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Dragon Warrior III

Score: 80%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Enix
Developer: Enix
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

Despite the fact that this game is a Gameboy Color title, you'll find yourself quite in awe of the graphics. They simply blow any other RPG you've seen on the system away. Sure, they're sprite-based, but the world is colourful and vibrant and the enemies are fantastically animated. The first time that I saw the slime wiggle I was impressed. Then the Raven dropped the skull and I was really impressed. These aren't two-step animations, folks; the various beasties are fully animated as they attack you. Very nice. The graphics are an order of magnitude better than the original NES version, and while they don't quite match the SNES Remix (how could they?), they're still very sharp.

A word of warning: It's a lot harder to see the game on my GBA than it is on my GBC. Just so you know.

The sound is strictly standard GBC stuff. You'll hear bleeps, bloops, a rendition of the battle theme, and so on. It's nothing that you'll really care to listen to, even with headphones, but that's not really a problem with this title. It's not like the GBC puts out great sounds anyway. I'm sure they could have been better, but you can tell that the Dragon Warrior III devteam concentrated on the gameplay instead of the sound.


And boy, did they. Dragon Warrior III for the GBC is without a doubt the best rendition of the title that I've played--and I've played the SNES remake as well. [Yeah, okay, so maybe my problem with the remake was that it was in Japanese; shush.] This is probably the most epic handheld RPG out there, and there's enough to see and do in Dragon Warrior III to keep you busy for weeks. Add to that all of the nifty new things since the original NES version and you've got a winner on your hands.

For those of you not in the know, Dragon Warrior III takes the same tack as Castlevania III, acting as a prelude to the earlier adventures. You are a brash young sixteen-year-old, out to find out what happened to your father Ortega and to follow in his footsteps. Within the first few minutes of the game proper, you're set on a quest to defeat the Ultimate Bad Guy Baramos. Unlike most RPGs of the day, there is something of a twist before you finish the game, but I won't spoil it for those of you who never played the original.

The adventure is long, so you take along three companions for the ride. One of the unique things about Dragon Warrior III is that every character has a personality. You're given a series of questions at the beginning of the game, and then you participate in a sort of mini-adventure that determines your particular personality. Your companion personalities aren't chosen in quite the same way, but they definitely vary. Depending on a character's personality, their stats level in a different way, so you want to match the personalities to the class. Having a Tough Mage isn't as useful as having a Sharp one, and so on. Thankfully you can change personalities throughout the game, so if you get one that doesn't quite suit your style you can always change it.

Like the original Final Fantasy, you get to pick the classes of the characters that adventure with you. Unlike Final Fantasy, you also get to 're-level' them. Once they hit level 20, they can become a different class and start over at level 1. Their stats are halved, but by that point losing half still puts them miles above normal starting characters. And they start leveling up just as if they were at level 1, only they keep all of the abilities of their old class. This rather unique form of dual-classing [reminiscent of a rarely-used AD& ;D rule] lets you keep a very well-rounded party, where everyone can become excellent at almost anything.

The game itself entails a lot of typical RPG adventuring. You'll be doing fetch quests, slaying lots of enemies, and getting your levels up to help you defeat the bosses. What's so great about Dragon Warior III is its scope--gigantic--and its variety. You can pick any number of classes for your characters, and each have their advantages and disadvantages. You can make the game easier or harder on yourself, and there's oodles of equipment to give each class. Basically, you play the game the way you want to play it.

Some of the added things in this GBC version that weren't in the original NES one are an increased walking speed, a new character class (the Thief, who has some useful abilities like finding hidden treasure), a collection game where you try to find TinyMedals, a Pachisi minigame, and the collection of monster tokens by defeating them. The game cycles day and night, and different things happen depending on the time, such as enemy appearances and so on.


Dragon Warrior III is hard, even with the somewhat toned down experience on the GBC. There's a ton of enemies, and they can often kill you with a hit or two, and you're almost always at a disadvantage. The new Thief class helps, as does the new walking rate, but the game is definitely non-trivially difficult. Its huge size adds to the challenge as well; thankfully there's a field log save so you can stop where you are if you see the batteries are running down.

Game Mechanics:

Thankfully, the evil menu system of the old Dragon Warrior titles has been replaced with a much cleaner interface for Dragon Warrior III. Most of the options are intuitive, and a little digging will find everything you need. Battles go by fast, and you can adjust the text display speed to make them go by faster; there are tons of enemies to fight and equipment to try on, and enough classes to make every play of the game unique. The small screen works quite well for the game, to be perfectly honest.

There's a lot of good to be said about Dragon Warrior III and very little bad. Sure, it does have a little too much of an emphasis on leveling, and sometimes the game is outright unfair, but in the end any RPGer worth their salt should shell out the thirty bucks and buy themselves a copy of this. To not have such a great RPG on the go is a travesty; long car rides are made enjoyable again when you're slaying Dragons. Now if they come out with Dragon Warrior IV for the GBA . . .

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

GameBoy Color/Pocket Commander Keen GameBoy Color/Pocket Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated