Almost all the Dragon Quest games have multiple symphonic suite albums consisting of different performances, and Dragon Quest III is no exception. Joining those by the London Philharmonic and the NHK Symphony is this most recent symphonic performance by the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra. For a more complete look at the content of the soundtrack itself please see the London Philharmonic version, which at risk of ruining the suspense I'll mention is generally superior. This review will instead focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the secondary but still respectable Tokyo Metropolitan recording.
Compared to other versions, the individual instruments in this recording sound more uniform in sound, almost like a union of live orchestral music with game synth. Performances sometimes lack the detail and subtlety of other versions, though the solo performances generally fare quite well. The brass certainly outperforms the weak brass in the NHK version but is borderline abrasive in "Adventure", and it lacks the force and vigor of the London Philharmonic version in the classic "Fighting Spirit". There's also a bit of metallic resonance to the deeper brass tones that can be distracting if the bass on one's audio equipment isn't kept in check. Some soundtrack fans have a problem with the mastering of the various Tokyo Metropolitan symphonic suites and in this album the complaints seem justified, as certain tracks sound compressed compared to the London Philharmonic recording.
The four new arrangements that were added for the Super Famicom remake of the game and the London Philharmonic symphonic suite are present here, among which is the one performance of the album to completely trump other versions, "Distant Memories". Thanks to a couple of gorgeous solo performances and a fuller overall sound, what was once a pretty but merely passable piece in the previous symphonic suite is a highlight here. As for the other recent additions, "Prologue" is still nice but doesn't have the exquisite beauty of the London Philharmonic version, nor does "Gruelling Fight" possess quite as striking a sense of menace.
The chipper, partially pizzicato "Rolling Dice" is completely exclusive to this Tokyo Metropolitan symphonic suite. The piece doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of the score, but along with the excellent rendition of "Distant Memories" it does liven up the slightly tedious middle section a little.
Classical collectors in particular should steer towards the London Philharmonic version of Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite for its more pristine and balanced recording, but for those who want the most complete collection of Dragon Quest III orchestral music and aren't so particular about the fine details, the Tokyo Metropolitan version is an acceptable alternative.