(Wii U eShop)

Game Review

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Lee Meyer

Worth the wait?

After several delays and well publicised development issues, Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara has finally launched on Wii U; while it’s not without issues, the wait was worth it. Developed by Iron Galaxy Games, Chronicles of Mystara is a HD remastering of Capcom’s arcade brawlers Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara, with extra content and online play. With two full arcade games to play through, plenty of challenges that unlock concept art and other game paraphernalia and highly customisable gameplay options, it avoids the typical nostalgic trappings of retro remasterings and instead gives a fascinating look at Capcom’s colourful past.

Chronicles of Mystara's gameplay is surprisingly deep. On the surface, it appears to be a generic button masher masked by a Dungeons & Dragons skin, but players will quickly realize that simply pressing A to attack isn't going to be the most effective strategy. There is an extensive combo system for every character, and it's highly recommended that players check out the "How to Play" section of the Help screen to see available combinations and special moves. As Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara were built for arcades there's no tutorial mode, so Iron Galaxy should be commended for including a comprehensive move/combo list. There are no notable GamePad-specific features, other than Off-TV play, which is a slight disappointment. The menus aren't touch-based, which is surprising given all the options.

While Tower of Doom preceded Shadow Over Mystara, the latter is the default option upon starting up the game, and after playing both campaigns it’s easy to understand Iron Galaxy’s choice. Shadow Over Mystara is superior from its predecessor in every way, with more playable characters, smoother visuals, and improved menus that make switching weapons much easier.

There are four characters in Tower of Doom and six in Shadow Over Mystara: Cleric, Thief, Dwarf, Fighter, Magic User, and Elf. Each has a different play style; the Fighter, for example, is the classic “tank” character, with several melee combinations to defeat enemies. The Magic User, on the other hand, relies on powerful, ranged spells. There is a bit of imbalance when trying out different characters, and the Magic User does feel a bit overpowered — certain spells attack every enemy on the screen, which makes for an easy playthrough, but not necessarily the most satisfying. And because the two titles are not actually played in an arcade there are unlimited “Continues,” which lowers the stakes significantly.

Thankfully, Chronicles of Mystara offers customisable House Rules, which allow the player to decide the difficulty setting, add fun variables to gameplay like unbreakable weapons (an option that comes in very handy when playing a higher difficulty level) and more. One great option is the ability to add scan lines to the screen to emulate the actual arcade experience. Both titles can also be played widescreen, stretched, and even framed in an arcade cabinet, which adds a self-aware atmosphere to the experience without compromising the series’ earnest, unironic fantasy story. There is also an enormous amount of story in both titles — far more than most other coin-op games — with branching paths that lead to different levels and enemies; multiple playthroughs are encouraged.

Playing through the campaigns and completing challenges will net Vault Points, meanwhile, which unlock concept art and other goodies. There are some really great documents and items to be discovered in the Vault, including Japanese promotional items. Most think of Dungeons & Dragons as a Western franchise, so it really is fascinating to see how a Japanese company interpreted and adapted the source material to make a game satisfying for both markets.

An arcade game wouldn't be very exciting without multiplayer, and Chronicles of Mystara doesn't disappoint, with local and online options. Local multiplayer is single-screen, with one player using the GamePad and the others using any combination of Wii Remote, Wii Remote Plus, Pro Controller or Classic Controller. The online multiplayer is a relatively smooth experience; players can jump into quick matches or create their own, and there is very little wait when entering a game. The downside to the cooperative play is that there is occasional lag, and when one player exits the remaining players are left to continue playing, even if that means alone. Because there is no real competitive element, though, it’s easy to jump in and play without a steep learning curve. Is there a D&D MOBA yet? There should be!

Conclusion

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is an enjoyable eShop game that offers lots of content and a glimpse into Capcom’s storied past, and the occasional balance issues and streamlined online experience aren’t enough to bring this arcade gem down. Iron Galaxy may have run into some trouble porting Chronicles of Mystara to the Wii U, but it certainly doesn’t show in the final product. This is a title not to be missed.

