Review by Pokejedservo
"Lets just say it makes one wish that Capcom still has the Dungeons & Dragons License."
Dungeons & Dragons, a absolutely famous icon in gaming ever since the very early 1980's. Its been known as the grandfather of all that is Fantasy Role-playing (heck of pretty much ALL that is Role-playing gaming). However even though it drew quite the fanbase not everyone really got into its "Pen&Paper" gaming style. (Such as myself...) But don't worry for those whom more prefer to try to play D&D in Video Game form. During the 1980's it had a VERY good history on the Commodore 64 and Intellivision with a kind of decent history on the NES. (Despite the rather bombastic "Heroes of the Lance".) And thanks to Interplay it had a very successful revival during the later 1990's. However was that all on what happenend to D&D when it comes to Video Games? Actually no it wasn't...
Known 3rd Party Capcom of all people were the ones to give this game a pretty darn good amount of attention during the early 1990's and as a Brawler on the Arcade of all places. (And trust me it can be done.) It was previously done on their game "The Tower of Doom" which lead into this sequel which is none other than this game "Shadows of Mystaria". How is this game like you ask? Well ever wondered if D&D had a really good anime series? Yes I know that D&D had a North American Animated series in the earlier 1980's but still... Well lets just say this is as close as your going to get. Its setting is done in a good old fashion style of medieval fantasy with great anime-styled artwork. (Though alas no Chibi's were involved in the making of this game.)
The gameplay structure is at first seems to be of a good old fashioned multi-player 2-D Brawler. But trust me this is FAR from a Final Fight-ripoff as much as possible. Its RPG-like elements of being able to pick your other weapons such as Daggers, Hammers, Flaming Oil Bottles, etc. along with magic spells, being able to buy your equipment, being able to get truly stronger over the course of the game and being able to pick up new weapons/armor while getting rid of your old is perfect proof why. In fact if your going into giving comparisons its... well kind of like what you get if you mix Sega's classic series "Golden Axe" with a good old fashioned-RPG. And it works real well and I mean REAL well. In fact one can almost wonder if OTHER RPG's could've followed this well as Beat'em-up? Could Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior and the like be translated to the Brawler genre this well? One can certainly wonder...
The game itself is quite addictive, never really been a fan of D&D itself? No matter as its gameplay is generally VERY easy to get into for fans & more casual gamers alike. (This RPG-styled game can actually be even more appealing to more people than most RPG games themselves.) The Challege itself is nicely balanced as its not way too hard nor way too easy (though playing it on "Free Play" would be QUITE beneficial here). This game is... lets just say very good proof that Arcade games CAN have good developed storylines. Granted its nothing heavily innovative but still it works QUITE well as it is of a story of demons overruning the land while a scantly-clad voluptious powerful sorceress conspires to aid the Demon's conquest. There are PLENTY of stages in this game with a pretty good of characters you can play as and here they are...
Warrior- A young muscular man whose ensemble is a mix of ye'old British Knight mixed with Conan the Barbarian.
Cleric- A holy man dressed in blue whom battles with a mace and casts healing/defense magic
Dwarf- Like I REALLY need to tell you huh? Lets just say the dwarf you play is of traditional structure. And naturally he is the strongest character
Magician- Basically the only slight difference betweent he traditional structure of a Wizard is that well he has no beard and is not elderly other than its the same. Mainly great in offensive magic, decent in agility but with mediocre offense
Elf- A cute young elven girl whom fights with a sword well whom is also a highly capable offensive magic user. Pretty much a good mix of Warrior and Magician
Thief- A young & limber woman whom can fight with a sword well like her more mythical female counterpart. However she more focues on getting rid of traps and getting more cash. (Though of course by her skills.) She wears red pants, cape and a bra, yes you heard me a bra. (Lets just say she & the Sorceress are the closest things to "Fanservice" that your going to get here.)
And while the storyline develops itself nicely unfortunately the characters don't. While I'm aware that developing the characters AND the storyline might've been too much for such a game back then but still they had quite the potential to be truly memorable characters if they were given more development over the course of the game. (Especially since the game's storyline can go in different patterns through the game that aspect could've fit with the characters just as nicely too.) But still it can give people ideas for some very good fanfiction. However Character Development was not the only thing Capcom underutilized. Frankly Capcom underutilized the D&D series itself, sure they made 2 D&D arcade games instead of one but they really should've went further than that. After all these two D&D games were not exactly flops and who knows maybe if Capcom went further on D&D it could've gone truly revived BEFORE the Interpley games from 1997 and beyond. (Who knows?)
Overall lets just say this is a VERY good example of how to utilize a license JUST right. Any technical flaws to mention? Over than that the control can occasionally show some stiffness and that the regular monsters can be repetitive? Eh not much... This game is not on the most absolute rarities in all that is Arcade history but is not incredibly easy to find either. This along with titles such as "Aliens Vs. Predator" are a great example of how absolutely GREAT Capcom can be with making "License" games for the Arcades.
+ Another excellent use of a popular license
+ Wonderful Anime-styled Artstyle & Animation with a good variety of characters you play as...
+ Traditional "Brawler" Gameplay given some excellent RPG-styled polish that almost makes you wish that OTHER known Role-Playing game series would have Arcade games like this.
+ Well-Written Storyline
+ Nice Balance of Challenge and quite addictive (to fans and casual gamers alike)
- Occasional imperfections in Control
- Rogue's Gallery can be a bit repetitive
- Despite the understanding of the limitations it would've been nice if the Characters had a bit more...well character
- It can SERIOUSLY make one wish that Capcom can still make Dungeons & Dragons games. (Even though despite the fact that they can't.)
- Uncommon Arcade Game # one too many
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/20/04, Updated 05/21/04
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