Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is a bundle of two classic beat 'em up adventures, Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and its sequel Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara. All of the graphics have received an HD update, there's now drop-in-drop-out multiplayer co-op, a robust achievement and unlock system, and all sorts of other great additions. This is the story of my first hour-long playthrough of Shadow Over Mystara.
When starting up Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara, it's best to pause and evaluate which of the six characters best fits your play-style and acclimate yourself to their techniques. That's not what I did. I picked the dwarf because he has an axe and the dwarves are, obviously, the mightiest of all races. I might have regretted it I had stopped to think about it, but I didn't. Dwarves don't regret and they also never turn back.
It's best to adventure with friends, and considering Chronicles of Mystara allows for drop-on-drop-out cooperative multiplayer for up to four players (locally or online), you're only hamstringing yourself if you don't. However, the dwarf has no friends -- except for his axe. And also booze, but I don't think there's booze in this game.
When starting on your adventure, it's best to try out each of the buttons to discover their use, thus enabling you to react appropriately when the difficulty ramps up. Considering both titles packaged into Chronicles of Mystara feature a unique equipment system that lets you swap secondary weapons on the fly, knowing the buttons can be a matter of life and death. That's not what I did. I took my dwarf into the game, found the "Swing Axe" button and ran straight forward until the enemies were dead -- or I was dead. Luckily when you die you can jump right back into the game just like dropping another quarter into the machine at an arcade. This may not have been the most efficient way of playing the game, and definitely not the cheapest in the context of how many quarters I could have spent, but I think the dwarf respects me more for my choices.
While adventuring, it's best to pause and consider which route to take through the wilderness, and also worth pausing to talk casually with NPCs or shopkeeps. Both Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara have branching paths which adventurers can take, some leading to secrets and treasures untold, others to traps and certain doom. NPCs can offer quests and lore-based dialogue, while shopkeeps offer hints and a cheerful disposition. That's not what I did. Dwarves say, "to hell," with cheerful dispositions. I charged through map after map killing only what slowed my progress. Occasionally I'd come to a dead end, but that only stirred the dwarf's anger. The bloodlust had taken him; I was hardly in control anymore.
When encountering a boss, at first it's best to pace yourself and measure the enemy's abilities. Spurious actions can result in a quick death and only through pattern recognition will victory be achieved. That's not what I did. Instead, I died a lot. By a lot I mean I'm pretty sure the dwarven race is near extinction after I finished Shadow Over Mystara. The worst part was I could tell I was doing terrible since I didn't get any bonus experienced for fast completion after defeating a boss. That hurts right in the bloodlust. I still killed them, right?
And so ends the adventures of KOF the dwarf, FOL the dwarf, ROS the dwarf and hundreds of their brethren. Luckily for dwarf-kind, with all of the achievements I earned during that first playthrough I was able unlock a House Rule for vampirism -- a special rule that allows basic attacks to steal health from enemies...
The Shadow Over Mystara remains and the Tower of Doom stands in the distance, but not for long. The dwarves shall return... and they're very thirsty. For blood, that is. You know, because of the vampirism.
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is a side-scrolling 2D action RPG, really more of a brawler, coming to PSN and PC on June 18, XBLA on June 19, and the Wii U eShop in the not so distant future. The update was developed by Iron Galaxy, the crew behind Marvel vs. Capcom Origins and Darkstalkers Resurrection. In other words, they know their stuff, and the quality of the product in my brief time with it so far is outstanding.
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