REVIEW / Dragon Quest III (iOS)

 

For those of you who are waiting for the final installment of the Erdrick Trilogy for your mobile devices, your wait is finally over.  From Yuji Horii and the game makers at Square Enix, Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation has officially made its way to mobile platforms.  It features the story of a teenager named Ortega, who on his sixteenth birthday is tasked by the King of Aliahan to slay the master of darkness, Archfiend Baramos!  Originally released for the NES in 1988, Dragon Quest III is the concluding installment in the popular Dragon Quest series.  This release features a customizable party system, changeable vocations, intuitive controls, and over 30 hours of gameplay with added features to the original release. It also boasts amazing synthesizer sounds by the classical composer Koichi Sugiyama and manga illustrations by Akira Toriyama.

 

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The king will record your progress in your Adventure Log so see him when you need to create a save.

 

Dragon Quest III, while it is an old-school JRPG, features a lot of the role-playing game conventions that are still used in games today.  Gameplay consists of leveling up your characters by gaining experience from battles that you have while on your adventure.  Items such as armor and weapons can be bought in village stores or found in hidden areas and equipped in a very intuitive upgrade system.  Just as in most JRPGs, battles are turn-based and you can set how your party members will behave in battle from six different settings so that you are making the most efficient use of your limited resources as well as to take advantage of the different fighting styles that your party members possess.  The player also has the ability to freely swap characters in and out of their party at any time so that you have the best warrior, mage or priest that is available.

 

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The movement controls and the game menu can be swapped from one side of the screen to the other to accommodate your play-style.

 

The control setup that Dragon Quest III employs seems to work well but may take you a bit to get used to.  It is designed to work perfectly with the vertical layout of any modern mobile device and the position of the movement button can be changed to facilitate either one- or two-handed play.  The movement button can be placed either on the left, center or right of the screen and can be set in a small, medium or large size depending on the size of your fingers.  I have large hands and I found the medium setting to work the best for me.  You can hold in the center and slide you finger in the direction that you want your party to go in or for finer control, you can tap the outer ring to take small steps for going in doors or walking up to NPCs.  Overall, once you get used to it, it’s not a bad control scheme that works relatively well even on smaller screens.

 

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The battle screen gives you all of the necessary information to make well-timed attacks.

 

The graphics in Dragon Quest III is definitely a standout feature of this new release.  Sporting the same pixel-art graphics from the late 80’s, the game looks great and is a reminder of just how talented Akira Toriyama is, being that at the time, this was the height of video game graphics.  Colors are bright and fun and looked great on my two year old iPad 2.  The clothing of the characters is typical to the class that the character is in and helps to distinguish one character from another.  In addition, the environments, from the king’s castle to the forest regions to the mountainous regions, all look spectacular and are flawlessly designed to help engross you in this world-saving adventure.

 

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From inside the game menu, you can check on the status of your party, see what spells you have available as well as taking inventory of your available supplies.

 

Another standout feature of Dragon Quest III is the wonderful soundtrack by famed composer, Koichi Sugiyama.  All of the in-game music has been remastered and sounds absolutely wonderful.  The fidelity is so outstanding that I found myself just letting my character stand around while I listened to the song that was currently playing.  There is a good mix of upbeat battle anthems as well as fun, frolicking tunes that play when you enter a town and regal, trumpet-based melodies that soothe the ear when you visit the King of Aliahan’s castle.  Sugiyama-san is known for his uncanny ability to capture the essence and feelings of the characters in the games with his music and he has definitely done that in this epic adventure.

 

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At the cathedral you can resurrect a party member, heal a party member or lift a curse from a party member.

 

While I enjoyed my time in Aliahan, this is a JRPG that only true fans may be able to appreciate.   The features that it offers are certainly upgrades from Dragon Quest I and II but it doesn’t compare to modern JRPG’s that offer tons of systems to tinker with as well as different ways to manage loot and bring on new members to your party.  It’s a game from a different place and time in video game history that may not be interesting to younger gamers.  The game is currently available for $9.99 on iTunes and the Play Store which seems to be a little steep for such an old game, but it’s not the worst.  Fans of the Dragon Quest series will definitely get a kick out of this release if only for the nostalgia and if you never played the Dragon Quest series and always wanted to, now is your chance.

 

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