Dragon’s Crown (Vita/PS3) Review

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Developer/s: Vanillaware, Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Price: $49.99 (PS3), $39.99 (Vita)
Release Dates:
Japan – July 25th, 2013
North America – August 8th, 2013
Europe – Fall 2013

Dragon's Crown

Dragon’s Crown is a fantastic game developed by Vanillaware and published by Atlus. Which brings a very polished game experience, if you’re a fan of games like Muramasa and Odin Sphere this game will be a total delight for you.
This title certainly pays homage to great beat-em-up games from the past, Golden Axe and Guardian Heroes came to mind when I saw the first images of this new game for the Playstation 3 and PS Vita.

Story
There is a mythical relic called Dragon’s Crown, which it’s said can control beasts and dragons, this artifact is coveted and decided by many, if this relic was found, evil people could dominate the kingdom of Hydeland.
A group of adventurers must fight the forces of evil, find and recover this object and help the royal family to save the kingdom. Fighting against dragons, harpies and mythological beasts, pirates and powerful wizards and more.

Dragon's Crown

Play with others via multiplayer for a brawlfest


Gameplay
As stated before this is a beat-em-up, if you played previous tiles from Vanillaware some of the class skills and powers will be extremely familiar. We can divide the classes in two groups, one being melee and the second ranged, which include the magic users and the archer. We have a thief which is controlled by the AI, he doesn’t really fight but is there to pick loot, coins and open chests and doors for you.

The Fighter, the most easy to play with and the most newbie friendly class, with a shield and sword attacks this is our tank, an ok damage dealer, can also boost party defense.

The Amazon, wielding a Great Axe turning her into a heavy damage dealer with brutal blows and berserk abilities. one of the strongest melee class in the game.

The Dwarf, uses hammers and is the second best damage dealer in the game. By using dive attacks with his mighty abs, grappling enemies and even the use of bombs.

The Sorceress, Uses elemental magic which changes depending on the elemental staff she is using at the time. Also possesses the ability to summon Skeletons to aid her fight. She is a balanced fighter, not so strong but with decent defense.

The Wizard, just like the sorceress he can use different staffs, he is a crystal cannon tho. While he is the strongest magic user, his defense is poor. He can summon Wooden Golems to help him fight.

The Elf, she is an archer and agility is her game. She can perform kick attacks as well ranged and fast attacks with her bow, not really a frontline fighter. Weak at first, strong as level up.

In conclusion the Fighter will be the most noob friendly class, followed by the sorceress or the wizard. The Elf is not an easy character to start with, this one requires commitment as you’l get stronger as you level up.

Dragon's Crown

Use powerful rune magic to bring statues to life


Everytime you complete a quest you will receive nt only loot but money and points to learn skills to power up your character, the learn skills is divided into class specific and common skills such as vitality boosts, scores, cool down reductions and many more.
I’d focus in learning the class specific skills first as you will unleash devastating attacks and special abilities that can help the whole party.
You can play Multiplayer with other PSN members which is extremely fun and a very strong point for the game. Or, you can pick allies to fill your party and play local. Once in a dungeon you will find piles of bones from dead adventurers, bring them back to the church and they will be resurrected (or burried if you so choose).

This system reminds me of that used in Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls. I have to admit i was a bit disappointed at first, as you cannot rename your allies, gear and weapons are preset, you cannot edit anything about them. I love to customize my characters and this was a letdown. The again, you do find a LOT of bones every time you venture into a dungeon, giving you new and stronger allies every time you go into adventures.
Another interesting mechanic is the Rune Magic, you can buy runes and will find more inscribed in the walls of different stages, finding the right combination of runes will give your party attack or defensive bonuses which are more than welcomed, specially when bosses are a hard nut to crack. Heck… you can even summon a flying carpet, how cool is that?!

Controls are simple and easy to master, no complicated combos, attacks are divided in normal and heavy attacks, melee fighters will loose their weapons once they use one of these powerful attacks, don’t worry you can pick them up after a cooldown.
Speaking of loot, this is one of the biggest reasons to replay this alot, finding rare grade A or better are a great incentive, powering up and gearing your character is a must, while you cannot gear your resurrected allies, you can gear the characters you create.

