Friday, March 13, 2015

Dragon Warrior III (NES, 1991)

Time for what might be my favorite RPG on the NES. It's either this or the original Final Fantasy.

I put the SFC version of this on here a year ago, and I've been wanting to cover the original ever since. It'll be less Buffy-ized this time, as we see the real story of Erdrick.

We begin with an amazing cutscene for the era. Erdrick's father, the mighty Ortega, is locked in combat with a green dragon. No word on if this dragon spawned all the other green dragons that plagued his descendants.

Ortega's first mistake is fighting by the mouth of a volcano, as he blocks fire breath with his shield.

Finally, he manages to stop the dragon with a stab to the heart. Unfortunately, it falls on him and they both go right into the volcano to their deaths.

Most ominously well-designed NES intro I've ever seen outside of a Ninja Gaiden. Seriously.

The game begins, as it won't let me name the main character Erdrick... even though that's his name. Why? Because fuck you, that's why!

Actually, Erdrick is technically the title he gets awarded at the end of the game, so it makes some sense that it'd be blocked. Wonder if it blocks anything else. I should have tried "Cockburn". If they didn't block that one, can you imagine the furor from dumb parents suing Nintendo when they walked in on their kids playing a game tape with "Cock" on the screen?

In any case, I go with Loto, the Japanese name of the hero. Making it a guy this time and sticking closer to the source material than I did with my Buffy-filled Super Famicom version playthrough. Linking that again, because if you haven't read it, it might be good to catch up on it before I get going with this one. That way, you'll get all the in-jokes.

For instance, this time, Loto is a dude:

I gotta say, these NES graphics are charming as always to me... but they're a definite step down after I just recently played the SFC remakes of the first two games.

The king unloads an exposition dump as he talks to the hero. Apparently Ortega was the kingdom's greatest knight, and Loto/Erdrick here is expected to carry on his legacy... by bombing Mysidia. DON'T DO IT, LOTO!

After much deliberation, I settle on a party of Soldier, Fighter, and Pilgrim. This is pretty much an extension of the party I had for DQII SFC recently in that I can button-mash with the meleers and then heal up with the character in the last position. Only difference is that I have three meleers instead of two.

I considered Wizard, but they need a lot of babysitting to keep from dying constantly. Didn't feel like doing that this go-around. Soldier is expensive, but I'll manage. Fighter is the opposite, which should help offset costs some.

Only class change I have planned is Pilgrim to Sage. Going to keep it simple compared to my complex maze of class changes in DQIII SFC. Thief doesn't exist in the NES original, and level-grinding isn't quite as appealing. So there are plenty of reasons to keep it simple this time. Card subject to change, however... I might well change up the Soldier and Fighter too. More on that later.

Right out of the gate, the slimes attack with the full might of their military. This isn't your father's Dragon Warrior! Good thing there are four of us. Imagine the hero of the first game having to deal with this as soon as he left town... they'd still be finding pieces of the body in Dragon Warrior II.

The beginning of the game is not unlike the first. Lots of level/money grinding and trips to the inn. I like that you have all of your characters right off the bat as opposed to the second game where you're better off waiting until you have all three before you really do any building-up.

I'm immediately missing the way the Super Famicom versions told you the stats of equipment in shops, so you could see what was an upgrade and what wasn't. One of several seemingly-minor changes that made a world of difference.

Got my first hero spell, a very weak direct-damage spell. Erdrick is basically a battlemage like the DQ1 hero and Prince of Cannock, only superior to both in all respects (physical and magical). Battlemage-type characters are usually my favorites in most class-based RPGs and MMOs. It's too bad that WoW doesn't have any real battlemages (unless Death Knight counts)... then again, most WoW players are too busy chewing on their keyboard to work fighting and spells simultaneously.

The day/night cycle makes its debut here.

Side Note: Mega-props to anyone who knows where I got my character names from. It's a very obscure (and bad) Super NES RPG, I'll say that much.

Night-time! I was really impressed by this in 1999 after playing the first two. (I didn't get around to this series until 1999, as I never had an NES until August of that year).

Fun Fact: Let the day/night cycle go by 28 times, and all of a sudden your female characters will refuse to heal, yell at you for not understanding them, and attract any nearby bears.

The first major objective of this game is to track down notorious criminal (and noted hentai-enthusiast) Kandar.

Several towns in, I find the Iron Claw. It's the best (and basically only) weapon for Fighters. The Fighting Suit is the first decent armor upgrade for Fighters, as well. If I went with a team of three Fighters (it crossed my mind), the team would have jumped up in power after reaching this town.

