It’s no secret that RPG-lite beat-em-ups have experienced a revival in recent years via the popularization of downloadable game services like Xbox LIVE Arcade and Playstation Network, and when compounded with the format’s predisposition towards rereleases the emergence of Capcom’s Dungeons & Dragons arcade titles was all but inevitable. The collected Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is a time capsule from 1996 for better and for worse, reminding modern audiences of the difficulty, complexity, and creativity the genre is capable of while highlighting the artifacts of gameplay and design the industry has moved past. Laughable unlockables aside (besides additional game modes, that is), this revival of the Mystara titles represents what many consider to be the pinnacle of the genre to this day, and with the footprint they’ve left on modern releases it’s hard to argue with that sentiment. If you’ve got any interest in beat-em-ups at all you owe it to yourself to take these games for a spin with whatever friends you can pull together, because just as much as tabletop D&D was designed as a team sport and multiplayer arcade cabinets just don’t feel right without bumping elbows on both sides, neither should a combination of the two be a solo experience.
December 13, 2013