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User Comments (40)

sinalefa

#2

sinalefa said:

"While Tower of Doom preceded Shadow Over Mystara, the latter is the default option upon starting up the game, and after playing both campaigns it’s easy to understand Iron Galaxy’s choice."

I find this odd, as one of the advice tidbits that they give is to actually start with ToD, since SoM is more complex.

Anyway, I am glad I bought this. I love that they kept the achievement system.

Shiryu

#4

Shiryu said:

Love them. Really wish we would have a retail physical edition of these, tough...

XCWarrior

#5

XCWarrior said:

Going to pick this up once it goes on sale. I want it for Wii U, but it's already been on sale multiple times on Steam, so hard to justify the $15 price tag 3 months after the real release date. Nice review, glad it's fun, we need online multiplayer games on Wii U for sure.

tripunktoj

#6

tripunktoj said:

I was slightly interested in this one, but the price and its slow pace turned me away.

ACK

#9

ACK said:

So much better than the Duck tales remastering. This retains all it's best nostalgic qualities while smartly updating the experience for modern consoles. Not necessarily better than the bevy of excellent Neo Geo VC games, but still an excellent throwback.

DuckTales, on the other hand, is a joyless, bastardized version of the classic. Decent animation, but generally generic, bland visuals. Some terrible music and voice acting. And the option to ruin the cane controls does not make for an upgrade in any sense. DuckTales was the first game I beat entirely on my own as a kid and I would way rather have it as a premium VC game than this over-priced junk.

Sorry to rant, but I really wish Capcom would follow this trend rather than allowing Wayforward to mangle a classic. If that's their idea of a remastering, I just wish they would have allowed Wayforward to make an entirely new DuckTales game.

WiiULoveGBA

#11

WiiULoveGBA said:

@ACK quite right he did. Just started my download! First time with this game for me hope for great retro things!

Azikira

#12

Azikira said:

I bought this without any sort of Wii U Review, I am glad I did. It is a lot of fun, but very hard at times and almost impossible to figure out what exactly you're picking up.

Relias

#13

Relias said:

I love this set of games.. I like the second one better.. The Wizard..(Magic User) is awesome.. however both games go by classic AD&D rules..

SparkOfSpirit

#14

SparkOfSpirit said:

Will never understand the DuckTales hate.

Anyway, this was a great release, I hope Capcom puts out more of these.

snoox

#15

snoox said:

I was on the fence about this one, then decided not to get it, but after this review now I think I might get it ^.^

ungibbed

#17

ungibbed said:

Can this game be played with the pro controller alone? If the GP shows little gain other than simply mirroring on-screen play, the battery makes for a short session where the pro controller is a perfect option. I'd love that option in more than a few games where the Gamepad is needlessly required making minimal use of the touch screen. The patch for NSMB:U making use of the pro controller really made a huge difference for me.

I'd love the option for choice of single player or multi player gaming if I pick this game up.

SwerdMurd

#19

SwerdMurd said:

possibly my favorite arcade beat em up of all time! Up there with Sengoku 3 for sure.

DanielRMuriel

#20

DanielRMuriel said:

It's a very fun game for sure. I remember playing it in the arcades back then.. took a lot of my money. Super fun and addictive. Worth every cent.

SethNintendo

#21

SethNintendo said:

I'm going to get this. Might wait for a sale though. If I have the money and feeling an itch for beat them up then I'll buy it full price. Big fan of the Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, and Final Fight series.

Zael

#23

Zael said:

I will get this game, sad too see that the gamepad support is near to zero.
At least menu and magic spells could have been used on the gamepad for a quick selection
The gamepad has finished to be only a cost for the console

ejamer

#27

ejamer said:

@XCWarrior
"I want it for Wii U, but it's already been on sale multiple times on Steam, so hard to justify the $15 price tag 3 months after the real release date."

My sentiments exactly. Looking forward to this game, but no longer willing to pay full price* after months of delay. Will grab it when there is a sale... assuming my meager Wii U basic hard drive still has space by that point.

*Edit: Well, not eager to pay full price. If I have a bunch of friends come over then this might change, because it still looks like an awesome multiplayer experience.

