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Dragon’s Crown Pro Leaves Me Feeling A Bit Conflicted

by Jelani James

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During the PlayStation Press Conference earlier today, Atlus and Vanillaware confirmed that Dragon’s Crown Pro, an “enhanced” version of Dragon’s Crown for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, will indeed be coming to the PlayStation 4.

As someone who immediately fell in love with Dragon’s Crown the moment it was announced, this is no doubt great news. The one thing that irritated me the most about Dragon’s Crown in 2013 was that it came at the end of the PS3’s life cycle, preventing it from retaining all of its playerbase once the PS4 arrived. Sure, you could play it on the PS Vita, but the handheld has never been popular to begin with and the game just feels more natural when played on a console. As such, the opportunity to play this title on a console that is more up-to-date is very appealing to me.

However, as much as I’m looking forward to Dragon’s Crown Pro’s eventual release here in the West (it comes out on Jan. 25, 2018 in Japan), I can’t but help but feel a little conflicted about it.

Here’s the thing: after seeing the announcement earlier, I’ve found that there isn’t much going on with this port that could be considered new from a gameplay perspective. Unless Atlus and Vanillaware announces something new (or leaves it as a surprise), the only notable things this game will feature are 4K resolution support, a newly recorded soundtrack via live orchestra, cross-play with the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita versions (w/ save data importing), and dual audio support. Beyond that, we’re getting the same game we got four years ago — albeit a very good one.

And, of course, I understand why I have these expectations: 2016’s Odin Sphere Leifthrasir.

Before 2016, I would have been more than content with Dragon’s Crown Pro in its current state — at the time, the only thing I was looking for was the chance to play on a game on a console that wouldn’t have a fair number of its playerbase snatched in a few months.

But Odin Sphere Leifthrasir changed what I have come to expect out of Vanillaware when it comes to re-releasing old titles on new consoles, however unfair to George Kamitani and co. that might be. The original Odin Sphere on the PS2 was great, but Leifthrasir blew it out of the water in almost every way imaginable. It featured improved graphics, better frame rate, new areas/content and vastly improved gameplay in multiple departments, providing a considerably better experience than what was offered before.

As such, when I reported the Dragon’s Crown Pro leak last week, my immediate thoughts were about whether similar upgrades would be added. Of course, I wasn’t necessarily expecting updates to the same degree — the original game ran smoothly, had polished gameplay and the word “remake” was never seen or mentioned (or even now during the official announcement) — but there were certainly a good deal of additions fans would have liked to see even back in 2013.

Some of these additions included new classes, such as the Female Warrior Monk or the Bandit who you come across in the Forgotten Sanctuary and Old Capital, a few new stages or a new route for preexisting ones and even some changes to the Labyrinth of Mirages to make it feel less predictable as you progress. I don’t feel like any of these are necessarily needed (new classes would definitely be nice though), but these would definitely help the game feel fresh.

Freshness is an important factor here in particular because the environment on the PlayStation 4 has changed considerably since 2013. When Dragon’s Crown first came out, even if it did only have about four months before the PS4 arrived, the new console still didn’t have a cohesive library by which to keep players occupied. As such, the game still managed to last some time on the PS3 — albeit in a somewhat sickly form. However, the PS4 now has a vast lineup and one has to wonder how many people who have stopped playing Dragon’s Crown over the years will be willing to pick it up again if there isn’t anything really new to entice them.

Of course, this doesn’t discount an entirely new audience of potential players who picked up the PS4 recently or those who still own an original copy for their PS3 or Vita; but with save data importing and the other additions it does have, it’s not a stretch to believe that Atlus and Vanillaware want people to pick up Dragon’s Crown Pro rather than its base version.

And with all this in mind, the coming of Dragon’s Crown Pro leaves me feeling a bit conflicted.  On one hand, after seeing what Vanillaware did with Odin Sphere, I kind of want something similar (obviously to a lesser degree) to be done to Dragon’s Crown — especially since possible additions have been tossed around for years now. On the other hand, I know that Dragon’s Crown is a fantastic game as is and the mere chance to play it on the PlayStation 4 is all that I (and many others) ever really wanted all those years ago.

Even if there is no new content, Dragon’s Crown Pro being a reality is enough for me. I’ll certainly be getting it even though I own a copy on the PS3, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop thinking about what could have been.

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