The third port of the third Dragon Quest is no slouch, early reports suggest.

by Jason Venter

There are some who consider Dragon Quest III one of the very finest entries in the long-running series, despite its age, and you’ll find no argument here. The game is on its way to iOS in North America, after launching last week in Japan, and Shaun Musgrave of Touch Arcade has weighed in with some fairly detailed impressions.

Though the first third or so of the write-up spends a lot of time recapping the significance of the game’s original release for those who might not be familiar, it quickly turns to the anticipated analysis of this newest release.

“This version of Dragon Quest 3 is a port of a feature phone remake released only in Japan in 2009,” Musgrave writes. He soon adds that “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.”

According to Musgrave, content that previously was made available through the dice game is now offered as prizes if you collect tiny medals that are secreted throughout the world. This relatively minor change would be in keeping with the somewhat recent Nintendo DS remakes of the fourth, fifth, and sixth installments in the series. Other changes are more visual in nature.

“Characters have had their heads redrawn to show their facial expressions a little bit better,” says Musgrave, “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.”

Musgrave also briefly mentions music arrangements, which have always been a highlight of the series, even since the first installment. They apparently “sound wonderful,” and the controls also work beautifully.

“It’s pretty much the same old Dragon Quest 3, and that’s a great thing,” promises Musgrave. “If you haven’t played it before and like JRPGs, feel free to start getting excited.”

There’s no official release date for the game yet, but it has been confirmed as headed for North America. It sounds like it could be one to watch for.

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