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Updated November 20, 2004

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Cai's Quest 3

"Good and Evil Balanced by Heroes and Magic"

Believed to have been killed by Nick Ambiroth, Shaltre was actually in seclusion for five year's time. During that time, Nick and Cerl built and ruled a castle on the northwestern region, assuring peace and prosperity to all.

But with Shaltre's apparent return, it is now in Nick Ambiroth's hands to slay his nemesis once and for all before Shaltre's evil army triggers a war of incredible proportion. The key to averting the threat is defending runics, sources of great magical power... 

Game Review
Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
Average. The tilesets in Cai's Quest 3 are adequate, but not really spectacular in terms of detail or overall appearance. The game's maps are somewhat tileish, and the game features character movement, animation frames for villagers and for enemies, and a few other bonuses that are techonologically impressive. It would have been nice to see some higher-quality graphics though.

Cai's Quest 3 could also use some improvement in it's scrolling routines. The pixel by pixel map scrolling is erratic, stopping whenever the character reaches a new tile. The result is a sort of jerky movement that is more noticeable when the games "running" feature is turned on.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
The game's high point. The soundtrack is actually the best part about Cai's Quest 3, often being of such high quality that it clashes with the game's graphics. However, the music is a mix of unoriginal music and a few tunes composed exclusively for the game by Ben Price, Venosoft's musician. It's this clash from the ripped music that lowers the sound/music score to an average rating. 
Gameplay (n.)
The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
Cai's Quest 3 is a linear, traditional RPG made in the vein of the later Final Fantasy titles, with a mix of some of the game mechanics found in Konami's RPG series, Suikoden. Like Suikoden, weapons are not bought but upgraded, and magic spells are given to characters through the use of Runics. When a runic is used, it's effect can vary depending on the character who utilizes the runic. Choosing which runics to equip during key points of the game is central to progress.

The unwelcome mix into the Suikoden formula are the Final Fantasy-style battles, which copy some of the good and bad of a typical FF enemy engine. On the good side, players have access to different spells, items, and other combat skills that help mix up the game.

On the bad side, the game suffers from a terrible lagging problem due to the built-in attack bar, which is incredibly slow. Having to wait nearly eight seconds for each character's attack bar to fill up just to attack (when it takes about 4 rotations to kill an enemy of equal strength) literally feels like throwing away a minute and thirty seconds of life everytime an enemy battle takes place, watching the enemies bobble up and down.

Personally, I don't even understand why Cai's Quest 3 even needs a charging attack bar in the first place. Usually attack bars are added to distribute turns between enemies and characters, creating the feel of "real-time" combat. All the attack bar in Cai's Quest 3 does is significantly slow down the game, and make the entire battle experience tedious instead of fun.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
The plot itself is very different, Cai's Quest 3 storyline feels a little too much a cheapened version of Suikoden (which coincidentally also revolves runes, a concept similar to the runics in Cai's Quest 3). Cai's Quest comes across as a pretty serious story and it would have been nice to see some more terms and concepts made from scratch.

Some twists and turns are taken by Venosoft to help give the story some more originality, but the game suffers from another problem; the game is wrapped in too much unique jargon, to the point where the excessive banter disrupts the game's plot. There were simply too many town names, people, and other pieces of vocabulary thrusted at one time, presented in a way that is buried in too much drivel to understand.

Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
(Very Poor) The game's low point. Because of it's massive size and relatively small staff, there are a lot of parts in Cai's Quest 3 that feel untested. For example, many of the tilesets in the game are poorly formatted. It's too easy to find mountains or walls that haven't been assigned as obstructions, resulting in the ability to walk through entire mazes instead of actually travelling the right way, or walking pasts town exits and having to backtrack in an illogical manner before returning to the field.

Other unusual gameplay features in the game disrupt the gameplay. One of the more unusual commands in Cai's Quest 3 is the "run" command, an input that allows you to toggle between running and walking. This feature makes sense in an action-based RPG like the PC game Diablo II, where enemy battles are not taken care of in a menu-driven system. But this feature adds absolutely nothing to the Final Fantasy-style gameplay of Cai's Quest 3, and actually disrupts gameplay since running has to be re-toggled each time you play the game. I pity the poor gamer who forgets to talk to that one villager about how the "R" button works, because missing that one piece of information literally adds hours to the total playing time of this game.

Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
There are different ways to extend the playing time on an RPG, and Cai's Quest 3 extends the game by combining a lot of experience gaining with some awkward enemy balance. If you're walking somewhere where your party is not ready to go to yet, you are going to be smacked very hard, oftentimes with hits that take away 80%-100% of your life. Even one experience level can make all the difference.

The problem with this format is that it makes Cai's Quest 3's snail-like battle system feel that much slower and unwelcome. If fighting the same creature patterns over and over again using the same tactics isn't bad enough, having to repeat the procedure for an hour or so each time you progress adds insult to injury.

Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
(Very Poor) With two years of development time and the promise of over forty hours of gameplay, Cai's Quest 3 was one of the titles I was really anticipating to play. But after playing the game for nearly a dozen hours, even I had to throw in the towel in trying to play this game to it's end. Even the most devoted RPG nut will get frustrated of this game not because it's difficult, or because of it's length. This RPG is just so boring in nature that nobody would want to play it the whole way through, and those who do try to tame this beast may encounter glitches that hinder the gameplay or even harm the gamer's save quest. Not fun at all.

It's really too bad, because Cai's Quest 3 actually has a pretty decent battle engine that offers a lot of options and (on paper) has a lot of potential. But the battles are just too slow and uninteractive to be enjoyable, and the poor enemy balance simply breaks this game apart. If you ever do reach the end of this game and find out what happens to Nick Ambiroth, you ought to pat yourself in the back. Otherwise, there's no shame in letting this title go in search of greener pastures.

Cai's Quest 3 Reviewed by Vance Velez

Players 1 player Genre: Role Playing Game
Rating To solve: 45 hours Final Rating: 9/35

To download Cai's Quest 3 (5.08MB), click here.
wTo install Cai's Quest 3, go to the website and download "CAI3DOS.EXE". At this point, follow the installation instructions.
wAfter Cai's Quest 3 is installed, go to the main directory of the file and run "CAI3.EXE" to play the game.
wIf desired, you may download the latest patch for Cai's Quest 3 at to correct some glitches and optimize game speed.

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Game Summary
Coding Group
Homepage URL
Final Rating
9 out of 35 points

The Highs: Clocked at a hefty forty-five hours, Cai's Quest 3 is indisputably the longest QBRPG ever made.
The Lows: The heart of Cai's Quest 3 are the battle scenes, which are numerous, sluggish, and unentertaining.

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