Photo 2014-09-25, 13 28 45I've been working my way through the new iOS version of Dragon Quest 3 since it hit the Japanese App Store last week, and now that I've finally brought peace back to the land, I figured I would give you some deeper impressions about the game. This game has been confirmed for English release, though we don't have a date any more specific than within a few months of Dragon Quest 1 [$2.99]'s release. I don't expect there will be any substantial changes from the version I've been playing, beyond translating the text and separating it out into its own app as opposed to its current form as IAP for the Dragon Quest Portal app.

Dragon Quest 3 is the third installment in the popular, long-running JRPG series. It's where the series, in Japan, went from being popular to being a part of the modern culture. Its popularity was such that there was an urban legend passed around for years that the Japanese government had passed a law banning Enix from releasing Dragon Quest games on weekdays due to everyone skipping work or school. That's not true, of course, but the government did jokingly suggest it, and that in and of itself is pretty noteworthy. More important than Dragon Quest 3's sales is its content, however. After the spartan experience of Dragon Quest 1 and the ambitious but highly flawed follow-up Dragon Quest 2, the team behind the Dragon Quest series finally hit it out of the park with this game. It's a big adventure with plenty of customization and just the right amount of non-linearity to make the player feel like it's their story. It makes excellent use of its world and has meaningful connections to the previous games, and although the story is very simple by today's standards, its main hook is still pretty powerful.

This version of Dragon Quest 3 is a port of a feature phone remake released only in Japan in 2009. It was the third remake of the game, following on the Japan-exclusive Super Famicom version and the Game Boy Color version which was released in the US and Japan. It borrows the look of the 16-bit SFC remake along with most of the gameplay changes. If you're familiar with the GBC version, you'll probably be wondering where a few things went. The monster medals and the bonus dungeon from the GBC version didn't make the cut, and the opening animation featuring the hero's father along with the dice game from the SFC version are also out. The Zenithia bonus dungeon from the SFC version is still in, and you can now set your party members to be controlled by the computer AI if you're that-way inclined. The music has been replaced with orchestral arrangements, and unlike Dragon Quest 4 [$14.99], the tracks don't loop back to the beginning after every fight. All of the items that were originally only found in the dice game are now distributed through collecting tiny medals hidden around the world.

Photo 2014-09-25, 13 28 51 Photo 2014-09-25, 13 28 41

As I already mentioned, it visually takes after the Super Famicom version, except for a few details. Characters have had their heads redrawn to show their facial expressions a little bit better, and monsters no longer animate in battles, a particular disappointment since even the GBC version had nicely-animated enemy sprites. Unlike the ports of Dragon Quest 1 and 2, the sprites have been scaled correctly in this version of Dragon Quest 3, so that weird stretched look that made the pixels look a bit too obvious in those games isn't a problem here. It looks fantastic, and is probably one of the better attempts at carrying over 16-bit graphics that I've seen. The new music arrangements sound wonderful, and I hadn't heard some of these versions before, so that was a treat. The controls are set up similar to the other recent Dragon Quest releases on iOS so, apart from a few tricky navigational challenges around pits, the game plays really well, even one-handed. Unfortunately for those looking to play the games in landscape mode, this one is once again only playable in portrait mode.

It's pretty much the same old Dragon Quest 3, and that's a great thing. If you haven't played it before and like JRPGs, feel free to start getting excited. It's still a great game and probably the earliest point in the series that doesn't feel terribly outdated in some way. I'm not sure if I like this particular version better than the GBC version, even with much better graphics, but it really only suffers by comparison. Taken on its own, this iOS version looks and plays great, and will instantly be among the top JRPGs available to English mobile gamers when it finally releases worldwide. I'm interested to see how Square Enix handles the new translation. Since the adventure spans a world based on Earth's map, there should be plenty of opportunities for the accent chicanery this series likes to indulge in of late. Sadly, we have to get through the somewhat less great Dragon Quest 2 in English first, but the wait shouldn't be too long.

  • Gillberg_theGreat

    Good stuff! Dragon Quest was always my favorite of the NES Dragon Warrior games because you could start in whatever class you wanted. Then I heard that the GBC version, they added the Thief class and others.

    • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

      Yeah, I wonder if this version has the extra classes that the GBC version added. I can't remember which classes got added in the SFC version, but maybe it only keeps those and not the GBC ones.

      • Gillberg_theGreat

        Yea there were classes like Thief, Gladiator and some other ones included in there. I never got to see anything on a SFC, so I don't know how that one was. I hope this DQ3 version is similar to DQ4 in its graphics and movements and such.

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        Hmm, well the DQ4 we have on iOS is based on the DS version, you know. This DQ3 is not 3D at all and looks like a 16-bit game. So if you are expecting it to look like the DS games, it will not. ๐Ÿ™‚ There are some screenshots in the article.

      • Gillberg_theGreat

        Well I can live with that. I just miss the DQ3 game and would play it on an NES now if I could.

