The Prettiest Dragon I Know
I love the music in Dragon’s Crown. Each song is perfectly suited for the fantasy theme and you have a nice variety of tunes, from the sombre when something sad happens, to the eerie when venturing someplace scary, to the triumphant, to the haunting. They have the same melodic feel to them as they do in some of Vanillaware’s other games, like Odin Sphere.
I’ve always enjoyed Vanillaware’s art style, as it always looks as though you’re walking around in a painting. Dragon’s Crown is no exception, as the backgrounds are detailed and have that level of polish that I’m used to seeing from them. They’re not as crisp as the characters, but they’re absolutely lovely nonetheless.
They’ve used their style to pay homage to all those fantasy art with the overly muscular, topless barbarian men and women wearing chain mail bikinis (check out fantasy artist Frank Frazetta’s website for examples of where Vanillaware drew inspiration from), and just about every other fantasy-related thing ever, and exaggerated the hell out of them.
The enemies are are just as colourful and entertaining to look at, and the bosses… oh man, the BOSSES! They all draw from those classic fantasy monsters, and look fantastic (I love the Red Dragon!).
As for their animation, I think a good point of reference would be the old-school Looney Tunes cartoons. No, I’m not kidding! Watch some old-school Looney Tunes cartoons, then jump back on Dragon’s Crown and pay close attention to, say, the Fighter’s run animation. Got that exaggeration flavour all over it, I swear!
So the visuals are awesome. George Kamitami and crew did a bang up job on this (as always!).
The Giant Elephant In The Room Seated Itself, And Called For A Stein Of The Finest Mead
Guess I really couldn’t tap dance around this, could I? Or I could, but people might call me on it, or wonder what I think about it, or something along those lines. A semi-brief explanation, in case you haven’t heard the hub bub.
Several months before the release of Dragon’s Crown, Atlus decided to release several character trailers, each one introducing us to one of the six classes. I mean, besides the screenshots that popped up here and there, and the brief trailer that UTV Ignition released back in 2011, we didn’t know a heck of a lot about our rag tag crew.
Seemed like things were going well, though. Then Atlus released the trailer for the Sorceress. And the internet went bananas.
People were upset with the depiction of female characters: the Sorceress and her large chest; the Amazon and her massive thighs; the NPCs that are shown as helpless, in little clothing, and/or in compromising positions.
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t bothered by any of that. At all. The designs are exaggeration of Frank Frazetta art (and similar art), and I’m a fan of that art style. They’re crazy and over-the-top, and I enjoy it.
That said, I understand that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. To each their own, yea? The saddest thing about all of this is that people will avoid the game because of the depiction of women, and that’s unfortunate, as the game’s captures the old-school fantasy brawlers to a tee, and fans of the genre would really get a kick out of it.
Fighting Dragons Again… And Again!
I have to say, I found the way Dragon’s Crown convinces you to play the game through again to be clever.
On your initial playthrough with a character, you can only go up to level 35 and have access to only a handful of Quests. Once you’ve beaten the game the first time, you’re given some story reason as to why ya gotta go fight more dragons, at which point the Hard Mode is unlocked, the level cap increases to 65, and the rest of the Quests become available. Beat that mode, and you’ll unlock the Inferno difficulty, and the cap increases to 99.
And those lil’ enemies are certainly no pushover. They will hurt you and make you cry. You can switch back to a lower Difficulty if the fire gets too hot for you, though, so go ahead and tough it out for a wee bit on Hard mode for a bit, if only to reap the massive increase of Experience points.
Another way to encourage you to play again is with another character. As mentioned, you have plenty of room to create multiple characters; one of each class, really. And you won’t have to worry about being short on gear because everything’s shared.
You read right: Every thing in your possession – all the items in the Armoury, all the gold you have, the bones waiting to be resurrected at the Temple, and the allies you’ve recruited – are shared between all the characters you create. So you could go through the game until you’re a Level 65 Fighter, then decide to start over as a Wizard. Not only will you be able to give yourself some fancy swag, but you’ll also be able to demolish every single enemy earlier on (well, maybe not YOU… your Level 75 NPC Amazon, on the other hand…).
Also, there’s the Labyrinth of Chaos that opens up after finishing the game, a multi-level dungeon whose rooms are randomly generated every time you go. There are goodies that you can only get here (like a potion that can help you “forget” your Skill Point distribution and allows you to re-allocated them), and again, you only get access to a few levels the first time you go. More will become available after completing the game on the harder difficulty levels.
Then there’s the online portion. After you finish the first half of the game, you’ll be able to take that character online. When you choose to connect to the Network, you can choose to join a random room, or go to a friend’s room and play with folks you know. Also, there’s a Coliseum, where you can challenge up to three human opponents online (or NPCs, if you don’t want to play against anyone).
I Grant Thee The One Crown To Rule Them All
I fell in love with Dragon’s Crown way back when it was announced back in 2011. And I’m in love with it more now. It really was everything I had hoped for. The action is fast-paced, it looks and sounds great, and it’s fun as hell. So nods all around.
Well… almost all around.
Again, some of the art might not fly with some, so I can’t recommend it 100% (much as I would like to). The best way to decide, though, is to try it yourself. As of this writing, there’s no demo available on the PSN store (WHY!?), so the best way to get it is to borrow it from a friend or rent it, and see everything for yourself in context.
Otherwise, go grab your best flame-resistant armour, and go forth to slay some dragons!
Final Score: 9.5/10 – Near perfection. This game has some nitpicks, but very, very solid nonetheless
The Dragon’s Crown Jewels
+ The art is lovely
+ Music is well done
+ Everything is shared between your characters
The Dragon’s Gross Nosehairs
– The constant backtracking might bore some people
– The depiction of women might turn some people off, and they won’t give the game a chance because of it