Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara Review

Two of Capcom's best arcade beat-'em-ups get HD ports worthy of their heritage, providing a good, if easy, co-op experience.

by

The pair of games in Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara collection may very well be the best of its beat-'em-up games from the '90s arcade era, and these ports from Iron Galaxy are the most robust versions of the duo of Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara to date. The 1999 Sega Saturn ports were exclusive to Japan and were unfortunately downgraded from four-player to two-player co-op, but these new HD ports are upscaled versions of the four-player arcade originals with a few modern additions, such as visual filters, unlockable rules, and concept art. Of course, the real draw is the co-op beat-'em-up experience, which has stood the test of time surprisingly well. It's a return to form for these nearly 20-year-old games; for players who remember them, and even those who don't, Chronicles is worth the time it takes to wrangle a party of warriors and suit up for battle.

Coming toward the end of Capcom's stint in side-scrolling brawlers, these games are far more advanced than was typical of the genre at the time, when their contemporaries included only temporarily equippable secondary weapons and a small selection of combo attacks and special moves. Capcom took a more role-playing-game-like approach by including elements of level progression, optional equipment, and supply shops. There are branching paths and conditional events, and even the name you give your character determines certain factors of your character's skill and equipment loadout. These nuances, especially in Shadow Over Mystara, with its advanced Street Fighter-like inputs, provide plenty of depth. There are moments when fighting common enemies becomes repetitive, but it's not difficult to find new ways to play to keep the experience fresh; it's often as easy as choosing a different character and exploring their distinct moveset.

You and your co-op cohorts have four character classes to choose from in Tower of Doom: fighter, elf, cleric, and dwarf. Shadow Over Mystara contains those four and adds the thief and magic-user classes to the roster. The classes differ quite noticeably in speed, power, and abilities, and though you can charge your way through the game with any selection thanks to unlimited continues, it's a far more rewarding experience to plan and build a team of complementary characters. The availability of unlimited continues is good in the sense that it lets you see everything the game has to offer, but it ultimately cheapens the thrill of victory.

Typical thief. Picking up loot while everyone else does the dirty work.

Both Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara were designed for co-op play, and though playing solo can be enjoyable, it pales in comparison to the fun that can be had when joining up with a team. Without expert knowledge of the nuanced controls, such as the proper timing of a riposte with the cleric, it's not uncommon to die quite frequently when fighting monsters on your own. Each class's default abilities are detailed in the main menu, but it will take considerable practice to memorize, and consistently perform, some advanced but crucial maneuvers, a task that's more easily done when someone has got your back.

Health pickups are few and far between, but again, the unlimited-continues system negates their worth. Don't bother spending money on health in shops between levels (unless you're chasing a high score); you're fully revitalized the next time you continue after death. It's the nature of a direct arcade port that doesn't include a coin limit. The unlockable Elimination mode does away with the default continue system--entirely. Once it's enabled, you die the first time your HP runs out. This is good for those trying to prove their mastery, but it doesn't really resolve the hand-holding nature of the default system in a desirable fashion.

And people wonder why dragons get such a bad rap.

Of course, judging classic games by modern standards is tricky. Ultimately, it comes down to expectations. Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara were revered upon release, but their classic traits can be off-putting without a nostalgic perspective to give them context. Players who have graduated from the past and are looking for a more advanced experience may view this collection as a lighthearted diversion. However, for anyone who has waited the better part of two decades to play these games, their arrival on modern platforms is nothing short of awesome. Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is a great port of two delightful games, and unsurprisingly, they're the very best versions that you can get your hands on.

The Good
Two sought after arcade games in one package.
The classic gameplay holds up better than that of their contemporaries.
RPG elements add necessary depth to the beat-'em-up formula.
The Bad
Unlimited continues sully the joy of victory.
Too few enemy types.
7
Good
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Two of Capcom's best arcade beat-'em-ups get HD ports worthy of their heritage, providing a good, if easy, co-op experience.

Discussion

174 comments
tricky666
tricky666

any chance we could get an HD  AvP arcade port now???


OzmaHD
OzmaHD

Not as good as the arcade version, sorry lol

Schlong27
Schlong27

Anybody know if the Wii U version supports Off-TV play?

keldarironfist
keldarironfist

The Japanese version is an actual physical retail release (the only kind that count in mine, and many other people's minds). And has more in game options than the only DLC release the west is getting.

