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Jimquisition: Dragon's Frown

Aug 05 // Jim Sterling
Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Oh yes, it's another video about reviews and things. Not quite the usual flavor, but certainly something that cannot be repeated enough. If you're a fan of Vanillaware, you may not be helping by pouring excessive scorn on a ...

Dragon's Crown photo
Dragon's Crown

Dragon's Crown had a strong opening week in Japan

Experiences shortages at retail, digital sales appear to be strong
Aug 02
// Kyle MacGregor
The marvelous Dragon's Crown hit shelves in Japan last week and sold more than 175,000 physical units. The PlayStation 3 and Vita title appears to be a hot commodity, with Atlus apologizing for shortages at ret...

Review: Dragon's Crown

Jul 31 // Chris Carter
Dragon's Crown (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PlayStation Vita [tested])Developer: Vanillaware / AtlusPublisher: AtlusReleased: August 6, 2013MSRP: $49.99 (PlayStation 3) / $39.99 (PlayStation Vita) Dragon's Crown is a beat 'em up through and through. While there is a story, it's fairly minimal, as the focus is mainly on hacking, slashing, beautiful locales, and some of the best boss fights in recent memory. Through a medieval veneer, Vanillaware weaves a world that looks familiar, yet feels clearly unique. Rather than fully voiced dialog from a myriad of supporting cast members, the tale is told through a single narrator (like a D&D Dungeon Master). You'll embark on your journey as one of six classes -- the Fighter, the Amazon, the Dwarf, the Sorceress, the Wizard, or the Elf. Each of these classes predictably utilizes a variety of ranged and melee attacks, and they operate generally how one thinks they should -- at first. The nuances of combat don't just end at "ranged" or "melee" -- far from it, in fact. Dragon's Crown has a very technical combat system that features juggling, combos, aerial raves, air dashing, rolling, canceling, and more. In fact, every single class has a defining characteristic that no other class shares. For example, the fighter can block, making him perfect for the front line. The Dwarf can throw enemies, increasing his utility. The Elf can use ranged attacks without a cost to mana with her arrows, but she only has a limited amount, and must pick them back up or find more to replenish her supply. On top of this, Dragon's Crown also features RPG style level progression, with a fully customizable set of skill trees, drawing from one pool of class specific upgrades, and another "common" tree that's the same for everyone. Using their own unique trees, the Wizard can learn to call upon wooden golems, the Fighter can pick up the ability to call upon an area of effect aegis to protect and buff party members, and so on. While most beat 'em ups are content to provide four or five different skins as "characters," Dragon's Crown embraces entirely different design philosophies for each class -- encouraging you to try out each and every one. There are 20 character slots per file, and three save file slots (60 total characters on one machine), so you'll have plenty of opportunities to experiment with different builds -- in fact, the game encourages it. Visually, George Kamitani and the team at Vanillaware have done it again. From the absolutely stunning level select menu to the most insignificant of enemies, it's clear that a painstakingly amount of detail was a core tenet of the philosophy behind Dragon's Crown. All nine levels feel distinctly different from one another, as do the enemies that fill them. Although nine areas may not seem like a lot, after completing each initial level (and progressing to a certain point in the story), you'll unlock each stage's "B-side," which allows you to venture on another path, splitting the level into two. There's also a myriad of secret areas that feature randomized loot, traps, and enemies, so it never feels like you're playing the exact same level over and over. To help further alleviate the repetitive nature of the beat 'em up genre in general, Dragon's Crown features enemy/difficulty scaling. But unlike most games that fumble scaling, Vanillaware does it right, because enemies only scale up, not down. In Dragon's Crown, there are still going to be levels where you need to train before you can best them -- so you still get a sense of accomplishment for completing difficult stages. But because the game also scales up, it makes going back to previous levels fun, and not a "going through the motions" chore. As a result, going back to old stages