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Dragon Quest III (JP) is the third game in the Dragon Quest series, developed by Chunsoft and published by Enix (who is now Square Enix).

When it originally made its way to the United States in 1991, it was published under the name Dragon Warrior III and released for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

The game was rereleased in Japan for the Wii in a collection with Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest II called Dragon Quest 25 Shuunen Kinen: Famicom & Super Famicom Dragon Quest I-II-III.

Gameplay

Dragon Quest III is noted for greatly expanding upon the gameplay of the original Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest II. The game uses basic role-playing video game conventions such as leveling up by gaining experience points and equipping items. The battle system is turn-based like the other games in the series, though the remakes incorporate various interface changes from later titles. These include simpler door opening, a bag to store items instead of keeping them at a bank, quick item sorting with "Tidy Item" and "Tidy Bag" command, and a "Full HP" command to automate the process of casting healing and status restoring spells. And while earlier Dragon Quest games were non-linear in structure, Dragon Quest III featured an even more open-world experience. It also allowed the player to freely swap characters in and out of their party and introduced the day/night cycle in which certain items, characters, and quests are only accessible at specific times of the day.

Plot

Dragon Quest III is set many years before the original Dragon Warrior in a world separate from the first two games. A wicked fiend named Baramos threatens to destroy the world. The story revolves around the Hero, son or daughter (the player can choose to be either male or female, with few gameplay changes) of the legendary warrior Ortega. On their sixteenth birthday, the Hero (from here on referred to as "they" for the sake of convenience) is summoned to the castle and is given by the King of Aliahan the challenge to rid the world of the evil archfiend Baramos, which Ortega attempted in the past but seemingly perished in a volcano. The Hero then is able to recruit up to three traveling companions to help fight Baramos.

The Hero leaves their home country of Aliahan to travel the world and complete their father's quest to defeat Baramos. A major portion of the adventure is the quest to acquire the last two of the three keys needed to open doors throughout the game. After saving two people of the town of Baharata from the rogue Kandar and stealing back the King of Romaly's crown, the Hero receives Black Pepper, which they then trade for a sailing ship at Portoga. With the ship, the Hero acquires the Final Key and the six mystical orbs which are used to revive the legendary bird Ramia. Ramia allows the Hero and their party to travel to Baramos' castle, which is surrounded by mountains.

After defeating Baramos in a ferocious battle and returning to Aliahan, the Hero's celebration is cut off as Zoma, Baramos's master and the game's true villain, reveals his existence. He attacks and opens a pit to the Dark World, which the Hero jumps into. The Dark World is, in fact, Alefgard (of the previous installments of the series), where the Hero must acquire several of the artifacts that were collected in the original Dragon Quest, including the Sun Stone and the Rain Staff. Rubiss, a legendary sage, has been turned to stone and is rescued by the Hero, and the Hero receives the Sacred Amulet in return. These items, as in the original game, create the Rainbow Bridge which leads the Hero to Zoma's castle for the final confrontation. Along the way, the Hero briefly reunites with Ortega as he is slain by Zoma's monsters, then continues on to defeat the revived Baramos, now turned into the powerful Baramos Bomus and later into the skeletal Baramos Gonus. With the Ball of Light given by the Dragon Queen, the Hero defeats Zoma and frees Alefgard, but Zoma boasts that evil will eventually return to the land and the Hero will not live long enough to stop it. For their bravery, the Hero receives the title of "Erdrick" ("Loto" in the Japanese version). The Hero later vanishes from Alefgard, leaving their sword and armor to be passed down throughout the ages so that their descendants can continue to protect the world from evil.

Remakes

The Super Famicom version, released in late 1996, during the last days of the Super NES in North America, was never brought to North America, due to Enix America Corporation's closure in 1995. By the time Enix of America returned, the SNES had been discontinued in North America. However, the next remake, for the Game Boy Color, was released in both Japan and the US.

