This is the third(I know that’s obvious) of my Dragon Quest series Retrospective except for X unless it gets ported here or someone translates it. Once again I have released these at a snails pace but to paraphrase the creator of Mighty No.9 It’s better than nothing I guess. The version I have chosen to play is the GBC port. Just like I and II, I played it before they got ported to Switch and everything I read said that this version was the best one if you don’t want to play on mobile.
The game starts with you being introduced to the hero Ortega, his son is born and you witness him fighting an evil being, it is implied he did not survive, then a questionnaire to basically decide your stats and your personality type begins after the credits. I will be honest when I say that I didn’t fully get or try to learn how personalities work. But not going to lie when I say that when it describes “you” it was pretty dead on to an eerie level. You play as the son of the son of the hero.
One thing that is different from part II is you go to this tavern to hire party members. For me this moment made me get some references in some anime I was watching around that time. I knew early on that the Jester could end up ascending to a better class. In some ways it is similar to a job system. You hire people based on their class. Later on you can upgrade their class and only a small group of classes can become a Sage.
The world map is a lot larger which was expected, it has a day and night cycle and when you think about when this game came out, having a day and night cycle is impressive. Something that is unique to this remake is that it has an item bag which helps a lot for an item hoarder like me. So you can keep what you need but you still have to think about who has what. It can make battles more interesting. I know I messed up and didn’t have healing items in my party when I should have. It sounds small but it did increase my enjoyment of the game.
The story in this game is a lot better than the previous games. I thought not having a party of characters with their own personality would make it simpler but it wasn’t, well for games of this era. The side stuff you do really shines in this game, from reuniting ghost lovers to learning about the tragic fate of a Romeo and Juliet like couple. Also the twist that happens at the end. By todays standards the story is cliche JRPG tropes and even games a few year older have more ambitious stories but I think DQ has excelled in its niche of being simpler from a story perspective.
I will be honest when I say unlike the first 2, I don’t know many of the differences from NES to GBC versions. 2 I have always heard was broken, maybe the fact that it hasn’t been as talked about at least where I have seem means it is a much better experience than its predecessors.
I am about to spoil a game that had its NES version before I was born, so if you do not want to know, skip to after the two pictures and don’t read more of this paragraph.
You find out that your father has not died, he fell into Alefgard. So the world ended up being based on our world and he fell into the world of DQ 1, heroically trying to beat the true villain after awakening with amnesia. He dies in front of you decrying his failure and not being there for his wife and son, after the baby legendary bird is born you end up in the world of the first two Dragon Quest/Warrior games to fight the true villain. This is a prequel. I loved this twist if I am being honest. So your descendants are following in your footsteps. It makes the first game better for me in hindsight. Also bring the original trilogy to an interesting end. Games have had more interesting stories and better plot twists but I personally liked it a lot.
If you have noticed, I have not really talked about the villains, frankly they were the weakest part of the game. Other than the personal thing that happens, they are kind of just the generic big bads that you are against. It’s not a complaint. If anything the father, Ortega has a larger presence, his actions have affected people, people know him, in some way he looms over you, like you are in his shadow. Meanwhile you know the villains are bad and you have to stop them, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my opinion.
Overall I think it was a huge improvement over the first two games, the story was more enjoyable, the world was better, the games balance was a lot better and not unfair like the second game, it has a lot of charm and the Akira Toriyama art just works in sprite form. Of the first 3 this one is my favorite. If you have a switch and wanna play an old school JRPG then I highly recommend it. It is also not that long for a JRPG, so if you are curious about the series you owe it to yourself to play this game.