Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite
- "A bit slow at times, but at others truly spectacular."
- Release date: 1996-12-12
- Catalog number: SRCL-3563
- Retail price: 2800 yen
- Publisher: Sony
A bit slow at times, but at others truly spectacular.
Editor's review by Adam Corn (2009-09-09)
To get straight to the point, Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite contains the best battle theme and the best ending theme in a series full of great examples of both. Almost all of Dragon Quest's battle themes excel at conveying the menace of some lumbering, malevolent beast, but Dragon Quest III's "Fighting Spirit" adds to that a fervor unmatched in its counterparts, from the opening clash of the orchestra to the urgent brass battle rally onwards. A quiet interlude midway through might seem suspect were it not the classic overworld "Unknown World" theme, which shortly later is transfigured into a kinetic, frantic version of itself for a climactic finale.
The ending theme "Into the Legend" serves not only as the subtitle to Dragon Quest III but as the chosen closing selection for some of the series' best collections, and for good reason. Whereas Dragon Quest I's ending theme had a rousing fanfare to its credit, and Dragon Quest II a beautiful, pacifying finale, "Into the Legend" combines and improves upon the best elements of both. Particularly when the brazen opening fanfare returns with booming accompaniment and a tumultuous cascade of strings for the grand finale, the theme conveys the grandeur of an epic fantasy adventure as well as any orchestral ending theme out there.
Supplementing these two all-time classics are a few other standouts. "Prologue" is a new addition to accompany the Super Famicom remake of the game and this London Philharmonic symphonic suite recording, but it's hard to imagine a Dragon Quest III album without the theme's tender woodwinds echoed by oh-so-elegant strings. "Gruelling Fight" (another new addition) doesn't possess the frantic fury of "Fighting Spirit", but the same sense of malevolence is there in its simple but powerful brass call to battle.
Taken for its standout themes alone, Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite would make a strong case for being the best of the series. However in between those themes, the albums suffers from a slow spell that lasts for a greater part of the middle of the album. If an attentive listen isn't given to the symphonic performance's finer details, the album can frankly be a bit tedious when taken in its entirety. The remaining themes of course have merit, but they're so subdued and similar in tone that it's easy to overlook their qualities. The arrangement for "Dungeon ~ Tower ~ The Phantom Ship" is so passive for its majority that by the time it's finished, the pretty but equally subdued "Distant Memories" is relegated to being little more than a lullaby. "Heavenly Flight" is another pleasant, relaxing piece, but following a string of similarly passive tracks it's difficult to appreciate.
Though the ending and battle themes in Dragon Quest III are spectacular, certain other series staples fail to stand out as much. The baroque string pieces that lead most Dragon Quest symphonic suites are one series tradition I could do without, and Dragon Quest III's inconsequential "Rondo" further convinces me of the notion. Waltzes are another series staple, and though "Sailing" is pleasant enough, it's hard not to compare to Dragon Quest V's livelier, more endearing "Bridal Waltz". "Around the World" makes an admirable attempt at infusing some charisma into the middle part of the score but falls well short of similarly styled medleys in Dragon Quest IV and V.
Classical aficionados appreciative of the subtleties of the form and Dragon Quest regulars accustomed to the pattern of its symphonic suites will be most likely to enjoy Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite in its entirety. As for series newcomers, those looking to experience a complete Dragon Quest score should probably try the more consistent Dragon Quest IV first, then either continue on to Dragon Quest III or just acquire its standout themes via one of the many best collections available. In any case, anyone with a taste for orchestral adventure absolutely must experience "Fighting Spirit" and "Into the Legend" in some way.
Another spectacular arrangement from Sugiyama.
Reader review by Chris Perry
After waiting almost a year to find this CD, I finally got my hands on it. I was not a bit disappointed. Dragon Quest III - Symphonic Suite is one of the most beautiful CDs I have ever listened to. The quality of the recording is excellent and the orchestra couldn't have performed better.
The theme of the CD is orchestral, featuring the London Philharmonic. About half the songs stay true to the originals, with minimum change, while the other half are medleys of two or three songs. Sugiyama's work - as with his other Dragon Quest CDs (except the first) - is exquisite.
The CD's tracks are mostly from the NES game, but a few, like the second one, are from the remade version for Super NES, which was unfortunately never released in the states. Although the SNES tracks are unfamiliar, they are still very good. As for the NES tracks, my favorite has to be "Rondo" (track 3). It is a wonderful arrangement of the castle theme, done in Baroque style. The weakest track is probably the fifth, "Dungeon - Tower - The Phantom Ship". It's not a bad arrangement (none of the songs are), in fact it's done very well. The problem is, it combines three monotonic melancholie songs - all similar to each other - into one 5 1/2 minute track. It does get obnoxious, but fortunately it is the only track that does.
Overall, Dragon Quest III - Symphonic Suite is a wonderful arrangement of the game. People who have never heard it before will thoroughly enjoy it, while fans of the game will fall in love.
The London Philharmonic is better than ever.
Reader review by Dennis McNulty
This has got to be the best arranged collection of songs for a game that I've heard so far! This CD is much better that the preceding arrangements for this game. Although, like the other Dragon Quest CDs, this doesn't contain original music for the 8-bit game, it is far better. The entire CD is orchestrally done and there is nothing synthetic or missing from the CD. It does contain arrangements from the 16-bit version of the game that was only released in Japan, so there are a couple of pieces that might seem unfamiliar to most, like "Prologue" or "Distant Memories", but they are still very good. I would recommend that anyone who has played Dragon Quest III get this CD; it is worth every penny!
- Reprinted on Aug. 23, 2000 (catalog no. SVWC-7063).
- Dragon Quest-sampling hip-hop track (2 posts)
- Dragon Quest X Symphonic Suite (2 posts)
- Chrono Trigger & DQ1 orchestral concert (Nov. 14 Tokyo) (5 posts)
- Dragon Quest IX Symphonic Suite (5 posts)
- Sorting out the Dragon Quest symphonic suites (15 posts)