Ah nostalgia, you awesome superb force of old school gaming you! This is what we've been craving for a long time, since programmers invented and programmed emulation software. Old games that we used to play in the Arcades are no longer eating up our coins, and we can get them on our favourite gaming platforms for the single price of a bunch of hard earned cash or (soon to be phased out) Microsoft Points.
I'm talking here about Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara - Old school hack-slash side-scrolling brawler action for you and your friends. It's been a long time since I've dropped into an Arcade and pumped coins into this beast - now it's back and we got to play the Xbox 360 version recently.
The prognosis Doc, it's good - very good. It features some improved graphics and solid framerate to go with the fact that it's two games for the price of one. Shadows over Mystara and Tower of Doom come bundled in the package, along with a score of extra goodies and unlockables as well as awesome House Rules. Sick of that weapon breakage, earn enough Victory Points from regular play and WHAM - buy the rule and turn it on to stop items from breaking.
Want to heal yourself by attacking and killing your foes, buy that rule too.
The gameplay remains refreshingly simple and yet for the time it was packed with choices, multiple areas to explore and various hidden secrets to find. Sure it's basically enter stage and murder your way to the end of it, killing orcs, goblins and other D&D nasties along the way. Yet back then there was no game like it for offering you the chance to save the village or let it burn, whilst looting the prince's castle.
You have the various classes, like Fighter, Wizard, Dwarf and Thief (to name but a few) and each one has their own special class feature, as well as attacks/defences. The Fighter is the best class to play to start with since he can get quite devastating as you level up through the various games' stages - he upgrades his HP as well as his weapons.
You can use different items such as silver daggers, hammers, bows and burning oil to put the hurt on your foes. These are easy enough to select and use, the GUI for the game has been optimised for a console - remaining very similar to the Arcade version.
There's a surprising amount of tactical play for those who don't just want to bash buttons, and whilst you won't be losing real coins you can play the game on various difficulty levels for added challenge. Death isn't as bad in this game as it was in the Arcades.
All the levels and stages are there, all the old gameplay of Shadows and Tower is there...it's a nigh on perfect re-creation of the old game. Coupled with beefed up graphical filters, a choice of display (including an old Arcade Cabinet) and other options.
The game hasn't changed all that much and it suits us down to the ground. We like the cooperative aspect of the title, and you can play with 3 other friends to take down the evil enemies which plague the D&D world of Mystara together. Remastered sound joins the visuals and the whole package is great value for money, considering now you can play on the local console or online with your friends too. Whilst it won't win many awards graphically, and the old game was the same - it wins hands down on pure gameplay fun!
Check it out
You can't do worse than this downloadable slice of early Arcade Action set in the D&D world of Mystara, featuring old favourites and a nice shiny House Rule mode. Go on give it a try and swing a sword at a goblin today!