We’ve been fortunate enough to play unique games from talented creators over time, and while the priorities of some developers have changed, resulting in the same mass market productions being churned out time and time again, Dragon’s Crown from Vanillaware is something special.
You may have probably heard about the game since it was embroiled in numerous controversies, one which questioned its character design, showing highly exaggerated body parts. The argument was that it was not conducive to proper game design but I disagree. That is where the charm of the whole game lies.
Dragon’s Crown is a 2D side-scrolling game with a mix of RPG and beat-em-up mechanics, You get to choose from six different characters to experience a mythical world. The classes themselves are something that most people will be familiar with; Elf, Amazon, Knight, Sorceress and that sort.
Each character classes have their own strengths and weaknesses, and I picked the Elf in my first playthrough. The Elf is a short archer with a cape and the colour can be customized to your liking. I have always had a fondness for characters with a bow, and needless to say it’s really fun to use that here.
"There's a lot of replayability here, more than 100 hours should you choose to beat the game with every character."
The controls are pretty straightforward. The square button does basic attacks, and the circle button does secondary attacks.
You can heal and use items using the d-pad and do other moves by pressing a combination of buttons. Each character has their own moves but the core moves like punching and jumping are standard for all of them.
Since the game is designed in a way that you don’t have much freedom, the combat scenarios can get highly challenging. The initial tutorial section teaches you all the basic moves but you are on your own from there.
This is where the game’s sort of RPG mechanics come in to play. You have three lives which can be extended using various ways and you also have to take care of your AI partners who will be beneficial in many ways.
I got paired up with someone who could open chests for me and he generally stood back from most fights. The great thing about this game is that you can select any character and it really gives you a different experience. There’s a lot of replayability here, more than 100 hours should you choose to beat the game with every character.
"I was a bit disappointed that you don't get much introduction for the character you pick."
I was a bit disappointed that you don’t get much introduction for the character you pick. You are directly thrown in this world where the game’s art style is in full display, and depending on how much you love such design, your enjoyment of the game will vary.
You can repair and buy equipment, and all this requires gold which is available in abundant. You can get them from treasure chests or by defeating enemies and bosses or clearing levels.
There are a bunch of levels here, each with a boss and once you obtain 9 talisman, you can fight the final boss and beat the game. The online mode unlocks after the 9th level. The reason for such a decision has not been given but it definitely struck as absurd to me.
The entire charm is in leveling up and you are able to level up to 99 as you beat the game in hard and inferno mode. Most people will never reach that stage but there’s definitely something to play for here.
"I'm honestly glad that this game came out as it isn't something you find a lot nowadays, so credit goes to Vanillaware for thinking out of the box and crafting an addictive game."
The story is narrated to you and you have the option to skip the text and proceed directly to the gameplay, but the narrator’s voice is quite soothing so I don’t know why you would want to do that. The boss battles are unique and challenging, and the random enemies come in all shapes and sizes as if they were plucked from the 90s and put into this game.
The review code that I was provided with came with both the PS3 and Vita version of the game and the retail version does not support cross buy. This review was done with the PS3 version, and I can imagine the experience of the Vita version to be much higher because this is a game that demands you to play in bed, as the RPG mechanics can sometimes be overwhelming.
I’m honestly glad that this game came out as it isn’t something you find a lot nowadays, so credit goes to Vanillaware for thinking out of the box and crafting an addictive game. There’s a lot of replayability here, tons of customization, and the RPG/beat-em-up mechanics are quite solid too.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Replayability. Tons of content. Excellent art style. Enemies are varied and bosses are fun to fight. Good RPG mechanics.
The story could have been better. The introduction was a bit weak. The game isn't for all.
Dragon's Crown isn't something a lot of people will appreciate but if you give it a chance and check out all the content it offers, it will definitely prove to be worth your money. While the game has its quirks, Vanillaware have done an outstanding job in standing true to their vision and delivering an excellent game.
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