I’m an avid Dungeons and Dragons player. Yes, the pen and paper version. The openness throughout a personal story is what keeps me playing. Aside from Baldur’s Gate, I have never really played a D&D video game before. Now that I have played Chronicles of Mystara, I feel like this is a genre I need to explore some more.
Chronicles of Mystara is a compilation of two single or multiplayer beat ‘em up games set in the D&D universe: Tower of Doom and Shadow over Mystara. Players take on the role of numerous characters based in the fiction. Each one has special abilities and stats that affect their play style. With multiple characters to choose from, there is definitely a nice variety.
Chronicles of Mystara is yet another Capcom re-release, much like Final Fight and Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Graphically, the games haven’t changed too much from the 1993 and 1996 arcade releases, but the extra content and special challenges had me coming back for more.
The games play out very differently from other brawlers. Players will be mashing the attack button and creating combos with multiple enemies, but Chronicles is much more than that. With its RPG roots, players can use numerous items and abilities to dish out more damage, buff themselves and allies and heal. It all depends on the class players choose. Another interesting aspect is the branching paths that I could choose to take in between levels. Playing out like a campaign in traditional D&D, I had the ability to make certain story choices on where to travel next, who to help and what to fight. Characters also level up and can be equipped with better weapons and armor.
After I looked into the combat, I saw how deep it could actually be. Every character not only has spells and items they can use, but also multiple special attacks that can be executed with certain button presses and movement variations. It’s quite deep for this style of game.
Both games also feature four player co-op play. With three others playing along, it makes for a really fun time. It also sets up strategy for when to use skills and items. When playing online, I had very little issue, and when it did occur, rather than lagging, it would catch up to itself. The game utilizes GGPO, the same net code that was used in Capcom’s previous Third Strike.
Much like Third Strike Online Edition and Final Fight Double Impact, Capcom has added small challenges and rewards for player to complete. Many of these involve a certain number of attacks or leveling up. When a challenge is completed, players earn gems (or points) they can use to unlock concept art in the menus. These challenges are displayed on the sides of the screen depending on the view. The options for scan lines and different perspectives also make a return from the previous Capcom remakes.
There are no big graphical changes. In fact, aside from smoothing the visuals in the options, the game still looks rather old. Since this is an arcade game, dying is going to happen and rather quickly. Luckily, upon death, players can just insert another virtual quarter to keep on playing. It did get a little annoying with the amount of deaths I racked up while playing through the games.
As a fan of D&D proper, I found myself very impressed with the lore and small nuances that stay true to the universe. The Cleric can use Turn Undead to destroy all undead creatures on screen; Eladrins can Fey Step across the battlefield, etc. There are some nice touches in there. While the music is very well done, the sounds and minimal voice acting are what players would come to expect from an arcade game from the mid-90s. It’s nothing to write home about.
With some friends, both games offered in Chronicles of Mystara will have beat ‘em up fans having a great time. Even I, being the big D&D fan, had a good amount of fun seeing just how true to the source material they came. It’s rather impressive for a couple of arcade games from the 90s. With the extra challenges, multiple paths and endings in place, players can replay several times and still have a great experience. I highly suggest Chronicles of Mystara.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PC.