SFC Game 124 – Dragon Quest III

Dragon Quest III (ドラゴンクエストIII そして伝説へ…), released 12/6/1996, developed by Chunsoft, published by Enix

This is the last of the major studio games released for the Super Famicom; a remake of 1989’s Dragon Quest III for the Famicom. It basically picks up the style of Dragon Quest VI and adds a number of features to the original game — a few new classes, additional weapons and items, a “bag” to store items in, small medals, a board game miniquest, a world map, and a bonus dungeon. The graphics are some of the best looking RPG graphics on the Super Famicom, and the remastered music is great as well.

I have started this game many times. When I was a kid, I used to rent it from the local video store and play it over the weekend. My parents could never find it in stores, so I just kept renting it and playing the first part (and reading the manual with the complete hint guide in it so I could vicariously experience the rest of the game). When I first discovered emulators, this was one of the first games I played along with the Super Famicom remake but I never was able to keep myself engaged in it. I also bought the Game Boy Color version, but also didn’t finish it. In all these playthroughs I never got past the point where you get the ship (I’m not even sure I got it). So it’s nice to be able to come back and finally finish this game that I played for the first time probably 30 years ago.

After the opening cinematic showing your father Ortega hunting the demon lord Baramos, the first thing you have to do is answer a bunch of questions to determine the personality of your main character.

The personality determines your stat growths. You can change personalities throughout the game by using book items, or equipping certain pieces of equipment. After this, Kurisu wakes up on his 16th birthday, ready to go in search of his father Ortega and hopefully beat Baramos himself.

The first task is to create your party. When I played this game before I always went with the “boring” standard party of Soldier, Priest, and Wizard. This time I decided to go with a more unusual party. I went with a priest to make sure I had the healing, and then added a thief and a goof-off. The thief can use some helpful abilities like locating treasures and towns, and the goof-off can immediately switch class to Sage at level 20. The game on the whole is easier than the original because weapons like whips and boomerangs were added, but the game wasn’t really rebalanced to take account of that.

I still remembered exactly what to do on the first island you start out on, which is just an introductory section to help you get used to game. I didn’t find it necessary to do actual grinding except for one point in the game. Other than that I would just venture forth and do what I could, returning when necessary (when Hero learns the warp spell it’s much better).

As I went I made notes of where doors locked with keys were — you get the thief key on the first island so that solves the initial problem quickly, but there are also “magic” and “final” key doors that we’ll have to come back to later.

The second section is where my playthroughs usually stopped before. A lot of stuff in this section is technically optional but if you don’t do it you’ll have to do a bunch of grinding to survive the next area (actually in the remake they made the Shanpane Tower a requirement for later in the game). By going west from the castle you end up in here, you can see that your next major goal is to get to Portoga to get a ship, which will require the Magic Key.

At this point the first board game minigame comes up as well. You do it by using a ticket that you can find various places around the world, then roll a die and move the number of spaces indicated. The real goal is to reach the end of the track (on an exact roll) where you will get some good treasures. But even if you don’t manage that, there are some decent things in the chests on the board itself. I didn’t do much of the board gaming because it takes a long time and the rewards are hard to get since you need exact rolls.

The magic key is in the pyramid — I got here once or twice as a kid and I have a vague memory of a gold claw that you can carry out except that you get attacked every step you take. I didn’t find that this time.

With the magic key, you can reach Portoga, and then you have to do a fetch quest to bring the king pepper (which gets you in a nest of quests but eventually it ends). This is also the first time you can visit Dharma Tower.

At Dharma tower you can change classes of any companion who is at least level 20. They go back to level 1 and lose half their stats but retain any abilities (like magic spells). At this point nobody was at level 20 for me so I moved on.

After getting the ship the next part of the game is nonlinear. The goal is to get six gems which you will then use to revive a dragon so that you can reach Baramos’ castle. You also need to get the Final Key, and there are some other optional events and items you can find as well. Along the way I started doing class changes. As soon as the goof-off reached level 20 I switched her to a Sage. At first I was a bit worried because she came with very low MP due to her 20 goof-off levels, but in the end she gained enough MP to catch up. For the priest, I decided to hold off switching to Sage until he learned the revive spell. Initially I had planned to switch my thief to something else but in the end the thief was quite good on his own and so I kept him as a thief so that I could keep stealing items.

With the six gems, you can activate these flames and hatch the egg to get a dragon. With the dragon you can fly around and get to a few new places, the most notable of which is Baramos castle.

Baramos kicked my butt at the levels above. He can move twice in a round, do strong attacks, and use several damage-all moves. I lacked useful spells like Beoma (complete heal) and Fubaha (barrier that reduces fire/ice damage) and it seemed like it was time to level. Unfortunately Beoma is level 30 and Fubaha is level 34 so that would be a lot of time….

Enter the Hagure Metals (metal babbles), souped up versions of the Metal Slimes that give lots of XP. I cheated a bit here and did a save state every time I encountered one, loading the state until I beat at least one. With this technique it only took an hour or two to level up to 30 for Beoma, at which point I decided to try again despite the lack of Fubaha. In the end it worked out; with the extra levels, buff spells, and Beoma I was able to outlast him. I read that you can use Matohon on him to take away his spellcasting ability but this never worked for me.

Kurisu is hailed as a hero! But just then, a mysterious voice Zoma comes in and declares he is the true evil boss. Mwahaha. We then have to go down into the dark world…which turns out to be Alefgard from DQ1. This would have been a cool twist for people at the time although it’s given away in the hint guide so I already knew about it.

Here you have to repeat in some sense the stuff in DQ1, making a rainbow bridge to Zoma’s castle by using the sun stone and rain staff.

Zoma was much easier than Baramos. You can use the Sphere of Light to reduce his power a lot and then the normal buff/debuff spells work pretty well.

Once Zoma is defeated, access to the upper world is closed off, but then you get the final twist of the game, that your hero is Loto (Erdrick) of DQ1 so this is a prequel to that game. Neat way to wrap up the initial trilogy.

In the SFC version they added a bonus dungeon; I didn’t do it but by defeating the boss there you can revive your father which is a nice addition. The game Boy Color version added a second bonus dungeon but it requires a pretty ridiculous set of criteria to enter (finding lots of monster medals from defeating monsters around the world).

I’m finally glad to finish this game that I played so much as a kid. It’s a pretty good DQ and really shows how even an old game can be done much more competently than a lot of the RPGs coming out in the early 1990s. The story is thin to nonexistent but there’s a lot to explore, side events, a bonus dungeon, minigames, and more. You can also try experimenting with different parties.

Next up we have the final PCE RPG.

2 thoughts on “SFC Game 124 – Dragon Quest III

  1. Dan S

    The ending of this game freaked me out. You know how it says the name you put in at the beginning but in romaji? I had forgotten it does that and my name goes letter for letter into katakana, so when I saw my name there in English at the end of the game I had figuredy in Japanese I was pretty shocked.


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