Next week, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara hits the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Steam. If the very thought of playing these long-forgotten arcade games doesn't immediately make your heart sing, then it's because you don't know what you're missing.
I can see doubt in your eyes. You worry that this is just another button-mashing brawler from a bygone era. You've already played through The Simpsons, X-Men and two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles beat-em-ups, is there enough room for yet another?
No matter where you come down on old school arcade brawlers, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is worth paying attention to. I'll dig deeper into what makes it tick in my full review, but in the meantime here are the top three reasons why you should be excited about this brand new Dungeons & Dragons compilation.
#1 - It's Brand New to Consoles!
Believe it or not, neither Tower of Doom nor Shadow Over Mystara was released on an American game console. Japanese Saturn owners managed to snag a port in 1999, but the Dungeons & Dragons Collection avoided a Western release. As a result, neither of these games will feel as played out as Turtles in Time, Final Fight and other similar 2D brawlers.
What gamers may not expect is how open the world is, full of hidden areas and multiple paths to follow. While other games in the genre are linear to a fault, the two games found in Chronicles of Mystara offer a surprising amount of freedom.
#2 - First Time Online!
Even if you could find Shadow Over Mystara in the arcades, the chances of you finding three friends to play with were slim. Sure you might get strangers pop in and out, but clocking in at over 90 minutes, these Dungeons & Dragons brawlers take the kind of dedication that you didn't see much of in the arcades.
Now, thanks to the power of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and your computer, you can gather all of your friends together ... no matter where they live. Finally you'll be able team up with the full cast of characters, experiencing the game how it was meant to be played. And you'll actually care about these characters, as you'll be able to equip special items, level-up and use magical abilities. You may be surprised by how deep the role-playing mechanics are in Chronicles of Mystara.
#3 - This Is What Golden Axe Should Have Been
With its amazing cast (each with different abilities), diverse locations and a lengthy quest, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is everything Golden Axe wanted to be. This is Capcom at the top of their game, using everything they had learned from making Final Fight, Captain Commando and countless other brawlers. This is not some mindless button masher; it's a thoughtful story full of twists, turns and exciting boss battles. With beautiful graphics and an epic score, this may just be the high fantasy brawler to own.