Platform: NES, Gameboy Color, SNES (Japanese Only)
The final game in the Erdrick trilogy is easily the best one. While it suffers from the same thing as the first two games in the series (endless level-building), its story is epic and infinitely more interesting than the previous two games.
There is a day/night cycle, the first of its kind in a straight RPG. Not only are enemies more plentiful and difficult at night, the towns change, with some areas only accessible at night (and others closed). Best of all, there are more metal babbles.
Dragon Quest III is the only game of the first five in the series that has you hire your party members (the main hero is the one constant) from a guild. Being as there are seven options and only three slots, I agonized over who to take. I hated it then, and still hate it now. Like Final Fantasy, your characters can mature at the half-way point in the game, though in a different fashion. When you reach a certain level, you can change your party member to another class and start at level 1 (but maintain all of the spells/abilities you had as the other character). And if you have the goof-off in your party (who is useless and potentially dangerous), he can mature into a supremely powerful character. I never did that, as I didn’t want to hate the first half of the game.
Other than that, the game is wonderful. The world map is a caricature of Earth, ripe with stereotypes in each land. The American translators went a bit too far, especially in Japan, but it is fun to recognize different areas of the game. Without spoilers, I’ll say the last area of the game is probably my favorite in an RPG on the NES, and it neatly wraps up the saga of the Erdrick line. While the series remains infinitely more popular in Japan that it does in the States, it’s worthy of a play by RPG fans, especially the Game Boy Color port which eliminates most of the game’s issues on the NES. For those wondering, you do not need to play the first two in the series to enjoy this one.