Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara Review - classic action with a new coat of paint
- Posted June 26th, 2013 at 22:14 EDT by Will Robinson
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Chronicles of Mystara won't wow gamers with modern tastes, but it's a competent arcade port that pays due respect while introducing tasteful new features.
- Classic arcade experience
- Online and offline multiplayer
- Beautiful artwork
- Difficult, repetitive combat
- Dying doesn't matter
- Generic story
(continued from previous page) ...matchmaking, letting you play with up to three other players online. Joining up with friends or people online is highly encouraged. Playing through either game on your own can be a slog no matter what difficulty level is selected, and you can quickly become overwhelmed by enemies. Having multiple players onscreen makes fighting more interesting and boss battles more tactical.
All things considered, combat in Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara improves from Tower of Doom to Shadow over Mystara, but it is still not perfect by any means. Many of the mechanical discrepancies are understandable due to the nature of these games being originally made in the 90s, but could pose issue to the taste of today’s gamer. Players can attack and pick up loot with the X button, jump and crouch using the Circle button, select usable items with Triangle, and use those items with Square. A sometimes-fatal issue that arises with the X button when fighting is having your character start looting fallen enemies in the middle of a hectic battle. The overall game mechanics are solid in both games, but the hit range of attacks for both melee and magic seem to be inconsistent at times, including attacks from enemies. This can make it difficult to anticipate enemy attacks or where yours will land.
Still, my greatest concern with the combat system is the inability to block. Enemies frequently block your attacks, while you are left with no means to defend yourself. Sure, in Shadow over Mystara you can equip a shield as a usable item, but it is essentially worthless, rarely able to successfully stop even the weakest of opponents’ attacks.
An option made available in Shadow over Mystara is the ability to switch to a different character upon death. The return of your character also does significant damage to all enemies on screen. In Tower of Doom, you are forced to play as your originally selected character through the entire campaign and your character’s return does not damage enemies. Another improvement over the first game is the music. The 8-bit music in the first game is almost painful to listen to, but Capcom redeemed itself with a fairly infectious soundtrack for Shadow over Mystara.
Chronicles of Mystara’s most endearing quality is the addition of the Vault Points system, another tool used to encourage multiple playthroughs. Players earn Vault Points by completing Challenges, such as getting 100 kills or collecting 1,000 coins. These challenges are shown on the side of your screen as you progress through them and are also closely tied with the game’s Trophy list. Once Vault Points are earned, they can then be used to unlock cheats for the games, original posters, and brilliant concept artwork. I probably spent an hour just admiring and reading the footnotes of the artwork I unlocked.
In the end, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is a competent arcade port with tasteful additions. It preserves the original Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara games, in all their quality and imperfection. The themed button mashers are a far cry from what inspired them, but provide several hours of entertainment for not so conservative D&D fans and classic arcade fans alike, be it online or off. They are fitted with great art and sound that envelope a predictable storyline seen many times before, but the addition of the Vault System, Challenges, and Trophies provides a new dimension to the arcade ports and rewards players surprisingly well. If you're a D&D player, or just a fan of arcade classics and solid gameplay, this package is for you.
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