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- Dragon's Crown
Much more than tits.
Perhaps you've heard of Dragon's Crown in context to the, let's say, magical endowment of The Sorceress. Knee-jerk criticism has been thrown at the developers and artists for objectifying her. But cultural differences between Japan and America aside, while they do bounce around quite a lot especially when The Sorceress is casting spells, she's not meant to be realistic. The Fighter has a ridiculous upper body, The Amazon has ridiculous thighs, The Dwarf has ridiculous brawn, and The Sorceress has ridiculous boobs. It all fits the cartoonish yet gorgeous animated art style, and it's not like she isn't a strong, sexy character in her own right. All told, in the worst case scenario, I don't believe this is necessarily bad press.
Even if the Sorceress had average-sized assets, Dragon's Crown deserves all the praise; in fact, if Game Revolution were to award a Best of E3 Award for a Vita title, Dragon's Crown would have won in my book. It takes the best elements of traditional side-scrolling beat-'em-ups, like the under-rated Knights of the Round and Dungeons & Dragons for the arcade, and layers it with the majestic, vivid, almost hand-painted graphics of Muramasa: The Demon Blade and Odin Sphere. The result is exuberant and glorious.
Whether you choose to be the Fighter, Amazon, Elf, Sorceress, Wizard, or Dwarf, the mission is the same: conquer each stage by traveling through each side-scrolling environment and defeating any grunts and bosses that might block your way. Each character has distinct strengths and abilities, with the Sorceress and Wizard casting magical spells while the Amazon and Dwarf can jump around the screen dishing out physical damage from all sides. Combat has a strong sense of speed and balance between precision and playfulness, like a mature version of Castle Crashers.
At times, the story will branch into several directions, asking you whether you want to fight or flee, search for alternate routes, or steal an item that you probably shouldn't take. The mission of this party of six is to prevent a sinister group of sorcerers from finding the legendary "Dragon's Crown," so taking many different paths is likely a good idea anyway. For a more discrete objective (and a fine reward), you can accept quests in town which serves as your central hub and resting ground in between missions. Here, you can spend any collected loot on additional weapons, equipment, and items, and you can safely distribute points and obtain new moves with each level-up.
Better yet, the entire experience accommodates co-operative play of up to four players over PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3. The Atlus booth at E3 featured a four-player local co-op where I and three fellow attendees slaughtered every stage, but also competed against each other for the highest score (and thereby more bonus experience points). Without a doubt, it was among the best playable multiplayer demonstrations at E3 2013.
Dragon's Crown was a Vita system-seller for me when it was first announced last year, and it's still one today. Look for it to release on August 6, 2013 for Vita at $39.99 and for PlayStation 3 at $49.99.