Port Patrol: Dragon’s Crown Pro is barely distinguishable from the original

Time for a short story. Vanillaware and Atlus were talking about remaking one of their beautiful 2D sprite games and the idea was floated to remake Dragon’s Crown, the traditional dungeon crawling beat-em-up for the PS3. This got put on hold for Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, which ended up being one of the best high-definition remakes Atlus has ever produced. Now that Leifthrasir is out, everyone was able to return to their work on Dragon’s Crown and that work has culminated in Dragon’s Crown Pro.

Suffice it to say, expectations were high after Leifthrasir’s success. However, during Leifthrasir’s development process, reports came out that people were being taken off the Dragon’s Crown team in order to help out. This may have had more of an impact on Dragon’s Crown Pro than we thought because it certainly wasn’t as big of a remake than Leifthrasir was.

Is it worth your time if you already bought the original? Let’s take a look.

4K Graphics

The primary reason you might be interested in purchasing Dragon’s Crown Pro is its 4K graphical upgrade. Vanillaware was always well-known for their amazing high definition sprite-work. It made their games look like moving paintings and you’d think that seeing this all in 4K would just enhance the experience, right?

It does, to an extent. If you have a huge TV then playing Dragon’s Crown Pro in 4K does create a noticeable difference. The sprites are sharper and movement appears to be a little smoother, if only because you can better notice where one sprite begins and another ends. Dragon’s Crown, like most beat-em-ups, suffers from the screen getting too chaotic at times and playing in 4K does let you keep better track of that chaos at times.

Unfortunately, there is no perceivable difference on smaller TVs, and if you don’t have the PS4 Pro then you aren’t getting anything graphically different from the original PS3 experience. That being said, Dragon’s Crown was already a beautiful game, and it’s hard to imagine a resolution upgrade making it any more beautiful than it already is.

New Soundtrack

Another perk of Dragon’s Crown Pro is the new orchestral soundtrack. The original soundtrack was pretty amazing, but there was something “gamey” about it. The new soundtrack, however, has this incredible depth to it. The recorded orchestral tracks played through decent speakers make you feel like you are in a concert hall. It’s a fitting for the epic Dungeons and Dragons style game that Dragon’s Crown is trying to be, however it’s often covered up by the rapid fire sound effects of battle.

Compared to the original soundtrack, I have to say I enjoyed the new one better. However, your mileage may vary. You can always switch back to the original, if you so desire.

In addition, both English and Japanese voice tracks are now available, for those who prefer subs to dubs.

Cross Play and Save

Dragon’s Crown was known for being one of the first games that successfully implemented cross play and save functionality. You could save your game on the PS3 and then pick it up on the Vita and vice versa. The same holds true here. You can swap your save file between your PS4, PS3, and PS Vita with very little effort. It’s useful for taking your game on the road.

Battle Hardened Edition

If you decide to splurge for the hardcopy Battle Hardened Edition you’ll receive the game, a metal case, and seven skill cards outlining the abilities for each hero. It’s a nice touch but it’s pretty slim as far as collector’s editions go.

Nothing Else

Here is the big problem with Dragon’s Crown Pro. It’s barely even a remaster. Yes, the graphics were upgraded but it’s barely an upgrade on anything but the biggest TVs. Yes, the soundtrack has been redone, and while I have respect for the massive time and effort getting a full orchestra to re-record every track in the game is, it’s not really what people are looking for in remasters.

Compare Dragon’s Crown Pro to other Vanillaware remakes such as Odin Sphere Leifthrasir. In that remake, Vanillaware redid the entire battle system. They gave new moves to every character. They added new content and bosses. They even improved on the game’s core systems like the alchemy system. It was practically an entirely new game, and it was one of the best remakes that we have seen done in modern gaming times.

Dragon’s Crown Pro just doesn’t compare. In order to retain the cross play functionality the PS4 version had to be essentially identical to the PS3 and Vita version. That means, outside of aesthetic changes, nothing could be touched. You are essentially getting the exact same game for a 50 dollar price-tag and that’s a little hefty for a small high-definition upgrade and new soundtrack.

Who Should Buy?

This one is sadly a little cut and dry.

If you never bought the original, however, then I highly suggest picking up Dragon’s Crown Pro. It’s a very pretty game with an amazing soundtrack and great beat-em-up gameplay. It’s was easily one of the best couch co-op games that released back in 2013. If you are looking for a decent game to play with your friends, you could do a lot worse.

However, who has already bought the original Dragon’s Crown should only buy Dragon’s Crown Pro if they really want to be able to play on literally all of their systems. There is some worth to that, despite the near full price tag. In general, unless you are still playing your PS3 and Vita copies, however, I wouldn’t say that Dragon’s Crown Pro will reinvigorate your interest.