Title  : Dragon Warrior III
Platforms  : Game Boy Color
Publisher  : Enix
ESRB Rating  : Everyone
Game Rating  : 9.0
Review by  : Ken Gagne

Mention the name "Dragon Warrior" to any gaming veteran and his eyes will mist over with memories of exploring Alefgard, living up to the legacy of the hero Erdrick. 

This venerable series holds as much influence over role-playing gamers as Final Fantasy. The seventh and most recent installment of the Dragon Warrior games will arrive on the PlayStation this November. By the graces of Enix, American gamers everywhere can prepare for this new game and relive a classic with Dragon Warrior III, for the Game Boy Color. 

Previously available for the 8-bit Nintendo system, Dragon Warrior III completes the "Legend of Loto" trilogy on the Game Boy Color. The predecessors to DWIII, though also excellent games, are slow and simple in comparison. It's with this game that the series really picks up. 

Dragon Warrior III's quest begins with the creation of a custom party. Players have complete control over the names, sexes, attributes, and classes of their characters: from a romantic mage to a stubborn fighter, or less typical examples such as a diligent dealer or silly goof-off. Each town the party enters holds new weapons and armor to purchase, people to meet, and secrets to discover. Since time passes during gameplay, a town and its people can have very different faces from day to night. 

It may not sound as story-driven as today's cinematic games, but Dragon Warrior is a perfect fit on the Game Boy system. As an RPG, Dragon Warrior is suitable for long gameplay periods, whether you're passing time in the car or the office. As a less complicated RPG than much of today's fare, it's also appropriate for quick sessions of monster battles or dungeon exploration. You needn't return to town to save your game; a special Field Log permits progress to be temporarily saved absolutely anywhere. 

Though a straight port of this quintessential RPG would have been sufficient, Enix didn't stop there. New weapons, items, and accessories have been added for players to incorporate into their strategies. 

Extra fun is added by side quests and mini games, including a Pachisi board game and a Monster Stadium in which to wager. Another new pastime is collecting Monster Medals, earned from defeating each of the hundreds of foes the hero's party will encounter. These medals are closer to stamps than Pokemon: collecting them serves no purpose, but is fun, and friends can trade by linking two Game Boys together. Unfortunately, it is not possible for two players' parties to duke it out. 

The presentation has also been updated slightly. Battles are set against a blank landscape, but are enhanced by animation in the form of enemy movement, weapon attacks, and spellcasting — another improvement over the 8-bit original. The music, though simple, is memorable. Unique sound effects accompany battle movements, but are minimal elsewhere. 

Don't let yourself examine this game too closely, or you might find it routine: visit a town, buy equipment, clear out a nearby dungeon, repeat. The locations have unique designs and the weaponry inspires adventurers to constantly adapt to new threats with new battle tactics. 

Dragon Warrior III is a throwback to yesteryear, but it appears on a platform that makes it work today. There's enough new material here to make the game appealing to a new audience, and fresh to those familiar with the series. Be the hero you've always wanted to be: it's never been simpler.


This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 31-Jul-01