Game: Dungeons & Dragons Collection - Sega Saturn
Year: 1999 (Oroginal release date of games: 1993 & 1996)
First off, I was never into D&D as a kid. I could never really understand what the hell was going on, and it just seemed quite lame to me. Don't get me wrong, wizards are cool, sword welding warriors are cool, and scantily clad babes riding dragons are cool too. I've never really been a huge fan of RPG's either (I'm slowly gaining interest), but action-adventure games like Zelda, Shenmue, Metal Gear. I just can't get enough of.
When I found out that there was a D&D game for the Saturn, and it was an arcade style 2D scrolling fighter, I definitely needed to check it out. I was a really big fan of the 2 and 4 player arcade games of the late 80's and 90's, a la Final Fight, Ninja Turtles, X-Men, Spider Man and so on, but I had never seen this game before. I think it's because when these games were released I was busy playing Super Street Fighter II and Sega Super GT. The Saturn version was not released until March, 1999 (only in Japan), and by that time I was well into my N64 and PS1 hay-days. The closest that I think I ever came to playing a similar game would have been Knights of the Round which was also a Capcom game, or Golden Axe . Well, anyways I was about to enter the magical world of D&D. The Saturn version (which I now have) is quite hard to find. I got my version from Ebay, and yes....it was not cheap. Over the many months that I was humming and hawing over whether or not to buy it for the Saturn I did download the ROM for MAME, and played the game quite a bit. I finally broke down and picked up the SS version, and I am very happy with it. So, on to the review...
Game play (7.5/10): Your classic hack and slash type game play. There are quite a few different characters to choose from, all with their own fighting style and magic capabilities. The control is nice and tight, and each character is well balanced so you can play any part of the game with what ever character you want and not have too much trouble. The game doesn't really do anything that I haven't seen before (action-wise), but there are quite a lot of different attacks and magic spells that each character can perform. You can also buy axillary weapons and items, which is nice too.
The levels are well designed, and there are plenty of bad guys and bosses to take on. There are quite a lot of levels, especially for an arcade game, and you can pick different paths throughout the game, which does add replay value. This game was definitely designed to eat quarters in the Arcade, as it is quite difficult, and I find myself dying all the time....I just seem to get my ass kicked a lot. The game is much easier when there are 2 players working together, which brings me to my next point; the arcade version actually supported up to 6 players, but unfortunately, the Saturn version only supports 2.
Graphics (7/10): In a way, I'm kind of surprized that the game requires the 4MB RAM cartridge. I think this is more to support the mutliple character models, rather than deliver amazing visuals. But since the game only supports 2 players, I'm really not too sure where the additional RAM is being used. The graphics are nice, but not that impressive. They look more 1991 than 1996. The game does look pretty good when there are a lot of enemies on the screen and some big 'ol magic spell is cast. The animation on the characters is OK, it's not super fluid, but it does the job. The levels look nice, and each one is visually appealing in its own way. So let's put it this way, graphically, it's no Princess Crown, but it is still one of the nicer looking 2D games from the 90's.
Sound (6/10): The vocals are brutal....the screams and little voicing there is sounds like it came from a Master System Game. Come on now, this was 1996, it couldn't have been too hard to put together some higher quality voice acting. The rest of the sound effects are fine, but nothing special. The same goes for the level music....it does the job, but nothing that I'll ever be humming in my head a week after playing the game.
Overall (8/10): OK, so how does the game get an 8/10 for the overall score when clearly I haven't given any of the individual review sections anything over a 7.5? Well, even with its faults, the game is super fun to play, and is a definite must have for any Saturn collection. It's the kind of game you can pick up and play for an hour or so and have a great time. Oh, and by the way, did I mention that you actually get two games here: Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara so you do get quite a bit of value in the purchase. Compared to the ultimate Saturn 2D beat 'em up (Guardian Heroes) D&D collection comes in 2nd place, but it's still a really good game. Think of taking Knights of the Round and Golden Axe, making them have a baby, and then giving that baby a bunch of Steroids, and there you have D&D collection. So if you can find it for a reasonable price, definitely pick it up, and even if it's an unreasonable price, you should consider getting anyways.
Friday, 26 June 2009