Dragon Quest III rounds out the original Dragon Quest trilogy by casting the player as the son/daughter of the hero Ortega, who... didn't quite finish his grand journey to slay the evil Baramos. So, now that you're sixteen, everyone expects you to pick up where he left off and get to villain slaying already! Thankfully, you're not expected to do this alone; the local tavern serves as an excellent adventurer's hub, where you can recruit a number of loyal party members, ranging from warriors and wizards to jesters.DQIII was an outstanding success in Japan — so much so that people were actually being mugged on the street for their copy, something that just did not happen with video games back then. The insane amount of hype that led to these events wasn't totally unfounded though; while DQII had introduced the concept of multiple-PC parties to most players at the time, it was restrictive to the point that some people complained directly to Enix itself. In response to these outcries, DQIII introduced the job system that would appear in various Dragon Quest games, allowing you to customize your party to some degree. You could also pick everyone's gender, meaning that if you wanted a team of Action Girls, nothing was stopping you... and female characters got to enjoy a few benefits barred to their male counterparts.
Dragon Quest III contains examples of:
Acquired Situational Narcissism: While helping the growing pioneer town, the Merchant you left there ends up letting the important role they're playing in its growth go to their head and turns it into Egopolis, resulting in a riot and them getting thrown in jail. They get better after thinking things over, and even rejoin your team. Though you'll likely not need them.
Ancestral Weapon: Inverted. Your weapon becomes the ancestral sword of the first two games.
And averted for a while. There actually was an ancestral weapon, but Zoma stole and destroyed it! Yours is a fresh copy made from the same stuff, and arguably better, because it's loaded with Good Hurts Evil fresh off the anvil.
There's also the Sword of Gaia, which you spend most of the game trying to track down and recover from a man named Simon, who's had it in his family for some time. However, the weapon itself is terrible for when you finally get it, outclassed by other weapons, and really more of a key than a weapon, as you throw it into a volcano to get access to the second last dungeon and sixth orb.
Artifact of Doom: The Golden Claw. Far worse in the original game, where it causes an enemy fight every step of the game. In the Updated Re-release, this only happens while you are in the pyramid; exiting the pyramid breaks the curse. Also in the original, this was the only additional claw the martial artist could use other than the standard.
Anything that curses you when equipped. Unlike most Dragon Quest games, they don't have any uses as items either.
Bonus points, however, go to the Sword of Destruction, a cursed weapon that is second only to the Sword of Kings in terms of sheer damage, and has a much higher critical hit rate than comparable weapons, but carries the downside of preventing you from attacking about every 1 in 3 rounds. In the original NES version, this weapon is actually sold in a weapon shop in Rimuldar(!), despite the curse.
Ascended Fanon: Ortega's new sprite/design in the Remix, being born in part of the NES version of 3 over the Famicom's.
Bare-Fisted Monk: Fighters. This makes them a very good pick, because you don't have to get them weapons for the most part. Most weapons actually decrease their attack power.
Battle Bikini: Female characters can equip these, drastically raising their evasion and making the enemy react erratically. Also, the female soldiers wear this all the time (oddly changing into a one-piece when they equip the actual bikini "armor"). Amusingly, until the remix, Bikinis were the weakest armor. Afterwards, two more are added: one is a magical version that's pretty good when you get it, and the other is a "sacred" version that blows away the best armor and is second only to a dress made of concentrated holy light! Game-Favored Gender? Yes, and weall love it.
Big Bad: Zoma turns out to be the one that's behind all of this, with Baramos serving as The Dragon.
Bittersweet Ending: The hero defeats Zoma, saving the world, but the portal to his/her reality is sealed off in the process and Zoma declares a prophesy that long after the hero is dead, another evil will appear. The king bestows upon the hero the title of Loto, the highest honor of the land. The hero spends the rest of his/her days in this new world, giving his/her gear to various families for protection, and eventually having a child (or children), thus starting the bloodline of descendants who become the heroes of Dragon Quest I and Dragon Quest II.