doesn't feel like a true "grind" like other beat 'em ups, and you'll still have to actively attempt to best the game's bosses with tactical play. Add this to the fact that you can choose either the A or the B-side at will, and you'll have no problem using the "random level" embark option, which grants you extra gold and/or experience bonuses if you let the game pick a series of stages for you. There are tons of homages to old beat 'em ups, some of which are extremely evident to old school fans. Right off the bat, many of you may recognize some direct calls to Golden Axe, including the sack-holding thief who tries to steal your treasure, and the ability to ride creatures. As a huge fan of King of Dragons (my personal favorite beat 'em up), I noticed a few direct homages -- I'm talking specifically about the diversity of the boss fights, that employ some brilliant design choices to help cement the encounters into the pantheon of the genre. I don't want to ruin most of the game's encounters (I avoided providing any screenshots of them here), but nearly all of them employ some kind of unique mechanic that lets each boss make its own memorable mark on the game. For example, one fight features a mass brawl with a gang of pirates, with a magic lamp thrown into the fray. Whoever rubs the lamp can summon a genie, who can cast powerful screen-filling spells against the other side -- so it's up to you to not only defend the lamp, but stop the enemy pirates from grabbing it themselves. After a certain number of spells, or after slashing it away from an enemy, the lamp will bounce all over the battlefield, leading you to frantically defending yourself while hunting for the lamp. Because of the aforementioned scaling system, this fight is always fun, even if you go back and do it multiple times. It's a testament to the solid design of the game, and it avoids falling into a "one and done" trap, making the encounter memorable countless times. This is just one example of a fun boss fight, and the game has over 18 of them. Dragon's Crown could have ended the experience with just one playthrough, but after besting every single stage, you'll have the opportunity to play two more levels of difficulty. The main "Normal" quest goes through level 35, Hard Mode goes through 65, and Inferno ends at the level cap of 99. You can change the difficulty at will, and Vanillaware actually provides a story based justification for the additional difficulty levels, even if it's very minor. If you still aren't satisfied, there's a randomly generated end-game dungeon called the Labyrinth of Chaos (which does a nice job of mixing things up, with great rewards) and a PVP arena that allows for up to four players to duke it out. While I was hesitant to spend time in PVP at first, I was pleased to find out that you not only earn gold for participating, but you can also place bots in the arena in lieu of waiting to find other players. The concept of playing approximately the first five to six hours to unlock online play may be grating to some, but the game is only just beginning at that point -- there's so much content here it's insane. While there is local co-op for up to four players on the PS3, sadly, there is no cross-buy or cross-play feature between the PS3 and the PlayStation Vita. There is cross-save functionality thankfully, so if you have both versions, you can transfer data between the two quite seamlessly -- I was able to do it in seconds without issues. As a side note, although this review is for the PS3 version, I did get a chance to extensively test the Vita version, and found few issues other than the occasional slowdown and generally lower framerate. Alternatively, the controls work magnificently on the Vita (offering up some brilliant touch screen mechanics), and the visuals, as usual, look incredible on the OLED screen. Dragon's Crown is quite literally a crowning achievement in the beat 'em up genre. Utilizing some of the best design concepts of the past 20 years, Vanillaware succeeds in creating a captivating world that you just can't help but experience over and over. While it may not win over the hardiest of brawler haters, if you've even had an inkling of joy hacking and slashing at any time in your gaming career, you should probably be playing Dragon's Crown.
Dragon's Crown review photo
The newly crowned king of beat 'em ups
Dragon's Crown has had an ... interesting development cycle over the past few years, to say the least. After controversy sparked due to the art style Vanillaware has been employing for over a decade now, many people began to ...

