September 26, 2012

Dragon Quest III - Ranking

Story & World

Like any good sequel, Dragon Quest III expands the world size and number of quests.  This, of course, means more towns and dungeons to explore as well.  Dungeons stay fairly simple, as is tradition, and will occasionally throw in some light puzzle elements usually regarding finding the correct path (intentionally falling down holes and whatnot).  I also really enjoyed watching Mr. Burke build up his town from nothing and following his progress to his eventual downfall.

The main story follows the same formula as in the previous installments, except for the slight twist of extended questing after defeating Baramos.  NPC dialogues are some of the most varied seen so far.  NPCs often have different things to say during the night than they did during the day.  Although a lot of times it's just "Zzzz..." as they're in bed (yeah, we can be a little creepy).  Changes in text can also occur as quests are completed (it's nice to be recognized for our efforts).  16/20

Character Development

A major improvement over the other two games.  The dream sequence quest at the beginning to determine personality type is an excellent introduction to the more in-depth system.  Eight classes are available to fill out three slots in the party in any combination desired.  If that isn't enough, during the game characters can change classes at the Dharma Shrine.  This cuts their stats in half and they start back at level one but they keep any spells or abilities from the old class.  For example, for her first twenty levels, Muffin was a cleric who then switched over to the fighter class.  She quickly levelled up to become a formidable offensive power while still being able to cast up to 12 Healmore spells.  Stat-boosting seeds are frequently found throughout the game, allowing for some degree of customization.  The personality aspect of each character alters stats gained after levelling (e.g. the Romantic type boosts agility and intelligence while hampering strength and endurance).  Types can be changed permanently through the use of books or temporarily by equipping certain items.

As expected, there are more weapons and armours to be found and each character has five slots to be filled (weapon, body armour, shield, helm, and accessory).  Many items have invokable special effects, which gives the non-spellcasters a little variety in their attack options.

Should also mention some of the magic-like abilities that become available to the dealer and thief classes.  They are listed under spells but use either very little or no magic points.  The dealer is able to dig anywhere to possibly find a small amount of gold and also can yell for a merchant to come which functions just like a shop.  The thief abilities are very useful and include such perks as being able to determine how many unopened chests are left in a dungeon level, where the closest town is located, and unveiling any hidden items on the current screen (great for finding small medals).  17/20

Combat & Monsters

Combat has the same structure as found in DQII, having encounters with multiple types of monsters.  Some monster mixes have excellent synergy and make for some difficult random encounters.  Swapping characters in and out from the party prevented getting stuck performing the same strategies.  For example, I had a healing-heavy party configuration used for exploring new dungeons which could then switch to an offensive config for taking out bosses.  At the end of the day, though, the majority of fights still consist of just attacking with a melee weapon.  15/20

Graphics & Sound

The quality and quantity of the graphics and sound are very close to original two remakes but with two important differences.  The first being that the monster animations during battles are so much more fluid and slick.  They are easily some of the best I've ever seen on a SNES.  The second difference concerns the music.  While being of the same general quality as its predecessors, the big bonus for me came when I first fell into Alefgard.  The music changes to the tunes found in the first Dragon Quest!  Unsuppressible smiles ensued.  19/20

Gameplay

The game kept the group good n' poor the majority of the time.  Especially poor with six other characters constantly whining for all the latest gear.  The betting in the monster arenas is easily the best form of gambling found in a game so far.  The small medals system had me keeping my eye out for any suspicious looking tiles, at least until the thief gained her seeking ability.  And, even though the final board fucked me in the goat ass, I still have much love for Pachisi.  Or, at least, the concept of Pachisi.

Following the footsteps of DQII, the game starts off fairly linear and then really opens up once the ship is obtained.  The orbs can be found in any order, just like the crests previously.  The difficulty overall seems to be kicked up a notch; I had far more individual deaths occurring this time around.  The game is extremely engaging for its entirety; to end a session usually required a Willpower Difficulty Check: 20.  18/20

Final Ranking:  85/100

September 24, 2012

Dragon Quest III - End Game

The caves of the Necrogond mountains were tough but ultimately no match for the infuriated Nung.  After passing through to the other side, Baramos's castle can be seen but is surrounded by an impassable moat.  A small shrine to the east holds the desired silver orb.  Only one left to go but no real leads on where it could be.  JimBurke, being a rather worldly fellow, may have some notion as to the final orb's whereabouts so it's back to JimBurkeburg for a visit.  Upon arrival, the party was shocked to find that the citizens had had an uprising against J.B. and had thrown him in the very prison he had helped build.

