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T O P I C R E V I E W
Posted - 04 Feb 2015 : 08:33:44 Hello all. For those who never got a chance, like me, the excellent D&D arcade beat 'em ups have made their way to digital release on last generation consoles and on Steam for PCs. If the game style isn't your favorite, there is still a lot to appreciate.
The '90s were a good time for fighters and beat em up games. They started with regular underground fighting themes and vigilante action and went to include almost everything under the sun, fro Predator to the Simpsons. Capcom and Konami were the most prolific developers, and Capcom somehow got the license to D&D. The two games are straight beat em ups but they have enough RPG elements to show that their designers weren't just cashing in on a name with no thought for the material. There are branching paths, shops, traps, and limited interaction with NPCs and enemies.
Classes have their different styles and hit all of the genre prerequisites. You have (among other things) a middle of the road fighter, a more defensive cleric, a lithe rogue who can open any chest for free...it's a nice blend of the big to small character formula of beat em ups and has a nice game enhancing depth that they could have easily left out. The characters have charm and aren't exactly breaking the mold with their design, but to me, that's part of the appeal. The designs work, and you instantly 'get' who everyone is.
The graphics, even though they are old, are the hilight of the game. This was during the mid 90's, when character sprites and design where at a peak in arcade games, in my opinion. There is always a lot of emotive character coming from the characters in any pose. It is a good balance between expressive, comic book style art and a believable style. The monsters really kind of steal the show - an age old monster concept like the Manticore is not that interesting to name off, but looks great while in motion in the game. Again it's another case of the game being able to keep things simple but providing brilliance in the basics.
The gameplay is like any other beat em up, but I think between Capcom had the edge over other companies by this point. A lot of earlier games were designed around quarter crunching and would have some pretty unfair game mechanics, such as spending health to perform a special, or ridiculous falling deaths. By 1995, it seems like games started to get away from this and instead entice the player with simple good gameplay and replay value. It is possible to get through the game with one life through careful path selection and clever item usage, although it isn't easy.
I totally recommend the games (it is a 2 in 1 thing) for theme but also as a good game to relieve stress and to just turn your brain off for a while.