Dragon's Crown Preview
Ah, the sprite. For many, that word holds a great deal of meaning via pure, fuzzy nostalgic virtue. The cool part is that companies like Vanillware haven’t completely abandoned the old-fashioned character form, as they’re infusing new life into the classic design style. From the makers of Odin Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade comes Dragon’s Crown, which features high-res sprites, colorful fast-paced action and a steep difficulty. The latter will probably remind gaming vets of yesteryear, too. So you might wanna crack those knuckles.
Fans of games like Odin Sphere should know, however, that Vanillaware’s latest is more of a brawler or beat-‘em-up rather than a straightforward action/platformer. It might remind you of something like Streets of Rage or Golden Axe, as the 2D world does boast some depth but remains mostly traditional from top to bottom…or rather, in this case, side to side. These are the kinds of games that would suck up quarters in the arcades, the kinds of games that would challenge you and keep you playing for hours on end. It’s just so nice to see a nod to the past, especially when the developers have remained faithful to the classic formula.
There will be six characters from which to choose: There’s the standard Fighter, who features high defense due to full plate mail, the Amazon, a quick and agile melee fighter, the Elf, a ranged attacker, the Dwarf, the short but extremely powerful combatant, the Wizard, the weaker but highly devastating ranged spellcaster, and the Sorceress, who specializes in single-target magic and status-altering magic. Although each character has strengths and weaknesses, all of them will be able to attack, defend, and use unique skills. Progression includes leveling up, unlocking new abilities, and even customizing your character’s advancement.
Okay, so that last feature is definitely more modern, but you have to appreciate the addition, as it adds depth and longevity. Another more modern aspect of the game will be the fact that each stage boasts branching paths. Plus, there are different quests to tackle, which means that it’s not an exactly linear adventure, as we have a bit of freedom and choice. In terms of multiplayer, there’s both offline and online play. For the offline play, it’s similar to Demon’s Souls in that the actions of other gamers can be seen; i.e., you see a pile of bones where other players have died. Those bones can even be returned to town and revived as NPCs, and the dead can leave warning messages, too.
Those NPCs can actually join you on your quest and it seems that over ten will be allowed to follow you around. That would create quite the party! Anyway, Dragon’s Crown appears to be a potentially great old-school-like title for the PS3 and Vita, and it should arrive some time during the second quarter of this year. It was initially slated to launch last year, but publishing duties switched to Atlus and the date got pushed. No matter, we can be patient, right? This one should be worth that wait.
3/4/2013 Ben Dutka