      • Shaun Musgrave

        Thief was the only added class, added in the SFC remake, and it is in this version.

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        That's great news!

  • Dailon Huskey

    Can't wait for III. I really like IV and tomorrow I will finally have a phone that can handle VIII which I'm super stoked to play having never played it. I want II and III, don't care if II is rated highly or not plus it won't be real expensive or anything like IV and VIII.

    • William Cole

      Dragon Quest VIII is the definitive Dragon Quest game. Although I'd recommend playing on PS2, kudos to the iOS/Android version.

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        That's debatable. VIII made quite a lot of changes to the traditional formula. Not everyone would agree it's the pinnacle of the series. V is pretty freaking wonderful. So is VII, but I think they all are. And that said, yes, I think VIII is my favorite, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I actually like the iOS version. There's no way I'm dragging my PS2 back out. I can live without voice acting that I skipped anyway, and the soundtrack is still great, even though it's weird that we get orchestral arrangements in DQ I, II and III but not VIII (and not in IV either hmm).

      • Shaun Musgrave

        DQ8 is actually my second-least favorite of the series. DQ is like pie, though - there's no bad one, just good in varying degrees.

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        So true! Wow what is your least favorite? 2, I suppose? :p Where does IX rank for you? That's my least favorite, but I'd joyously replay it if the spruced it up for an iOS release.

      • Shaun Musgrave

        Yeah, DQ2 is my least favorite. As for DQ9, I liked it a lot. Played all the way through the Japanese version, then when the English version came out, I did it all again. I'd love to see it on iOS, even if only to restore the content lost by Nintendo DS WFC going offline. My favorite in the series is DQ5.

      • curtisrshideler

        I'd love to play IX on iOS, especially since I don't have a DS. But I guess with MH3 & MH4 AND DQIX... I could get one. No, probably wouldn't be good for the marriage! Hahaha

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        If you do, get a 3DS XL or a DS Lite. DS games look awful stretched on the regular 3DS but great on the XL (hold select while booting the game). You'd be best off waiting for the "New" 3DS that's coming soon tho. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Have you played IV on ios?

      • cinnamonandnutmeg

        Shaun, which is your favourite?

      • cinnamonandnutmeg

        After 5 I mean

      • Shaun Musgrave

        After 5 it gets tricky. Sometimes 4, sometimes 3. Right now I'd say DQ4. Then 3, 9, 7, 6, 1, 8, 2. Right now, anyway. That list fluctuates a lot.

      • cinnamonandnutmeg

        Yes I know what you mean! Every time I replay 4 and especially 6 (such an underrated game in the series!) I feel like they move up in my rankings but despite 5 pushing 3 all the way, I think 3 has just etched itself into my heart forever! But the difference between the two, if they were Olympic athletes, would require ultra slow motion replays with perhaps a hair being the decider lol

      • curtisrshideler

        So far, since Dragon Warrior was my first played of the series way back in the day, the moment I fired up VIII on my phone, I was blown away. Definitely say VIII is my favorite so far. Would love to see VII on iOS eventually, so I can see what the hype is about!

      • Dailon Huskey

        DRAGON QUEST II should drop tonight!! It's in the New Zealand App Store now! $4.99

      • Dailon Huskey

        I can finally play VIII now and it's no doubt my fav game ever

    • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

      I really like DQII! I'm playing it on GBC at the moment, actually. And you're in for a treat with VIII. It's awesome.

      • Gillberg_theGreat

        If it weren't for Nintendo Power magazine as a child, I would have never found the Thunder Sword in DQ2.

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        Yeah, I would have been hopeless in both 1 and 2!

      • Gillberg_theGreat

        I remember beating DQ1 without any magazine help. I remember playing it for hours and finding stuff the old fashioned way by talking to everyone in the game.

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        Yeah, when I replay everything on iOS, I'm not going to use any guides! Of course.. I've played them all before. ๐Ÿ™ But it's been a while.

      • Gillberg_theGreat

        me too!! Everything on DQ4 seems like muscle memory to me because I played it so many times. Even learned how to work the casino games and got the Falcon Sword at the beginning of Chapter 5 and the shiny dress for Alena in Chapter 2 lol.

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        haha I'm amazed how much I still forgot, though. I remember in 4th grade I brought the DQ IV strategy guide with me to school every day and studied it. Talk about spoilers, sheesh. I had no idea guides were basically cheating and ruining the experience for me. Anyway, you'd think I'd remember everything! I guess it is the muscle memory like you said. Once I'm playing again, it all comes back.

    • Gillberg_theGreat

      Yea, IV was one of my favorites as a kid with an NES. Im actually playing DQ4 now on my iphone 6 and its awesome. Im waiting to see if this version includes the post game stuff where we control Psaro and such.

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        Not sure if I should spoil it for you, but it does contain the extra stuff.

