The Blood God Recommends: Dragon Quest 3 for the Switch

The Blood God Recommends: Dragon Quest 3 for the Switch

A 30-year-old RPG that's aged to near-perfection.

If you're a Westerner who's curious about Square Enix's Dragon Quest series, you have a veritable hoard of localized titles to choose from. Trying to choose between them all is a nice problem to have if, like me, you can remember when Dragon Quest practically faded to obscurity outside Japan.

This week brought us not one but four Dragon Quest games for the Switch: The excellent (and definitive) Dragon Quest 11 S port as well as upgraded re-releases for Dragon Quest, Dragon Quest 2, and Dragon Quest 3. This is a clever move by Square, since Dragon Quest 11 has encouraged more Westerners to adopt the series, and some doubtlessly want to know where it all started.

It all started with Dragon Quest, obviously, which came West as Dragon Warrior. If you're interested in getting acquainted with the series' formative years and you're not sure if you should download Dragon Quest, Dragon Quest 2, or Dragon Quest 3 on the eShop, I'm here to help. Download Dragon Quest 3. There, that's done.

All the retro Dragon Quest Switch re-releases have quality-of-life improvements, including larger gold and experience drops from monsters that make grinding less necessary. Nevertheless, Dragon Quest 2 still has some balance issues, and the original Dragon Quest was old before Westerners even heard of it.

In contrast,Dragon Quest 3's influence is still felt in modern RPGs: It's party-building mechanics still feel good, you're afforded a considerable amount of freedom, and there's an interesting story twist that's gradually fed to you as venture further away from home. Firing up Dragon Quest 3 for the Switch reminds me why I like to revisit it every few years, whereas I haven't replayed Dragon Quest or Dragon Quest 2 in quite some time.

The aforementioned sense of freedom is one reason I still love playing Dragon Quest 3. Your mom drags you by the ear and forces you to meet the King in the game's opening moments, but you're largely on your own after that brief meeting. You're free to build your own party with your choice of several classes (though you can kick it alone if you think you can hack it), and are free to explore the surrounding wilderness as soon as you like.

"Make me." | Square Enix

When you exit your home kingdom, you immediately espy a tower that suggests your first major destination—but it's an out-of-reach on a small island. If you want to know how to clamber up the spire, you need to subscribe to the old RPG trope of "Talk to everyone." Soon, you learn there's an important key at the tower's summit. For Dragon Quest fans who are all-to-used to seeing chests locked behind doors, "Find this key" is a very compelling motive for a treasure hunt.

From there, Dragon Quest 3 keeps up its pace without a hitch. There's always a castle or a town on the horizon where you can find clues about your next move. There's always a cave where you might find a vicious boss monster seething in its depths. Your ultimate goal is admittedly vague—"Find the six Orbs necessary to help you take down the Archfiend Baramos who done killed your father"—but the road to that destined encounter rarely feels aimless even though Dragon Quest 3 is short on explicit instructions.

The Switch version of Dragon Quest 3 is based on the 1996 re-release for the Super Famicom, which brings lots of improvements to the already-great 1989 Famicom game. One change is a surprisingly deep personality quiz that helps determine your stat growth, and even affects how some townspeople react to you. When I took the selfsame opening test on the Switch, it challenged me to tell some poor sucker his fiancee wanted to break things off or let him down easy. I gave him the bad news straight, because I am empathy incarnate. This action stuck me with a "Lone Wolf" personality, a build that offers small bonuses to INT and Luck. Later, a guard chastised me for being a loner and reminded me to rely on my friends in times of need. (This is a Japanese RPG, after all.)

Hot take: Magic users only study the arcane arts because robes are a good excuse not to wear pants. | Square Enix

One unfortunate omission from the Super Famicom remake is monster animations. Monster artwork is static in Dragon Quest 3 for the Switch, and it ditches sprites in favor of a "cleaner" hand-drawn look. The character sprites utilize the same look, and it's a bit weird-looking against the game's sprite-based backgrounds. Maybe it's a compromise for bringing the standard-definition games to HD. Either way, I'm sad the animations aren't part of the Switch game. Thankfully, graphics aren't everything. If they were, Dragon Quest fans might not have taken notice of the series to begin with.

