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Dragon Warrior 3

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Reviewed by Rydain Darkstar

Graphics 9/10

Pretty darn good for the NES in 1991. They follow the standard style of Dragon Warrior graphics but are more detailed and richly colored. The pictures of the enemy characters look great, and there are nifty details in the backgrounds like signs and blasted-out craterlike things in ruined areas.

Sound 10 out of 10

Haunting, beautiful, and quite nicely arranged. The Alefgard theme here gets a medieval facelift with arpeggios in the background. Some songs, like the Oriental music of Jipang, can only be heard at one place in the game, and multiple town themes are featured. Quality and variety - who could ask for more?

Challenge 9 out of 10

Although there are certain parts in which level-building can be tedious, I didn't find myself swearing at the screen like I did so many times while struggling through Dragon Warrior II (which I never managed to beat because it frustrated me so badly). Instead of getting you stuck at a point where all the enemies are either a joke or impossible, DW III provides a gradient. You move easily into the next areas and can run into the more difficult enemies without getting immediately clobbered. (That can happen if you manage to rush ahead really quickly but is uncommon during the natural progression of the game.) The mazes in this game aren't too bad with the exception of the Cave of the Necrogond. The first time I beat this game, I was renting it and didn't have the maps. It took me *forever* to find my way through said cave (which is far worse than either of the bosses' castles!). I thought the difficulty of it worked well, though, because I'd rather work through a bunch of OK mazes and one godawful one than spend most of my gameplay time cussing at a piece of graph paper with chicken scratch all over it. Plus it felt AWESOME to step out of that stairway at the end!!! :oD I also like the variable challenge of the game. Since you pick your own party, you can start with a strong group as a beginner and then test yourself with a wimpy party as you get good.

Gameplay 12 out of 10

With one exception, ROCKS! ROCKS! ROCKS! :o) The player-friendliness of Dragon Warrior III is amazing. You get to create and name your own warriors (you can even make Erdrick female if you choose). You get hours of playing time due to the complexity and vastness of the game, not because of cheesy tricks used by lazy developers such as forcing you to spend days building levels to survive (gee, DW II is taking some major flak from me today, no?) You get tons of kewlio spells and huge worlds to explore. My only complaint is the lost-turn-in-battle cheese which plagues other RPG's like DW II and Final Fantasy. Let's say you tell Ork and Zork to beat up on the same Purple Hankey. Ork kills said PH. When Zork's turn comes along, he swings at the spot where the PH was, thereby wasting his turn. Thankfully, this is pretty easy to avoid because you really get to know your characters' abilities in DW III.

Replay Value 15 out of 10

Yeah, so you'll know where a good deal of the stuff is the second time around - the major items, that is. However, there's so much else to discover in this game - hidden treasure troves, small towns that you don't have to visit to win, rare items obtainable only through battle - that it may be impossible to say that you've seen everything in Dragon Warrior III. You can amuse yourself indefinitely by trying different parties, attempting to find all the hidden items, or working all of your characters (either in your party or in your roster!) up to level 99 and then just walking around trashing stuff a la Juggernaut. :o) And I still can't remember my way through that dratblasted Cave of the Necrogond...

Overall 20 out of 10

If you're any kind of RPG fan, seek this out. It is truly one of the best games I have played of any genre for any platform. I mail-ordered it from Enix 4 years ago and consider that check the best $45 I ever spent.

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