Alrighty. I’m gonna try to get through this review without salivating about it to the point of it looking like a text rendition of an overly enthusiastic and sloppy blowjob… Well actually, that pretty much summarizes my review in a sentence. Dragon’s Crown is Vanillaware’s new arcade brawler/rpg exclusively for the PlayStation 3.
In it you pick one of 6 adventurers of varying skills and abilities and team up to search Hydeland’s 9 dungeons in search of treasure. That’s pretty much the whole story. After you pick your favorite character, you basically get put through a “Story mode”. I use quotes because it uses the first 9 levels of the game as kind of an acting as tutorial of the games quirks and features. After you complete these 9 stages you have to do them again, but this time the game takes the gloves off by giving you longer levels with more enemies and harder bosses.
Out the gate, the game is best for single player. But by design its set up to play 4 player co-op, It can be a little sluggish for that first story section of the game but after that your team can continue to adventure as long as your gear and gold hold up, and this is really where the meat of the game is. Some of the local multiplayer has some bugs in keeping everyone’s levels balanced or making the completion of quests, but in online mode this is rarely an issue. Once you reach the back half of the game you can drop into friends who are already out questing or about to, or you can set up your party so bots will drop in and play alternate characters, or other players can jump into your game and help out. At the end of the quest or when you drop out, you are awarded experience and loot.
During the main quests there are also little side missions you can get in town which reward you with exp, gold, and skill points. As you start to level up your characters you can start to unlock more abilities which make your characters more involving. As the difficulty ramps up, so does the speed of the gameplay. Each time you complete the 9 stages on a difficulty the level cap and difficulty raises bringing in more challenge. This is something I think really compliments this particular style of game because the more hectic things get on the screen, the less it feels like monotonous button mashing and more “Oh SHIT, get that guy! watch out! YEAH!” Also, depending on what type of character you play as, it might change your whole experience. With the increased difficulty, there are also increased rewards. We’re in an era of gaming where people love to grind for loot and while it might not be a WoW or Diablo III, I was certainly able to find myself repeating levels because my reward percentage was getting that much higher.
George Kamitami got a bit of flack from some people in the video game review community, because of the controversy surrounding the Sorceress’ tits. I’m not gonna get into that rant here, but I will say that Kamitami and the Vanillaware team might have some of the most brilliant artists in gaming. Dragon’s Crown has that incredibly visually stunning style of artwork that just manages to be brightly colored, complimentary, and incredibility detailed to itself. If you played Odin Sphere or Muramasa: The Demon Blade then the art style is unmistakable. There are multiple variants to the monster design and spectacular looking boss monsters. I think the Gazer is probably one of my favorites.
(Originally Shot for Rage Quitter)
Dragon’s Crown is a wonderful throwback to those old school (ugh, I hate that phrase) arcade stand-up days, where a group of people will pump quarters into a machine to try push one more level, get to one more boss. It’s a game that is fairly simple in design, but incredibly well executed. And on somewhat of a personal point, I think any game that isn’t grayish brown and doesn’t look down the barrel of an assault rifle should be lauded.
I found Dragon’s Crown to be absolutely worth the 2 year wait, and continue to have a great time with it. If you were at all a fan of Golden Axe, D&D Arcade, Turtles in Time, X-men the Arcade game, Crime Fighters, Simpsons the Arcade Game, Streets of Rage, Final fight, and so forth or have a penchant for a classic fantasy setting with fast paced action? I think you’ll find a home with Dragon’s Crown.