Oh yeah, I remember you from the
COUNTLESS ADVENTURES WE
HAD BEFORE.

He's quite content to sit in prison but lets me know that the final orb is back at his mansion.  Alright, another easy orb.  No complaints here.  Before leaving though, the gang decides to check out the local theatre to hear some children sing and recite poetry.

*sniff* Excuse me, I have
something in my eye.

The shrine where the orbs must be placed had been found ages ago; previously acquired orbs had been dumped there.  Now, with all six in place, the party finally got access to the organic equivalent of Final Fantasy's airship.

Arise, chicken!  Arise!

Unlike the airship, this beast is hella slow and handles like a giant slug doped up on NyQuil.  However, there are no encounters while in flight so perhaps I should just chill the fuck out.  The castle of Baramos is suitably creepy and has a few dead ends and loops to get one's ire up.  The palace is also filled with hurty tiles which are normally overcome with the mage's Stepguard spell.  Unfortunately, Derp the mage was abandoned awhile back so it was up to the healers to compensate.  The confrontation with Baramos proved very difficult.  By the end of the battle, everyone who could heal had low magic reserves.  Knowing that DQ has a strong tradition of following the "final" boss with the REAL final boss, I was quite worried that more pain was on the way.

No way this doofus is the final boss.

However, this ended up not being the case.  Baramos dies and no one else shows up.  Shrugging, the gang and I return to my hometown where the news of the victory somehow got there before them.  The king declares me the most awesomest and the celebration is just about to get underway when...

Can we spend a night at
the inn first, please?

Zoma doesn't attack here.  He just introduces himself and then buggers off. The party must assemble and enter the dark world via a crack caused by the earthquake Zoma set off.  The hollow earth theory is in full effect here as the party drops down for some bonus adventuring.  It didn't take long for some serious déjà vu to creep in.

Where have I seen
this (twice) before?

Yes, it's the merry ol' land of Alefgard.  It's pretty close to the same size as found in DQ I and actually has a lot of the same quests.  I was tickled pink to have the game extend itself beyond my expectations.  There was even another Pachisi board to use some of the 40+ tickets that were otherwise rotting in inventory.  Initially, I was excited to get my chi-say on but this board burrowed into my Pachisi pleasure centers and then took a big dump all over it.  I had reached the goal of the three previous boards in just a few attempts.  I'd still play a board after finishing it to attempt to get various chests and pots that had been missed and also because it's Pachisi!  This cheating son of a gun literally took all the remaining tickets to get to the goal.  It got so bad that I was often able to correctly call the dice rolls just before hitting a trap door square that ends the current game.  Keep in mind that all of this was done during a single session.  Rage levels had a strong correlation with profanity levels.

More like Kol's stupid jerk
face prickchisi crapza.

The normal quests went much more smoothly.  Some key items were in slightly different locations than in the original but nothing too difficult.  The final castle (for reals this time) is even spookier than Baramos's and, of course, holds the hardest of monsters.  As the party progressed through the castle's many passages and corridors, they happened upon a fight between a king hydra and a most manly man.  It is none other than Ortega himself!

Feeling bad for killing
that volcano now.

We just idly stand by while Ortega gets completely owned by the hydra.  Unaware of my identity, Ortega gives a heartfelt speech before passing on.  At least, I think it was a heartfelt speech.  I wasn't really paying attention because of the barrage of questions that were flooding my mind.  Such as, how the hell did he get this far without doing any of the quests that I had to do?  If he's been alive for all these years, why didn't he ever let anyone know?  What are the odds of us arriving precisely at this exact spot within minutes of his demise?  Why didn't we lift a finger to help him out, even when it was obvious he was losing?  How about a Revive spell after he dies?  The game should have changed my personality to heartless bastard.  Well, at least Ortega cleared out a bunch of monsters for us, making it a little easier to reach Zoma.

DQ bosses love flippin' gang signs.

Zoma starts off with a magical barrier in effect which is brought down by the Light Orb found back in the old world.  Even without his barrier, Zoma is a tough cookie.  He gets two attacks per round and seemingly unending amounts of MP.  He also has the ability to dispel any spells currently in effect, forcing us to recast them every so often.  The first four attempts resulted in party devastation but the fifth was almost successful.  Unfortunately, my rules reared its ugly head after a dead Nung was not able to be resurrected before Zoma died.  There was no magical restoration for me after Zoma falls, so I was forced to restart.  It took another five attempts after that.

