When it comes to legendary JPRGs in the West, you can rattle off the usual suspects pretty easily. Final Fantasy VII, Persona 4, Chrono Trigger... you get the picture. However, Dragon Quest III is criminally overlooked. With the recent rerelease of the Erdrick Trilogy on Switch, this gives players a new opportunity to check out one of the best releases in the entire series. While Dragon Quest enjoys some moderate notoriety in the West these days, Dragon Quest III is clearly a notable step up from its predecessors and is one of the best JRPGs you can buy on Switch today. It does come with some notable caveats, however.
Dragon Quest III is a prequel to the original Dragon Quest and tells the story of Ortega, who is tasked with the quest of defeating the fiend Baramos. While we saw some flourishes of a story in Dragon Quest II, it's this amazing third entry which allows the franchise to really hits its stride in terms of plot. The winding storyline keeps you engaged, and the expansive world lets you keep discovering new nooks and crannies to explore. Dragon Quest III’s world is a genuine joy to poke around in and will keep surprising you as you progress. NPC interactions are one of the biggest highlights in the game, and the way that they are written makes this an incredibly fun romp through a lighthearted fantasy world.
Armed with one of the strongest soundtracks a Dragon Quest title can have, the rearranged MIDI tracks composed by Koichi Sugiyama shine, and let Dragon Quest III’s lighthearted fantasy romp really bring out its personality. It's a treat to go through the game and keep being delighted by the music in new areas.
There have been a few improvements made in Dragon Quest III, most notably a full heal option, where you’re able to swiftly get your entire party’s health back up with a single button press (as long as you have the required items, of course). Additionally, you have one extra party member, and you can compose your party however you’d like. Further pushing the boat out is the addition of a day/night cycle, where you’re able to face off against different baddies if you’re lurking around in the evening hours.
The battle system has been slightly reworked to factor in more engaging gameplay, with more skills that add a new dimension to the tried-and-true “whack it with a sword and maybe cast a spell” strategy that the previous two games in the series employ. As ever, the random battles persist in this release, and can still be frustrating; without the addition of a turbo button to ease up on those enemy turns, things can get frustrating as you wait for enemies to slowly attack your party.
In comparison to Dragon Quest I and II on Switch, III does not seem to suffer from the same issue of character art not being in line with the backgrounds, and they manage to blend in pretty seamlessly. This also lets you really see the Akira Toriyama sprite-work shine. Unfortunately, there is still a slight stuttering issue while exploring maps, but it’s not enough to distract you from the game completely.
Dragon Quest III might be slightly more expensive than its two younger brothers on the Switch eShop, but it stands tall as a great way to explore the world of Dragon Quest for the first time. Even when compared to modern JRPGs, Dragon Quest III still stands tall as one of the best in the genre. If you had to pick just one of the three rereleased Dragon Quest games, pick Dragon Quest III – we can promise that you won’t be disappointed.