October 15th, 2011 | Feature | NES
Dragon Warrior III: A Walkthrough in Three Acts
Alex's own frantic, breathless love letter to the legend.

Table of Contents

Here’s the skinny on the greatest 8-bit RPG ever made: it’s gotten around. To date there are three versions of the game: the original Dragon Quest III on the Famicom (our DWIII, natch), a supercharged Super Famicom remake not seen outside of Japan, and a Game Boy Color version based on the remake (which was released here). Because we’re elitist nerds and like our characters as blocky as possible, this guide will focus on the original game. Although it lacks the extra Thief job class, Tiny Medals, and the tremendously difficult bonus dungeons seen in the remakes, the main quest of the original 8-bit DWIII is still the toughest of the three. But hell, the bulk of this walkthrough applies to all versions, so pick your favorite, cuddle up next to the fire with a 2-liter of Dr. Pepper and this guide, and get your quest on. –Alex Fraioli

Part I: Intro to Dragoneering

Played any other Dragon Warrior/Quest games? Good, you know pretty much all there is to know about playing DWIII. For those of you just tuning in, here’s a quick rundown of the things that game does introduce to the series.

A. Class System

Dragon Warrior III is the only game in the series that allows you to create characters from scratch and assign them names and job classes to suit your fancy. This particular class system is not as flexible as those seen in VI, VII, and IX; if you wish to change a character’s class, the character must first hit level 20, at which point you may assign them a new job at the Shrine of Dhama. They’ll start the new job at level 1, but will retain all of the old skills learned under the previous job. In other words, completists who require every character in their party to learn every spell and skill really have their plate full with this one. NOTE: Unlike the other games, job levels are not retained (i.e. no switching back and forth) should you abandon a class. The game isn’t meant to be played that way. Spells and skills are the goal here, should you decide to change classes at all.

This guide will make reference to “The Explorer’s Handbook” throughout, an 81-page strategy guide that came packaged with the original DWIII. The handbook gives great advice at times; other times, not so much. The best of the handbook will be mentioned as needed.

Most of the eight available job classes are straightforward fantasy fare, but Enix throws in a few oddballs as well. Honestly I’ve never actually taken a Merchant with me on this thing, but maybe on-the-spot item appraisals are your thing.

Hero: Playing the role of Little Mac, it’s you! As the son/daughter of the great warrior Ortega, the Hero of Dragon Warrior III is an excellent fighter with a mediocre selection of spells — at least until the later levels! The Hero will eventually learn several exclusive spells such as the lifesaving and amusingly descriptive HealUsAll. The Hero is the only character who can equip the strongest weapons and armor.

Soldier: A slightly stronger physical fighter than the hero at the cost of any magical repertoire to speak of. The Soldier will be the heavy hitter of the group, sacrificing agility for brute strength. He will usually end up hitting last in a battle, but for great damage.

Pilgrim: The white mage of the group, capable of keeping the rest of the party healthy in and out of battle. Apart from the coveted Sage, the Pilgrim is the only class that can learn the invaluable Revive spell. As you may have guessed, the Pilgrim’s physical prowess is less than great, but still better than the Wizard’s.

Wizard: In the opposing magic column is the Wizard, stuffing his pointy hat to the brim with enfeebling and attack spells. Despite their similarity to the Pilgrim’s magic-over-brawn approach, the Wizard’s physical strength is far worse. Even a Pilgrim can one-shot enemies early on, whereas the Wizard will rarely hit for more than 1 or 2 points of damage. Yet another reason why the Wizard is a prime candidate for Sageification.

Fighter: The poor man’s Soldier. Fighters require smaller investments of gold to be effective (they have a grand total of one purchasable (beneficial) weapon) and can use only one helmet (two if you count the cursed one!) and no shields. Their high agility and power mean plenty of tremendous hits! which are crucial in taking down experience-rich Metal Slimes and Metal Babbles. Critics of this class cite a lack of defense, but this is a bit misleading. While there is very little armor available to Fighters, their natural defense is quite high, and can be boosted further by increasing their Agility through seeds or the Meteorite Armband, as Agility is tied directly to defense.

Merchant: While only average in combat, Merchants excel in keeping the party swimming in gold. By having a Merchant in your party, monsters will drop more gold after battle, and you’ll have the ability to appraise items in the field. The latter ability really only comes in handy when your party has been down in a dungeon for a while and must decide which items to keep and which to throw away when new ones are discovered. For plot purposes, you will need to recruit one Merchant over the course of your travels, whom you will promptly hand over to an NPC.

Goof-off: This class is good for only two things: running from battles (thanks to their incredibly high luck) and getting laughs by acting randomly and unpredictably during battles. However, Goof-offs have a hidden talent, as they are the only class that can become Sages at level 20 without the Book of Satori. A Goof-off-Sage is less powerful than a Pilgrim-Sage or Wizard-Sage in the end, but are easy to acquire later on if you want a second or even third Sage.