"In Japan, Capcom has staff that worked on the Dungeons & Dragons arcade games producing the ports for PlayStation 3. The result is the Japanese version, Dungeons & Dragons: Mystara Hero Chronicle, is a retail game in Japan with its own set of features.

Players can start out with magical items like the Dragon Shield and keys by bumping the difficulty down.

You can select up to nine chicks which makes the game easier by giving you magical gear. Want to make the Tower of Doom or Shadow over Mystara harder? Add up to nine skulls in the option menu. After you clear either arcade game you can automatically restart the game at higher difficulty level with the same items, experience points, and life. It’s kind of like an instant new game plus."

http://www.siliconera.com/2013/06/25/dungeons-dragons-chronicles-of-mystaria-has-some-unique-features-only-for-japan/

Broodwin
Broodwin

It is official. I am out of touch with what makes a good and what makes a poor game. This looks dreadful to me. But so many good comments and rave reviews just makes me feel completely out of touch.

I'm gonna head back to my 'uncool' immersive storyline, state of art graphics, ear-destroying top notch sound quality games and try and figure out what I'm missing. 

Jshaw71
Jshaw71

i REALLY hope capcom notices the sales, and dose something iirc, there WAS supposed to be a 3rd dnd arcade game, but it was canceled, but I could be wrong, I would to see a another 2-d dnd game, like these gems from the 90's thanks for the review 

euphoric666
euphoric666

winkawaks and netplay had done this for us a loooong long time ago.

Random_Virus
Random_Virus

You might have a problem with unlimited continues, but as someone who dumped the GDP of a third world country into the arcades during his youth, unlimited continues are not a bad point with me.

retsmot
retsmot

This is just capcom trying to nab some money again. its good for those who never played b4 i guess, but those of us who played it to death 15 years ago or so, and on emus, it is simply not worth the price of admission, imho.

No doubt this is a great game, but I'm saving my money for dragon's crown instead. :p

advocacy
advocacy

For a downloadable beat 'em up, this is one of the best, probably as good as Castle Crashers or Shining Force.  Dated graphics, but gameplay wise still top notch.

KingTrax999
KingTrax999

Looks like fun but I just hate spending $$ if I'm going to trade out my 360 this fall.  Any chance MS will port some arcade games over to the One at least?  I know the 360 games won't work on the one but why not the Live Arcade?  I'd buy this one if it would work on the One.

da_chub
da_chub

Complaining about unlimited continues. I mean, just reset the game if it bothers ya that much. But arcade days, I remember sinking plenty of coins into games in order to beat them. Any one play gauntlet?

3v1LR0n1N
3v1LR0n1N

2 CLASSIC Capcom beat em ups together for $15 AND are perfectly emulated? im sold :D

BradBurns
BradBurns

PS3 is getting a disc version in August in Japan. I will import it then.

the_big_doggg
the_big_doggg

What the point of the 1-10 score if every game just gets a 7 or 8? These reviews are weak.

Sorry but Ive played a lot of games Gamespot gives a 7 thinking 7/10 should be pretty good only to find out the game sucks. Does Gamespot think 7/10 is bad or do they think every game on Earth is good?

snkcapcom411
snkcapcom411

Definitely jumpning on this compilation!!! My PSN account, here I come!!! Why are people complaining about unlimited continues? Who cares? Geez! Get a life!!!

Samparksh
Samparksh

It's retro...........It's awesome.......It's unlimited..........It sticks to the basics.........what'w wrong with it>?

talkcasual
talkcasual

Is there online co-op? If not, that should be in the cons as well.. Much more important than the continues bit

talkcasual
talkcasual

If you don't like unlimited continues here's a thought - choose a limit and shut it off if you pass it

God_Emporer
God_Emporer

@Broodwin It's not about graphics, or sound, or storyline.  It's about the nostalgia of playing video games in an arcade with your friends after school.  

What's the point of coming here and making a comment like yours?  Just to be an ass?  Mission accomplished.


hochstreck
hochstreck

@BroodwinYou are quite right: "Immersive storylines" are for easy to impress and distract milksops anyway. ;P 

We need no stinkin' Crapbuster-Hollywood or Crap-Opera Storylines(which we have seen a thousand times before) to get into the way of our precious gameplay! 