Dragon's Crown  photo
Dragon's Crown

WonFes brings stunning Persona, Dragon's Crown figures

Do want!
Jul 29
// Kyle MacGregor
Wonder Festival kicked off over the weekend, giving us the first look at a deluge of new anime and videogame character figures that will be heading to market in the coming months. Our friends at Tomopop were in attendance at ...
Dragon's Crown expensive photo
Dragon's Crown expensive

Dragon's Crown is Vanillaware's most expensive game yet

Also, feel free to peruse the Dreamcast concept art
Jul 25
// Chris Carter
In an announcement today on Twitter, Vanillware's George Kamitani celebrated the Japanese launch of Dragon's Crown with some art, and an interesting factoid -- Dragon's Crown is Vanillware's most expensive project to date. Sp...

The first 10 hours of Dragon's Crown are action packed

Jul 24 // Chris Carter
Dragon's Crown (PlayStation 3 [previewed], PlayStation Vita [tested])Developer: Vanillaware / AtlusPublisher: AtlusReleased: August 6, 2013MSRP: $49.99 (PlayStation 3) / $39.99 (PlayStation Vita) From the very first gameplay trailer, it was evident that Dragon's Crown was a technical brawler -- in other words, it had fighting-game tendencies, and a deep level of tactical design embedded within it. I've only extensively tested the Fighter and the Wizard so far, but I've experienced a full party with every other class via NPCs (you can resurrect NPC helpers by finding "bones" in dungeons) -- and the synergy is immediately apparent from your first group confrontation. For instance, every single class has a different key mechanic. The Dwarf can throw enemies, the Elf has a limited number of arrows to use, the Amazon doesn't stop attacking, and the Sorceress can create health-bearing food and debuff foes. The Fighter has the ability to block, and with specific upgrades, can shield party members from damage as well as buff them momentarily. The Wizard took some getting used to, because like the Sorceress, he has to "charge" Dragon Ball Z style to replenish his mana. At first, it was a bit overwhelming to have to constantly top off my mana pool before I could unleash my best attacks, but very quickly I learned that this was yet another design choice to help differentiate the cast. The Wizard has to constantly be on the move, and find safe havens to recharge -- he's the definition of a glass cannon, and that's represented here far better than most games that simply diminish a spellcaster's defensive capabilities and call it a day. Speaking of specific upgrades, every time you level up you gain a skill point, which can be used to buy a skill to augment your abilities. In typical RPG fashion these skills usually consist of upgrades like "more health," if you're looking in the Common tree -- each unique class tree is a completely different story. Frankly, I was blown away by the options presented in each specific party member's tree. The Wizard has the ability to command pretty much every element you can think of, levitate, summon wooden golems, and a whole lot more. The Fighter could specialize into a defensive tanking build, or go more aggressive, with tons of options for both. In other words, given the extensive skill tree, the customization and naming options, and the ability to assign your character an English or Japanese voice, no two characters you meet will be the same. Because of this dynamic, it'll make completing multiple playthroughs with different characters that much more exciting. Going from the Fighter to the Wizard within an hour of each other was incredibly jarring, as I had to initially balance my mana and whack enemies with my relatively weak cane when I was in a jam, whereas I could just wail away with the Fighter without reprisal. But very quickly I started speccing into mana regeneration, buffing my mana charge ability, and giving myself the power to leech MP by hitting enemies with my cane. My Wizard morphed into a completely different playstyle at that point. Although I'm mostly questing on the PS3, I did get a chance to test out the Vita version as well, and I have great things to report. Barring the fact that four-player local co-op on one portable screen is obviously not possible like it is on the PS3, I have to say the Vita version has a few improvements on its console counterpart. For starters, pointer control is fine tuned to suit the Vita. In Dragon's Crown, a neutral NPC named "Rannie the Thief" will follow you around collecting gold, as well as unlock chests and doors. In order to control him, you'll use the right analog stick to aim a mouse-cursor like hand, tapping the stick to queue up an action. While I didn't have any issues using this on the PS3, you can simply tap the screen on the Vita to utilize the pointer, allowing Rannie to open doors and chests with the greatest of ease. Should you choose to use it, right analog support is also available on the Vita, with the L button confirming an action in lieu of clicking in the stick. The Vita's OLED screen is also gorgeous as usual, and fits the action quite well for one player, despite the general sacrificed real estate. While cross-buy and cross-play are sadly not a part of the package, I have tested the cross-save function between the Vita and the PS3, and it works as advertised. Well, that's basically all I can talk about right now! Expect a full review on July 31, a week before the retail version hits on August 6.
Dragon's Crown preview photo
There's so much depth here it's insane
All things considered, Dragon's Crown is one of my most anticipated games of the year, if not the most. As many of you know, I'm a massive fan of action games as well as brawlers, old-school games, and of course, Vanillaware....