Totally worth it.

A proper celebration is given upon our return and here is where it gets interesting.  The King is super impressed and gives me the title of Loto, bravest hero in all of Alefgard! Loto, or Roto, is the legendary warrior from the first two DQ games!  What a twist!  The Dragon Quest remake trilogy has now come full circle with each title vastly improving on the originals.  Two thumbnails up... way up!


September 17, 2012

Dragon Quest III - Revive the Power of the Orbs!

After searching high and low for new venues of hot Pachisi action, ShenNung and crew came up empty-handed.  In an attempt to cover up their failure, they decided that they really should get around to gathering the six orbs required to resurrect the most legendary and rideable phoenix, Ramia.  If ShenNung had realized that acquiring the orbs would mean free airship... well, let's just say "Pachisi who?".  The starbursty slime square so desired previously just turned out to be a tough fight anyway, completely devoid of the little cuties.

Maybe they're in the armour?

The first orb was found unexpectedly whilst searching a pirate's den.  Well, that was easy.  The pirates don't even care that Shen took it; in fact, they are all pretty easygoing about the party breaking into their hideout.  They know about Shen and his quest and are quite friendly.  It's nice to see them breaking the stereotypical pirate image of greed and brutality when they realize the world is at stake.  Either that or they know they don't stand a chance in mortal combat against our heroes.  After waving goodbye to their newfound friends, dealer JimBurke quipped something about how he hoped all the orbs would be so easy.

Jinx.

The search for the next orb took the party into a cave crisscrossed with rivers of molten hot lava.  Luckily, the lava flows don't burn or even cause much discomfort for the gang.  They're just hardcore like that.  The cave itself is quite small but the boss guarding the orb turned out to be the most difficult adversary that DQ has thrown at them yet.  The Orochi is a fire belching, multi-headed nightmare that whupped the entire party more than a few times.  It is capable of launching multiple attacks, one of which is a torrent of party-engulfing fireballs.

And yes, it can fireball for
all its attacks if it wants.

When the Orochi finally fell to the extremely singed quartet, it fled into the nearby village where it had to be fought yet again.  Defeating it again netted the party the purple orb.  A much-needed break from orb hunting was taken with the group content to just sail around, checking out previously unexplored lands.  After investigating a clearing in a forest, an old man was found who desired to build a new town in the clearing.  In a surprising twist, JimBurke decides to leave the group to help get the project off the ground.  As the rest of the party continued the quest for orbs, Mr. Burke did a grand job in getting the town built.  Checking in from time to time, Shen and the others watched as the town got progressively larger and more bustling.

All driven by Jim's
raging narcissism.

The third orb was another one that was easily got.  All that was required was visiting a town that had been destroyed by Baramos.  During the day, it appeared bleak and bereft of life but during the night spirits would appear.  One of these spirits simply hands over the green orb somehow.  The next orb required Shen to take a solo challenge and brave a dangerous cave all by himself.  He had recently learned the Healmore spell and so was in good shape to tackle all of the monsters.

Who da man?...  WHO DA MAN?!

Another two orbs means time for another break.  A number of places offer gambling in the form of betting on monster arena fights.  With all the excess golds the party has acquired, it seems appropriate to let them blow a few grand before heading off to find the fifth orb.

Pfft, look at those unrealistic odds.
Obviously rigged.
Well, you made it to round three,
Slime. I'm proud of you.


After bolstering the local economy, it was time to pack up and attempt to locate the fifth orb.  The party had heard rumours that one lay somewhere in the Necrogond mountains.  Access to the range is blocked by a volcano and... hold up.  A volcano?  The same volcano that took pappy Ortega's life and pushed all the world-saving responsibility to Shen?  Well, obviously it won't be enough to just cross over the volcano.  Nope.  With the help of the Gaia Sword, Shen is going to straight up murderize that terrestrial pimple.  Let this be a lesson to the rest of you geological features...

Don't fuck with the Nungs!

With his father's killer safely blown up, it is with renewed vigour that Shen pushes forward to gather the final two orbs.  Though if things get too rough, there's still around twenty Pachisi tickets to be wasted.

