Dragon Warrior III Preview

Thanks to the success of Dragon Warrior I&II, Dragon Warrior III--the third Game Boy Color installment in the series--is coming to North America. One hundred fifty monsters, 46 personality types, and SNES quality visuals are just a few of the things to look forward to in this turn-based remake of an NES classic.

The third episode of the Dragon Warrior series, Dragon Warrior III, is coming to the Game Boy Color this July. As a prequel to the wildly successful Dragon Warrior I&II, Dragon Warrior III takes place before Hargon and the dragon lord terrorized the lands of Alefgard and Lorasia. The game follows the saga of a young boy from Aliahan who, on his 16th birthday, is challenged by the king to vanquish a demon fiend known as Baramos. It seems the hero's father, Ortega, went toe-to-toe against Baramos 16 years ago and lost. Thus, as his son, you get to be the one to retake the battle.

Originally released in 1991 for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, Dragon Warrior III went on to sell more than 5.2 million copies worldwide and was later remade for the Japanese Super Famicom in 1996. The upcoming Game Boy Color version is based upon that remake. As such, you can look forward to a turn-based battle system full of quirky animated attacks and an enemy cast list that boasts 150 distinct monsters. Depending on what time of day it is, different monsters will have affinities for day or night and appear at different times throughout the day. In a nod to the current Pokémon and Dragon Warrior Monsters craze, each monster you defeat may yield a monster medal, which you can then collect and trade with friends via a link cable. The GBC version of Dragon Warrior III will also contain twice as many armaments as does the NES release, including such series favorites as the boomerang and iron ball of destruction.

Although the Game Boy Color is incapable of sprite scaling and Mode-7 rotation effects, the GBC version of Dragon Warrior III still looks to be on par with the majority of early SNES and recent GBC RPGs. In the background, colorful, multisegmented backdrops--which include blowing leaves and flowing water-- will surround your party, while, in the foreground, numerous facial animations serve to give the superdeformed characters a human touch. Dragon Warrior III will also make use of the passage of time to display certain environmental features, painting the land in different hues depending on whether it is day, night, dawn, or dusk. In keeping with series tradition, Dragon Warrior III will boast a world-class plot from its creator, Yuji Horii; character designs from Akira Toriyama of television's Dragon Ball Z fame; and music composed by Koichi Sugiyama, who is known for his work on the Ultraman and Godzilla TV and movie series. The game's localization is being handled by the same team who performed the translation for Dragon Warrior I&II, which foregoes the series original Old English-style text for a more contemporary approach.

In a departure from the first two Dragon Warrior games, the prequel seeks to offer a more personal method to party building. Including your own character, you will be able to have four people in your party at any given time. Your own character's personality and status will be determined from the answers you give to a series of questions, like "If all of your friends jumped off a tower, would you?" or "If you knew something would break someone's heart, would you tell them?" The three remaining party members can come from seven distinct character classes: fighter, pilgrim, wizard, thief, soldier, merchant, and goof-off. Two other classes, hero and sage, are reserved for special moments in the game. Each class has its own pros and cons, such as weapon and magic capabilities, and a variety of monsters and situations have their own strengths and weaknesses. In all, there are 46 different personality combinations within the nine classes to mix and match.

Dragon Warrior III will clock in with twice the scope of both Dragon Warrior I and II combined. You'll adventure through a world of deserts, mountains, forests, pyramids, towers, and dungeons in a quest that will supposedly require at least 40 game hours to complete. A number of side quests will also be included, further boosting the game's longevity and replay value. At various points in the game, you can also participate in a wacky, chess-style board game to which weapons and money are the main prizes. In Japan, the minigame, Itadaki Street, was so popular that it got its own game release in 1998 for the Sony PlayStation.

To cram everything onto a single cartridge, Dragon Warrior III will boast one of the largest game pack configurations ever released in North America: 32Mb of game ROM and 256Kb of save-state SRAM. Three save slots will be available to record your progress, while an anytime/anywhere field save will let you postpone your adventure at a moment's notice. The game will work just fine on Nintendo's upcoming Game Boy Advance handheld as well, but no GBA-specific features are planned.

Fans of turn-based RPGs can look for the third installment in the Dragon Warrior series, Dragon Warrior III, to hit the Game Boy Color in July 2001. It was released in Japan in December of 2000, and Japanese game players and the import-savvy have already snapped up more than 500,000 copies of it. Enix of America will also be bringing two unrelated Dragon Warrior games, Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Cobi's Journey and Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Tara's Adventure to the US in the fall of 2001.

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