcomers about the process. Expect the same range of fragmentation and study as known. I’m just glad we finally have a somewhat updated version with proper controller support!
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently an editor and contributor to Age of Games.
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