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Dragon Quest 3 HD-2D Remake looks like a beautiful, faithful and powerful history lesson – hands-on

Dragon Quest 3 HD-2D Remake looks like a beautiful, faithful and powerful history lesson – hands-on

While we in the Western world are paying more attention to Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest remains one of Japan’s top video game exports. The truth is that without Dragon Quest we probably wouldn’t have many of today’s modern Japanese-made RPG styles; it’s the game that defined the parameters of the genre as we know it today.

That makes Dragon Quest 3 HD 2D Remake a particularly important title. The first three Dragon Quests are undoubtedly some of the most important games of their kind; of those three, the third entry is actually the narrative first entry, a prequel to its ancestors. This is the ideal starting point for Dragon Quest – and each remake serves not only as a fun video game, but also as a wonderful piece of history from the better part of forty years in the making.

Of course, it’s difficult to understand exactly how good the full version of something like an RPG will be based on a demo of less than an hour. But from what I’ve seen so far, Dragon Quest 3’s HD mulligan seems like the perfect offering for that said mission. It wants to keep everything that makes the original great, but modernized. It aims to provide a new, yet retro entry point into the Dragon Quest series. It looks like it will.

What’s interesting about this remake is that the Dragon Quest games are staunchly traditional, especially the early ones. This means that they should remain the same, but modernizing them has small but curious consequences.

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Take for example the addition of a mini-map. This is a big world by the standards of the Famicom, aka the Nintendo Entertainment System, but even compared to the worlds Final Fantasy released a generation later, it’s actually quite small and limited. With a mini-map constantly pointing you to your next main story destination, some of the natural flow of the original DQ3 is arrested – you won’t be lost for hours and end up in random encounters as a result. That friction element from the original has been removed – and that’s how experienced players with memory have played DQ3 forever anyway.

However, this will cause small ripples. Some NPCs that were clearly placed in small houses in fairly random-feeling parts of the world map now feel uniform more random, because their goal used to be to deliver dialogue that pushes the player back in the right direction.

Those NPCs speak to the nature of these games: very innocent and simple. By modern standards they are contrived. Where games made even a few years later would start to flesh out a story for an NPC handing over an important item, for example, with no reasoning and motivation left behind, these early games have no need for that. “Take this, big hero!” they will hesitate and hand over something valuable without thinking, just because. It’s part of the charm. In the modern context, this game will stand out. In the original, the clear language made these games some of the best games for foreigners to practice Japanese – I hope the final release includes all language options in every region.

What will also help this remake stand out is the art style of the game. Developers Artdink has history with this art style, having worked on Triangle Strategy, while co-developer Team Asano pioneered the art style with Octopath Traveler and Live A Live. It is used with great success not only to enhance the game, but also to add extra flavor to it.

Back on the NES, all parts of Dragon Quest 3’s world looked relatively similar, but in the HD-2D remake, the range of color and visual fidelity is used to give each individual zone a more unique look. This is a cross-world journey, and the visuals now match that, with the look of each new continent, country or city drawing visible inspiration from real-world locations in the beautiful new pixel art.

The visuals also provide a little bit of cinematic flair. These kinds of things are few and far between, but at one point the camera pans down as a character mentions a city that is my destination – giving me a completely different perspective where I can see the pixels of my destination in the distance looming. It looks good.

The rest of the remake is what you’d expect, including beautiful new soundtrack arrangements from the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, new secrets and challenges scattered throughout the adventure, and a little bit of voiceover here and there (although not all the dialogue is the same ). expressed). The user interface has been redesigned and of course there is much more detail in animation and static images.

It all looks and feels quite good – and as I said, it does indeed feel like a faithful, clever remake of a very important game. After losing two of Dragon Quest’s three creatives in recent years, it feels fitting for Square Enix and its remaining creator, Yuji Horii, to revisit where it all began. Fortunately, they do this with wisdom and respect.

Dragon Quest 3 HD-2D Remake comes to Nintendo Switch on November 14. The game will also be released on Xbox, PlayStation and PC on the same day. It will be followed by remakes of Dragon Quest 1 & 2, completing the first trilogy in 2025.