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Dragon's Crown (PlayStation 3) artwork

Dragon's Crown (PlayStation 3) review

"So, just what do you get as a reward for overlooking the boobs? The answer, it turns out, is an enjoyable romp through fantasy tropes that include nefarious wizards, mythical creatures on the rampage, heroic knights, and even damsels in distress. What makes it all so enjoyable isnít the fact that we get to cover all of that familiar ground once more. Rather, itís the commitment to that approach, along with those beautiful graphics I mentioned and a surprisingly addictive character development system."

One of this yearís greatest tragedies--besides the actual tragedies that you hear about in the news, I mean--is that Dragonís Crown, a well-executed fantasy brawler that is among one of the most engaging Iíve ever played, is likely to be remembered almost exclusively for a pair of swaying boobs.

Dragonís Crown was announced a long time ago. Itís the latest project from Vanillaware, the team behind magical previous outings such as Odin Sphere, Muramasa: The Demon Blade and GrimGrimoire. All of those titles featured lush visuals, and the general look they employed has returned for your continued enjoyment on PlayStation 3 and Vita. There are gorgeous backgrounds everywhere you look, some of the most beautiful youíre likely to ever see in a video game, and yet people canít stop talking about the sorceress.

Dragon's Crown asset

So I guess Iíll talk about the sorceress, who is just one of several characters you can choose as you start your Dragonís Crown adventure. Sheís rather tall, with a pointed hat and the sort of attire that manages to cover a lot of skin without actually tending to her boobs. Thatís a big problem that people have with the game, and one that is exacerbated by the fact that her bosom is cartoonish where mass and movement are concerned. As the sorceress runs, or as she casts the lethal spells that are another reason someone might choose that particular class, the softer parts of her upper half drift all over the place like helium balloons caught in a cyclone.

To be fair to artist George Kamitani, the bulk of the characters in the game are drawn with similar disregard for actual proportions. The male characters look like their chests were constructed from a map of Africa turned sideways, and many of them wear so much armor that you wonder how they manage to pass through a doorframe. Dragonís Crown employs a very specific art style, one that I donít find offensive--or titillating, for that matter--because itís all so very silly and exaggerated. To be fair to the people who hate the art style in spite of that, though, itís almost always the ladies who have trouble finding something suitable to wear before they embark on a grand adventure. If for whatever reason the sight of a near-naked womanís body makes you extraordinarily uncomfortable, so too will Dragonís Crown. Thereís just no getting around it.

So, just what do you get as a reward for overlooking the boobs? The answer, it turns out, is an enjoyable romp through fantasy tropes that include nefarious wizards, mythical creatures on the rampage, heroic knights, and even damsels in distress. What makes it all so enjoyable isnít the fact that we get to cover all of that familiar ground once more. Rather, itís the commitment to that approach, along with those beautiful graphics I mentioned and a surprisingly addictive character development system.

Dragon's Crown asset

Your game begins as you choose from one of several characters who are gathered around a table at an adventurerís inn. When I started playing with my friend, I went with the elven archer girl, because she looked likely to be a quick character with a weapon that could allow her to pick off foes from a distance. I like that in my heroines. I also tend not to favor the melee types, so most of the numerous male characters were out of the question unless I wanted to be a wizard. My friend picked the sorceress and I wanted to see some variety at work.

Characters evolve over the course of the game in the manner that you see fit. Every character has the same basic skill tree that includes precious abilities of general usefulness. You can pick up extensions to your life meter, for instance, or you can gain the ability to restore more health from food consumption and the like. Your specific class also has unique abilities. As the sorceress, my friend was able to conjure up life-restoring fruit and bread at his command (an exceedingly useful skill). My archer was able to improve the power of her kick attacks based on the boots she equipped. Also, as you might expect or hope, those abilities can be further improved the more you put them to use and the more you level them up, once you satisfy certain requirements.

Dragonís Crown also gives you ample reason to collect loot. As you wander throughout the various stages that are accessible from the main hub, you can find treasure in chests. When you take that back to town, you can pay to appraise it and then either equip it or sell it. Weapons sometimes grant additional attributes, depending on their ranking. You might gain better resistance to knockbacks, or more attack power or health. There are requirements that must be met before you can equip any new gear, and you also have to be careful because that fancy new rod or set of spectacles can wear down over time and may even break if you donít make frequent stops at the appropriate shop back in town. A second run through a given area doesnít have to be only about picking up more goodies, either; each of the nine main areas also offers side quests and secondary missions, some of which reward you with beautiful artwork.

Dragon's Crown asset

Thanks to the character customization options and the visual trappings, Dragonís Crown is able to do a good job of preventing you from noticing (or at least caring) that youíre otherwise playing a fairly standard brawler. There arenít a lot of unique areas, but each one is lengthy enough and pretty enough that you probably wonít mind visiting many times. Youíre also able to bring along companions, once you find their bones and take them back to the temple for a quick resurrection, and it definitely helps to have some AI along for the ride, if only so your enemies have to choose from multiple targets. Later in your adventure, you can even choose to allow strangers to play with you online, which is a nice touch that my friend and I ignored because local cooperative play was plenty fun all by itself.

Though we enjoyed that option, Dragonís Crown could have done still better when it came to implementation. We accepted a side quest, for instance, then completed it and found that only one of us received any credit. When going through the game cooperatively, both players must separately enter each establishment and accept the side quests they plan to complete--which requires some coordination--and they both must repair their gear separately and enter the guild separately if they want to assign skill points to their builds (which requires patience because itís tedious). Late in the game, we also found ourselves spending far too much time worrying about our finances, since it quickly grows expensive to embark on a quest that will necessitate a visit to the blacksmith to repair your damaged gear.

Dragonís Crown ultimately doesnít provide the sort of experience youíve never had before, particularly if youíve played a lot of fantasy brawlers or action-RPGs throughout the years, but it offers enough content to likely keep you busy for 20 or so enjoyable hours on a single trip through the proceedings, and perhaps much more. There are a bunch of minor flaws I might point to, but overall I found myself having a great deal more fun with the game than I anticipated. I was always happy to play it some more, even if Iíd already been at it for a few hours. The game isnít apt to win the genre any converts, but it would be a mistake to assume that thereís nothing more to it than button mashing and boobsÖ


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (August 22, 2013)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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zippdementia posted September 17, 2013:

Thanks for reviewing it, Jason! I'm going to pick it up for WiiU, based off the review. If nothing else, I've loved Vsnillaware since Odin Sphere
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zigfried posted September 17, 2013:

Dragon's Crown isn't available for Wii U.

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