The Game Boy Color version is based on the Super Famicom version. For the North American release of the Dragon Quest III Game Boy Color remake, Enix decided to give the packaging an anime feel, due to fan demand on Enix's message boards. Both remake versions of Dragon Quest III offer many new features and changes. The game received a new translation, incorporating many adult elements that were cut from its original American release, and becoming the first Game Boy Color RPG with a "Teen" rating. It was also the largest Game Boy Color game released in North America, with 32 Mb ROM and 256Kb of save-state SRAM on one cartridge. A new class, the Thief, was added to the roster in each of the remakes. Many of the names of the classes were changed in the English localization of the Game Boy Color version, such as Soldier to Warrior. Also, in the new versions was the ability to change into the Jester class at Dhama, which was not allowed in the original. New mini-games were added to the remakes, including Pachisi (called Suguroku in Japan / Treasures and Trapdoors as of the Dragon Quest V Remake), which is a giant board game style adventure from which the player can win items. This game is based on Horii's series Itadaki Street. The Mini Medal system, which lets players collect hidden medals to gain new items, seen in later Dragon Quest games (it originated in Dragon Quest IV), was added. Another medal system, Monster Medals, lets players collect medals from fallen enemies, was added in Game Boy Color remake, and two players could trade Monster Medals via a Game Link Cable. Two bonus dungeons become available after the main quest is over. The remakes feature updated graphics. An overhauled introduction for the game was made, similar to the one in the original Dragon Quest III, which included Ortega's battle with the Dragon Queen. Monster and attack animation in battles were added, a feature first introduced in Dragon Quest VI. A personality system was added to the remakes of Dragon Quest III. A pre-game sequence in which the player answers moral dilemmas similar to that in Ultima IV determines the Hero's personality. The personality of the other members of the party is determined by the stat-raising seeds that the player gives them during the character generation process. Personalities determine which stats increase when a character levels up. The personalities may be changed by use of special items and books.

Square Enix released both the Famicom and Super Famicom versions of Dragon Quest III in Japan on September 15, 2011, as part of Dragon Quest 25th Anniversary Collection Famicom & Super Famicom Dragon Quest I & II & III, a compilation of emulated Dragon Quest games for the Wii to celebrate the series' 25th anniversary. A quick save feature was added to these versions, allowing for pauses at any time, but the save file is deleted upon resuming. At the Dragon Quest 35th Anniversary Livestream, a remake of Dragon Quest III was announced in the "HD-2D" style of games like Octopath Traveler and Triangle Strategy.

Reception

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings GBC: 87%
Review scores
Publication Score
Electronic Gaming Monthly 7/10
Famitsu 30/40
GamePro 4/5
GameSpot 7.6/10
IGN 10/10
Nintendo Power 4/5

Dragon Quest III received mostly positive reviews.

Sales

Dragon Quest III sold over one million copies on the first day, with almost 300 arrests for truancy among students absent from school to purchase the game. It set sales records by selling 1.1 million game cartridges in Japan within a day and 3 million in a week, and grossing ¥20 billion ($143 million at the time, or $313 million adjusted for inflation) within a month. It topped the Japanese sales charts from February, through March and April, to May 1988. It became the best-selling game of 1988 in Japan, with 3.8 million units sold, and the best-selling game in Japan between 1986 and 1989, grossing $230 million at the time. The original game sold a worldwide total of 3.895 million copies, including 3.8 million in Japan and 95,000 in the United States, grossing several hundred million dollars by 1993 ($660 million adjusted for inflation).

It is often mistakenly thought that in 1988 the game's success caused the Japanese government to outlaw further releases of Dragon Quest games on school days. In truth, Enix themselves decided to hold off the release of future Dragon Quest games until weekends. The North American release of Dragon Quest III did not meet nearly as much success. The North American release's poor sales are partly due to the fact that the game was released after the release of 16-bit gaming systems, making it seem archaic to gamers.

The Super Famicom remake sold 1.4 million units in Japan, with nearly 720,000 units sold in 1996 alone. The Game Boy Color version sold a lower 604,000 copies in Japan by the end of 2001, and eventually became the fifth best selling Game Boy Color game in Japan, with 638,551 copies sold. Together with the sales of the remakes, Dragon Quest III is the most successful title in the series and one of the best-selling role-playing games in Japan. As of November 2010, Japan mobile phone version was downloaded more than 1,000,000 times. Wii Dragon Quest Collection sold 403,953 copies in 2011.

In other media

The male protagonist from this installment, Erdrick, appears in the Japan-exclusive mobile game Dragon Quest Rivals. Erdrick also appears as a guest character in the 2018 crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate via DLC and is fully voiced for the first time by Nobuyuki Hiyama, who previously voiced Link in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Trivia

  • On the day of its NES release in Japan, there were hundreds of arrests for truancy. This is due to the fact that many students skipped school to purchase the game. Because of this, Enix would abstain from releasing future Dragon Quest games on school days.
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