Bowdlerise: The girl that gives you the puff-puff massage simply tells your fortune in the NES. Somewhat odd because she later asks if your shoulder feels any better, which only makes sense in the original context. The Game Boy version calls it a "powderpuff massage". This one is not a Bowdlerization, as the context is still there.
Priests were renamed Pilgrims in the NES localisation.
But Thou Must: One particularly irritating example: having to let the Recurring Boss Kandar go (twice) after beating him. Can't kill him off when he's still got problems to cause, right? To be fair, he does help you with a useful bit of information near the end of the game to repay you for sparing him.
Another example occurs when the King of Romaly offers his throne to you. He simply will not take no for an answer. In the remake, he does give up if you tell him no five times.
Can't Drop The Hero: Not until you beat the game, that is. After that, you can drop him/her off at the tavern at any time.
Cast from Hit Points: The Double-Edge sword is a weapon-version of this before it became a skill to be used.
Cat Scare: In Zipangu, checking the pots in one basement causes you to discover a human head. ...Which turns out to be attached to the still-very-much-alive body of a young girl hiding out in there to avoid being sacrificed.
Disc One Final Dungeon: Baramos' castle. Likely one of the first examples of this in role-playing games, and one of the most effective since you've already explored most of the known world up to that point.
Disc One Nuke: It was possible in the original NES version to get a modest pile of money at the beginning of the game by registering Soldier-class characters, taking their expensive weapons/armor, selling it, then returning the character to the eatery and deleting their registration. This would let you easily amass enough gold to buy the best equipment at the first two towns for all your characters, which made the beginning of the game a bit easier. Re-releases fixed this by having every registered character join the party with no equipment, but the King 'gives' you four full sets of equipment...
Disproportionate Retribution: When you enter Samanao, there will be a funeral in the town for someone that was executed for bad-mouthing the king. Or, to be more precise, the king's replacement.
Distaff Counterpart: The only differences between men/women of each class are... physical appearance, female-exclusive armor, and a few personalities in the Remix. (Only male recruits get access to an amusing Easter Egg involving the series' FanserviceRunning Gag, though.)
The Dragon: In addition to Baramos, the Big Bad Zoma has three of them. King Hydra, Baramos Bomus, and Baramos Gonus.
Dub Name Change: Most towns, but only very few people. The most significant being the title of Loto/Erdrick.
Easter Egg: In the remakes, the hero has the ability to "memorize" NPC speeches and dialogues, which the player can play back again by using the hero's Recall spell. As the hero levels up, it gets upgraded versions of this spell, Remember and Recollect. If you use these upgraded spells without having memorized too many pieces of dialogue throughout the game up until that point, the hero will be able to remember a conversation they overheard between their parents when they were just a small child.
Emotion Eater: NPC dialogue reveals that the only reason Zoma keeps the people of the dark world alive is to feed on their negative emotions.
Fake King: The king of Samanao was kidnapped and replaced by a BossTroll using the Change Staff to take his form.
Fanservice: In the remake, equiping a female character with any kind of bikini armor will replace her overworld sprite with a swimsuit-clad version of her original self. Every class gets a different kind of bathing suit, ranging from bikinis, one pieces, school bathing suits (floater ring included) except for the female Jester, whose default overworld sprite is already wearing a one-piece. Instead, she gets a dominatrix costume, with leather whip and mask included.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The world map is loosely based on that of the real world, with many cities corresponding to actual nations. In addition to Japan-analogue Zipangu, there's Isis (a desert kingdom, complete with pyramid, pretty clearly based on ancient Egypt), Romaly (Rome), the tower of "Shanpane" located in the area corresponding to France, Portoga (a seafaring trading kingdom based on medieval Portugal), Assaram (Baghdad), Baharata (ancient India), the northern island of "Greenlad", Eginbear (apparently a portmanteau of "England" and "Edinburgh"), and the Soo (nomads based on various native American tribes, with a name that resembles "Sioux"). The continent that the hero grows up on is the only entirely fictional landmass in the game world; it looks sort of like Antarctica if it was shrunk a bit and moved between Australia and South America.
Glass Cannon: Fighters are impressively strong even without a big weapon set, and boast a naturally high Critical rate. However, while they have decent HP, their defense tends to be pretty low, and their armor choices are... lacking.