Sage: A tremendous class all around, sporting high magic power and access to almost every spell in the game. Their attack power isn’t too shabby either, and they can equip far more weapons and pieces of armor than the other two magic-based classes.

B. Party combinations

The following are some recommended party combinations that balance pretty well and make for an effective team.

Hero/Soldier/Pilgrim/Wizard: This is the “default” class that both the Dragon Warrior III Explorer’s Handbook and this walkthrough both use. It works just fine, but it’s a little too reliant on offensive magic for my taste; the Wizard really starts becoming useful after level 20, at which point you can turn a Pilgrim into a Sage and have both classes’ spells instead of starting out with two separate characters. Which is why I favor…

Hero/Soldier/Fighter/Pilgrim (Sage): This combo works great all around. The Hero, Soldier, and Fighter are capable of tearing apart enemies with physical attacks, while the Pilgrim keeps them healed. When the Pilgrim eventually becomes a Sage, his attack spells and the ability to cast the awesome Bikill spell will make this party unstoppable against bosses.

Hero/Sage/Sage/Sage: While difficult to raise, this offensive and defensive powerhouse will blow through any battle that comes its way. Pretty much any starting party (including the two above) can achieve this setup effectively if so desired. Definitely more of a party setup for subsequent playthroughs.

C. Helpful Hints

Travel by Day – Dragon Warrior III introduced the day/night system to the series. As you travel, you’ll notice things grow darker until it turns to night completely, at which point certain towns may offer special goods or services. It’s also the nastier beasts’ cue to come out, making night travel a bit more rigorous than roaming by light. It’s usually not an issue since you typically start traveling after staying at an inn, but if you’ve been out for a while, don’t dawdle.

Stockpile your seeds – The Agility Seed permanently raises the agility of any character by a few points. It makes sense to feed all of your Agility Seeds to your primary healer so that he or she may pile on the curative spells before the enemies have a chance to injure your party further, right? But! When it comes time to fight the Archfiend Baramos, the character you will want acting first will be your amazing Sage, a class we have not yet earned. And since a character’s stats (including Agility) are halved after changing class, it would be wise to put your Agility Seeds in the Aliahan vault until the class change to ensure that your Sage is as quick as possible. Coupled with a Meteorite Armband, a Sage pumped full of Agility Seeds will always act first. You may want to stockpile all of the seeds you find until you know all of your characters are finished changing class.

Note: Like other games in the series, DWIII grants level-up stat bonuses in respect to the current value of the statistic in question. If your Strength is much higher than it should be for your level, a character might only receive one or two (or even zero) points on level up. For this reason, try to use your seeds once a class-changed character has caught up with the rest of the party and won’t be leveling any time soon.

Inventory manipulation – Here’s a gem from the manual: to counter the game’s archaic inventory system and move often-used items to the top of your item list, repeatedly Transfer the item one space above it to yourself. For example, your party has just gotten its hot little hands on the Thief’s Key. Transfer every item other than the key to yourself, and the key will eventually rise to the top of the list, thus simplifying your interaction with all subsequent Thief’s doors. Just remember to reequip your weapons and armor after doing so! Similarly, you’ll want to bump the Sage’s Stone to the top of your Sage’s inventory to greatly expedite the process of undoing the horrible, horrible damage that will be inflicted upon you.

Attack of the Clones – If you are absolutely the most gold-hungry, cheapass bastard in the kingdom of Aliahan, it is possible to slowly raise a moderate amount of money by repeatedly creating and recruiting fresh Soldiers simply for the purpose of selling off their equipment for a pittance of 134 gold each. Somehow this is considered a “trick,” but I’ve found that by actually stepping outside of town and fighting, you can rack up cash and experience points at the same time! Be sure not to abuse that one too much, it’s a game-breaker!

If you are desperate enough for money to try this trick, be mindful of the “Accelerated Learning” glitch below, which will result as a side effect if done under certain conditions.

Golden Delicious – The most obvious and immediate reward for hauling the cursed Golden Claw out of the pyramid is a buttload of cash. Upon snatching the claw from the tomb, your party will be condemned to “random” battles every two steps until the claw leaves your inventory. However, if you don’t mind paying the storage fee at the Aliahan vault, keeping the claw safely tucked away can be useful should you desire to grind some levels at any time in the future. If you don’t mind the grueling trek to the top of Rubiss’s Tower or the path to Charlock Castle where the Metal Babbles congregate freely, you can earn a ton of experience.

If you are absolutely mad and playing the NES version, try finishing the game with the Golden Claw equipped on your Fighter! The constant fighting and leveling combined with the claw’s naturally outstanding attack power will facilitate showin’ how funky strong is your Fighter. For GBA and SFAM users, the claw’s curse extends no further than the pyramid, so feel free to take this powerful weapon with you if you’re not particularly hurting for cash. Just don’t think you’re getting away with anything grand; in the remakes, there are weapons available to the Fighter that exceed even the Golden Claw’s power.

