Dragon Quest‘s Slime Mori Mori 3 isn't the first game I've played in Japanese without knowing the language, but it is the latest. But whereas playing Dragon Quest X in Japanese let me memorize menus and use context clues in cutscenes, and Theatrhythm Dragon Quest was a rhythm game that required very little reading, Slime Mori Mori 3 came with its own set of challenges. It meant getting lost a few times, and having to rely on translation tools a bit (to sometimes hilarious results), but, hey, that's part of the fun.
Let me back up here for a minute and say I realize a fan translation of Slime Mori Mori 3 exists, and I've heard it's great. But I'd played plenty of other games in Japanese without understanding the language, so I figured I would go ahead and try it out with this Dragon Quest spin-off, too. Like Rocket Slime on the DS (technically the second in the series), Slime Mori Mori 3 follows a little blue slime named Rocket and his various slime companions. But whereas Rocket Slime had tank battles, Slime Mori Mori 3 has pirate ships battles. If you know me, then you know that already is a major point in this third entry's favor.
From a gameplay perspective, Slime Mori Mori 3 feels a lot like the past games did – there's the Zelda or Mana-style exploration with bright colors coupled with the battles seen in Rocket Slime. Rocket can collect materials, pick up enemies, and blast various ones through cannons aboard his ship. You can also customize your pirate ship, which I found to be a lot of fun.
(P.S. If you're tired of reading, you can also just check out my friend Ryan's review of the game below.)
From a personal experience, playing Slime Mori Mori 3 in Japanese meant having to figure out most of the game by myself. I had seen very few videos or even screenshots of the game before playing and tried to go in with as little knowledge as possible. Yes, that meant it was more challenging, but that's also kinda what I wanted out of it.
Did I get lost? Of course I did! Trying to find all the Rainbow Orbs and bring down the pirate plattypunks takes time, and I had no clue what I was reading most of the time. The game's animations aren't as emotive as DQ10‘s, so context clues didn't help much. Using Google Translate in Dragon Quest X had hilarious results, so I gave this a shot too. It was somewhat helpful, but did seem to confuse one of the characters with cabbages. “Go find cabbages” or “talk to cabbages” was a frequent result, and you know what, I know that was incorrect but it somehow made Slime Mori Mori 3 more fun.
Is it stupid to play a game like this? Probably. But the real difference between an adventure and a misadventure is the mistakes we make along the way, and sometimes misadventures are more fun. That's not to say I would recommend playing it this way if you don't know the language. By all means, check out the fan translation of the game! Still, I think there's something fun about going into a game and having no clue what to do. It almost harkens back to those NES days when I was a kid, having no clue where to go or what to do in various RPGs, but exploring and figuring things out for myself.
Side note: You can also hear me discuss my early impressions of the game on Dragon Quest FM.
All in all, Slime Mori Mori 3 is a great Dragon Quest spin-off and just like Rocket Slime, it's cutesy and fun. Playing in Japanese meant I missed out on the puns, of course, but I still really enjoyed it. The fan translation goes a long way in making the game more available to a wider audience, but here's hoping we eventually get a Rocket Slime Collection or some other kind of re-release localized.