A lot of people forget the olden times, the archaic era of arcade machines and primitive home consoles. Graphics weren’t the best, the games were brutally hard and unforgiving, and most of all the games were fun. This was most true with the genre of games known as “Arcade Beat-Em-Ups”. These games were designed to suck away all your quarters, but were at the same time very fun and enjoyable. By far, one of the most memorable arcade beat-em-ups would have to be the Dungeons & Dragons ones. These games were quarter-suckers back in the day and the developers behind it decided to create their magnum opus. The following game is a send-up to the age of yore, I am of course talking about Dragon’s Crown.
What is Dragon’s Crown? It’s a game that has been in the works for a very long time, since the late 90s to be exact. After George Kamitani (The game’s developer) did some work on Princess Crown, he decided to start work on a new project. Time passed and it took a lot of time to get developed, especially due to the lack of interest in the genre. After a long amount of time, the game was finally finished and released simultaneously for Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita. I thought I should give a review on this game as it is the one I’ve played most on my Vita. I haven’t played PS3 version, but I’m told it’s essentially the same. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty!
The plot of the game is somewhat nonexistent. The game is said to take place in the same universe as two of Vanillaware’s other games “GrimGrimoire” and “Odin Sphere”, but on a different timeline. You are sent on quests through various areas on behalf of the kingdom and eventually come across a plan to resurrect a powerful ancient dragon from his age-old slumber. Most of the areas you’ll visit will have little to with the actual plot, they are mainly areas with some awesome set-pieces and fun bosses. Halfway through the game you are given a new mission to collect 9 talismans by fighting 9 brand new bosses. Once the talismans are collected, you confront the Ancient Dragon, defeat him, and are promptly rewarded 1 of 6 endings depending on the character class you selected. And that’s pretty much the plot in its entirety.
Here’s the best part of the game: The gameplay. As mentioned before, the game plays like a beat-em-up. You choose one of six classes, start a mission, and proceed to travel to the right fighting every enemy in the process. However, it’s not as simple as that. The game is also part dungeon crawler RPG, so you will be gaining items, leveling up, and acquiring new gear along the way. The game offers items such as potions, spell scrolls, and magic runes as basic items. However, there is also a lot of equipment you can earn by playing through the game and opening chests. Each character has unique equipment that is exclusive to its particular class as well as equipment that can be worn by any class. Every equipment piece is given a certain alphabetical rating with E being the worst and S being the best. After a while, I just focused on getting A and S rank weapons and armor as those offered the best stats.
The game also offers six different classes, most of which play different than each other. You have the bulky armor-wearing Warrior, the muscular and powerful Dwarf, the buxom Xena ripoff Amazon, the Sephiroth clone Wizard, the archer Elf, and the busty Sorceress. The classes are grouped into different difficulties, with the magic and archery classes essentially being the game’s Hard Mode. The game also has regular difficulty levels, unlocked by beating the game on Normal Difficulty.
The class I found myself using most is the dwarf, due to rock-hard defense. Each class boasts abilities the others do not possess. For example, a sorceress can call down a blizzard to due ice damage to enemies and a Dwarf can use a Lava Bracer to add fire damage to his attacks. You can sink points into certain abilities and unlock new ones, building a strong character build in the process. The level cap for the game used to be 99 but was raised to 255, a level which I never reach. That level 132 Dwarf has leveled up twice since I took that pic and I doubt I’ll ever get him 255. The primary way to level up your character is to earn experience points but to do this you need points. The more points you have, the more experience you get. So, by getting that score higher you can level up multiple times in one play session.
The game itself plays like your typical beat-em-up, you mash the attack button and activate special abilities to do a ton of damage. The game features 9 core areas that have one alternate area that is unlocked at the halfway point of the game. You are also given the Labyrinth Of Chaos, a special dungeon full of randomly generated map layouts and immensely hard bosses. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as the game offers a ton more than just that. You’ll have to play it for yourself to see what all this game has to offer.
Graphics And Sound
This game looks beautiful and its graphics are highly detailed. The visuals are all hand-painted with drawn 2-d sprites and backgrounds. Each character is loving detailed and well-drawn, even though most of the character designs for the women feature giant jugs and butts and 80% of males in the game are super muscular dudes. Despite the ridiculous character designs, graphically the game is impressive and really shows that 2-D games can look just as amazing as 3-Dimensional ones.
The sound and music for the game is awesome too with enough medieval-sounding tunes to fill up a small renaissance Fair. The soundtrack does a good job of sucking you into the game as does the voice acting. The game features some great voice acting talent who have done voicework for games, TV shows and anime. They do a great job of representing their characters very well and I don’t think that there is a single sour one in the batch.
Despite being a game that is almost two years old at this point, I still find this game immensely enjoyable. This is one of the few games I have ever pre-ordered and played on the day it was released and I have never regretted it one bit. It also came with an amazing artbook, that’s more like a Playboy Magazine due to the excess amount of half-naked lady pictures. Still, if you can look past the character designs and fan-service moments, then you have yourself a solid and fun action game. It takes the best parts of beat-em-ups and dungeon crawlers and mixes them together. I’d give this game a rating, but that would imply it’s comparable to other games on the market. Sad fact of the matter is that they don’t really make games like this anymore, unless you count the large amount of Indie beat-em-up games. If need be, I’d rate this a solid 8/10. It’s a solid enough title with lots of replay value and tons of loot to collect. I reccomend this game to those hardcore RPG nuts looking for something for their Vita or PS4.