I loved beat’em-up and hack-‘n-slash arcade games back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. They were like the perfect arcade game at the time. They were flashy, easy to play, and practically sucked the quarters straight out of your pocket. Whenever I saw one, I was compelled to put money into it. I can’t even begin to imagine how much money I spent on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. However, I’m not sure I remember ever seeing either of Capcom’s Dungeons & Dragons games in the arcade.
Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom was released in the mid ’90s after the genre’s golden age. It attempted to add detailed RPG mechanics to an otherwise straightforward, and often ungraceful, style of gameplay. At first blush, it may not seem too much different than the likes of Sega’s Golden Axe, but Tower of Doom contains quite a bit complexity. There are level-up and currency systems, inventory management, magic, and a lengthy adventure with splitting paths and tons of secrets. Replay is required to see everything the game has to offer, and each playthrough can take at least an hour. At heart, it’s still a quarter-munching arcade game, but I have to admire that the developers added replayablility by creating a deep gameplay experience.
Speaking of which, one of the game’s producers was George Kamitani, who later left Capcom to form Vanillaware and created cult classics such as Princess Crown, Odin Sphere, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, and Dragon’s Crown.
The game follows kind of an interesting lineage. Capcom had previously experimented with adding RPG elements to arcade games with Knights of the Round, King of Dragons, and Magic Sword. Tower of Doom takes the idea pretty far for an arcade game, and it was taken even further in its sequel, Shadow Over Mystara, yet it still retains the accessibility required for an arcade attraction.
Due to licensing, the game had been unavailable for many years. It was compiled with its sequel and ported to the Sega Saturn in 1999, but only in Japan. However, Capcom recently re-released both games digitally as Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara, available on Steam, Wii U, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, complete with online co-op. It’s definitely worth checking out for fans of the genre.
Hardcore Gaming 101 – Capcom Beat-em-ups