Dragon’s Crown

PlayStation 3
Dragon'sCrownDragon’s Crown
Playstation 3 – August 6, 2013
Developer: Vanillaware
Publisher: Atlus

Better late to the party than never, right? I love side-scrolling fantasy brawlers, so I was quite pleased to find Dragon’s Crown under my Christmas tree this past December. While I missed it upon its original release, Dragon’s Crown has long been on my to-do list. There are few things I love more than dashing to the right while slashing everything in sight; it’s as close as you can get to safely running with scissors.

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Dragon’s Crown was directed by Capcom alumnus George Kamitani, who helped design such genre classics as Tower of Doom and Shadow Over MystaraThe game does not shy away from this pedigree; its packaging  bills it as “George Kamitani’s stunning homage to classic fantasy gaming.” “Stunning,” is an apt descriptor. Dragon’s Crown is one of the rare PS3 games that supports 1080p, and nearly every screenshot looks like it could double as the cover for a Dungeon Master’s Guide.

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Unfortunately, Dragon’s Crown’s stunning visuals can also work against it. In any 4-player brawler, it’s quite easy to lose track of your character when the action gets heated; any gamer old enough to have set foot in an arcade can attest to this fact. Dragon’s Crown is no exception to this rule, and its lavish visuals often exacerbate the problem. Keep an eye on the Dwarf (me) in the video below:

The astute observer will note that I am spending a lot of time flailing around like an asshole, targeting nothing in particular. That’s not because it’s my preferred method of attack (though it does seem to work well enough) – I just kept losing track of myself in the action. While you’ll get somewhat acclimated to the clutter over time, your character never stands out from the setting quite as distinctly as they should.

Clutter aside, while there’s nothing mind-blowing about the minute-to-minute gameplay in Dragon’s Crown, it’s more than serviceable. Vanillaware brings no stunning innovations to the table, but Dragon’s Crown is, at its core, a wonderfully mind-numbing fantasy brawler. It feels astonishingly similar to its spiritual predecessor, the aforementioned Shadow Over Mystara.

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It’s clear that the talented artists at Vanillaware poured a lot of love into Dragon’s Crown (just take a look at the gallery at the end of this post). In fact, maybe they poured a little too much love into this project. At times, it seems as though Kamitani and his crew were vying for the title of “world’s most talented perverts.” You know, on second thought, I don’t even think anybody is even punching in their weight class.

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“Hey boss, I finished the concept art for the dragonkin.”
“Can you put boobs on it?”
“What? Uh… well, I guess.”
“Did you put boobs on it?”
“Uh, no.”
“Back to the salt mines, Yoshi.”

Dragon’s Crown’s art style is well-worn territory on the Internet, so I’ll simply say that I found that it detracted from what was otherwise a perfectly enjoyable game. Dragon’s Crown is a game that wants you to play it for hours on end – a single playthrough took me just under 20 hours. It’s difficult to want to play more than that when you have to deal with the shame of explaining things like this to your wife:

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All that aside, I enjoyed my time with Dragon’s Crown. It’s got a few issues, but it’s a solid entry in a genre that doesn’t get a lot of love these days. If you’ve got any love for 2D brawlers, it’s well worth the $19.99 they are selling it for these days.

Played on a Playstation 3

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