Dragon’s Crown Pro review: Heavy is the head that wears the crown

Atlus /

The “Pro” in Dragon’s Crown Pro is deservedly aligned with the PS4 Pro moniker, offering visual improvements and steady gameplay to a neat RPG beat-’em-up.

Title: Dragon’s Crown Pro
Developer: Vanillaware
Publisher: Atlus USA
Platforms: PS4 (version reviewed, “Pro”), PS3, PS Vita (“Dragon’s Crown”)
Release Date: May 15, 2018

It’s hard to contextualize a reignited nostalgia for a video game that was released just a few years ago. Dragon’s Crown Pro originally released on the PS3 and PS Vita as a cross-play game (now adding the PS4 to the mix), but it harkens back to the 2D side-scrolling, action-RPG beat ’em up arcade goodness of the 90s, marrying the iterative design of a Kickstarter passion project with the polish of a seasoned publisher like Atlus.

You take on a group of up to four traveling adventurers from a selection of six characters, each with their own pros and cons. Options include a wizard, sorceress, dwarf, elf, fighter and amazon, often teaming up in groups set to counter the weaknesses of others. Your merry band sets forth to obtain the Dragon’s Crown in order to bring peace back to your kingdom. You can play solo or with up to three companions (both AI and couch/online co-op).

Dragon's Crown Pro screenshot
Atlus /

Although there are no fundamentally different or improved gameplay mechanics in Dragon’s Crown Pro (the “Pro” moniker serves more to discuss its visual fidelity upgrade), it still excels in the niche it set out to create five years ago. Build up a party, complete quests in a series of 2D maps (each layered with meticulous detail and hidden passages), obtain gold and forage for character-progressing loot; there’s a repeatable, but intrinsically entertaining, gameplay loop.

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Though the tradition of creating parallax environments to create a beautiful, roaming vistas is nothing new, the 4k resolution afforded by Dragon’s Crown Pro‘s remastered efforts is a welcomed edition. There’s a renewed sharpness to the gorgeous artistry on display, which wasn’t as crisp on the PS3 and PS Vita. You can also make out individual enemies much easier on a crowded screen.

Furthermore, the electronically generated background music of the previous version can now be replaced with an orchestral score, making for a much livelier experience. It does help create a more evocative adventure, immersing the player in a wonderfully energetic experience with companying jovial medieval-era tunes.

Dragon's Crown Pro screenshot
Atlus /

Having touched the first few hours of the game back in the day, there’s never been a better time to hop back in with Dragon’s Crown Pro. You can carry over your PS3/Vita progress to the PS4 in order to keep your same characters’ story going and picked up from where you left off. That way, you don’t need to sacrifice your progress to enjoy the modern benefits.

What Vanillaware needed to improve upon was the way in which they tell their story. The kingdom of Hydeland is told through scantily clad NPCs in dungeons, narrative descriptions and imposing characters across town that you need to run back and forth between. Again, these criticisms are not new, but disappointing that they haven’t been addressed in this PS4 version.

Dragon's Crown Pro screenshot boss fight
Atlus /

For a dungeon-crawling title, there’s a certain amount of repetition expected. You get to return to areas you once visited to explore new areas, complete new quests and expand your knowledge of runes, all while picking up the bones of departed soldiers to resurrect or raising your bounty of gold. Every single moment you’re in town, though, becomes a slog when trying to progress the main quest by jumping back and forth between characters multiple times to learn the trope-ish story.

Dragon’s Crown Pro is exceptionally gameplay oriented, and your core adventuring experience is enough to satisfy the itch for this kind of beat ’em up adventure. However, if you still have access to a PS3 or PS Vita, you have the same experience minus the graphical fidelity and audio quality, but also the value of a nearly full-priced game. If it’s your first time with the game, it’s certainly worth a modern look at a game with a classic RPG style.

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8. A modern port through and through, Dragon’s Crown Pro offers a more visually and aurally excellent dungeon-crawling beat ’em up adventure that you’ll remember for what it exactly was five years ago. Newcomers are in for a treat, while there’s nothing more to offer for returning players than a polished platform and access to your old party.. Vanillaware. . Dragon's Crown Pro

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.