The next town over is the village of elves. This just in: The elves are huuuuge racists. But they say they have lots of human friends, so it's okay.


...Well, this elf town is horrible. Let's move on. These elves are just going to have to prance gaily through the meadows without me.

The first major dungeon of the game is this cave, where you find the Dream Ruby. You can technically take this on after Kandar's tower due to the open worldy nature of the game, but it's the easier dungeon so I'm doing it first. The Dream Ruby then goes to the racist elves, who in turn give you some drugs (while saying something about how "you people are into that stuff") to wake up the sleepy town of Noaniels.

I'm so used to the SFC versions where you'd use a seed and it would ask who you want to use it on. Here, it just automatically goes to the person that had it, so I accidentally beef up my pilgrim. Now the next time the bears come for her, she'll be able to wrestle them to the ground.

After no sexual assault whatsoever, the shady Booth sprinkles the unidentified drugs all over Noaniels, waking up the townspeople. Lots of snorting and "Whooo"-ing followed.

Now I take on Kandar's tower, seen here being quite bland in comparison to the SFC version...

...yeah, NES charm aside, there's no comparison. Backgrounds add so much.

 Kandar: "But first, let me hand you my hottest new hentai: Taloon Uncensored."

This is the big boss fight of the early game, but I'm overleveled for it and have a better party than I did in the SFC version. As a result, it's over faster than Taloon Uncensored. I want a refund, Kandar!

You have the option of setting Kandar free or killing him. Not sure if the game actually lets you kill him, but I spared him regardless. There needs to be a Taloon Uncensored II, after the way the first one left us hanging.

Returning the stolen crown to Romaly means that the king readily gives up his job to our hero. TOO readily, if you ask me. Is there some hidden negative here?

With that, the party is no more, as Loto struts about looking kingly.

Unfortunately for this princess, when it comes to romance Loto is much like Baron Corbin. And...

::crickets chirp as the king walks around::

Okay, this is boring. Time to go back to normal.

"The REAL king. You're not my king! #AnyoneButLoto"

"You're not welcome here! #NoBloodForLoto"

The king is gambling and completely shirking his responsibilities. I don't want this thankless job anymore, so take it back!

I get the party back, and immediately this guy is trying to pawn his job off on Loto again. No thanks.

Onward to the next town, the aptly-named Assaram.

Why do I get the feeling this has nothing to do with actual fortune-telling?

Is this going to be a blowie puff-puff deal again?

Wait, she's actually telling his fortune with some kind of crystal ball... and he's talking!

...but it was a hoax, because the crystal ball was being controlled by her dad from under her bed. I don't even know where to start with this.

What? Shoulder? What does that have to do with having my fortune told? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Just tell them you're no longer a virgin, Loto. High fives all around!

ProTip: Experience with belly dancing automatically makes women twice as good in bed.

Our heroes take in the show. Alas, Assaram can only keep us occupied for so long. It's onward to...

...the desert oasis city. This is where the game really picks up.

More on this later.


  1. Back in the day you had a complete inventory list that came in the box and players would use that to determine if equipment was an upgrade or a downgrade. Eventually you memorized it. While fun, there's no question that adding a way to easily tell within the game is an improvement.

    Having swords AND spells is pretty tough to balance I guess. The Hero is deliberately a little OP. You'll almost never use his spells to attack though, unless you're blind or need to hit a group with Firebal since you're sans-Wizard.

    Good call, your Fighter is very optimized at this point of the game.

    The rejection of the Elf Town is rough because the only other town in the area is asleep. So you've got this whole region of the map with two towns and yet no inn or shops.

    "Come and live with your princess forever?!" Damn, girl.

    1. I would have gone for the princess. If a woman offers you a lifetime supply of herself, that's a pretty big deal.

      As for the hero's battlemageyness, I've found that it's hard to know whether to use regular attacks or Zap a lot of the time. Zap seems to do more damage, but once I lower the defenses of an enemy...

      I've got enough for a second post. Not sure if I'll do that next or put up TMNT. I finally want to do more Highlander too, so that might be the next thing I put up if I get around to watching The Samurai this weekend.

  2. I really like this series of image mails. Nice and positive, great mix of facts and fun. And I say this despite already having read many DQ3 image mail series!
    Ahh Santorum, been a while since I saw him.
    Are your SOTS posts on the site? This'd be a great place to link to them.
    Nice DQ3/FF4 joke mashup..FF4 sadly makes more sense to me now after what the US did long after it came out. If only W had played it!!
    Could the Staff of Change get you into the elf village?
    What is going on with this fortune teller and her dad?! So feels like something naughty went untranslated.