ACK

#29

ACK said:

@SparkOfSpirit They took a classic NES game, made it worse and over-charged a premium. This when most fans who played the original would have preferred it untouched on the VC, like we had been begging for year after year. I still have my old cartridge and I honestly struggle to find any outright improvements. Is my nostalgia clouding my vision? Maybe, but that doesn't change the fact that most NES Ducktales fans want to play that undiluted classic instead of having to buy an inferior, poorly modernized product.

Samus06

#30

Samus06 said:

can someone confirm if this game allows the pro controller for single player.

unrandomsam

#31

unrandomsam said:

@ACK I am not that happy with this (Got the steam version when it first came out). Maybe this version works better but I cannot imagine it looks better. (I prefer completely untouched (VC Arcade or whatever) to what ever they have done here).

If you look at the Saturn version it is nowhere near that quality. (Put extra work into the sprites is the way to make it look better on an LCD.)

I agree they butchered DuckTales. (Castle of Illusion I am fine with but I only ever played the Master System version previously). I played through it one level on each and I preferred the NES version all the time. (Removed the jumping parts / force you to go every way when you only have to go one on the NES / Force you to stop to see which bit of the roof to hit because of the graphics stopping it being clear / Pogo is not as accurate cannot do it at the last second or even easily drop off the edge and do the pogo).

I would rather Capcom just do a CPS1/CPS2 emulator (Or let D4 Enterprise do it).

They were bothered to do it properly for the Saturn. (Like what was done for Metal Slug 3 on the original Xbox is probably the way to do it).

SparkOfSpirit

#32

SparkOfSpirit said:

DuckTales has always been one of my favorite games and I've been paying it since it came out. I still don't see it as a butchering. But more power to you if it wasn't your thing. I just don't see the problem aside from small cosmetic changes.

Interesting that Castle Of Illusion is 'fine', even though that game barely resembles the original in any capacity, though. I wonder what the criteria for 'butchering' is these days?

Anyway, I quite enjoy this game, especially in multiplayer. If Capcom could bring out more games like Battle Circuit, I would be more than glad.

XCWarrior

#33

XCWarrior said:

@ejamer I buy physical whenever possible. I have a feeling I'll never fill up the 32 gigs of space, and yet I expect to own 70+ games for Wii U, much like I do for my Wii.

Snkfiend

#34

Snkfiend said:

Well I have this and the other arcade series D&D Shadows of Mysteria and Tower of Doom for years now on my modded xbox so I still have interest of buying this for online play though is pretty still an amazing title for me to play with others.

Snkfiend

#35

Snkfiend said:

@SparkOfSpirit Hell yeah Battle Circuit I never think anybody would know that underrated title that when Capcom 80's to 90's had amazing games now they is a shell of their former self and Cyber Blue is the BOMB!

SparkOfSpirit

#36

SparkOfSpirit said:

@Snkfiend Battle Circuit is one of their best games! It was also their last beat em up, but it was never re-released!

I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

Steviis_Father

#38

Steviis_Father said:

- WII REMOTE CONTROL ISSUE —

I just felt I ought to post about this issue since I haven't found anything on the Internet about this yet...

For those of us opting to play this game on Wii Remotes only, the default control scheme is this:
2 - ATTACK,
1 - JUMP,
A - INVENTORY,
B - USE.

However, if you look in the controls options screen, it shows a completely different button layout:
A - ATTACK,
B - JUMP,
2 - INVENTORY,
1 - USE

The problem lies in the fact that CAPCOM mixed up the button assignments for the Wii Remotes. Gamepad, Classic controller & Pro seem just fine. It's only the Wii Remote buttons CAPCOM messed up.

So for everyone's benefit, I am here to inform you that you CAN design your own button layout for Wii Remotes. You just have to use this legend below to figure out which button corresponds to the remote buttons:
A on screen is 2 on remote [A=2]
B on screen is 1 on remote [B=1]
1 on screen is B on remote [1=B]
2 on screen is A on remote [2=A]

It really hurts the head to have to think of a button but mean another button, but for some reason CAPCOM testers missed this mistake. (*it's most likely that testers just used the default and learned it, not diving into control options to customize.)

Hope this helps!

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