I should put the blame all on Jed for getting me hooked on Dragon’s Crown. Heck, I didn't even know about it till he started sending me some links about it. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m glad that he did because I really do miss a good ol' beat-em-up kind of game. So what is Dragon’s Crown exactly? As I said, it’s a 2D beat-em-up game with hand drawn art, for the Vita and PS3. Let’s make it clear off the bat: I own and played the Vita version and no, Dragon’s Crown is not a cross-buy game, although you really do want to play this game on the handheld rather than on the console and I will tell you why I think so.
The 2D beat-em-up genre is not really known for its compelling story nor game mechanics. The simplicity of having your character moving left to right and occasionally up and down with a decent combat system makes the experience enjoyable in bite sized sessions, which the Vita is naturally a master of. I find myself at times picking up the Vita to play a quest or two then putting it back down to play or do something else. It’s fairly easy to pick up and play again since there’s nothing too complex about the game at all.
Controls and combat on the Vita is handled really well as well. It was a very pleasant surprise for me that I was able to manage some combos, air juggles, and hilariously throwing enemies around with finesse and ease. There’s also a small feature that makes it such a treat to play on the Vita: using the touch screen and tapping on doors or chests for your rogue companion to unlock. You have the option using the right analog stick to move your pointer and execute the “tap” with the left shoulder button, but, simply tapping on the object makes it much more streamlined process, most especially at times when it gets hectic and there are a lot of enemies on the screen to deal with.
And speaking of hectic, there’s a real noticeable delay when stuff goes “ape shit” on your screen, when suddenly the mage is throwing whirlwinds around or if there’s so much enemies trying to come at you at once. Some may call this a flaw of the game, but I call it a tactical advantage. You see kids, once you’ve hit your peak on your gaming prowess, any time a game can slow down, most especially if there are too many things happening at once, for an old man like me, is very welcomed. The delays help me manage the enemies better and give me a good grasp on what I need to be doing and avoiding. I acknowledge that this is a technical fault of the game’s engine, but I’d rather see it as a hidden feature.
Of course with any game in the beat-em-up genre, you are promised co-op, but unfortunately for me, I have yet to experience it. Co-op is purposely not available on the first 6 hours of the game. You’re made to play a number of quests, before the co-op mode is unlocked. Initially, I thought this was going to be a hassle to go through, but after playing the game for a while in single player, I appreciated why the designers went with this route. The story was surprisingly engrossing for a beat-em-up game: something rare that you would associate with the genre. It won’t win any awards, but the characters in the game are interesting enough that made me want to know what’s going to happen next.
And lastly, I can’t write about Dragon’s Crown, if I don’t mention the controversial art style. Yes, all the women have large breasts, but the men show a bit of skin too (most especially the dwarf)! It’s not glaring or bothersome at all and I personally enjoy it. And that’s all what I’m going to say about it.
We talk about it more on the podcast just in case you’re not fully convinced yet, and Jed did a good job of explaining the game. Have a listen!
You can pick up Dragon’s Crown at the PSN store for $40 for the Vita and $50 for the PS3 if you were wondering. Unfortunately it’s not cross-buy, but it’s cross-save though. If you decide to get both, you can pass around your progress between both platforms.