      • Gillberg_theGreat

        lol Yes! I figured it would because it looks so much like the Nintendo DS version.

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        Yep, I think it basically is the DS version, just with upscaled 3D for the environments. So I bet we'll get the DS versions of V and VI as well. I'm not sure anyone knows what'll happen with VII yet, but I sure hope we get it in some form.

      • Gillberg_theGreat

        I've never played DQ7! I can't wait for iOS to do that one

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        You'll love it! Great game. Sadly the only version we have available is the old Dragon Warrior VII PSOne discs. It's a shame it's not at least been re-released on the PSN. There is an awesome 3DS version, too, which we may never get here. And every time they mention bringing it to iOS, they talk about what a huge script it has and how translating it would be a lot of work. I hope they work something out.

  • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

    Why can't they go back and fix the awful sprite scaling in DQ I and II? The graphics are beautiful, the best either game has ever looked, but the scaling totally ruins it.

    I had just been searching for screenshots and info on DQIII. Glad to again confirm the scaling is fixed here. Now I just need to finish replaying DQ II and III on GBC so I can play them on iOS when they come out!

    • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

      And also, I really like DQII!

      • Darkenroll

        Me too!

  • curtisrshideler

    Bummed to hear about the omissions. Weird choice. But still, I've never tackled this one, so I won't know what I'm missing. Because you better believe I'm getting in when it is released. Thanks for the heads-up, Shaun!

  • Goggles789

    Do we know when 2 is coming out? That's got to be my absolute favorite! Hilariously enough, I could never beat the end boss, but for some reason my brother always could whoop him. Never beat it to this day, actually! I'll get you soon, M*****h! (censored to avoid spoilers, just in case)

    • Shaun Musgrave

      How does today work for you?

      • Goggles789

        Hot damn!!!

  • cinnamonandnutmeg

    Oh my, what can I say..

    So many years have I sent waiting at first, no, dreaming (remember the days when it seemed there was NO CHANCE that the DQ series would ever likely to come to iOS or smartphones?) that I could play this very game on an official version on my iPhone. And here it is, 8 generations of iPhones later!

    Shaun has already said everything so succinctly and perfectly that I can't really hope to add anything other than take the liberty to paraphrase his sentiments through my own sobbingly ecstatic emotions lol

    This game is so far and ahead of the first two games in the series (though they were pioneers and game breakers in the own right at the time) that it's quite simply unbelievable how much depth and sheer content this game contains!

    I've probably said this on a few DQ related comments before, but this game represents a true watershed for the RPG genre. This game was in many ways ahead of its time and I absolutely agree with Shaun's assessment that this game ages well and is a timeless classic that can be replayed again and again. It's the first of the DQ series that can always be played and other than cosmetic and subtly game mechanic tweaks to make it relevant to modern players, can stand the test of time as a perfect game.

    The story is non linear and the game world huge! The nature of the adventure and how it ties with the first two is reason enough alone to put up with the flaws of the first two and complete them (they're short so just do it lol). The result is one of the most satisfying and gratifying experience in gaming.

    The music I honestly believe presents the finest overall soundtrack of the series - every environment has a memorable score to go with the memorable adventure and characters it throws up.

    ...I'm going to shut up now because I am in danger of waffling and dribbling on through giddy delight lol

    P.S.

    Ahh.. Shaun, I was wondering whether they would have the sugoroku pachisi tracks as I hadn't encountered it since playing it and was wondering if my memory had really averted me but alas you have confirmed that for me! I was also sad about the Ortega opening not present and even more so that the bonus GBC dungeon is missing meaning that I can't get to fight unquestionably my favourite boss ever - Grandragon! The whole lead up to, including the music and the atmosphere for that fight, was without doubt the pinnacle of my experience of the whole series in the context of the impact it made for me at the time.

    Shaun, does that mean the Rubiss sword is unavailable? Or is that also obtainable during the game?

    • Shaun Musgrave

      I didn't find it anywhere, so I'm pretty sure the Rubiss Sword is out. Sorry!

      • cinnamonandnutmeg

        aww that's too bad.. I'm hoping (but not hopeful lol) that they may include the sugoroku pachisi tracks and even the bonus dungeons in an update, even if it's a few years later.. Yes who am I kidding lol

      • Peter Reid

        Hey Shaun,
        Great review.
        Pete. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Michael

    Huh, still can't find any news of the American localization anywhere. Considering that they've been popping out once a month (I-II), I expected this to be coming out about now. Though I guess III was a fair bit more complicated than the first two and could take longer.

    • Mentok The Mindtaker

      And more than two weeks after you posted that, we're still waiting. This is getting just a mite tedious. Some kind of update or even a vague timeline from Square Enix would be nice. Instead, their website is one big middle finger to DQ fans.

      • Milo

        Yeah i wish we at least had an ETA, im waiting as well

      • Michael

        Cyber Monday and still no sign of it. You'd think today would have been the most logical release date.