Dungeons & Dragons Chronicles of Mystara is a collection of two Dungeons & Dragons titles Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara. Both games take the same old beat’em up side scrolling gameplay but mix it up by adding in RPG elements thus making the games stand out from the others. As time went on people still remember the amazing time they had with these two titles in the arcade with friends but has this game aged well with time like a fine wine at the pub or should people stay clear and just remember them for what they were?
The first game in the collection is Tower of Doom. This game was a huge departure from other beat’em ups in the fact that there is a lot more meat on its bones. Let’s start off with the story in Tower of Doom. Your key objective is to stop Arch Lich Deimos and as you go through your journey, your character will interact with other characters in which you can choose to help or just continue on with your journey.
The story continues in Shadow over Mystara picks up right where Tower of Doom left off where you find out that Deimos was just a pawn that was being used by a sorceress named Synn. Synn wants to rule the world and destroy all who try and stop her. Just like in Tower of Doom you will have branching paths that will take you to different areas which truly makes you want to replay each level to get the full experience.
Now the gameplay for both of these titles are far more advanced than other beat’em up titles even for today. The game gives you the ability to use light, strong and dashing attacks along with special skills that each class has. I also want to add that Tower of Doom only has four classes to choose from while Shadow over Mystara has six. As you progress through each level your fallen enemies with drop random loot, which varies anything from coins, rings, belts, to even armor. Your character will automatically equip the new equipment. Coins can be used to buy items at the shop between each level. These items include things that will replenish your characters supplies in order to make sure that you’re all set to continue your adventure.
The fun factor of the story for both games is that there is a lot of talking during these stages. This really adds to the story and when you get to certain points where you have to choose what you wanted to do is pretty exciting is it’s definitely a nice addition to the old side-scrolling formula. Some of these branches paths can take you to hidden areas and even hidden bosses so it’s a good thing to go back and replay each level to try out the different paths to get the full experience.
You are also rewarded depending on how much play with each character. As in most RPG’s your character will level up and his/her stats will increase. This always makes it feel like your gaining something during your play through. As you play the game you will also have a list of challenges on the side of the screen that when completed will earn VP. Think of these things as trophies where you will unlock it after you attack fifty enemies while they are on the ground. After you accomplish that it will then rise up to maybe three hundred enemies, this is nice because it’s constantly scaling with you.
Completing these challenges gives you VP which is a form of currency that you can spend in the vault at any time to unlock a bunch of concept art which ranges from the main characters to enemies and areas. You can also unlock “cheats” called House Rules. Unlocking these allows the host to enable/disable things such as infinite health or make weapon durability a thing of the past which allows players to not be concerned with items breaking during their playtime.
Co-op has always been the high point for both of these titles and man does it still shine. Chronicles of Mystara includes drop-in drop-out co-op. This is always a nice feature that allows for you or your friends to join the battle at any time and you never have to worry about not being able to join until the next check point or the end of the level.
With the ability to switch between each game at any time and the sheer amount of extras to unlock, Chronicles of Mystara will keep players busy for hours to come. Fans of the side scrolling beat’em ups will relish the deep combat (the fact that you can juggle enemies and how certain bosses have weaknesses) and wonder why none of the newer titles have ever taken anything from this. Not to mention the fact that all player classes play differently and there is also leaderboards to see where you and your friends stand. The ability to change the filter and the wide range of difficulty that you can switch will have even the most badass warriors shaking in their boots. This game is a jewel that most people need to relive and newcomers need to try.
Audio/Visual – 4/5: Game looks good even after all these years but it could have been a little more polished. The soundtrack….well it still sounds epic.
Gameplay – 5/5: This combat is still unmatched when put up against other beat’em ups on the market.
Innovation – 5/5: The same great stories and gameplay people remember at the arcades is still here only now you don’t have to insert a quarter every time you die, winning.
Value – 5/5: Put both of these titles together and you have a pretty lengthy game not to mention collecting everything will take multiple play throughs.
-Nate B reviewed this game on PS3-