Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Dragon’s Crown Pro ★★★★☆

In the early days of gaming, when we were happy to be stuck to the floor of the local Arcade, by what I hope was spilt Coke, there was an abundance of Scrolling Beat 'em ups. Every company was trying to cash in on the success of Double Dragon and Final Fight. Capcom made some of the best, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, The Punisher, Alien vs Predator and the legendary Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara, while Konami took everyone's money with Turtles in Time. My favourite still goes to Sega's Streets of Rage 2, for the Mega Drive. With the transition to 3D and the sad demise of the Arcade, the genre I once loved, fizzled out. Not that people didn't try making new games, they were just generally quite bad with the odd exception, like Guardian Heroes, for the Saturn. Mostly though, they all came out like The Bouncer...

With the resurgence in retro fandom and the influx of the indie scene, within the last couple of generations, the genre has started to poke it's head out again. The small studio Behemoth master crafted Castle Crashers and Vanillaware gave us Dragon's Crown.

Taking inspiration from the aforementioned D&D: Shadow over Mystara, Dragon's Crown is a frantic Hack 'n' slash Action Rpg, scrolling brawler; set in a medieval Fantasy world with a very peculiar and unique art style. Like the rest of Vanillaware games, everything is their infamous hand-drawn art style which aside from the protagonists, drawn by someone's puerile idea of human anatomy, it is very pretty to look at. I'm fairly sure Vanillaware's character artist skipped all their life drawing lessons, at art school.

After a lengthy and gruelling, but sort of necessary, opening tutorial you're finally able to start Quests, picked up from the guild, and begin hacking your way through intricately designed and animated enemies. One of the strongest, and essentially so, elements of gameplay are the fighting mechanics. Each class of hero has its own play style, with new moves and abilities to learn as you progress and level up. You can team up and venture out with up to three other adventurers or, for those that don't have friends, let the computer control them. The screen does get a little overcrowded, at times, with four big heroes on screen plus the hordes of enemies and everyone's attack animations flying about, though.

A feature of the game I really like, and one that's often overlooked, is the ability of Cross Play between systems. So even that friend who still owns a PS3 and has no intention of getting a PS4 can join you online to take down nests of Griffins, with their hero of choice and physic defying boobs. Then transfer your cloud save to a PS Vita and continue the journey on the move.

Bry Wyatt

Dragon’s Crown Pro at CeX

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