Dragon's Crown

Mount powerful beasts to aid you in battle


Audio
I love the narrative, i truly do. Although there is a small flaw.. every time you leave a building you listen to the narrator repeat the dialogue of the mission in turn, every single time as long as you stay in town, this can be annoying after a while.
In regards to the audio I think everything is perfect except what I have just mentioned. You can choose English or Japanese voices for your characters which is great. The music feels an air of grandeur that makes you feel the medieval epic of that kingdom.

Graphics
In a sense Dragon’s Crown is a spiritual successor of Muramasa and Odin Sphere. Certain details of the interface ressemble Murasama’s with a revamped style to fit the Medieval lore. Some attacks like the sorceress are like in Odin Sphere, this doesn’t mean it’s bad… not at all, on the contrary special attacks looks absolutely fantastic.
The art style in this release separates from the childish look of previous titles made by Vanillaware, takes a more adult and mature style which looks stunning!

Overall
In the end we can say Dragon’s Crown delivers what it promises, a game with excellent graphics, sound and most important, very polished gameplay that’s a delight for any fan of beat-em-up games.
Believe me when i say this is a game you cannot let pass, either if you play at home in a Playstation 3 or your PS Vita. Definitely a rare treasure among trinkets any fans of the genre should own.

Definitely a 9.5 out of 10!

Second Opinion (David) :
After completing the game’s campaign, I can say with no doubts that Dragon’s Crown a great adventure for all beat-em-up lovers, mainly because it changes a lot of things that were familiar with the genre.
First off, the artwork.

Since its release in America this August many people were disgusted by the way Vanillaware drew their main protagonists of the game. You know what I’m talking about –the Sorceress’ boobs, the Amazon’s cloths (or should I say no cloths) and the whole nudity that goes around the story.
These kinds of stuff aren’t something new in the Japanese gaming scene, but for western audience it takes time to get used to it. Don’t get me wrong on this one, many western studios sexualized their characters as well (Tomb Raider, Duke Nukem, Mortal Kombat and Leisure Suit Larry are the first to come to mind) especially women, but Dragon’s Crown brings it to a whole new level with its ridiculous bodies proportion.
To be honest, it doesn’t really bother me as most JRPGs that I play are like that, but I’m sure some people won’t enjoy Dragon’s Crown solely because of that. Nevertheless, I believe that Vanillaware should have included an option to soften the art.

Another thing that Dragon’s Crown introduces to the beat-em-up genre is online play and cross-connectivity between the PlayStation 3 and the PS Vita. Many games feature up to four players co-op mode, but how many of them can be played with multiple console – none. Sony is also pushing for this with promotions like cross-buy/save/play, but we would only see that on the next console generation.

On the same note, I must mention that the Vita version looks and plays identical to the PS3 version in both graphics and contents. For me it’s even better since the Vita’s OLED screen puts to shame the standard TV that I own. But competition aside, it feels like the home and portable version complement each other. You can play in your house, then upload saves to the cloud (no need for PS Plus) and keep progressing on the Vita – what more do we need?.
Vanillaware also managed to implement some RPG elements in Dragon’s Crown. For example, each protagonist you choose will have a special set of skills as well as hundreds of unique items weapons. So there’s always a reason to keep on playing and unlock everything the game has to offer.
In each save slot you can create 4 characters (Sorceress, Dwarf, Wizard, Amazon, Fighter, Elf), and the best thing about it is that you have the option to move items from one to another.
The last thing I would like to discuss is Dragon’s Crown’s story-telling. Unlike many Japanese games, Vanillaware preferred to use a narrator rather than dialogs between characters. Overall, it adds a lot to the mythical environment, but if you wish to start again with another character, there’s nothing new to explore.

Conclusion: Gamers who love the beat-em-up genre will find themselves at home with this one, although some may want to skip it due to the artwork. If you love Japanese culture (JRPGs, animes and such..), I would recommend you to give this one a try.
Pro:
+Cross functionalities
+Brings something new to the table
+Ton of content
+Online play
Cons:
-Some may say Vanillaware went too far with the artwork
-Starts slow
I give this one 9.5 out of 10!