Hands-on with Vanillaware’s Dragon’s Crown Pro for the PlayStation 4
Back in August of 2013, Atlus and Vanillaware released the godly 2D side-scrolling title that captured the feel of Dungeons and Dragons onto the PlayStation 3. That game was known as Dragon’s Crown and it went on to become a cult classic among the masses. It combined a fierce combat system, online/offline co-operative gameplay and featured enough content that gamers are still falling in love with it. It’s easily one of the best games available for the PlayStation 3. Which is also the main issue with the title.
Gamers have been asking for this particular title to get the backward compatibility work for some time. Though as you’re likely aware, Sony kinda of dropped the ball with that. Gamers looking to play their PlayStation 3 titles had to resort to either owning the previous console, purchasing one if they sold it/traded it in or play and pay for them again via PlayStation Now. Out of those options, Dragon’s Crown was not available on the latter. Meaning that a lot of gamers were out of luck. That is until a remastered version of the game, Dragon’s Crown Pro, was announced at the 2017 PlayStation Experience event. I believe I heard the cheering of thousands of fans crying out in disbelief, all at once.
What is Dragon’s Crown Pro?
The short answer is that the game is a remaster. A damned good remaster. While the game is a 1:1 copy of the original game, there’s so much more that has been added to the game. Faster loading times, a remastered soundtrack, several options not available in the PS3 version. If you’re familiar with what Vanillaware did with their remaster of Odin’s Sphere on the PlayStation 4.This exactly what they’ve done with Dragon’s Crown Pro. They took something that was already perfect and improved on it. I don’t know how, but they did.
Dragon’s Crown was a visually amazing game back on the PlayStation 3 and honestly, it still is. I’ve fired up my PS3 to play it again and to compare it against this version. Thanks to the enhancements with the PS4 version the game is even more visually striking. Backdrops come to life with strolling skyboxes, subtle touches like the grass and bushes blowing in the wind. In the city, you’ll see NPCs carrying on with their daily chores. While in dungeons, torches on the wall light up the way, small creatures cross the ground and waters glisten as you cross them. Gone is the muddled look from the PlayStation 3 due to the 720p resolution being upscaled to 1080p. Here, Dragon’s Crown Pro has an extremely sharp look, thanks to all the assets being presented at a much higher resolution.
This easily apparent when looking at the ground, walls and even the sky. The framerate is also rock solid. In both my 1080p and 4K gameplay sessions, I didn’t encounter any dropped frames, stuttering or cropping. This is all typical Vanillaware flair, as the development studio is known for it’s over the top presentation. I really didn’t think the game could look any better. I was wrong but happy that I was. The audio has also received a big boost, with a remastered soundtrack. However, purists can toggle it off and still enjoy the original soundtrack if they so choose to. There’s even an option to switch the voices to either Japanese or English. Something that was sorely missed previously. You can also switch out the voice for the narrator with that of the six characters. This was also an option on the PS3 version, however, you had to unlock them. Yes, you can have the Amazon telling your story if you so choose. I definitely did and it I enjoyed it a bit more than I probably should have. Sadly, Atlus omitted to include a sound test. I know, you’re probably going, what is that an issue but you haven’t heard the remastered soundtrack either. Trust me, when you do you’re likely going to say the same thing.
Outside of this, this is the same game that we fell in love with on the PlayStation 3. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, as it was pretty much the total package up until now.
I was able to get some co-op going, both on and offline. Both modes worked featured drop-in co-op, as long as you’ve enabled. While the network-enabled games were quick to connect and ran well. There’s no voice chat, but this sort of game works without it. It’s worth mentioning that Dragon’s Crown Pro also supports cross-platform play with both the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita versions as well. It’s nice to see that Atlus didn’t leave those two platforms out. The more the merrier in your adventurous exploits.
Yes, the patch that allows you to upload you game save from the PS3 or PS Vita is up. I was able to transfer my game save over and load it into Dragon’s Crown Pro with no issues. The game will see the data and download it into a new save lot. Pretty easy stuff.
There’s also enough content in here for both those who are only concerned about the end game and those who like to do everything available.Outside of the main campaign, there are side quests that reward experience, gold, and collectibles to be viewed in the gallery. Outside of that, you have a rich game mode where you alternative routes with harder challenges and two dungeons. The randomly generated Labyrinth of Chaos and the Tower of Mages. Hard as adamantium nails, but here is where you’ll find all the best gear as well. My only complaints with the game are when you’re trying to pick up items off the ground and several are close to each other. The game then tries to predict which one you’re going after and fails at it. Causing you to retrieve the wrong item, which can be an issue if you’re in the middle of a heated battle. This caused me to either miss on a quest achievement or even die at times. However, this was also true with the original Dragon’s Crown. Combat can be pretty cheap as well. There’s nothing worse than getting one-shot by a killer rabbit (insert Monty Phyton reference) or getting surrounded by fire.
All in all, this represents an amazing effort to bring the beloved PS3 classic into the modern day. I’ve been enjoying it ever since Atlus provided us with access to the title. Check out some of our recorded footage below.
All in all, if you’re a fan of Dragon’s Crown and were wondering if the updated version is going to be worth it. My answer is resounding YES! It is an amazing remaster that does everything the original game did and so much more.
Dragon’s Crown Pro releases on May 15th, 2018, exclusively for the PlayStation 4. I’ll see you online.