Preview: It's a hack-and-slash paradise in the gorgeous Dragon's Crown

Dragon's Crown Logo - 1142283

The beat-em-up genre, while not dead, is certainly not as popular as it was in the 80s and the 90s. Stellar titles like Streets of Rage, Final Fight, and Double Dragon dominated the early consoles with easy-to-grasp, tough-to-master gameplay that gave players the satisfaction of bashing faces in without playing a fighting game.

Vanillaware, no stranger to the 2D beat-em-up genre, is resurrecting it in quite a big way. With titles like Odin Sphere and Muramasa under its belt, it's easy to see how Dragon's Crown is a natural evolution for them. And boy, is it gorgeous to look at. I'm not just talking about the Sorceress either.

Dragon's Crown, boiled down to its basics, is a cooperative brawler. From a total of six characters -- the Fighter, Amazon, Wizard, Elf, Dwarf and Sorceress -- players are sure to find a character that speaks to them in terms of combat and handling.

During my hands-on time, I played as the buxom Sorceress, who has the ability to cast powerful spells on her enemies. While I could still hit enemies with a melee attack, it was all about the magic with her. As I used her spells, the mana count would decrease, forcing me to charge it back up by holding a button. This technique kept me on my toes, as I had to make sure I was in a safe spot or had my buddies fending off enemies while I was able to recharge.

Dragon's Crown

I was also told the game will be an absolute loot-fest, for those obsessive about outfitting their characters and making sure they're equipped with the most powerful gear. Each piece of gear will have a letter grade associated with it, letting you know of its rarity. Characters have their own talent trees, as well as game-wide skill trees, so character advancement is quite deep.

The game will have about 15 hours worth of content, but that's only on its first run through. You'll be able to take your leveled characters and, in Diablo fashion, run through increasingly harder difficulties, thus increasing the number of rare loot drops. For those worried about end-game content, a randomized dungeon awaits those who like to test their skills and reap incredible rewards.

Playing the game itself is a real blast though. This is one of those games that you can tell doesn't take itself too seriously, and thus has you more invested in its crazy gameplay. When playing with others, the action can get hectic and chaotic, and that's definitely a plus. It was extremely fun to be joined by fellow writer David Sanchez and two Atlus representatives to unleash a barrage of kickass on every enemy on the screen.

Dragon's Crown

While Dragon's Crown won't support Cross Play or Cross-Buy, it nice that the game does support any combo of online and local co-op at the same time. That means I can simultaneously play with two of my buddies across the country and a friend locally next to me.

We're only a little over a month away from Dragon's Crown being released, but the wait is going to be that much more agonizing now that I finally got my hands on this fantastic brawler. Look out for the game on August 6th for the PS3 and the PS Vita.

Charmander
Mike Splechta GameZone's Editor-in-Chief, retro game enthusiast, savior of kittens. Follow me @Michael_GZ
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