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Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite :: Review by Piano

Album Title Catalog No.
Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite (NHK Symphony Orchestra) BY30-5181
Dragon Quest III Remix Symphonic Suite (London Philharmonic Orchestra) SRCL-3563
Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite (London Philharmonic Orchestra Remastered) SVWC-7062
Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite & Game Boy Color Original Soundtrack SVWC-7071
Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite (Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra) SVWC-7247


There are three different versions of Dragon Quest III: Into the Legend — one for the Famicom (the Japanese version of the NES), the reprise for the Super Famicom (SNES by logic) and one for the Game Boy Color. Similarly, there are three different versions of this particular Symphonic Suite. One by the NHK Symphony Orchestra, one by London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the most recent one by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. However, given the performances from both the NHK and London Philharmonic have been remastered, that amounts to a total of five prints. The various performances do not detract much from the music — after all, they are still playing the same notes, though you get more music for your money with the latest offering. Oh, this happens to be an arranged album for the third Dragon Quest game, so three definitely seems to be a magic number in this case. Thankfully, there aren't just three tracks, or three notes...


Damn the Overture March! The reviewer would have liked the composer to do something different with the theme on each successive appearance, but unfortunately, it has not happened. For the best version of the famous tune, go straight to the first Symphonic Suite album, where the theme is fully developed and is of a decent length. Obviously, tradition requires this track to be present, but still...

There are many beautiful moments in this album, yet one theme stands well above all the others — "Heavenly Flight". This track must have been a favourite of Sugiyama's, as it reappears in the Dragon Quest VIII album also. It is tinged with melancholy, and has quite an adventurous middle section. The piece is orchestrated well, with the flute, oboe and harp used for the more lyrical segments and the power of the brass for the more climactic moments.

Sugiyama uses the same approach for the castle themes in most of (if not all) the Dragon Quest games, and the Handelian influences definitely show in "Rondo". The wonderful counterpoint and the intuitive grasp of the Baroque style never ceases to amaze, and this could have easily be mistaken for one of Vivaldi's violin concerti, with the brief, but delicious solo in the middle of the track. However, this approach to castle themes really does give the impression that Queen Elizabeth II listens to nothing except for Baroque music.

"Around the World" really is something. It is a medley of various town themes from the game, and it really feels like you're being taken on a journey. Armed with nothing more than a baton, Sugiyama takes you to Japan, Egypt, and back to that little village where everyone knows your name. You may question the authenticity of each country, but it's 6:48 of pure charm. What more could you want?

Of all Sugiyama's dungeon themes, "Dungeon ~ Tower ~ The Phantom Ship" is probably one of his better efforts, though the following pieces in the medley aren't so great. "Dungeon" isn't overly dissonant, yet it effectively conveys the mood of an underground labyrinth where everything isn't as it seems. "Zoma's Castle" is one of the most mysterious pieces Sugiyama has ever composed. Though not particularly memorable, it is worthwhile to hear how far Sugiyama's musical horizons stretch to.

"Fighting Spirit" is an interesting medley, as it contains in the middle one of Sugiyama's most memorable tunes, "Alefgard". However, the brevity of the track doesn't really do each piece much justice, and a full version of "Fighting Spirit" would've probably worked more effectively.

There really isn't any other piece that can represent the word "hero" more impressively or persuasively than "Adventure" can. The melody is extremely catchy, and you can easily find yourself humming the tune after listening to it. Sugiyama uses the brass section for what it was designed for, and the fantastic use of the snare drum, cymbals and bass drum only adds to the potency of this piece. One minor gripe is that the track is a little repetitive, otherwise it deserves to be listened to again and again.

Finally, "Into the Legend" closes the album very convincingly. From the initial fanfare to the final, powerful blare, it screams elation and triumph, and puts the seal on the CD.


This a wonderfully well balanced album with all the Dragon Quest traditions that is to be expected from Maestro Sugiyama. A wonderfully made, beautifully played CD.

Overall Score: 9/10