The same goes for that stale epic classic background music(which we also have heard a thousand times before) found in many high-production movies and video games today!

dom28
dom28

@retsmot funny thing is most likely more people will still play it on the emu's.

Random_Virus
Random_Virus

@retsmot Well, DC is gonna be a full price game, right?  For $15 bucks, this isn't a bad purchase for a fun little co op hack and slasher.  You'll probably beat it in one night with 4 friends and never go back to it though.

But a movie ticket costs about the same, and that's for one person.

Make a night of it, grab a few beers and a few friends, save a few damsels, rape a few dragons...

I mean, er...

chang_1910
chang_1910

hey... to me it looks like a nice little okd school game, and for what you are saying it seems that is good and you played it a lot.. could u tell me more or less how long is it? trying to see if i drop the 15us..

and if simple to explain: what the level up consist of? i dont seem to find anywhere details about it..

thx :)

ps i cant wait for dragon crown :)

Random_Virus
Random_Virus

@KingTrax999 Condmening for MS, to announce their new system has zero support for games now.  

Personally I was thinking of getting this on Steam, but waiting to see if it shows up on their summer sale.  

I've got my PC hooked up to the same tv my consoles are, with several controllers wired to it, so it makes no difference what system i buy this on, but I'll be choosing whatever's cheaper, well, that and my PC doesn't have issues with "backwards compatibility."

KingTrax999
KingTrax999

@da_chub Wouldn't it be fun if apps let you continue for an inapp purchase of .25?  Or you start from the be beginning?  I'd love that.  I don't understand why devs today don't understand the thrill of spending those quarters.  Bring back the fun times I say.

King_Wii
King_Wii

@the_big_doggg Here is how I see it: Anything bellow a 6 at Gamespot, heck anything bellow a 7 at Gamespot is a fail. 7 = Average, 8= Good, 9 = Great, and 10 = Must buy!

It's kinda like in any school environment. a 70% gets you a C which is good but won't get you into any good colleges. A 80% is nice and a B but won't get you honors, and a 90% or above is an A.

If you use those scales then Gamespot's rating logic works. I agree with others though also check the meta-score to get a good idea of where the general public lies.

dlhoff
dlhoff

@the_big_doggg  

That's why you should always check out the Metacritic score as well. In this case, Gamespot was one of the lowest ratings this game has received. Most reviewers gave it an 8 or so and some gave it a 9.

awoody17
awoody17

I bought this game day 1 because its always been one of my favorite beat-em-ups. That being said, having unlimited continues is no different than having unlimited lives, which feels very much like cheating and mars the experience for me a bit. For those that want more of a challenge without feeling like a cheater you can unlock "Elimination Mode" in house rules which essentially gives you only one credit.

@snkcapcom411 I'm not sure why you think the people that dislike unlimited continues have no life. It's just personal preference.

King_Wii
King_Wii

@talkcasual I watched the Wii U video for it on the Nintendo E Store, and yes it said online co-op. I'm guessing it's the same on all versions.

ShadowstormXIII
ShadowstormXIII

@talkcasual I have this game and yes there is online co-op...the latency in all of my matches, so far, is flawless.

There is also an "elimination mode" that lets you attempt to play though the game on one credit.  So the "unlimited continues" gripe is a little invalid.

King_Wii
King_Wii

@talkcasual I agree knocking the game because you can continue is kinda dumb. Like you said if it's an issue then restart after you die or have an imaginary number of quarters in your pocket lol. Then stop when you run out.

Broodwin
Broodwin

Thanks very much for your constructive (if a little offhand and offensive) comments. The 'point' of me making my comments is because I have a viewpoint which I believe to be valid. The thing about nostalgia is, it's not what it used to be. I believe this could have been made a better game by employing modern game mechanics. Try not to be so easily offended in future and respond in a like minded manner to the poster. Many thanks, Broodwin aka ass.

Broodwin
Broodwin

@hochstreck @Broodwin Like I said, I'm out of touch obviously. But to pick up on your points surely this kind of beat-em up has been seen more than a thousand times. From Golden axe to streets of rage to double dragon- over and over from the the late eighties until now.

You also seem to think that good sound quality and a decent music score is a bad thing. Don't settle for a pork pie when you can have steak.

