Review: Dragon’s Crown Pro – A Crown Fit for a Dragon

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Dragon’s Crown Pro is a remastering of the 2013 PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita title by the same name, which features upgraded visuals, cross-save compatibility and plenty more to enjoy.


Pros:
-Extremely unique art style that is rarely seen in the history of gaming
-A perfect blend of RPG and beat-’em-up gameplay elements
-An amazingly well-done soundtrack that stands out among its peers

Cons:
-Camera dragging becomes a problem when playing online with friends or the AI
-Multiplayer unlock takes quite some time to get to for those looking to group from the start
-Can get rather repetitious from time-to-time.


It’s odd, in a way, to see games such as Dragon’s Crown Pro launch in modern days. Side-scrolling brawlers seemingly inside by franchises such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the Dungeons and Dragons franchise, and game’s such as Golden Axe come to life.

They’re games and franchises that had seemingly all-but disappeared in the last generation. With only a few managing to stick around, it would almost make one wonder what pushed ATLUS and Vanillaware to polish up one of those few games that could easily defy the ages and garner a dedicated fanbase such as the one Dragon’s Crown had managed to do.

Originally having launched a little over five years ago, it seemed that Dragon’s Crown would remain a thing of the past, and fans who wished to play it would become a thing of the past as well. Seeing as both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita are now “relics of the past,” it almost seemed as time would move on without a fantasy RPG which would be an ode to all things retro arcade action, that would dabble in the nostalgic artworks we’d see in D&D books.

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However, that’s not the case with Dragon’s Crown Pro. It has managed to become even more polished than it had previously been. With 4K visuals, an aural upgrade, and even a swift dusting off for gamers who missed the game the first time around. Now that the game has been upgraded, patted down, and released into the wild, it’s time for you to grab your axe, dust off your helmet, slide on your boots, and return to Hydeland once more as we prepare to face down massive beasts of yore.

As one would expect, Dragon’s Crown Pro remains true to its SNES and Sega Genesis-era roots, one where games such as Golden Axe and Altered Beast inspired an era of side-scrolling beat-’em-up style games. Ones, where players would wait for the sign to continue on became evident and their time to face down the next wave of enemies would become evident.

Sprinkle in a couple of RPG mechanics and Dragon’s Crown Pro is a game that demands you give it your full attention before walking away. It’s not just a game that prides itself upon characters that are clothed in odd, but ways we’d seen in previously released games such as Golden Axe (notice how I’m mentioning this a lot?).

In similar fashion to the ’80s and ’90s-era games that inspired it. The story itself is almost non-existent, it’s about as paper-thin as paper-thin can be and it all involves a damsel in distress, a kingdom that’s filled with its very own problems, and, well, a dragon that has the crown. Just as one would expect, the story itself, even with a paper-thin plot, is quite enjoyable, something anyone can enjoy if they like stories that have you flipping page 394.

Once you hit page 395 (metaphorically speaking), the game cranks itself up to the maximum with four players getting in on the action. However, you can reduce how many other players or AI members can join you as you play. Loot, however, isn’t shared as one may think. But rather it is distributed at the end of every match based on the treasure found.

Fans of games such as Gold Axe and Streets of Rage might be rather familiar with how this genre works. It’s all about picking up items throughout every level as groups work towards the final boss of each area. Mechanics such as juggling enemies, parries, double-jumps, and off-the-wall combos are completely possible throughout the game. Even riding blue dragon’s or lizards that spit fire at their foes, a subtle nod to past titles.

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But one may be wondering if Dragon’s Crown Pro deviates from its predecessor releases. The truth is? It does nothing to change the opinion of naysayers from the past. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. The game does have an amazing progression system in place, an abundance of secrets for you to find, and even a lot of reason to go through multiple playthroughs of the game with each of the six characters and all the button mashing that accompanies them.

Accompanied by such awesome gameplay mechanics comes amazing and bigger-than-life artwork by Dragon’s Crown’s creator George Kamitani among various guest artists. Sadly, the outrageous designs you will see (as seen above with the Mermaid in Shallow Water) could very well be the deal-breaker for those wanting a game a bit more laid back. However, as a long-time fan of his works, having jumped on the bandwagon when having become aware of who he is. Personally, I think Dragon’s Crown is one of those rare and very artistically driven games.

A game where it stands out from the rest due to its outrageous designs and outlandish takes on everything fantasy. Even the games entire score has been re-recorded with a full-on orchestra, bringing what we had previously experienced to life in an entirely new light. Toss in some tracks that sound like they were dug up from movies such as The Hobbit and Conan the Barbarian and you’re right on par with haunting vocals and big brass sounds to bring the game to life. But fear not, if you want to revisit the classic soundtrack, you can, just head to the options menu and change it out.

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But one very welcomed changed isn’t one you would expect in our current era of gaming. Dragon’s Crown Pro isn’t leaving fans of the previous releases behind. This time, the game does see cross-save functionality between the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions of the game, and it has also already been confirmed that all three versions of the game will feature cross-play capabilities in the very near future.

What does that mean? You can go save a mermaid or two together and go crazy beating down that dragon that has killed you a few dozen times over. Now, you may be wondering. What if you own the original release of Dragon’s Crown and are considering this upgraded release, should you do it?

Essentially, this one is up to you. What you have here is something similar to Square Enix’s Tomb Raider Definitive Edition. Everything is still intact but comes with newly enhanced visuals, better sounding music and gameplay elements. Outside of that? It doesn’t change just a whole lot.

If you’ve already got Dragon’s Crown and are pretty sure you’ll play the previous release, then this version may not be for you. However, those of you who want better visuals, a reason to jump in party chat with a few pals, then this may be something to consider if you want a reason to get into some classic close-quarters combat with your pals.

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But a few minor irritations do remain completely intact. The camera control absolutely sucks. It won’t be uncommon for your pals to drag you about, moving the camera towards the corner of the room you need to go. Then there’s this obscene issue with too much going on at a single time on screen. I’ve often lost my character in the heat of battle, only to watch the Amazon get tossed about like a rag doll before ultimately finding a fate almost as bad as death.

Unfortunately, the camera isn’t the only issue. You’ll be locked out of online play until you get through the first few hours of the game. This means you’ll have to work with an A.I. that doesn’t exactly do the best and does more camera pulling than it does fighting from time to time. Not to mention, you will need to manage those you have let tag along, they don’t seem to level up as quickly as you, if at all.

Dragon’s Crown Pro – PlayStation 4
Developer: Vanillaware
Publisher: ATLUS USA
Release Date: Now Available
Cost: $49.99

Minor irritations aside, Dragon’s Crown Pro isn’t a game for everyone. It’s one that some may consider highly repetitive, vulgar and even lewd due to its character designs. However, if you can look past those minor flaws, it’s a game that sticks true to the arcade brawlers of yore, one where fantasy storytelling, tabletop RPGs, and fans of Golden Axe will enjoy. After all, it’s a love story to classic side-scrolling games, ones with scantily clad men and women, where towering knights wandered about the lands.

If you are one looking for a game that will be written down as a classic – then Dragon’s Crown Pro will outshine the rest and stand out among many of the PS4’s niche titles the console has to offer. Now go forth young adventurer, your story has yet to be written.


Our review is based on a retail version that was provided to us by the game’s publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.


Final Score: 8 out of 10


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.

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