If you're new to Dragon Quest and you're looking for a good entry point, I still recommend Dragon Quest 11 S above everything else at the moment. But if Dragon Quest 11 S puts you in the mood to start learning about where dragons come from, Dragon Quest 3 for the Switch is a worthwhile travelling companion. It's definitely Blood God approved.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve,, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

Read this next

USgamer Holiday Gift Guide 2019: For the Traveling Gamer

If your special someone is always on the go, here's some ideas to make those delayed departures sting a little less.

Anyone Who Wanted Kingdom Hearts 3 Seems to Have Bought it at Launch

Final Fantasy 14 and mobile games carry Square Enix through a quiet year.

Why Are Portable Systems and RPGs Perfect Lovers? Axe of the Blood God Talks it Over

Nadia and Eric go over the reasons why handhelds are perfect for RPGs and name some of their favorites.

The First Three Dragon Quests Finally Leave Their Mobile Prison For Switch

Erdrick's violent kids are about to run rampant on your Switch.

Why Dragon Quest Failed to Make it In America 30 Years Ago

Nintendo tried its best to make the West love RPGs, but culture—and more importantly, timing—was against the attempt.

More Opinions

25 Years Ago, Breath of Fire 2 Was My First Journey to Kill God, and It Was Good

Even the world's worst translation can't destroy a good yarn about slaying the Lord.

"I Can Pretty Much Become Way Worse Than Gordon Ramsay"

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan would like to be seen as the "Asian Steve Jobs" but comes off more like "a jerk selling light-up mice."

Starting Screen | Why 2019 Is the Year I Decided To Stop Rushing Through Games

Some of us have been playing Death Stranding slowly, and it's far better for it.

Checking in on FIFA 20 for Black Friday: Does It Hold Up?

We enjoyed FIFA 20 during review, but is it worth picking up on Black Friday? We check in on EA's soccer sim.

More on SNES

25 Years Ago, Breath of Fire 2 Was My First Journey to Kill God, and It Was Good

Even the world's worst translation can't destroy a good yarn about slaying the Lord.

USgamer Holiday Gift Guide 2019: For the Nostalgic Gamer

If you're shopping for someone who still finds beauty in cartridges and pixels, have we got a gift guide for you.

Axe of the Blood God Presents: How to Train Your Dragon Using Erotic Literature

This week's Axe of the Blood God is a titillating mailbag episode. Kat and Nadia discuss Pokemon, more Saturn RPGs, and Bahamut Lagoon's unorthodox methods of dragon-rearing.

Donkey Kong Country Turns 25: Gaming's Biggest Bluff

Twenty-five years ago, Nintendo faced the threat of obsolescence with sheer bravado—and won.

From Jedi: Fallen Order to Bushido Blade: The 35 Year Quest for the Perfect Video Game Lightsaber

Tracing the history of the iconic weapon from the Atari 2600 to the present, and all the ways that it's influenced gaming.

Bart Simpson and Godzilla Were Almost in NBA Jam

Or at least, toy-like facsimiles.

More Role Playing Games Games

Kairi Joins the Battle in Kingdom Hearts 3's Re Mind DLC, Out Next Month

A leaked trailer shows off new playable characters, additional exploration of Scala ad Caelum, and more.

What's Your Favorite PlayStation Memory?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | This week is the 25th anniversary of the PlayStation, so let's look back on our fondest memories of Sony's first consoles.

25 Years Ago, Breath of Fire 2 Was My First Journey to Kill God, and It Was Good

Even the world's worst translation can't destroy a good yarn about slaying the Lord.

"beYOOOOOOOW Beyowwwwwwww:" The Story Behind Sony's Iconic PlayStation Opening Chime

The music that defined a generation. Oh and Nirvana, I guess.