|This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (June 2016)|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, beat 'em up|
Dragon's Crown (ドラゴンズクラウン? Doragonzu Kuraun) is a 2D fantasy action role-playing video game developed by Vanillaware. Set in a medieval world of swords and sorcery, the game sees up to four players travelling through dangerous dungeons and labyrinths in search of fortune and adventure. Cooperative options include both local multiplayer and four player drop in sessions over Sony's PlayStation Network service with data-sharing of save games and cross play between the Vita and PlayStation 3.
Dragon's Crown is an action role-playing game structured like traditional side-scrolling beat 'em up such as Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara or Sega's Golden Axe where players move their characters across the screen into the background or foreground while defeating the assailants that confront them from all angles. Players may choose between one of six heroic character archetypes and travel through numerous environments alone or accompanied by computer controlled or other player characters defeating enemies using skills, combos, magic and collectable offensive weapons like bombs and crossbows recovered from chests or dropped by their foes.
Each character has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, fighting styles, skills and magic which can be upgraded through the Adventurers' Guild. The characters' skills and statistics increase upon leveling like a classic RPG and with each level the characters earn skill points to unlock or buff his or her skills and magic. The number of skill points attainable for each character is not enough to unlock and upgrade every skill on a character's character tree so the player must plan carefully to ensure they build and buff their character's skills and magic in a way that is tailored to their play style.
As the player proceeds through Dragon's Crown's hand drawn dungeons and environments they are accompanied by Ranni the thief and later in the story, Tiki the fairy. These two non-playable characters will guide characters to hidden areas in the game and open locked chests and doors revealing loot and secret areas that branch from the dungeon's main path. After an area or dungeon is completed the player returns the game's central hub to prepare for further excursions, appraise treasure, repair equipment and a myriad of other activities essential to a successful adventure.
Later in the game direct travel between dungeons and town becomes hazardous and branching paths which are traveled based on the player's decisions during game-play open up in every level. Quests may also be undertaken by players which hold specific objectives and quests from the adventurer's guild and powerful rune magics become usable, as well as campfire cooking mini-games between dungeons which may now be attempted multiple times without returning to town.
The game features online mode via Sony's PlayStation Network which allows up to four players to experience the game simultaneously, cross play between PlayStation 3 and Vita was added in October 2013 as part of patch 1.03 which was rolled out first in Japan and then the U.S. and Europe, the game also offers local multiplayer. When a player's character runs out of lives while signed into the PlayStation Network, another player in another game may recover their bones from the spot they fell and take them to the temple in town where the priest may bring that character back to life as an AI-controlled partner. Players may also communicate using an in-game pop-up system which can quickly convey simple messages such as "thank you" to another person.
The PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions of the game were designed to be identical and compatible with the same save data, which can be freely transferred between both systems. In addition, the PlayStation Vita version uses its touchscreen for item management in place of the PlayStation 3's DualShock analog stick.
The game is set primarily in the Kingdom of Hydeland, in the same fantasy world of GrimGrimoire and Odin Sphere, taking place within a different timeframe and location of the world. The game's world possesses vast labyrinths and catacombs that lay beneath the civilization, and fantastical monsters that stalk the darkest and most desolate forests.
The plot revolves around a legendary relic, the titular Dragon's Crown, and the quest to retrieve it. A mysterious coven of magic-users with influence in even the highest levels of government seek the treasure and have used their sorcery to link long-forgotten ruins, dangerous labyrinths, and many other areas together in order to search for it.
Players must take up the role of one of six adventurers charged with retrieving the crown before those who would use it for their own sinister purpose, as well as search for treasure and riches of their own.
Art director George Kamitani first had the idea for Dragon's Crown thirteen years before its release, immediately after production of Princess Crown for the Sega Saturn in 1997, but claimed that he was unable to find a publisher willing to support the project, which at the time was intended for the Sega Dreamcast. Kamitani, who had previously worked with Capcom on Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom, said that he always wanted to develop a game that would "advance the genre", of similar titles such as Golden Axe and The King of Dragons while still keeping it 2D. Kashow Oda, publishing producer of Ignition Entertainment stated that the company signed on with the project because they "respect[ed] Kamitani’s artwork and unique style" as well as being intrigued by its online mode. A separate version for the PlayStation Vita was developed due to the success Capcom's Monster Hunter series had on PlayStation Portable, with its connectivity to the PlayStation 3 version added because "we wanted our game to have a feature where people can get together and play."
Dragon's Crown was first announced at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles by representatives of Ignition Entertainment, who revealed that they would also be localizing the English-language version of the title. The game, developed for the PlayStation 3, represents the first HD video game developed by Vanillaware, previously known for their work on standard-definition titles such as Odin Sphere for the PlayStation 2 and Muramasa: The Demon Blade for the Wii. It was also produced simultaneously for the PlayStation Vita handheld system, which Ignition claimed would not be a "scaled-down version" and would contain the "same fluid hand-drawn animation, blazing special effects, and haunting soundtrack" as the PlayStation 3 release.
Originally set to be published by UTV Ignition Entertainment, who had published Vanillaware's previous Wii title Muramasa: The Demon Blade, following the company's retirement from international development and restructuring, all rights and duties were transferred to Atlus. In April 2012, Atlus announced that they would be taking over publishing duties from UTV Ignition Games and key members of the company would be involved in development of the game as producers. The company stated that much of the early information supplied by Ignition, such as an estimated North American retail price of USD$29.99, and a release window of Spring 2012, were "ambitious and unfounded" and would have to be changed, with a new release date set for some time in 2013. A Japanese release date of July 2013 was officially announced in a March 2013 promotional trailer, with a North American release and new price point similarly announced the following month for August of that year. A 64-page Dragon's Crown artbook was also produced as a bonus for those who pre-ordered the game in North America. Dragon's Crown is Vanillaware's most expensive project yet at over 100 million yen (around one million dollars). The game is also being localised into Chinese with the active assistance of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia, in an attempt to tap into the Chinese-speaking market.
Dragon's Crown received overall positive reviews from critics. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation 3 version 82.78% based on 50 reviews and 82/100 based on 62 reviews and the PlayStation Vita version 81.44% based on 9 reviews and 78/100 based on 15 reviews. IGN gave Dragon's Crown a score of 8.5/10, calling it "great", whilst GameSpot applauded the visual quality of the game, rating it at 8/10. Joystiq gave the game 4.5 stars out of 5. Destructoid gave the game a higher rating of 9.5/10.
Dragon's Crown sold more than 300,000 physical retail copies in Japan within the first week of release across both PlayStation 3 and Vita platforms. The Vita and PS3 versions were also the number 1 and 2, respectively, best-selling digital games on the Japanese PlayStation Network in 2013. As of July 2014, worldwide sales of the game reached 940,000 copies.
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