Dragon's Crown Europe photo
Dragon's Crown Europe

Dragon's Crown confirmed for European release

Coming this autumn
Jul 18
// Kyle MacGregor
Dragon's Crown is officially coming to Europe, NIS America has announced. The Prinny overlords will handle distribution duties for the PlayStation 3 and Vita title across the pond, as with other Atlus properties like Etr...
Dragon's Crown photo
Dragon's Crown

NIS America publishing Dragon's Crown in PAL territories

Cool dood!
Jul 13
// Kyle MacGregor
A rating for Dragon's Crown has emerged from the Australian Classification Board, indicating the PlayStation 3 and Vita title will be released in PAL territories. The listing suggests NIS America will distribute the title for...
ATLUS photo

Get hot and bothered with Dragon's Crown art book preview

Atlus drops a sampler of pretty images courtesy of Vanillaware
Jul 11
// Kyle MacGregor
Dragon's Crown. The mere mention of once recondite game seems to inflame impassioned arguments over the title's character art. Still, it's a Vanillaware game. And, like everything else the studio touches, it looks absolutely ...
Dragon's Crown photo
Dragon's Crown

Atlus reveals more character options for Dragon's Crown

Names, outfits, and voices are customizable
Jul 03
// Chris Carter
As we already knew, Dragon's Crown will feature different character palettes for each class, but Atlus has just revealed that names, outfits, and English/Japanese dual audio customization are confirmed for the US version of t...
Dragon's Crown PVP photo
Dragon's Crown PVP

Dragon's Crown will feature some form of PVP

Cue the 'hnnnnnghs'
Jul 03
// Chris Carter
We already knew that Vanillaware's upcoming Dragon's Crown will feature raw four player cooperative action involving six classes, and a robust leveling system to encourage multiple playthroughs. But according to Siliconera, F...

Review: Muramasa Rebirth

Jun 28 // Chris Carter
Muramasa Rebirth (PlayStation Vita)Developer: VanillawarePublisher: Aksys GamesReleased: June 25, 2013MSRP: $39.99 Muramasa actually gives you pretty much all the tools you need at the start of the game after you choose one of the two potential main characters -- Kisuke or Momohime --  each who have a different story (but ultimately visit the exact same areas, just in a different order). In a somewhat initially confusing fashion, each character can equip up to three swords, allowing the player to switch between them. If you use a sword too long, it breaks, forcing you to switch to another while it "heals" (they're spirit swords) and recovers its durability. Everything's great from a combat perspective, as all the staples are fully intact -- the downward thrust, the uppercut slash, the dashing cut, dodge rolling, blocking -- it's all right there at the start, and it allows for quite a bit of finesse and skill based play. As I said, these are pretty much all of the tools you're going to get during the roughly two 10 hour campaigns outside of crafting, and it's just about all you're ever going to need. But while the setup and foundation are solid, where the game somewhat fails is that most of the time, it doesn't quite give you a venue to show off said finesse, as it's consistently intent on delivering you handfuls of goons and relatively low-rent enemies who don't do much more than fill the screen. Thankfully, the environments are classic Vanillaware -- gorgeous and full of life, especially on the Vita's OLED screen -- and compliment the incredible soundtrack quite well to the point where you may not mind it as much. Boss fights are the absolute highlight of the game, and show off how fun the combat system really can be without any elements of repetition involved. In top Vanillaware form, every boss looks incredible from a visual standpoint, and will test your skills to the max mechanically -- especially on a higher difficulty setting. I'd go so far as to say that a few of them in particular are among my favorites of this generation, as they have a clear old school feel to them, and a sense of challenge. With a pared down story and a few more boss fights, any semblance of combat repetition could have been eliminated -- they're that fun. It's not just thug fighting that gets repetition too -- actually getting around in the game's environments, despite how stunning they are, is at points, grating. Often times playing Muramasa is like playing a sprawling Metroidvania with large heaps of barren wastelands, with massive amounts of backtracking. Some form of real fast-travel system outside of the bare-bones one included, even if it was only for areas you've been to before and at limited areas (save points) would have been a key addition in the Vita version, but alas, you'll be hoofing it quite a bit -- and thankfully, that's when you can put the Vita on its idle setting and come back later. The translation is definitely improved from the Wii version, as each character is now more defined. Kisuke is a lot more standoffish in particular here, as his newly improved dialog helps cement his cold demeanor far better than the original script. While I didn't notice an Earth shattering difference in quality, you can easily tell that it is superior if you've played the original. As a side note, the voices are still in Japanese, and they're still great. Outside of the flaws of the original, there is one major new problem that should be addressed: the DLC elephant in the room. The powers that be have strangely decided to not include the four new characters in the retail version in favor of selling them as DLC, for an undetermined price, and at an undetermined date. When you're charging fans for a full price portable version of something that's barely been updated content wise, you better have a few extras ready to sway people -- but in this case, it's paid DLC not available at launch. While the core game with all its blemishes and wonder is fully preserved, I can't help but think how great this re-release could have been with the characters fully intact as unlockables. For those of you who are on the fence, waiting for a verdict on the DLC and picking up the Vita version at a lower price may be the best option. But in spite of the lack of new content, Muramasa at its core stands on its own as a solid action game. Vanillaware's visual style is absolutely timeless, and even though you may get sick of seeing the same locales over and over, the Vita's portability and instant standby feature make it much easier to pick up and play over the course of a few days. If you've already played Muramasa to death, I doubt you'll find anything worth paying full price for in Rebirth (yet), but for those of you who haven't experienced it and haven't played a Vanillaware game, this is a great way to see that beautiful art everyone keeps talking about.
Muramasa Rebirth review photo
A slightly sharper blade
Muramasa: The Demon Blade was probably Vanillaware's most uneven game. Alongside of the expected spectacular visuals, a beautiful soundtrack, and surprisingly simple yet enjoyable combat system, came a fairly uninteresting st...

