Vanillaware has made some truly impressive games over the last few years. I’ll always be a fan of its work with the Muramasa games on Wii and PlayStation Vita; but we shouldn’t forget about the dazzling Odin Sphere either.
But then there’s Dragon Crown. Back when this game initially debuted in 2013, it regenerated the idea of what an arcade style beat-em-up could be, throwing in many role-playing elements, a few memorable characters and an art style that looked absolutely quaint -- even if some outfits were a bit, ahem, “suggestive.” It turned out to be a cool little cult hit, prompting the developer to work alongside the publishers at Atlus to bring it around a second time for PlayStation 4.
It’s funny, though. Like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Nintendo Switch, Dragon’s Crown Pro doesn’t offer an abundant amount of new content. There are some art touch-ups here and there, along with little things you might notice that are slightly different. But as a whole, it’s pretty much a dazzling looking port of the game we played almost five years ago. That said, it’s still a tour-de-force in fisticuffs action; and if you missed out on it the first time around, this is the best way to play it.
Evolving Gameplay Is the Key
The game gives you the ability to choose from six unique characters, each with their own special abilities. The Fighter and Amazon seem like ideal choices for start-ups, although the Dwarf, Elf, Sorceress and Wizard are worth their weight in gold once you get used to them. Trying each of them out adds something new to the game, as you’ll adapt to strategies you didn’t think were possible or, better yet, unlock the potential to really do some major damage.
But what’s great about the game is how it evolves from a typical brawler. Sure, at the beginning, hack and slash tactics work. But you’ll need to unlock skills that will aid you against tougher opponents down the road, as well as items that you can equip for better advantage. It never hurts to expand your health and mana options as well, lest you succumb to a foe that throws a powerful swipe your way.
There are times the action can be overwhelming. It can be fun, mind you, when you take down an armada in a few well-timed strikes. But it’s also easy to get lost, especially when other players join the fray to fight in your cause, be it either human or AI assistants. This doesn’t happen that often though; so, for the most part, you can continue to brawl and feel the sheer satisfaction of being powered up enough to kick a demon’s ass.prevnext
It's a Party, So Bring Buddies
The story can be a bit much at times, particularly when you run into arrogant characters or suggestive ones that reveal more than expected. But it’s more than enough to keep you going; and the overworld map is surprisingly easy to follow, whether you’re looking to level up or just want to jump into the next fight, wherever it may be. Plus you don’t always have to follow the same path -- Dragon’s Crown Pro is loaded with replayability, with various side missions and other tasks to take on. If you’re ready, mind you.
For those that have played previous versions of Crown, there’s good news. You can actually transfer your saves from those editions and continue on your adventure like you didn’t miss a beat. This is a wonderful feature that will save you hours of wandering around to get where you used to be. On top of that, there’s cross-play support with those older versions; so if your friends didn’t happen to upgrade to Pro yet, they can still join in and have fun alongside you. Another great feature, methinks.
The gameplay is still exciting enough to keep you returning. Along with the mission variety and the vast level-up system, Dragon’s Crown Pro also has terrific combat, including special moves that can level a small army if you time it just right. It can be slightly repetitive as you start, but the more you dig into the game, the more it really opens up. And when is the last time you’ve been able to say that about a side-scrolling beat-em-up? Yeah, like never.prevnext
The Graphics Are To Die For
That said, I wish they had optimized the touchpad controls a little better. It can take a little while to get used to chest unlocking controls (where you convince an ally to open it up for a small percentage), as it’s not nearly as precise as with the Vita version. But you’ll get used to it and get back into the action soon enough.
Where Pro really shows its improvements over the original game is with its visuals. The game looks absolutely stunning in 4K, with beautiful hand-drawn animations; vivid backgrounds that show what kind of world awaits in the distance; imaginative creature designs; and a solid frame rate, even as the screen gets overloaded with foes. The map system is also exquisite, as you circle around the world until you get to the location you need to go to next.
Again, some character designs are a bit out there (how do some clothes stay up, by the way?), but overall, this is an upgraded version done right. If you have a 4K TV, this makes the game worth purchasing along.
The audio is still the same, with convincing voice work (sometimes a little cheesy, but not too bad); strong, adventurous music that never skips a beat; and great sound effects. It didn’t really need much added here, so we’re happy the good stuff stayed intact at least.prevnext
Is It Worth the Double-Dip?
Whether Dragon’s Crown Pro is worth the upgrade depends on two things. First off, if you’re happy with the previous versions you bought, there’s not too much here -- outside of a stunning 4K transfer -- to recommend a double-dip. Secondly, if you’re a fan of the original game and really want to take advantage of the extra features, well, then it might be. Again, it’s all about what your scenario is.
But for those of you that do venture with a purchase -- whether a first-time buyer or a long-time fan -- you’ll find that Pro justifies its slightly lower price of $50. It looks outstanding and it plays just as well as it always has. It’s also packed with extra replay value galore, along with features that connect with older editions of Crown -- so your friends can come along for the ride one way or another.
Despite minor flaws, this Pro definitely proves it’s no con. It's worth the upgrade for0comments
WWG’s Score: 4 out of 5.
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.prev