Fantasy sure has changed. Especially ever since the Lord of the Rings movies made a few billion dollars, and so did Harry Potter and now Game of Thrones. None of those are particularly new but their popularity in in movies/TV have set the standard for what modern fantasy can look like, particularly Game of Thrones which taught us fantasy can involve stuff like nudity and incest. But one aspect of all those have bled into video games and that’s darker, more muted colors. I’ve noticed lots of greys, somewhere between 40 and 60 shades of it sometimes. There’s sex too but video games have yet to do that in a way that’s particularly interesting. The point is that fantasy is now dark and mature. Things just can’t be mature with colors and other such silliness around! And with that in mind a game like Dragon’s Crown is a breath of fresh air.
You may have heard of Dragon’s Crown already thanks in no small part to the not-so-small parts of the game’s sorceress character. Vanillaware dared to make a character with prominently displayed breasts that exceeded human sizes. While nearly everything and everyone in Dragon’s Crown is designed with inhuman exaggerated proportions, the Sorceress (and to a lesser extent the Amazon who has a giant butt and thighs) were cited by “gaming journalists” as reason enough to significantly lower the score of the game. This bothers me quite a bit because Dragon’s Crown is actually a delightful game to play and one that harkens back to a forgotten genre that’s a welcome change of pace, and a blast to play with your friends. Ridiculously sexualized characters is hardly unique to this game, so how come people are oh so willing to attack it?
There could be a lot of reasons really, maybe they didn’t actually like the game. Or maybe they really are concerned with the presentation of women in games, but how do you explain why many of the same reviewers gave good reviews to bigger name games that treated women worse? My theory is that maybe those reviewers DID want to give the big name games a lower score for those reasons but couldn’t due to the wonderful nature of the gaming news world. The AAA publishers simply don’t get bad reviews or real criticism from any website that relies on getting early review copies or beneficial treatment from said companies in terms of advertisements and convention access. Like any other news source gaming news relies heavily on its advertisers for revenue, and you don’t bite the hand that feeds you by subjecting your advertisers to things like criticism. Vanillaware and its publisher Atlus are not big time names compared to EA, Activision, or Capcom, so a site can do just fine without their advertisements and early reviews. This means simply that reviewers can say whatever the hell they want about their games, hence the unusually harsh treatment of Dragon’s Crown. Had RockStar published the game it would have gotten at 10 out of 10 score months before it was even available for pre-order! I would like to add that I’m not all that innocent either. Granted I’m not paid and receive no benefit from doing this job and am, like so many others in this field, only qualified to do this because I’m an enthusiast for the hobby and have no real training or background in journalism or criticism. That said, on with the review!
If you enjoyed things like Dungeons and Dragons, Gauntlet, Golden Axe, Conan the Barbarian, Disgaea, and other such things like that then you’ll most likely enjoy Dragon’s Crown. Choose from 1 of the 6 available characters you and your team stomp your way through various dungeon settings in search of loot and quest items. Each character plays very differently but excels at their particular strength, Warrior takes hits like a champ, Dwarf can throw enemies all over the place, Wizard can nuke, Amazon can hit the hardest, Elf has the range and traps, and sorceress can buff and area attack. They’re pretty easy to swallow character types for anyone who played any form of D&D. You and your buds collect mountains of loot to get appraised, equipped and so forth while you level up and reach that oh so enjoyable level of strength that just tears up the world. And then do it all again on Hard mode, and after that Inferno mode!
Really though it’s a truly great game that doesn’t deserve the crap its taking. It’s not a dark, serious game for the insecure, it’s a game that seeks to be fun. And either solo or with friends Dragon’s Crown achieves that if you give it a chance.
Kimo is a contemptuous old coot. With experience in video games dating back to 1988 and a schizophrenic range of games he boasts an impressive range of knowledge of gamings best, and worst. Dwelling in the desolate wastes of the American Midwest he brings to Z1Gaming a perspective that looks for positive qualities in even the worst games.