If you asked me a couple of months ago about the game Dragon’s Crown I would respond to you with this phrase. “What’s Dragon’s Crown?” Before E3 I had no clue about this game, but during the show I became more aware about this action/role playing adventure. However, most media members were paying more attention to a certain Sorceress’ large rack. Breasts aside, as the professional journalist that I am, I was able to look past the succulent tits and focus in on what’s important. What I can tell you is that beneath all the scrutiny Dragon’s Crown is actually a very entertaining fantasy adventure filled with tons of action as well as satisfaction.

Developed by Vanillaware, most known for games including Odin’s Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Dragon’s Crown is a hack-n-slash brawler featuring six adventurers on a quest for the Dragon’s Crown which is said to give them control of a dragon. Considering the fact that I’m a veteran of titles like Golden Axe, Dungeons & Dragons, and numerous Gauntlet games I found myself quite comfortable with the brawling style that’s presented in Dragon’s Crown. The combat moves are very simplistic to perform which never left me frustrated at any point during the game including the epic boss battles. Truth be said, once I started playing Dragon’s Crown I became addicted.

On this adventure six classes were available for me to select from. Right off the bat I chose the Fighter which looks like a badass knight. I was able to customize my character in terms of name, colors, and creative messages (I did a few Gauntlet ones for the nostalgia). The Fighter is more of a “tank” character allowing me to get a feel of the game. Then I started playing as the other characters testing out their unique strengths and weaknesses. Characters including the Dwarf and Amazon are also good starters with their melee and limited magic attacks. As for the other characters the Elf is great at ranged attacks with her bow. The Warrior and Sorceress are both weak in terms of melee attacking, but are awesome with their wide range of powerful magic attacks as well as summoning the dead to fight for them.

Questing in Dragon’s Crown can be achieved in solo gameplay which allows me to work on character progression as well as allowing the selfish part of me to keep all the loot I earn. I can also gain companions that I resurrect from the dead to join me on quests along with a rogue thief to open treasure chests. Of course this game is also even better with a few friends to join in on the adventure. Dragon’s Crown excels with both couch and online co-op for up to four players. There is a catch. The ability to play online is an unlockable option so I needed to gain some experience first before joining others. At first I thought this sucked because I wanted to join the online arena right away, but I guess having some battle experience was much better than questing with a bunch of noobies who’ll die more than actually help.

Now if there’s one thing that I really love about Dragon’s Crown it would have to be the artwork. Game creator and lead artist George Kamitani has created some absolutely stunning hand drawn visuals that are nothing short of breathtaking. When I would clear a room full of enemies I would just take a moment and stare at the beautiful backgrounds in 1080p. Character design is also well done, but also features the game’s biggest scrutiny around mostly female characters like the big breasted Sorceress. Kamitani has stated that he “wanted his game to stand out.” Well congratulations George because you definitely succeeded in that. I know there are people who may not like some of the female poses that look a little oversexed, but honestly it’s just art. The way I see it is that art is meant to be looked at as well as appreciated or even scrutinized. In the case of Kamitani’s depictions of the female body featured here in Dragon’s Crown (from the Sorceress’ huge breasts to other females in rather compromising positions) keep in mind that this is a fantasy game so this shouldn’t be treated as such a big deal. Then again I’m a guy, and I’m sure most females would probably disagree with my opinion.

With all the fun that was had in Dragon’s Crown from all the questing, killing, and looting I did unfortunately have one gripe. When multiple characters were on the screen (either teammates or enemies) things can get quite chaotic as I would lose focus on where I was in the battle. At times battles can get very involving (especially in multiplayer) where there is so much action taking place on the screen. I love seeing all the magic attacks and the huge bosses at the end of each level, but there was a moment or two where I was lost in the shuffle and I didn’t notice where my character was which led to a few cheap deaths as well as a misuse of health potions. Given the fact that I have unlimited lives this concern was only a minor inference, because I was just too busy having fun while collecting some epic loot.

What was once considered “under the radar”, Dragon’s Crown has jolted into the spotlight and it’s praises are well deserved. This fantasy action/role playing game is a lot of fun to play and features nearly endless replay value with multiple difficulties unlocking when completing the game. I also liked the bonus art book (sadly no hardcover) that I received for pre-ordering the game early because the art looks absolutely fantastic. For those who deem the game’s artistic depiction as “gross” or “immature” need to stop being so politically correct, and just desensitize yourself while enjoying the game for what it is.

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Developer: Atlus, Vanillaware
Platform: PlayStation 3
Players: 1-4
Price: $49.99

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