Muramasa Rebirth Vita photo
Muramasa Rebirth Vita

Muramasa is reborn on the PlayStation Vita this week

I can't get enough Vanillaware
Jun 26
// Chris Carter
Although Muramasa wasn't my favorite Vanillaware game, it still had the signature style of the developer, and ultimately was an enjoyable experience. It looks like I'll be giving it one more shot this week on the Vita, in th...

I'm down with Dragon's Crown

Jun 14 // Jayson Napolitano
I had a blast playing Dragon's Crown on the show floor. I tried out the Dwarf and Elf, and got a good sense of what makes the characters so different. It was admittedly pretty hectic, but I never really lost site of what I was doing with my character, which some people who've viewed the trailers have begun to worry about. Players will be able to store 20 different characters per save slot, which should allow you to sample all of the game's character classes and then some. While this is a traditional beat 'em up, you will level your character by collecting experience from enemies defeated and achievements made in a particular level, and skill points will be used to acquire and level up skills. There are common skill trees that all characters can use, and class-specific ones as well. You have the opportunity to dabble in new skills or power up ones you've already acquired, which will allow for a lot of customization.Online matchmaking will happen so that similarly-leveled characters end up together. You can work in any configuration in terms of local and online play, so if you have two of your buddies at your house and one across town, you can all still play in a single game together. While the game will release on both PlayStation 3 and Vita (with both versions being nearly identical), there unfortunately won't be any cross-play between the two versions. If you're without friends (it's okay), you'll find bones scattered throughout the game that can be resurrected into computer-controlled companions who you can name and are of equal level to you, although they don't level up.From there, you hit the central hub city where you can access shops and other areas of interests where you can pick up quests. Each quest takes you to a different area that has its own back story, narrated by a suitably fantasy-esque voice (the day-one DLC available for the game will contain different narrator language packs). With the dwarf, I was able to pick up heavy objects and hurl them at my enemies, while the elf was able to shoot a devastating barrage of arrows in a number of directions (including up), but arrows are not unlimited, so watch for them on the ground when you're running low. There are power attacks that will require a short cool down period, adding an element of strategy. And best of all? There are mounts! I was able to ride both a powerful sabertooth tiger and a ice-spitting reptile of sorts.One of the most interesting gameplay elements was the ability to use the analog stick to bring a cursor on screen to interact with elements in the game. You use this to open treasure chests and to interact with elements in the background, such as opening a door to access a side area where you can obtain extra treasure, or perhaps even find some secret areas.In terms of replayability, you can dig deeper into dungeons on repeated playthroughs, play at increased difficulty modes, and access an end-game randomly-generated dungeon to level up your characters and acquire exceedingly rare treasure. There will also be a player-versus-player arena to test your characters against those of your friends.In all, the game should take approximately 12-15 hours to complete if you do everything. It's out on August 6, and there's an art book available to those who pre-order (the art is one of the best things about the game, from the backgrounds to the characters, to the beautiful world map). Get on it!
Dragon's Crown photo
Impressions from the E3 show floor are good!
Dragon's Crown is easily one of my favorite games of E3. It's been on my radar for years, back when it was being published by UTV Ignition, but I've kept my distance lately with the visual style controversy. I had the opportunity to really dig in here at E3, and I like where it's headed.There's a lot more to this game than its polarizing visual style, so let's check it out.

