Building off the premise and success of two previous titles is a daring task. Many weighty factors have to be accounted for – one of which is certainly the fan base. Were the fan’s reactions to the sequel welcomed or were they criticized? Did the sequel add anything new that the first title didn’t have? And the last question: What can the developers add in order to separate it from other existing titles in the genre?
The Dragon Warrior series initially built its fan base overseas and was then welcomed by American gamers, too. The first game in the series was accepted as a true role-playing experience while the sequel tried to add to the original’s formula. Although the sequel offered more storyline and a new party system, it wasn’t enough to vary it substantially from the first title. The monsters in the game were basically rehashed ideas and concepts – certainly not enough in the way of new content. Although the newly added party system was a fresh feature, it wasn’t anywhere near enough customization to satisfy fans.
The third installment of Dragon Warrior acted on the accumulated gripes formed by its predecessors and added different character classes and attributes towards the evolution of the character party. The gamer played as the son of the great Ortega, who fell at the hands of Baramos – the rest of the party characters could be recruited, and in some cases even named and classed as you saw fit. The new character classes evident in the game were thief, warrior, fighter, mage, cleric, dealer, jester and sage. Each character class had their own specific strong points allowing you to choose your team and hope they complimented each other long enough to defeat the evil Baramos. Yes, the game still had items and weapons, just as with previous titles, but now new weapons were assigned, along with classes and items, of which most could be used by any character.
Dragon Warrior III started with a new twist offered to the gaming world where a personality quiz was given. By answering these questions the gamer set the character to fit his/her personality. After the quiz the character’s attributes and their learning curve was asserted. This new feature added plenty of replay value and cautioned the player into focusing on his/her particular strong points.
The story, albeit tried and true, was similar to other RPGs in many ways but offered various different takes and issues. The game’s plot also featured twists and turns, although most narrative ?shocks’ could be seen a mile away. The game also expanded on its spell list, offering more variations of previous spells ranging from healing to attack spells.
The same great gameplay that made the original game such a success remained intact and improved from the point of view of the party system. The simplistic controls and enthralling story kept the game at a steady pace for veterans as well as those new comers to the Dragon Warrior series. The gameplay options were now multiplied by three through the party system, and the character classes added depth to the progressive building process. The dungeons and caverns featured in the title were on a much larger scale than its predecessors and that certainly added to the depth and strategy of the game.
The graphics in the Dragon Warrior series has never been a huge success, and with Dragon Warrior III the game kept its distinct grasp on largely mediocre visuals. The series stuck to its slideshow presentation fighting screen menu. With the simple popup visuals of a villain you encounter on your journey, gamers are given the traditional choices of fighting using an item, using a spell, or fleeing from the battle. Although the game brought back many familiar foes, it also added a plethora of new ones, too. These new enemies may have been new to the eyes but they were anything but simple pictures. Once again the Dragon Warrior games have never been about focusing on ?graphics’ but rather more on story and gameplay.
Not much was added, or even changed, in the audio department but, once again, why ruin the text with sound effects. Although, saying that, the faint sound of a slashing sword could be heard when attacking. The music in the game wasn’t quite the wrong side of annoying, but it was also far from award winning. Its presence was just enough to keep silence from driving gamers mad. Although the sounds in caverns and castles didn’t present an eerie feeling, it’s hard to even recall humming an in-game tune or even remembering specific sounds.
One of the strongest attributes of the game was its replay value. The game stretched its already strong hand in this department by adding the ability to choose your party, their classes, and their weapons. Although the outcome of the game was always the same, the journey felt new and refreshed through the additional characters members to your party. Whether it was dealing with the mishaps of a jester or selling items with a dealer the game felt recycled and new every time it was played.
Dragon Warrior III was far from the perfect role-playing game, but it was quite possibly the best of its series, and probably a top-ten choice in the mind of this reviewer. Even after prevailing years this game still holds a spot in my gaming heart and, to this day, is still popped in to be played every now and then. If RPGs are your favored genre, then you owe it to yourself to play this game. Just don’t expect awe-inspiring graphics and audio, this game and, indeed, the series just isn’t about that. However, the game was, and perhaps still is, leaps and bounds ahead of others in both story and gameplay.