Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dragon Knight III

Elf / NEC Avenue
Super CD-ROM

This was the final stop I made during my experiences with the Duo's glorious Dragon Knight trinity, and I'm happy to say that the journey ended in fine fashion. DK3 is a third-person RPG, whereas its predecessors are first-person dungeon crawlers. This change in style made me a little apprehensive coming in, but the game turned out to be excellent.

Random battles occur frequently, but the fights play out extremely quickly and reward you with lots of gold and experience points. The combat system is very user friendly, and the opposing army comprises a great mix: DK2-style girl-fiends are accompanied by cool-looking dragons and ghosts and whatnot. Both the ladies and the monsters are animated, and there are gorgeous backdrops for the rumbles.

There are also fun fights to be had with crazy boss characters.

The designers essentially took the best elements of the first DK's scrums and the second DK's duels and put them all together to present fast, great-looking, rewarding combat scenes.

Not to be forgotten are the cool tunes that play during those battles. In fact, all of the game's tunes are good, with one of the best numbers coming at the very end: as you go around visiting friends, a ROCKIN' victory track (the work of T's Music) celebrates your accomplishments.

Also very appealing are the visuals outside of battle. The artists went with attractive light colors and pastels in lieu of the gritty browns and grays prominent in the previous episodes.

They also paid a great deal of attention to little details. Your party members' appearances change when they don new pieces of equipment--a minor element, perhaps, but one that always makes for a neat inclusion.

In addition to the wonderful aesthetics and sweet combat, DK3 delivers an abundance of effective comedy. Takeru (the hero) gets jumped during the opening moments of play...

...and is forced to wander around the first town in a hapless, naked state.

That's just the beginning of Takeru's bumbling and stumbling, as the crazy antics continue up to and all the way through the entertaining end-credits sketch. The game isn't all about silliness, however. As is the case with DK2, the climax is shocking and exciting.

One of the best parts of the DK3 experience for me was revisiting towns I'd first traveled through in previous episodes. DK2 is one of my favorite games, so returning to the town of Phoenix and catching up with old friends made for a very merry time (kind of like when you get to romp through the realm of the first Ys in Ys IV, just to give you an idea if you're an Ys fan--and you'd better be).

Along with recruiting old allies, you'll need to enlist the assistance of some cool new characters... you deal with your evil adversaries.

And, of course, there are the girls!

DK3 doesn't provide enormous dungeons, taxing puzzles, or a super-long quest. But it does present great battle scenes, lots of humor, pleasing aesthetics, and a fast-paced adventure that should leave most everyone satisfied.

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