September 13, 2012

Dragon Quest III - Stay Puff Puffed, Man

As the title suggests, yet another damn puff scene happens during the adventure.  I've mentioned before that don't particularly care for random boobs in my RPGs (unless the whole RPG is boobcentric), but the previous two didn't invoke anything more in me than an eye-roll.  This one... this one decides to take it to a whole new level.

Sometimes a good imagination
can be a terrible curse.

Here's hoping you started watching that at the beginning for maximum effect.  If not, that's too bad; you can pry my precious gifs from my cold, dead, robotic forceps. Anywho, I just wanted to get that out of the way so that I can focus on aspects of the game that don't try to traumatize my libido.

I'll stick with metal slimes for my
erotica — like a normal person.

After leaving the initial island, the party comes across the castle of Romaly.  Apparently, a rapscallion by the name of Kandar has stolen the Golden Crown.  The king of Romaly will only recognize Shen as a true hero if he reclaims it for him.  I would prefer a huge sack of golds but I suppose a royal pat on the back is just as good.  Kandar is hiding out in the nearby Shampagne Tower and the gang prepares to find and ascend the tower to kick the thief's butt.  However, a shrine encountered on the way proved quite the distraction.  One of the new features added in the remake is found here.

Lovely statues.  Do
they come in d20s?

The life-sized board game of Pachisi resides in this shrine as well as others found sprinkled throughout the lands.  Tickets are found in all manner of hidden places similar to the small medals.  Shen goes at it solo and starts off with ten rolls of the die to try to reach the end goal, which must be landed on directly or else Shen backtracks the remaining movement.  Nice items and/or gold is the reward for completion.  There are all sorts of squares to land on.  There are fight squares, plus or minus gold squares, item squares, instant damage squares, instant fail squares, etc.  Shen has found (and finished) two shrines so far although one square type has always eluded him.

Come ooooon, one!  One! One!
One! ... HORSE COCKS!

Back on the track of Kandar, the tower of Shampagne proved to hold no real hardships.  Upon finding Kandar and his cronies, they smartly try to book it but, of course, get caught in the end and face a critical beatdown by Shen & Co.  Kandar begs for forgiveness and promises to change his ways.  Shen compassionately lets him go but I'm sure we'll be seeing him again.  Upon returning the crown to Romaly, the king offers up his throne but Shen isn't the type to stay put so he rejects it.  Onwards and upwards!

So as to not completely spoil the game, I won't detail every quest but most follow the format of the above.  Get quest from castle/town, enter nearby tower/cave, kick ass/butt, retrieve/return item.  Let it be known, however, that after trekking halfway around the world to get a king some pepper, the crew acquired a mighty ship to open the rest of the world right up.  The search for more Pachisi begins!

Seaworthy as promised.  Would
quest again.  A++++++.

Now, onto the topic of team management.  Some cuts need to be made and I think it will surprise no one that Skankor the jester is being ousted.  The failed somersaults and other antics in battle (resulting in a lost turn) were cute in the beginning, but now that we're levelled up to the high teens, it just seems sad.  Skankor, you are the weakest link.  Goodbye.  Next up, it seems like the magely Dr. Insano should be next.  He does have a very nice spell list but his lack of HP makes it difficult to keep him going.  Just as Shen was going to finalize the paperwork on his expulsion, the group came across a temple which allows a character to change his or her class.  Well, Shen isn't allowed to, he has to stay in the hero class.

Can't I be a wealthy
layabout instead?

Unfortunately, no one can change their class just yet.  A certain level needs to be reached and I'm hoping it's 20 as most of the characters are quite close to that.  I'm also quite curious to see if any new classes will be available and what stats, spells or abilities will carry over.  If the good doctor can become a fighter and still keep his spells, he'll be spared being given the axe.  I'll come back to this temple a bit later and... hold it, what's going on with that symbol behind the high priest there?  Did the game just Godwin itself?

Oh, whew.  They're just Buddhists.
Those guys are aiight.


September 05, 2012

[Game 026] Dragon Quest III (NES - 1988) (SNES Remake)

Translation by DQ Translations

Part three of the seminal Dragon Quest series is being served remixed just as in the two previous games.  The standard upgrade to graphics and sound is present but so much more has been added.  The jaw-dropping begins with the opening sequences in which a brave man named Ortega is shown embarking on his quest to kill the archfiend Baramos.  At first the perspective is that of the game's normal overhead view as Ortega goes from place to place.  As he is seen entering a volcano, however, the view switches to the side so that one can bear witness to a spectacular fight scene on and inside the volcano.