God Save Us from the Queen!: One personality-defining scenario involves a selfish queen misleading the king for her own profit. The Elf Queen is a vengeful witch fond of Disproportionate Retribution. And later on, you discover Zipangu's leader, Himiko, is actually the Orochi.
The latter had an explanation, although it took a significant amount of work to discover it. They had intended to do a similar Dragon Quest IV remake with the same Monster Coin system. These coins are even hidden in Dragon Quest III's data files. You would have, in theory, been able to transfer your coins to the other game in order to complete the full set — which they replaced at the last second with Grandragon falling asleep, when they decided to port 4 to the PSX instead.
Healing Hands: The main reason for bringing Priests along, though The Hero also gains considerable talent in this area.
Hello, Insert Name Here: Not just The Hero, but everyone you create/recruit as well. Though the Hero does have a canon name; it's Loto/Erdrick in the flesh, the fabled legendary hero from the first and second installments of the series.
Averted in the English NES (?) translation, where he yells for a kidnapped couple to run away from Kandar.
Hidden Elf Village: The queen of the elf village was offended after her daughter ran off, and put a nearby village to sleep. Even after she discovers that her daughter committed suicide, she makes you do the gruntwork for removing the curse and still doesn't like humans.
Holding Out for a Hero: After Ortega's death, it feels like the whole world basically just waited for his heir to come of age. Certainly everyone in your hometown did. But hey — no pressure, right?
Honest Axe: There's a pond you can visit that your character will drop their weapon into. A water spirit then appears and offers you a really powerful weapon, which if you accept, you don't get, because it isn't yours. However if you say it isn't yours and then say that the original weapon you dropped is yours... you get your original weapon back, and that's it.
Human Sacrifice: Zipangu is terrorized by the Orochi, who demands a regular sacrifice of young maidens. Upon confronting the beast, you learn that Zipangu's leader, Himiko, is actually the Orochi, explaining her attitude.
In-Universe Game Clock: The game introduced a day/night cycle. Sleeping at an inn would always take you to morning, and there were also spells and items that would change it from day to night or back.
Infinity+1 Sword: The Sword of Kings, in both gameplay and story. The original was actually stolen and destroyed by Zoma, but it took him three years to do it. Even if he slept, that's a lot of effort for one of the series' strongest villains, especially when the sword wasn't even new like the copy you eventually get.
This may also explain why the sword is so much weaker in Dragon Quest I. Any villains left hiding away, and possibly Dragonlord himself, have been trying to break it, but could only weaken it. They eventually gave up and just buried it in some obscure spot in Dragonlord's castle.
The same would apply to the armor and gear you hand down to your descendants, but since those were never damaged, one could guess they're just old.
Irony: You buy the Zombie Slasher from a ghost merchant who doesn't realize he's passed on.
Jack of All Stats: The Hero — and, surprisingly, Merchants qualify for this early on, with well-balanced stats that can out-Jack the hero during the early game.
Joke Character: Jesters like to waste turns telling jokes and fooling around instead of doing whatever you actually told them to, and the chances of them goofing off rises along with their level. There are times when their antics actually result in something useful, though.
Lethal Joke Character: if you have the patience to take them to level 20, they can become Sages (one of the most powerful classes) for free. Everyone else needs a book (of which there are only two in the game, one of which is just before the Final Boss).
One Man Party: Because supporting party members are optional and XP is split between the party members rather than copied, having the Hero go it alone means that he's earning 4x the "normal" experience and can easily level up enough to make up for the lack of support.
Also possibly justified in that the King of Aliahan explicitly states that there are a lot of people in the world who are unaware of the presence of Baramos, and one NPC outright states that he's just an "old wives' tale". This would suggest that either Baramos is only just now getting started on his reign of terror, or that he simply prefers to be very low-key about his villainy.