Dragon's Crown photo
Dragon's Crown

Feast your eyes on the full Dragon's Crown intro

I want to be...part of this worlddddddd
Jun 07
// Chris Carter
Atlus Japan has shared the full intro for Dragon's Crown, and it's looking great. It has pretty much everything you'd expect, from character vignettes, to a general look at the world and its riches, to actual dragons. Well, ...

Dragon's Crown fans the fires with new trailers

Jun 06 // Kyle MacGregor
Dragon's Crown trailers photo
Atlus puts Amazon and Wizard back in the spotlight
Dragon's Crown is still a couple months away from release, but that isn't stopping Atlus from keeping the unexpectedly high profile brawler fresh in people's minds. Putting yet another log on the fire, the publisher has drop...

Dragon's Crown DLC photo
Dragon's Crown DLC

Dragon's Crown receives day-one DLC, free for first month

Atlus USA offering unique narrator add-on content for each character
May 31
// Kyle MacGregor
Dragon's Crown is receiving day-one downloadable content, Atlus USA has announced. The publisher is giving players an opportunity to augment their narrative experience with a set of raconteurs which offer unique voicework tai...
Dragon's Crown photo
Dragon's Crown

Dragon's Crown will have different character palettes

Tanned Dwarf confirmed!
May 23
// Chris Carter
Now that we've gotten a good look at all the characters in the game, more info on Dragon's Crown is steadily rolling in. Evidently, you'll be able to customize your characters with different color variations. Upon leveling up...
Jimquisition happens every Monday!
A common argument in the ongoing debate over gender and videogames is that women and men both are equally objectified. Is that really true? As always, Emperor God King Jim Sterling puts His holy foot down and delivers wisdom true to the masses. He totally isn't smug about it, either!

Dragon's Crown Amazon photo
Dragon's Crown Amazon

The final Dragon's Crown character trailer is the Amazon

If you like balanced playstyles, this might be it
May 10
// Chris Carter
We've seen spots for Dragon's Crown's Dwarf, Fighter, Wizard, Sorceress, and Elf, and now the time has come for the final character video -- the Amazon. The Amazon looks to be a mix of the Elf, the Dwarf, and Fighter's plays...

Slice all the things in this Muramasa Rebirth trailer

Plus the song is pretty badass
May 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Muramasa is gorgeous, this we know. It's still always a delight to see the game in action though, as is the case with this latest gameplay trailer for Muramasa Rebirth. Not much longer till the release! Rebirth will be out o...
Dragon's Crown photo
Dragon's Crown

The cover art for Dragon's Crown is decidedly safe

We're getting the same box as Japan
May 09
// Jordan Devore
George Kamitani's female character designs for Dragon's Crown have received a rather surprising amount of attention -- that's ... that's still going on, isn't it? -- but at least for the game's box art, the presentation is fa...
Dragon's Crown photo
Dragon's Crown

Dragon's Crown box art is [insert extreme opinion here]

The controversy rages on
May 01
// Kyle MacGregor
Atlus has unveiled the final Japanese box art for Dragon's Crown, the latest sidescrolling action title from Vanillaware, and it's pretty tame from the looks of things. You almost wouldn't guess that the game is currently emb...

