dq.jpgWe may be retro gaming enthusiasts at Red Dog, but we have no qualms about owning super modern phones ... Especially when you can now download a whole host of video game classics and keep them safely in your pocket. And trust me, a slim iPhone 6 in your jeans loaded with retro gaming goodness feels much more comfortable than the N64 and bulky Toshiba TV would have back in the nineties.

I downloaded Dragon Quest 3 for £10 (which is a bit steep IMO) but I can safely say it's much better than most the games that sit on the shelf these days for over £40! The storyline itself is hardly up to Final Fantasy 6 standards but I don't think that was ever the idea. This game is about freedom, adventure and discovery with a vague storyline thrown in to give the player an overall objective.
You name your character and then you are thrust into a scenario where it's your sixteenth birthday and you are about to embark on your first adventure. You choose or customise three party members to join you and prepare to head off into the big wide world. The player is allowed full control over his party members including their name and their job, so you could have a group of badass warriors if you wish (good luck with healing and defeating those damn crabs though). You can also change the jobs of the party members during the game - this customisation is not essential but does add to the player's feeling of freedom and control. I went for my favourite combo of Hero, Priest, Mage, Warrior because it brings a nice balance to the hundreds of random battles I was about to to face!
You soon discover that your father is a famous adventurer who is missing thanks to the Archfiend Baramos (who is behind all the evil and nastiness plaguing the world) and then you head off into your long, flexible and highly enjoyable non-linear journey. Due to the open nature of the game, your destinations are controlled by a series of locked doors that require a certain type of key to advance. This is hardly an inventive way to control the players progress but it does work well, adding feelings of achievement and anticipation when you acquire the key that is necessary for your advancement. There are also rooms full of treasure behind these locked doors which you can eagerly return to once the key is found ... These rooms can be very useful and may contain some very helpful items to aid you in your journey.
The characters you meet during the game are fairly cliched and one dimensional but they do possess a certain light hearted charm that adds to the enjoyment.

During your adventure, you will stumble across lazy and greedy kings, a cursed village where all its inhabitants are asleep, unhelpful Dwarfs, angry Elves and more! There is also a re-occurring bandit boss who will most likely make you grin from ear to ear (as deep down he's a bit of an insecure loser!)
The battles in Dragon Quest 3 are simply great. You won't see hit points floating everywhere and fantastic spell effects filling your screen, but I soon grew to thoroughly enjoy this basic yet highly tactical system. The encounters are random and quite frequent with a non-animated sprite of the enemy appearing on the screen in front of you (the playable characters are not visible during battle, in a first person view). You then select the party's actions from a menu which will be completely familiar to RPG enthusiasts!

The enemies appear in groups, for example, you may get a party of three vampires and a party of two slimes. This is important tactically because the player can obtain spells that damage groups (ie. The spell would take hit points off the 3 vampires only) but there are also spells available that effect all the on screen enemies (ie. Both the group of vampires and slimes will take damage). The enemy's may also help each other by calling for backup or using defence enhancing spells which you need to be alert to if you wish to be successful in battle! Some may scoff at the fact the monsters simply appear in picture format without any bells and whistles, but I felt that this created a more tactical vibe to proceedings, kind of like how a board game battle system would feel (note, I hear the original version did have basic enemy animation during battle).
Graphically, this game is full of colourful, 8-bit goodness and looks great on the iPhone screen. A few folks have grumbled that the orientation is limited to portrait but I can't see how that is an issue at all ... It works well so stop bitching! The music is extremely catchy and light hearted, much like the overall feel of the game. In fact, that may be my only criticism of Dragon Quest 3 ... It's all so damn cute and cuddly and lacks an 'edge' that I like in my gaming experience! An example of this is how the character's mother talks to the party of badass heroes like they are 4 years old ... and all the dangerous spells sound like they're named after a brand of party cakes. I do understand this is intentional and it is the 'Dragon Quest style' but this is the only part of the game that 'ain't my cup of tea'.
Overall, Dragon Quest 3 is a brilliant retro RPG adventure ... it's hardly going bring a tear to your eye at any stage, but it will leave you feeling satisfied, rewarded and perfectly okay with the fact you spend maybe a little more than expected to download this JRPG classic!

The Good
- Great battle system
- Over 20 hours of gameplay and a large open world to explore
- An all-round 'feel good' factor
- Lots of customisation options 

The Bad
- A bit to cute and cuddly!

How does it hold up to today's standards?
It holds up very well, buy it now ... NOW!


Click here to go back to reviews page

8.jpgPlease note: Our review scores are based on various factors
such as nostalgia, technical limitations of the time and most
importantly, the reviewer's personal opinion.
In other words, don't take these scores as an 'expert's view',
take them for what they are ... a gaming fan's personal perspective!