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Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . With multiple paths to take, tons of hidden areas and an endless barrage of cool boss fights, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is one of the best brawlers on the Xbox Live Arcade. Throw in online multiplayer, fun challenges to complete and plenty of extras to unlock, and suddenly you have an old school arcade compilation that is tough to put down! Rating: 78%
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
For many people, arcade brawlers are little more than repetitive stages with simplistic gameplay. Even agreed upon classics, like Double Dragon and Final Fight, are just lengthy exercises in button mashing. And between X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons, Xbox Live Arcade gamers have been inundated with these mind-numbingly basic brawlers. It's easy to understand why some people are so put off by this old school genre.

But no matter how sick and tired you are of button mashing your way through linear stages, I'm here to tell you that Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is different. Released in the mid-1990s, the two games featured in Capcom's newest arcade compilation are on a whole other level than the brainless brawlers you're used to. And best of all, this is the first time either of these Dungeons & Dragons games have been released on a North American game console.

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara (XBLA)

Both 1994's Tower of Doom and its sequel, Shadow Over Mystara from 1996, attempt to cram a full Dungeons & Dragons experience into an hour-long action/adventure game. Don't let the fact that it was an old arcade game fool you, what lies beneath is a deep and involving journey full of twists and turns. And instead of simply being along for the ride, the players actually have some input on how the story unfolds.

Right from the start, we're given a choice between a number of high fantasy stereotypes, such as a dwarf, thief, fighter, elf and magician. These characters not only look radically different, but they also have their own types of weapons, special moves and abilities. The fighter specializes in powerful sword-based combat, while the magician can stay back and cast spells on the enemy. These characters complement each other, allowing four players to come together and become an unstoppable fighting force.

Both games take you through the kinds of levels you expect to see in this type of fantasy brawler. Your fellowship will fight through deadly swamps, on an airship, in the forest, past giant castles, and yes, you'll even encounter a dungeon or two. Not only is there a giant boss to contend with in each of these stages, but there are also a number of secret rooms and extra paths to take along the way. Both Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara reward players to exploring every inch of world.

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara (XBLA)

Choosing your own narrative is a big deal in both of Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons brawlers. Often times it's an obvious choice, allowing the player to customize the adventure they want to embark on. However, there are a few moments where you will make moral choices. Do you want to save the village under attack, or are you the heartless jerk who will ignore their cries and continue on your way to the Red Dragon? The choice is up to you, and whatever you choose will change the levels you play going forward.

By giving the player so many different paths to choose from, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara requires multiple play-throughs in order to see and do everything. That's good news, considering that most arcade brawlers are exactly the same every time. And because the characters are so different, playing a different class makes the game feel fresh all over again. With so many different paths and characters, you'll definitely get your money's worth with Capcom's newest compilation.
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