Gone are the days where you would go to the arcade with a bag or sock full of quarters and play games for hours at a time. The idea or even the notion of doing such a thing seems like a far off memory. With a console driven market place, arcade games seem like a thing of the past. Still there are some companies that attempt to revive past arcade titles in the new era of gaming. Certain titles like The Simpsons, TMNT 1989, and X-Men all did well when they were released for the current generation. So how will Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara turn out since it is a revision of not just one arcade title but rather two?
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is developed by Iron Galaxy based off of the Capcom titles. With Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara, purchasers receive both Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and its sequel, Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara. Players can switch between campaigns at the main screen by either hitting the select or back button in order to switch between the two. Feel like playing the game with four friends while they are over? Feel like playing with complete strangers online? Well this has both. Chronicles of Mystara allows for not only 4 player local co-op but also allows for 4 player co-op online. Players can also drop-in or out of the game with ease.
New to this version of the game is the House rules option that allows for certain aspects to be changed in game. An example of this would be the Enemy Rush option were players start the game with 30 seconds on the clock and have to defeat enemies to keep it from reaching zero. Also new to the compilation is the in-game challenges which help characters level up faster as well as reward the player with Vault Points upon completion. Players can use Vault Points to purchase new items or in game unlockables. Players can also see what characters they or their friends use the most with the character visualizer, that way you will know what they like to play and will not have to argue who plays what character. Players are able to track their stats and experience on the leaderboards and can even compare it with friends, so they can see who really is the best slayer-of-all-the-things.
Chronicles of Mystara is not a gift that keeps giving, the story feels lackluster with timed responses and very limited choices, yes it allows for choices to be made but each choice will eventually lead you to the same path with very little deviation. In the tower of Doom, players can select between four classes: the fighter, the dwarf, the elf and the cleric. There really is not much difference between the dwarf and the fighter; they are both hack and slash characters. The only recognizable difference between the two is the fighter can wield two swords whereas the dwarf can wield one. For beginners or those that love to swing weapons, the dwarf or fighter is the way to go. The cleric is mainly used to deal with the undead and heal wounds and seems to be a support character rather than a tank. Then there is the elf, the elf is the main magic user. She uses her spells to primarily damage or incapacitate the enemy rather than support her party. Besides spells and their normal weapons, players can use other items that they can use to damage their enemy in non-class like ways such as daggers, oil, arrows, hammers and even magical rings. The story is a linear path with the march of the player from one boss to another similar to is arcade counterparts.
Shadows Over Mystara does not improve much on where its predecessor left off. There are only a few noticeable differences, those being the two new characters and the extended bubble tree to flip between either spells or items. The four characters from Tower of Doom return but they are joined by a thief and a magic user. The magic user is the stereotypical wizard, which helps to destroy the enemy faster than that of a standard attack aka he saves all his spells to kill bosses. The thief is sort of a limited use character of the party. Her primary function is to detect traps and pick locks and she isn’t very useful in combat. The campaign is similar to that of its predecessor, making players run from point A to point B with the reemergence of the two main villains. Once a level is beaten players may access it at any time from the stage select screen.
Compared to other Dungeons & Dragons titles, this game offers very little ability to customize your characters and is more of the typical button basher arcade style, although it attempts to be more. Yes this is a remake of previous arcade titles but you think with the change in times that they would/ could adapt it for the modern gamer. The game at times can be infuriating, wiping players off the board with solely one attack, even on the easiest difficulty. Combat was interfered with if there was treasure near the target you were trying to attack. This would cause the player to stop and pick up the treasure rather than attacking. The game also rushes players through the story limiting the time they spend in certain areas to a matter of sheer seconds after combat ends. The Wii U version allows players to select spells and items from the Touch Screen making combat a lot easier for magic users but people without that luxury may find scrolling through the inventory infuriating when trying to switch between other groups. Collecting treasure at times seems to be the primary focus because without which characters cannot resupply or heal. Characters are able to level to 21 with increases in health but there is no real way to tell what a players HP is other than checking the health bar. However, this only shows a visual representation, it does not give any concrete numbers. Just the like the Health meter there is no true way of determining how much damage a character does, just blind faith that the numbers are being implemented correctly. Other than getting the classes somewhat correct, they managed to implement the creature’s resistance abilities, meaning if you chose something they are resistant against you will not deal any damage to them that way. The only real impressive thing about this game was its ability to switch the camera types. Sick of the obnoxious border they give you? Fine, make it so it fits the whole screen or make it feel like an arcade game again with an arcade border.
As for the Graphics, there doesn’t really appear to be much of a difference even though it claims to be a HD version. The only thing that seemed like it was edited was the graphic overlay making the game brighter and more colorful. The characters and the environment are still their 2D self, just with a better rendition.
Overall Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara can be rather infuriating. Although there are unlimited buybacks; the game still agitates like no other with constant deaths throughout the game. This is definitely not a game you should purchase unless you want to relive the arcade classic and are up for hair pulling aggravation. Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara cost $14.99/€14.99/£11.99 or 1200MS Points and is available for PSN, XBLA, Steam and the WII-U. It is rated T for teen but feels more like an E for everyone title. If this still remains on your list to buy, wait until it drops in price.