Falcon’ it up – The Falcon Sword, available later in the game, allows its wielder to strike twice in quick succession, and in strong hands can inflict a sum total greater than a single strike. But where the sword really shines is the endgame grind. Hunting Metal Babbles is a quick way to level, but hitting the damn things is tricky. With only about 6 HP but 255 defense, these little bastards usually flee before the party has a chance to take them down and rake in the experience. But with a Falcon Sword plus the Bikill spell, your party has a higher chance of whittling down their HP or simply ending it quickly by landing a critical hit. Bikill will raise the damage of every connecting hit to 2, while the sword itself gives two chances to strike per turn.

Not only that, but a Sage equipped with a Falcon Sword has the ability to bring out the true potential of the weapon. Throw one on your Sage, and equip your most powerful weapon on the Soldier. Use the Transform spell during a battle to gain the stats of the Soldier, whose high attack power will come through in both of the Sage’s strikes. You are now equipped to eat worlds.

Boss Blitz – It’s true! Many of the game’s fiercer bosses have an unseen HP regen that occurs every round! Because of this, a slow and methodical boss strategy is never quite as effective as a coordinated strike. (Note: this was removed from the SNES/GBC remakes and counterbalanced by giving bosses much more HP.)

But I’ll come clean. Data on this aspect of the game is scarce. As far as I can tell from comparing data from both Japanese and English fans, there are three levels of invisible regen, restoring either 25, 50, or 100 HP per round. Below are the confirmed bosses with regen, in order of appearance.

Kandar (second time)




Boss Troll




King Hydra


Baramos Bomus


Baramos Gonus




Additionally, I’ve heard that some of the nastier regular monsters near the end of the game also sport invisible regen (though I can’t find any confirmation of this). Specifically:

Stone Hulk




Troll King


The following tricks fall under the heading of “glitches,” so steer clear if you have any moral objections about using the game’s quirks to your own advantage.

Tenacious D – The best defense, is at turns out, is an underhanded one. Dragon Warrior III has a neat little glitch that allows some of your party members to enjoy a comfy defense bonus during combat. The “Parry” command will cause a character to spend their turn defending, reducing damage received by about one half. However, by choosing “Parry” and then canceling the command, the same character can choose to fight or perform another action while still receiving the effect of Parry!

Because the Hero is unable to Parry, and the person in your fourth slot cannot cancel his commands, you may want to consider moving the Hero to the last position and bumping everyone up a slot. It’s a bit of a hassle and not quite necessary during routine battles, but a good strategy for bosses who possess incredible physical strength like the Boss Troll. Just throw your Hero in the back before you engage, have everyone Parry and cancel, and you’ll walk all over most bosses. This trick is so crazy that Enix decided to include it as a helpful “Do You Know?” hint in the Explorer’s Handbook. Of course, it was removed in all subsequent versions of the game, presumably because too many people did know.

Accelerated Learning – By repeatedly creating new characters until the roster at Luisa’s is full, your Hero will mysteriously learn the first eight spells available to him. This glitch comes with an annoying side effect, in that it disables the Heal and Return spells outside of battle. The only way to counter this is to learn both of these spells on your own by hitting level 8 before performing the trick. This also means that your Hero is going to have to fight his way up all by his lonesome, but the tactical advantage is worth it if you don’t mind cheesing your way through the beginning of the game. The importance of learning the Return spell before performing this trick cannot be overemphasized, as it is one of the most useful and time-saving spells in the game.

D. (And then, into) Legend

The maps used in this guide are taken directly from the game and marked for your convenience.

Letters denote staircases or portals. A leads to A, B to B, etc.

Numbers denote treasure chests, but sometimes getting to the damned things is more trouble than the contents are worth. Check each chest’s contents (listed next to the appropriate map) and decide for yourself.

The starting point of the dungeon.

The finishing point of the dungeon, if applicable.

Anything of importance, usually a switch or NPC.

Any sort of set battle. If this icon appears near a treasure chest, avoid it; it’s a Cannibox or Mimic.

I. Introduction

    A. Class System

    B. Party Combinations

    C. Helpful Hints

    D. Legend

II. Walkthrough

    A. Aliahan

    B. The Thief’s Key

    C. The Magic Ball

    D. Romaly

    E. Kanave

    F. The Dream Ruby

    G. Assaram

    H. Isis and Magic Key

    I. Portoga

    J. Baharata

    K. Tedanki

    L. The Shrine of Dhama

    M. The Final Key

    N. The Green Orb

    O. The Red Orb

    P: The Yellow Orb

    Q. The Purple Orb

    R. The Blue Orb

    S. The Silver Orb

    T. Yellow Orb Revisited

    U. Godbird Ramia

    V. Castle of Baramos

    W. Into the Dark World

    X. The Shield of Heroes

    Y. The Silver Harp

    Z. Hauksness

    AA. Kol

    BB. Hauksness’ Cave

    CC. Cantlin

    DD. Rimuldar

    EE. The Tower of Rubiss

    FF. The Castle of Zoma

    GG. The Final Battles

III. Resources

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