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Square Enix’s wave of HD-2D titles have effectively never missed. Whether you’re drawn to them for the amazing visuals that led to that designation or the various flavors of RPG gameplay and storytelling that fill these gorgeously realized worlds, it’s hard to deny their excellency in at least one regard. I can’t think of a more glowing endorsement or statement of commitment to HD-2D than SE announcing a remake of Dragon Quest III in this style, shepherded by Team Asano and Artdink.

Recently I was given the opportunity to play this remake of one of the most defining RPGs and Japanese video games of all time. To venture forth into The Seeds of Salvation is about as classic as you can get – you’ve been given a quest, gathered a party, and fight battle after battle in pursuit of the power to vanquish evil. This is very much the same core adventure the NES got back in 1988, and yet even as I waded through random encounters and NPC dialogue, I couldn’t deny the impact of what I was playing thanks to the polished presentation. 



Credit where due, the dev team knows what they’re doing with this style by now. The most recent of Team Asano’s titles, Octopath Traveler II and fellow remake Live A Live, were already breathtaking. Yet I can’t deny the heavy lifting that the late Akira Toriyama’s character designs do for this one in particular. I crossed paths with a lot of Slimes and Stark Ravens during this demo and somehow never got tired of seeing what are now their most impressive sprites. It was stated that Toriyama was able to provide some level of work or oversight on this title, making it likely one of his last projects, and one I’m eager to see more of on that principle alone. 

“See” is the important word there, as while I was continuously blown away by literally everything I saw (this is no exaggeration, even wandering the overworld makes some fantastic use of lighting) I can’t say I walked away thinking this was the most enjoyable play experience. That is likely because this is still the same combat system that Dragon Quest has presented to us again and again, and a low-level early game slice of it at that. Yes, seeing a fireball Frizz its way across the screen looks better than ever, but when I couldn’t play with the game’s class system or deal with some trickier enemies it was hard to appreciate anything beyond the visuals in this session. 



That said, some additions have alleviated the above stated frustrations and pave the way to savoring the later depth of the game faster. These aren’t groundbreaking features by any stretch, but being able to speed up the combat system and make use of auto-battle in this one is very much welcome. I’d argue the vast majority of people excited for this would be prepared for this and familiar with DQ’s m.o. 

Even if you can’t handle random encounters, there’s no denying SE made the right move picking Dragon Quest III over, say, the very first game for this kind of treatment. If the depth of your familiarity is the series’ place in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, there’s a reason Three/Erdrick got such a big entrance in Hero’s trailer. 

One thing that wasn’t fully disclosed was potential changes or additions to the remake. It was clear fidelity to the source was of the utmost importance, but the phrasing “refined narrative” was used with regards to its plot. Gameplay refinements were pretty clear, such as to the UI getting touched up and churches now allowing you to save (the original relegated this to kings; though it should be noted the remake also has auto-save) but I’m intrigued to see what may be in store beyond these earliest moments of the journey. 



As a final note, I spent my entire hands-on portion playing handheld on Switch and was this impressed with the visuals. I was never able to see the game docked, but I could see other demos being run on PlayStation 5. It was easily one of the most impressive things I saw (visually) during the entirety of Summer Game Fest and worth considering if you’re on the fence about platforms. 


Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake will release worldwide, both digitally and physically, on November 14. 

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Written by Ricky Berg

When he isn’t writing for Nintendo Wire, Ricky’s anticipating the next Kirby, Fire Emblem, or if the stars ever align, Mother 3 to be released. Till then he’ll have the warm comfort of Super Smash Bros. to keep him going.