A group of Japanese speedrunners have discovered that the key to getting faster times in all-time RPG classic Dragon Quest III is to literally control the temperature of their Famicom systems with hot plates and ice packs.
Dragon Quest III, like many role-playing games, is long. Playing through the game regularly can take dozens of hours, and even the fastest speedruns typically took over an hour before a major bug was found in August 2020. By following a series of steps that includes saving the game and quickly toggling the Famicom’s power switch while holding its reset button, the game will restart in a glitched state that, if exploited correctly, will max out the party’s stats.
Since the glitch’s discovery, Dragon Quest III speedrunners have used it to complete the lengthy game faster than ever. Japanese player Hitshee posted a time of 22:48 in November before pushing his time down to 22:22 earlier this month. His secret? Cranking up his Famicom’s temperature, usually in the 50° C (or 122° F) range but sometimes as high as 80° C (or 176° F), to improve his chances of getting the glitch to work properly.
According to a recent report by Denfa Minico Gamer, players have found that initiating the Dragon Quest III glitch can be manipulated by several external factors, including which model of Famicom they are using and the temperature of the console, which can make the internal memory more volatile. Where speedrunners like Hitshee and Pirohiko use heat-generating devices like hot plates, for instance, another player named baku_zero has employed ice packs to cool his Famicom.
Over the weekend, Hitshee, Pirohiko, baku_zero, and a fourth player named lime participated in a Dragon Quest III race during a speedrunning event. They all used the on/off bug and, as far as I can tell, at least Hitshee and Pirohiko used hot plates, with the latter setting a new world record of 22:07. It’s unclear if the temperature of the Famicom was crucial to achieving this feat, but I’m not about to argue with the extensive experimentation some of these players have put into the strategy.
“Don’t worry,” Hitshee wrote on Twitter in response to worried commenters. “I’m playing with a safety check. I’ve never broken an NES console, and it’s not as dangerous as you might think. If the unit does break, I’m quick to repair it. Even if you don’t think it’s worth it, it’s important research and presentation for us.”