Review by Stygian Ablyss

"A superb and unique sidescroller!"

This game was (and still is) an extremely rare gem. Very few sidescrollers (actually, during it's time, virtually none except for it's predecessor) were as unique, as challenging or as fun as this game was. With the demise of sidescrollers though, this game is very hard to find in the arcade nowadays. Consider yourself very lucky if you manage to find this game in the arcade.

Gameplay (9): Solid. It blends rpg elements with your typical sidescrolling game, and does it very well. Set in the Dungeons & Dragons world of Mystara, you battle monsters, creatures, fearsome dragons and deadly liches. The game features an inventory system, a rarity for a sidescrolling fighting game, and generally does a good job of it. Pressing the button to open your inventry pops up a menu around your character, where you can use another button to rotate and select your items. And there are plenty of items, ranging from rings, boots, magical swords to exotic items like effreet bottles, skins dropped one enemy in the game, etc. All have different uses and effects, plus some of them can be used to create special items! This increase in importance and usage of items is one thing that clearly puts it ahead of it's predecessor, tower of doom. And the combo system of this game puts the predecessor to shame. In this game, you can actually combo your attacks , with a variety of finishing moves using typical simple moves like down, up, attack and quarter circle forward, attack. Plus the characters are generally well balanced, though the dwarf and elf characters have more weaknesses than the other characters. 6 characters (Fighter, dwarf, magic user, thief, cleric, elf) can be chosen, each offering a different experience, a different playing style. With up to 4 players playing at once, this is also a great multiplayer game, ensuring many hours of fun and competition with your friends. Teamwork is essential to this game, though experts can go complete this game by themselves. Another advantage: if you are really good at this game, one credit will take you through it. Quite different (and cheaper) from those coin munching fighting games capcom keeps churning out. There are plenty of secrets in this game and multiple paths for you to choose from, thus making repeated playings still fresh and enjoyable.
However, one rather major flaw of this game was that the first release had many bugs and glitches, and this ruined the game, since many players tended to hog the machine and use the glitches to make their way to the end without dying. This is rather frustrating especially when you are waiting for your turn to play it, and has the adverse effect of crashing the game sometimes. Another thing is the lack of body armour that can be found during the game. And shops could have more variety, instead of selling the same things all the time (though there is one shop that has some special stuff)

Graphics (7.5): Nothing really to scream about, but the spell effects are quite well done, and bosses are well animated. Backgrounds tend to look a little dull, in my opinion. Not really a huge step forward from the previous games, as some of the creatures actually look the same (not necessary a bad thing though).

Music/Sound (7) : Ok sounds and music, though you won't really be able to hear much above the din of the arcade. Sound effects for spells are ok.

Challenge (8) : This is one game where it can be extremely easy or extremely hard, depending on whether you practice a lot. However, with so many different classes to choose from, and so many paths and secrets, it will still be challenging to play through the tougher areas, using the weaker classes or to solo with all the classes without dying.

Replay (10) : A replay value of 10 for an arcade game? Yes, especially one such as this game. With many different paths, secrets and classes, you can have a lot of fun trying out new things, exploring different routes and trying out different items.

Overall : Definitely a classic, and an extremely unique and rare game that combines rpg elements and sidescroller fighting game elements. If you have the Sega Saturn, you can play this game (and it's predecessor). And a few arcades may still have this game. If you find one in your local arcade, try it. It will hook you immediately!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/02/01, Updated 04/02/01

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