Gearbox artist slams Dragon's Crown character design

May 01 // Jim Sterling
As one might expect, Hamm's comments have drawn considerable heat from Dragon's Crown fans, particularly on NeoGAF. Gearbox's own history of female design has been brought up multiple times in response to the criticism, with Borderlands' Mad Moxxi and Duke Nukem Forever's entire existence providing alleged examples of similar female objectification.  Images such as the one above have been used to refute Hamm's point, though to be fair, it's worth pointing out that Hamm is responsible only for Gearbox's environmental art, and her own designs of female characters are both tasteful and quite excellent. Still, gender issues are treacherous waters, and it's inevitable Gearbox's history would be part of the splashback.  That said, it's also been argued that Gearbox's designs as they stand can't be compared to Dragon's Crown's overtly exaggerated characters.  "Nothing in Borderlands posted so far is remotely in the same ballpark," said one NeoGAF poster.  Indeed, while Moxxi clearly has her breasts on show, she is at least sensibly proportioned and her costume actually fits the context of her character. She's not going out to battle dressed in that attire, she's supposed to be an entertainer and the owner of a bar with a deliberately titillating aesthetic. That's not to say she's designed inherently "better" than Tamikani's characters, but it's hard to compare the two in this particular discussion.  In any case, the Dragon's Crown debate rages on, even as those who claim to be tired of it continue to post in forum and comment threads every time it comes up. Indeed, this shows no signs of going away yet.  Still, this is probably the most advertising a Vanillaware game's ever gotten.
Dragon's Crown photo
The boob wars continue
The Dragon's Crown "thing" shows no sign of stopping, with vehement and sometimes venomous opinions flying this way and that. To bring you up to speed, Vanillaware's upcoming brawler features a big-boobed Sorceress, the desig...


Jimquisition: Boob Wars and Dragon Crowns

Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Apr 29
// Jim Sterling
Dragon's Crown has become the latest game involved in a big argument. Big boobs, burly dwarves, and Kotaku were all involved. Gender issues in games are important. They are worth thinking about. They are, contrary to po...

BREAKING: Dragon's Crown's Elf will wear clothes

Apr 26
// Jim Sterling
Dragon's Crown has been causing a ruckus lately, what with its semi-clad female characters thrusting their massive clumps of flesh in every direction, regardless of physical possibility.  Here's the latest huge controve...

