Review by zestypinto

"If you thought Tower of Doom was traditional..."

Normally, sequels have a tendency to be watered down "flashier" versions of the previous game, usually with a few knacks or two but otherwise without anything new to offer.

But in this case, this is far from that scheme.

"Shadow Over Mystara," the sequel to the D&D arcade game, "Tower of Doom," takes the traditional D&D rulings that were well-implemented into a real-time side-scroller and adds more modifications to the mix. Your character can now switch weapons and manage their inventory; there is an addition of two new characters, the thief and the wizard, whom both add to the more tactical feel of group play; there is even a solid plot (albeit the same sort of cardboard cut plot you'd expect from a cheap adventure booklet, but this to me adds authenticity to the atmosphere).

As before, the same previous characters from the first game include the "tank"-hard Fighter, the multi-talented Elf, the supportive Cleric, and the loot-hungry Dwarf. The characters change little with this transition save a few additional permanent items that certain characters are allowed to carry unlimited amounts of and a significant increase in stats from the same characters you started in ToD (to obviously reflect their past experience). As stated before, the game puts even more emphasis on tactical strategies, especially support roles, and certain rooms in the game practically REQUIRE you to have more than one person playing if you ever plan on visiting it. A clever tactic to waste more credits? Yes, but one that is recommended anyway.

The game is, as you would imagine, much harder to reflect the addition of newer toys for your PC. Halfway through the game, you even fight the final boss from the previous D&D arcade console. Do not expect to receive any mercy to your pocket of quarters, even if you manage to collect some of the most famed/difficult items in the game, as you will be fighting many difficult old and new characters throughout this adventure. But like before, you'll enjoy it. While the game can be frustrating, this is a game that at the same time makes you enjoy wasting quarters at times simply because it makes you keep on wanting to know what you will find next.

Perhaps what makes this game even more impressive is the replay value. As ToD had done before, there are multiple paths that can take you to the same destination, but this time there are even more than before, allowing you to play a second game that is not as similar to the first.

A simple warning if you start on this game: it will be hard to want to stop. It is very addictive despite certain frustrating boss battles (did I emphasize how important it is to have someone else with you to implement strategies?), and in the end even when you're done you'll probably still want to play again to catch what you missed. So give in to your temptation and insert those coins already!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 05/05/06

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