Player Personality Quiz: Used in the remakes. After answering a series of questions, the player is presented with a final scenario where your actions determine what the mysterious voice determines your character to be. Some of these scenarios include:
I Will Only Slow You Down: Two brothers are stranded in the desert; the older one, too exhausted to continue, tells his sibling to take all of their water and continue on alone. The younger brother turns to the hero for advice: should he try and carry his brother, follow his last wishes, or leave the water with him and hope he finds help?
Leap of Faith: People are taking a flying leap off of a high tower to prove their courage. The hero can choose to jump themselves or turn around and walk away.
Prestige Class: The Sage class. Only accessible by changing to that class at the Shrine of Dharma (and only then by using a special one-use scroll, or invoking the Jester's Magikarp Power), they learn all the Wizard and Priest spells. And have a better selection of weapons and armor than the other spellcaster classes.
Purely Aesthetic Gender: Again, aside from a few exclusive weapons/armor/Personalities and such, gender is a matter of preference.
In the original NES translation, the script repeatedly referred to the hero as Ortega's son, male or female. This was referenced in the GBC version at the start, when the king starts to call your heroine son, corrects himself and adds, "But that dauntless look — no man could hope to match you!"
Randomly Drops: Monster Medals in the GBC remake. There are random items as well, approaching the ludicrous — for example, Shoes of Happiness, which have an impossibly low chance to drop off a Metal Slime.
Real Men Wear Pink: All soldiers wear pink armor, male and female alike. It's made a bit darker in the remakes... but only a little.
Regional Bonus: The opening cinematic, a proper title screen, and a proper Ortega sprite. The original version of the last more than likely confused a lot of players, because it was a Palette Swap Kandar. Although it also caused many a Fan Theory.
Retroactive Legacy: The Hero is eventually revealed to be Erdrick, the legendary champion whom the heroes of Dragon Quest I and Dragon Quest II are descended from.
The Reveal: One of the most epic reveals in the history of videogaming, and the one that cemented the game's place in the zeitgeist (especially in Japan): In the last quarter of the game, the world you travel to is the one with the kingdom of Tantagel on it. The player character is none other than Erdrick/Loto, and you play out the events that precede the rest of the trilogy.
Secret Test of Character: To determine your hero's personality in the remakes, a mysterious voice asks a series of questions, then throws you into one of these based on your answers. Your reaction to whatever issue you face determines your personality. Said tests range from dealing with a greedy queen leading her country to war based on lies, to exploring a cavern, to deciding whether or not to take a leap of faith off a tower.
Spell My Name with an S: Dub Name Change aside, there's still some disjointment between proper spellings of a few towns: The biggest being Sioux/Soo, Jipang/Zipangu, and Assaram/Ashalam. The last of which gets a few raised eyebrows.
Star-Crossed Lovers: Elven princess Ann and her human lover, who chose to be Together in Death, leaving behind an angry Elf Queen who thought they just eloped. And cursed everyone in his hometown to sleep forever.
Super OCD: A requirement of any player who tries to assemble a full set of the bronze, silver and gold monster medals.
Trouble Magnet Gambit: Inverted with the Golden Claw. Dangerous in the pyramid (every step's a random encounter, and you can't use magic in the basement where you get it), but once you leave, as long as you don't return to the pyramid, it's the fighter's best weapon.
Updated Re-release: The Remix on Super Famicom, Game Boy Color, and recent modern Cell Phones. All are chock full of extra goodies from 4, 5, and 6.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Change Staff lets you randomly change to different forms. Including monsters. NPCs react accordingly to this. Except for elves, who can see right through most disguises... yet will still sell to you if you transform into a dwarf or other creature they're friendly with.
With This Herring: It's your Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday and you're off to face the greatest threat to the world the kingdom has ever known. The king is so impressed with your decision to take up arms that he rewards you with a whopping 300 gold pieces, which wouldn't cover a full set of the (crappy) equipment for sale in the very first town.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Baramos has a boss. You find this out during a Fake Ending after exploring literally the entire world, spending 40+ hours to do so. It comes out of complete left field and cemented DQ3's status as a legendary RPG in Japan — 40+ hours was already incredibly long for a NES era RPG, and then it opens up an entire second world map. A very familiar one at that, which led to an even bigger, more awesome revelation of just who the player character was.