Dragon's Crown Review

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No review of Dragon’s Crown is complete without referring to the busty proportions of its female cast, not because that’s all it has to offer but because it demonstrates Vanillaware is incapable of crafting a character defined by anything other than their ludicrous bust size. Ignore the shallow stereotyping however, and you’ll discover a challenging 2D action side-scroller that more than makes up for its shortcomings.

But first, boobs. It’s probably the first thing that attracted you to Dragon’s Crown so for that it deserves at least a minor mention. They’re big, they jiggle a lot and they’re slapped on virtually all the game’s female characters – the playable sorceress and amazon classes, the magic-shop owner Morgan, and a bunch of imprisoned slave girls captured by a vampire with, you guessed it, big breasts. While they might catch your initial attention, after 20+ hours of gameplay you will be wishing for greater plot complexity than the game’s preposterous breast physics – their only possible explanation being this game is set before Newton discovered gravity, hence it didn’t exist.

So unless you harbour a fetish for ridiculously proportioned cyber characters the prime reason to pick up Dragon’s Crown is in the act of killing things, the method of which will be decided by your character class – fighter, amazon, dwarf, elf, sorceress or wizard. The game recommends one of the close-combat physical fighters for beginners (fighter, amazon, dwarf), a wise choice because the game quickly ups the challenge in later stages of the game.

Unfortunately, for me at least, that choice was a double-edged sword. Picking the dwarf enabled me to quickly tear through the campaign, but it meant battles quickly devolved into mindless button mashing as I struggled to locate where my on-screen character was situated. Whether you choose to add up to three allies to your party or not, they often join mid-mission, quickly filling up screen space already muddled by large bosses and groups of smaller enemies.

Unsatisfied I dove back into the campaign as the wizard – to hell with the game’s expert-only warning label. While my magic-spewing friend dealt less damage per second and suffered from inferior defence, he forced me to play strategically – positioning myself on opposite ends of the battlefield and teleporting through enemies when they got too close. Now I could keep track of my character, charge him up for a mighty meteor attack, and then rain down hell as large molten rocks of fire were summoned. Switching to the wizard meant I was finally enjoying the game, so choose your class wisely. Besides, is there really a choice between a soldier that waves sharp metal sticks around, and a man who can conjure thunderstorms?

Regardless of your sorceress or fighter choice, the makeup of each level stays the same; fifteen minutes of lower tier enemies followed by the always enjoyable boss fight. One such encounter had me battling a horde of pirates when a magic lamp dropped on the battlefield. Occupied by the seafaring thiefs I ignored it and paid the price accordingly. Out of the magic lamp came a giant genie, vomitting magic well beyond my wizard’s reach that quickly dismantled my party. Keen for revenge I swiped the relic and summoned my own lamp-dwelling warrior, raining down destruction and apocalyptic despair.

Legolas eat your heart out

Legolas eat your heart out.

Later in the campaign you’ll also run into magic runes – engravings etched into the walls of each level’s environments. Discover the correct rune pattern from among three and they’ll provide you with character buffs, useful on occasion but also suffering from some major issues. The first is before you can use them the game must prompt you to seek them out. Follow their directions and you’ll discover the runes won’t react to anything you do – the problem; the game directed you to the wrong place. Yes Vanillaware, epic failure. Then when you can interact with them, they appear in the most inconvenient of places. Like moments before the room fills with enemies, giving you mere seconds to unravel a minute long puzzle as ferocious sludge-men pummel you with their giant fists.

Despite all this I’d highly recommend Dragon’s Crown to any fans of the side-scrolling genre; the combat is top notch, co-op a blast and the art style a visual treat as alluring as Vanillaware’s over-sexualisation of women.

  • PS3

The Verdict

Dragon’s Crown’s story and characters may be as shallow as the silicone implants of its female cast, but don’t let that fool you; this medieval fantasy is well worth the journey for the action alone.
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