Game Review: Dragon Warrior III
Dragon Warrior III

Dragon Warror III Title Screen

  • Publisher: Enix
  • Developer: Enix
  • Released: August 1991
  • Game Type: RPG
  • Players: 1
  • Product Number: NES-D3-USA
  • Rarity: B+ (Very Rare)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 9

    Box Scan
    Dragon Warrior III Screen 1 Dragon Warrior III Screen 2

    As you might guess, this is the third entry in the long-running RPG series. After the great-but-short DW1 and the good-but-frustrating DW2, Enix has graced us with Dragon Warrior III, which fixes all the above problems and expands on the gameplay ten-fold. The result is a title that proves to be one of the best RPGs on the NES.

    This third game concludes the Erdrick Trilogy, yet it takes place before the first Dragon Warrior and tells you the story of the legendary warrior Erdrick (the person you're descended from in the first two games). You play as a young Erdrick as he prepares to set out on a quest to defeat the evil archfiend Baramos. His father, Ortega, left to challenge the archfiend many years earlier but never returned after falling into a volcano while battling a monster. Somehow Erdrick and his allies must bring out Baramos before he destroys the world.

    For the most part this game features the usual Dragon Warrior business: travel the world to differnet towns and castles, fight monsters, earn experience points to advance levels, buy stuff from towns with gold you earn, and so on. However this entry boasts several new features. First of all, when you start out you have the option of either going on the journey alone or you can recruit up to three other warriors to form a party of four. You do this by going to the Eatery in the town and adding people to your party. You can either use some of the premade characters or create you own warriors to use. You can choose from several classes, such as soldiers, wizards, pilgrims, fighters, merchants and goof-offs, each one having their strengths and weaknesses, and can pick whether they're male or female. Later in the game if you find the Shrine of Dhama and are at least Level 20, you can change your character's class to another profession, giving them new abilities. There's also a hidden class called a Sage that can use both pilgrim and wizard spells as well as a good selection of weapons and armor. You can't create a sage; you have to change one of your characters into one, and you need the Book of Satori.

    The game has expanded in other ways as well. This game features an even larger world to explore than the last title, with many different places to visit and explore. There's also a wider selection of weapons and armor to equip your party with, but be aware that the Wizard can't use most of the weapons and armor, while the Fighter performs better without much armor. The list of spells has also increased dramatically. The Hero, Pilgrim, and Wizard each have a good selection of spells they can cast, plus more than one person can learn important magics such as Heal, Outside and Vivify (brings a dead hero back to life).
    Other new features present themselves during your journey. This game introduces a day-night cycle; as you travel you'll see the day pass and soon it becomes dark. When night falls, enemies appear more often, and in towns many of the stores close and you can't see the king (inns and houses of healing are open 24 hours). There are times when you need to visit a town in the evening to get important items and clues. Another nice feature is the Vault located in Aliahan. Each of your characters can only carry up to eight items, so you still need to manage your inventory carefully, but the Vault can store excess items and gold. That way you can store items you won't need for a while (or don't need anymore) and pick them up later, for a fee. Also instead of the lottery, several towns feature a fight ring where you can bet on monster fights. In addition you still get a ship late in the game to sail to different continents, but if you manage to find 6 mystic orbs you can hatch a mystic bird that can take you anywhere in the world. Finally if you manage to defeat Baramos, this game throws a curve at you in the form of an extra quest, one that takes you to a familiar-looking dark world.

    Graphics & Sounds:
    The graphics pretty good, though they haven't changed too much from DW2. Everything is bright and colorful, and there's some good details here and there, such as furniture in the towns. Many of the dungeons and castles have different designs that give some much-needed variety. There's even an intro scene after the title screen that has some nice parallax scrolling. As far as the battle scenes goes, not much has changed. You still battle well-drawn enemies but you still only get a plain black background.

    As far as the audio goes, Enix finally provided some good music for a Dragon Warrior title. Everything sounds much better that the other titles, from the theme used in towns and castles to the overworld music to the spooky music in the dungeons and towers. Some of the towns even have unique themes. Even the battle theme has improved and actually fits the mood. The sound effects are nothing special but are still well done.

    The controls haven't changed much from DW2 either. You still navigate through a series of menus, which work pretty well but can get cumbersome at times, especially when you try to open doors to transfer items between your group. Also at times it's easy to double click and miss menu selections but doesn't happen that often.

    Challenge & Playability:
    Any RPG needs to excell in the gameplay department and Dragon Warrior III doesn't disappoint in the least. This is a very long adventure, meaning you'll have to invest many hours before you finally reach the end. Fourtunately there's no shortage of things to do with all the side quests and various events. The game is also very addicting; you'll want to keep going just to see if you can't advance one more level. The storyline unfolds at a pretty good pace and does contain some nice twists and turns, especially when you reach the other world.

    If you're still reeling from the tough gameplay of DW2, fear not; Enix fixed the difficulty problems of the previous game and it shows here. The fact that you can form your party at the start means you don't have to worry about being ambushed on your own (unless three of your characters died and you need to walk to a House of Healing). Plus the magic spells are more evenly divided, meaning you usually don't have to depend on just one person for healing spells and so on. The game itself never gets too frustrating; there are some tough spots, and the random encounters can get too frequent at times, but with a bit of practice and leveling up the trouble spots can be overcome. Also you won't have too much trouble trying to decide where to go next, as the various people you talk to are more helpful in pointing you in the right direction. Finally this game also boasts a good replayability factor; once you do reach the end, you can play again with a party of different professions and try different things.

    Bottom line is Dragon Warrior III is one of the greatest RPGs on the NES, as well as one the best entries in the series. There is just so much to see and do that you won't be done for a long while, and that's fortunate since this is an enjoyable cartridge that'll keep you engaged for a long while. This is one quest game that's definetly worth its weight in gold.

    - Review posted on September 21, 2007