Title: Dragon’s Crown Pro Developer: Vanillaware Publisher: ATLUS Release Date: May 15, 2018 Price: $49.99 Genre: Action RPG / Beat ‘em Up Platform:PlayStation 4 (PRO) Players: 1-4 (local co-op or online)
I speak of memories of arcade gaming often. Everyone I knew then played the classic beat 'em up / hack ‘n slash titles. Classics like Golden Axe, Double Dragon, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fed on more quarters than a laundromat. Console adaptations often suffered by not offering four-player co-op or requiring a peripheral to do so. Thankfully, today's games have online connectivity to solve that problem. In the case of Dragon’s Crown Pro, you and three friends can band together at any point in your adventure.
Dragon's Crown Pro: The Hunt Is On!
As a Vanillaware title, it is worth mentioning this game is set in the same world as GRIMgRiMoiRe and Odin Sphere Leifthrasir. The title is a dead giveaway as to the focus of the game. Once you have chosen your character, you will receive various tasks and be asked to help those in need. All the while your main goal is to locate the fabled Dragon's Crown. The king disappeared in search of this mighty artifact (that may not exist). If it does, you must retrieve it to prevent the kingdom of Hydeland from falling into chaos.
I'm Gonna Need a Bigger Blade!
Dragon's Crown Pro literally does everything right and wrong that the original did. For a hack and slash game, you have a decent amount of character customization. Let's face it, most titles in that genre have none. Pick your warrior class, name him/her and alter the appearance via palette swap. The instruction manual is in the main menu but the game still offers you a basic tutorial. Your first mission will teach you two things: search everywhere for loot and that traveling alone is suicidal. The first boss is not terribly hard but will likely shred you if this is your first time playing.
Axe to Grind
Despite being a hack and slash, there are several RPG elements in this mix. The only way you will be able to progress through later stages is by leveling up your character. This requires the collection of loot and bones. Your bandit companion Rannie unlocks treasure chests and doors leading to better equipment and more. Collecting bones is important; you cannot level up NPC companions (save Rannie) but you can resurrect stronger ones to recruit. No matter how strong you become, keeping companions of relative strength means keeping your head.
Should you want to complete the game and score a platinum trophy, expect a lot of grinding. You will need to beat the game as each of the six characters and get one of them to level 99. That will be over fifty hours of gameplay. Dragon's Crown Pro is fun, especially if you have friends to play with. The question is whether you really want to invest that much time playing the same missions six or more times.
Two Scoops of Vanillaware
Here is the thing with Dragon's Crown Pro – the graphics are exactly the same as the original. The game has simply had its resolution upgraded to look good on larger screens and 4K displays. Fortunately, that is not bad because the game was beautiful five years ago. Hand drawn, stylized art that has made Vanillaware famous shines through. The animation, made to look like stop-motion photography, perfectly suits the storybook theme presented. While not pushing the PS4 hardware, you won't feel like the visuals are stuck in the previous generation.
Verdict: Does Dragon's Crown Deserve the “Pro?”
ATLUS was very clever in naming this title. The differences between the PS4 and (launch) PS3 or Vita versions are minuscule. This version includes all patches released, the narrator voice pack and orchestrated music. The “Pro” equates to how Nintendo used to add “64” to the end of that console's titles. This release plays best on PlayStation 4 PRO consoles, and that's it. Cross play with people who have the PS3 or Vita versions online is an excellent bonus, but not for $49.99. Dragon's Crown can be purchased on PSN for $29.99 (PS3 or Vita). The narration add-on is $1.99. Consider that 4K TVs auto-upscale and $18 is a tough pill to swallow. Despite being a great game, I can only recommend Dragon's Crown Pro to those who have never played the game. If you have a PS3 or PS Vita, save some money and get the less expensive version.