Ultimately I respect your opinion and I am glad there is still a market for this kind of game. I just don't get it.

KingTrax999
KingTrax999

@Random_VirusIf we're lucky they will have it available for the One so XBox One owners can repurchase it in a few months.  What could be better?

Reinbachimus3
Reinbachimus3

@King_Wii @BradBurns Why? Dragon's Crown comes out August 6th, Id just assume play something new than import a 15 year old game, but thats just me.

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

@King_Wii That's how it's done it seems, but that reasoning is flawed since some good games have gotten below a six. Unfortunately for a lot of people that means the game is off their radar.

HookedonPhonicx
HookedonPhonicx

@dlhoff @the_big_doggg Metacritic is the best way if you want a broad view of what people think of the game. Never go with just one site, any game 80+ on metacritic is a good game too me.

Broodwin
Broodwin

@Katmando4Life @Broodwin Hmmm. That seems to have hit a nerve. Apologies for that, my comments about nostalgia are a reference to a classic joke which seems to have missed the mark a little bit and been taken literally.

That said, to say I am 'simply wrong' isn't an argument in itself, it's an opinion. Which in itself reveals a flaw in your own argument. You started so well with references to the role playing element and multiplayer but towards the end your comments sounded a little bitter if you don't mind me saying.

On the whole I have to agree with you. There definitely is a market for retro games. I myself have ported versions of 'Lords of Midnight' and 'Gauntlet' even more recent classics like Baldurs Gate and had hours of fun. But to be honest that's all, the games lost the hold they once had over me and I reverted quickly back to what I believe to be better quality and more involved modern games(such as the afore mentioned Dragons Dogma and others such as Skyrim and Dark Souls.

The reason the games market moved on was because it had to. My opinion (and it is just that -my opinion) is that games like this deserve a fresh look and a new imagining.

Katmando4Life
Katmando4Life

@Broodwin I can't help but feel that you are indeed missing something, but that something is the logic that's missing from your own argument. The real thing about nostalgia is that it's relative. I look at this game and see a combination of classic Dungeons & Dragons, a 2D beat 'em up, and graphics that resemble a cleaner version of my favorite era of gaming. To me, those things are heavy in nostalgia. Throw in the curiosity of never having played these games before and the promise of playing this with some similarly-minded friends, and that's a sale!

As for your earlier comment about Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, and Double Dragon, while these D&D games do follow a similar style, there are aspects in these games that those games you mentioned lack; character development and truly branching paths, for example. Moreover, while those games were good and laid the foundation for the genre, they don't make this pair of D&D games any less valid or enjoyable.

As with any game, it comes down to if you think you'll enjoy the game for the price you'll pay. If you do, buy it. If not, move on and play something that you do enjoy. That's obvious, I know, but please don't make such statements about nostalgia when you're simply wrong. Again, nostalgia is relative from person to person, and when someone feels something retro tugging on the heart, it's a powerful thing.

Click the following link for Shadow Over Mystara and tell me what game from the beat 'em up genre had as much depth.
http://cinemassacre.com/2012/06/18/dungeons-and-dragons-shadow-over-mystara/

hochstreck
hochstreck

@Broodwin @hochstreck Sorry, I should have included more clearly that I was talking about video games in general, and that D&D CoM was not my point of reverence for "a perfect game".

Personally, I have never seen much in these 80/90-Brawlers like Streets of Rage(which at least had cool music) etc. To me, most of them were lacking varity and complexity in their gameplay big time.

While I understand that this D&D CoM might be something unique to play these days, I surely wouldn't have given it such a high review score - especially when a fantastic and unique to play(by todays standards) Action-RPG like Dragons Dogma scored merely a 7.0 and has to beg for decent sales.

DWalker131
DWalker131

@Kryptonbornson @King_Wii those kinda games are like Bush and Zuckerberg, flunked college but managed to do something big with their life lol

and i agree, i LOVE Nier and Dark Void, both scored poorly here, don't know if thats my taste or if those games are bad lol

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara More Info

First Release on Jun 18, 2013
  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
  • + 2 more
  • Wii U
  • PC
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is a double pack that brings Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and its sequel Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara with updated HD graphics.
7.5
Average User RatingOut of 67 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Iron Galaxy Studios
Published by:
Capcom
Genres:
Compilation
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
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