Battlin' inside a volcano —
classic Ortega.

I wish I could show that in its full full-motion goodness but I left my regular quad-core dwelling a few nanodays back and have been hanging out in an old 286 ever since (hey, sometimes Shen needs his quiet time).  But let me assure you, it's super sweet.  For all his obvious badassness, Ortega actually bites it here but he does take the demon creature down with him (not Baramos, by the way).  Cut back to the castle where the king surmises that Ortega must have failed and is dead.  Ortega's wife wastes absolutely no time in disregarding Ortega and assures the king that her son will take over the quest when he's old enough.

Damn it woman, the body
isn't even cold yet.

Hoping that Ortega's manly DNA will carry on through his offspring, I find myself coalescing into his son, awesomely named ShenNung.  I start off in a dream state where a disembodied voice asks me a string of questions in order to determine my personality.  Once it has done so, the scene shifts to an interactive sub-dream sequence where I witness a little drama play out and then am free to talk or perform actions.  What actions I take during the scene will determine my personality type.  This type determines starting stats and I think influences stats gained during levelling.  The questions must be off, though, as I was told that, although I think I am really cool, I am totally not at all.  Figuring the game was broken or something, I restarted a bunch of times until I found an outcome that more accurately describes the main man, Shen.

Well, I am the Avatar after all.

The most memorable sub-dream sequence had me awaken inside the body of a monster.  I laid at the bottom of a well, encrusted with crud and grime.  A single rope led up out of the dank depths and I began to ascend.  Upon reaching the top of the well, some of the nearby villagers fled in terror.   A fighter attempted to attack me and... it didn't end well for the fighter.

Remember when you said you'd
bring me to justice? Well,
BURN FOR IT!

Everybody was acting like a jerk and all I ever wanted was a hug so fine — they can ALL BURN.

Ruff!  Anybody order a hot dog?
Oh, I'll spare him alright...
INTO SPARE RIBS!
I hate it when my meals hoot at me.

Okay, so for reals this time, I went through and answered the questions truthfully and ended up with the romantic personality type.  I won't deny it as I do love railing the ladies.  Anyway, the mom sends me off to the king who recaps the story of Ortega's death in a completely inconsiderate way.

Good one, King.  Hey, maybe later
we can go piss on his grave.

As a hopeless romantic, I know that all my great poetry and lovemaking skills will be of little use against the many monsters of the land.  To that end, I am allowed to have three other companions by my side.  I know, I know, Ortega would be disappointed.  There are seven classes available when registering a new companion and some stat customization is available before creating the character.  Each companion has a personality type as well which is heavily determined by the starting stats (e.g. the high wisdom mage starts as the Sharp type).  I created one companion for each class and will be swapping them around for the first 10-20 levels to determine usefulness.  Some classes have special abilities beyond just having a different spell list.  For example, the thief will sometimes steal an item after a battle and the dealer (merchant) gives extra gold after each encounter.  The dealer also has the ability to appraise an item and give a lengthy description about it.

Hey, I don't need no book to
tell me how to get ripped.

Personality types are not set in stone and can be changed by using disposable items such as books or equiping certain items.  For example, the Muscle Guidebook mentioned in the screenshot above switches the personality to a Jock type.  Some books can only be read by a female character, making me glad I'm a progressive, equal opportunity employer (three of my seven companions are bitches).

One of the new aspects in this remake is the Small Medal system (which is actually taken from Dragon Quest IV).  All over the place are hidden small medals that can be redeemed for items at a collector's home located in the first town, Aliahan.  The medal collecting is cumulative and an item is rewarded after hitting certain numerical milestones, usually every five or ten medals.

You're wearing it right
now, aren't you?

The beginning area is set on an island with the town of Aliahan and the village of Reeve making up the only two settlements.  A short quest is undertaken to find the magic ball which is used to break down a wall which allows passage to the mainland.

Really got my balls to the wall here.

With the introductory island behind us, it feels like this epic quest is about to start in earnest.  It'll be slow going as I grind levels for all the companions, not to mention all the golds I need to equip all of them.  Well, it just wouldn't feel right to leave an initial DQ posting without having a pic of one of my biggest monster crushes of all time.

I want them all!  I want them all!