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Dragon's Crown Review

Just when you think the beat-em up genre has all but been put to rest, along comes a game that not only relives the greats but manages to infuse plenty of new ideas. I was a huge fan of Golden Axe and its many iterations across the arcade, Mega Drive, Master System, and Amstrad, each one captured the brutal simplicity and ferocity of walking across a screen and hacking whatever you came across. The franchise waned drastically with every later release, pretty much becoming a joke with the last effort, putting the Golden Axe series to bed. But it appears someone thought there was still life left in the old barbarian hack and slash as Atlus are about to release Dragons Crown for the PS3 and Vita.

Set in the mystical and medieval world of Hydeland, where many adventurers come to claim their wealth from the strange portal at the outskirts of town that leads to many labyrinths, full not only of treasure but dangerous beasts and monsters. You are one of said adventurers, freshly arrived at the Dragons Haven Inn and ready to partake in some looting, but before you depart you need to decide just who you are. With each of the characters styles dictating the difficulty of the game, you have a who’s who of fantasy fighting with the short but brutal Dwarf, able to throw enemies and charge up his already powerful attacks; The Fighter, clad in full armour and a huge shield able to protect not just himself but the rest of the party; The Elf, small and weak but a killer shot with her bow and arrow from a distance; The Amazon, fast and deadly with her two handed weapons but open to attack and finally the magicians; The Wizard who offers a variety of powerful magic’s and finally The Sorceress, who can turn enemies into frogs and also summon the dead to fight on your side. Whoever you choose, they are all relatively easy to control and each have their own play style, requiring very different tactics when on the battlefield, which in turn allows or plenty of replays later in the game.

Once ready you can then begin your quest in earnest, talking to the local Adventurers Guild or the Castle to offer your services and then venturing through the magical gate to the dungeons beyond. Each dungeon is a classic 2D beat-em up affair but with plenty of modern graphical tricks to add more depth. You walk from left to right and basically slay anything that gets in your way. To start with you only have one other adventurer to join you, though they are more of a support than of any use in battle, with Rannie able to unlock chests and doors at your command. Once your quests are completed you the travel back to Hydeland, which acts as your main hub, where you can spend you cash, be it appraising your loot, purchasing and equipping magic and weapons or resurrecting lost adventurers and recruiting them from the local inn to join you in battle.

With the game supporting cross-save it is very easy to transfer your saves between the two consoles and more importantly, the action is identical to one another, with the Vita handling it all really well and only an occasional slow down when you have a couple of sorcerers on screen casting at once; my only problem is that the small screen, whilst ideal for the side scrolling action, can make it quite hard to decipher which character is yours when the action heats up, resulting in some occasional button mashing and hoping you are the one dishing out the damage. The touch screen also works better than the control stick approach to commanding Rannie, with a simple tap to get him to unlock door and chests or to dislodge treasure form the walls.

The game looks fantastic with its hand drawn medieval visuals, the characters bulging muscles from all angles, though it has had some attention drawn to it for the rather voluptuous women. Obviously in this era there was not appropriate support to hold them all in, leaving many practically spilling out of their bodices and there are a few screen shots out there that make them hard to miss, but in all honesty when in battle you tend not to care about size and get on with the task at hand, killing monsters and looting.

Dragons Crown is a masterful blend of brutal beat-em up action with a classic RPG system of looting and upgrading separate characters that will entertain well beyond the initial story.

Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: PS3 / PS Vita)


- Classic hack and slash action with loads of looting
- Fantastic visuals on both the PS3 and Vita
- Four player co-op


- Only offers cross-save between the PS3 and Vita versions

Edited On 04 Oct, 2013

( 5 )
Zombieflamingo's avatar
Zombieflamingo 3 years ago
It is a shame there is no cross buy on this as I would have liked it on the PS3 for local multiplayer and the vita for just playing myself.
Baiken_'s avatar
Baiken_ 3 years ago
Really looking forward to this game.
inspector 74's avatar
inspector 74 3 years ago
This only appeared on my radar a couple of months back and I just thought this looks good with awesome visual style and the reviews ive read up for this have all said the same.....its brilliant, im not one to bother reading net reviews but theyre all so overwhelming positive so im really looking forward to this when it drops through my letterbox later this week
Akemi no Zero's avatar
Akemi no Zero 3 years ago
Great review. cant wait for this only few days left for its release.
Frimelda Lotice's avatar
Frimelda Lotice 3 years ago
This is an amazing game (I ordered an NA copy back in August). The only problem is the lack of cross-play AND the online's been hacked by the Japanese players, so it isn't advised to pick up any bones when playing with Japanese players.

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