In defense of boobies

Apr 25 // Vito Gesualdi
It’s the same realm of harmless fantasy that inspired my fourteen-year-old self to rewind the shower scene from Starship Troopers a few hundred times, or spurned me to save up an absurd amount of money for Chie’s maid outfit in Persona 4 Golden. A cheap erotic thrill which in no way influences my attitudes towards actual women. This would be the weirdest crossover ever. I bring this up because of the recent controversy surrounding Vanillaware’s upcoming hack-n-slash Dragon’s Crown, a game whose female characters possess some rather obvious assets. The game’s brazen character art inspired a news post by Kotaku writer Jason Schreier, who jokingly accused it of having a fourteen-year-old for a character designer. The insinuation, of course, was that only a teenage boy could design something so blatantly over-sexualized, scribbling his depictions of Amazonian fantasy women in a dark corner of the middle-school cafeteria. I personally found this joke both lazy and offensive, diminishing the abilities of character designer George Kamitani and missing the obvious elements of parody evident in the art style. See, unlike our fourteen-year-old strawman, Kamitani’s seems entirely aware that his absurd depictions of the female form are beyond even the realm of fantasy, which seems to be the point. The game’s art is obvious satire, taking the already unrealistic anatomies laid out by fantasy art masters like Frazetta, and cranking them to 11. The fact that his characters are being compared by critics to the outdated fantasy heroines of yesteryear is precisely what makes them such a brilliant homage. Frazetta - the reason fantasy women don't know about armor. While we could easily get sidetracked regarding Kamitani’s arguably offensive reply to Schreier, it did force the writer to elaborate on his particular criticisms of the game’s art style, an eye-rolling attempt to demonize Dragon’s Crown simply due to its attempts to titillate.  Says Schreier: “Why complain? Because it's embarrassing. Because I wouldn't want to be seen playing it in public. Because I love Japanese games and Japanese RPGs and I don't want them to perpetuate the ugly "boys' club" mentality that has pervaded gaming for almost three decades now.” For Schreier to make the point that he’s embarrassed by this game, or that he wouldn’t want to be seen playing it in public seems bizarre, insinuating that games shouldn’t offer material which might be offensive to certain audiences. No, I wouldn’t play Dragon’s Crown with most of my female friends, nor would I invite them over to watch the latest Girls Gone Wild release. Though the game doesn’t appeal to all sensibilities, why should we expect it to? It's kind of like arguing for more family-friendly porno stores. Though the gaming industry should be taking efforts to attract a more mainstream audience, this is something that requires a diversification of offerings, not simply doing away with potentially-offensive outliers. This is similar to how Citizen Kane can be rented from the same video store as Dangerous Dongs Down Under Vol. 5. Same media, though the latter is kept in that roped-off section in the back (which given the niche appeal of Dragon’s Crown is probably where it belongs as well). Meanwhile, regarding the “boy’s club” complaint, it is worth admitting that the gaming industry is definitely lacking in strong portrayals of women. However, I take special exception to Schreier’s claim that media does not exist in a vacuum. His argument is that while Dragon’s Crown alone is not cause for concern, because it contributes to a growing selection of games which fail to portray women maturely, it should be considered part of a larger problem and decried as such. This thinking is wholly unreasonable, burdening creators with restrictions on what sorts of characters are “acceptable.” The creators of Dragon’s Crown do not owe us effective female characters, nor are their elaborate cartoonish fantasies something that could be considered morally unsound. It’s a simple stylistic choice, and though the game fails to provide the positive-gender portrayals the industry needs, looking for such things in your silly arcade hack-and-slash is honestly absurd. You might as well complain about how the game unfairly stereotypes dragons. While some accuse Dragon’s Crown and similar games of “holding the industry back,” it seems they have a different idea of what direction the industry needs to head in. I personally don’t believe every game need to include fleshed-out characters and plotlines, that I can sometimes be content to simply hit bad guys until they fall down. I even think it’s okay to show players some boobs, even if there’s about as much character development contained within them as in those pornographic movies I’m so fond of. Now admittedly, there is an obvious sexism problem within the gaming industry, with some still believing it’s appropriate to display women-objects at our “professional” events, or for news outlets to publish booth-babe photo spreads. However, to try and hold individual games responsible for this culture is entirely misguided. Yes, these games are often male power-fantasies, though that’s not a problem in and of itself (even if the fantasy involves large-breasted women). Few games seem truly malicious in their sexualization of women, and are guilty of nothing more than providing some cheap (and often lazy) thrills. The real problem is when these cheap thrills are interpreted incorrectly by the audience, potentially contributing to an unhealthy attitude towards women. Though again, the solution is not to outlaw titillation, but simply to broaden the realm of media, giving people more exposure to how actual women both look and act. However this will still leave room for the occasional science-fiction shower scene, or RPGs which let you dress up your characters like little dolls. We don’t need such harmless sexual depictions to disappear entirely, just for them to be balanced out by the mature characterizations the industry obviously needs. More of this please. Point is, Dragon's Crown has boobs. I can both enjoy them while simultaneously hoping for more realistic depictions of women in gaming. You can too.
Keeping Games Sexy photo
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the fantasy
Let me preface this article by stating a few simple facts. I am a young, white, American male who consumes vast amounts of pornography. As such, I am occasionally drawn to depictions of the female form which are perhaps outsi...

Dragon's Crown US photo
Dragon's Crown US

Dragon's Crown is officially hitting the US in August

Atlus announces an August 6th release date
Apr 23
// Chris Carter
Previously, we knew that Dragon's Crown was hitting the PlayStation 3 and Vita for $49.99 and $39.99 respectively, but today, Atlus has informed us that the game has an official release date of August 6th, 2013. The official ...
Dragon's Crown photo
Dragon's Crown

Rock out with the Dwarf in this Dragon's Crown trailer

This dude is like Blanka mixed with Thor
Apr 19
// Chris Carter
Atlus is rolling out the character vignettes for Dragon's Crown, giving us a closer look at how each hero will handle themselves as they fight through the depths of the darkest dungeons. First we got the Sorceress, and now, ...
Dragon's Crown photo
Dragon's Crown

New Dragon's Crown video highlights the Sorceress

She can ride her staff like a broom and turn people into frogs
Apr 12
// Chris Carter
Atlus Japan has shared a new video for the upcoming Dragon's Crown, and it shows off what the Sorceress character can do. As a magic user, she has the ability to summon a number of elements, like wind, electricity, ice, and ...

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