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August’s Together Retro brings us 2 games from the Dungeons & Dragons universe by Capcom that were originally released to arcades in the 90’s – Tower of Doom from 1993 & Shadow over Mystara from 1996. Despite their D&D lineage, these are not straight RPGs, they are beat-em-ups that have RPG-like elements interwoven throughout the game, similar to Taito’s 1989 arcade game Cadash.
Set in D&D’s Mystara campaign setting that was officially supported by parent company TSR from 1980-1995, both games have one continuous story. In Tower of Doom, the republic of Darokin has been under plague by attacks from all sorts of creatures from all parts of the wilderness. A man named Corwyn Linton investigates these attacks further and determines that there is something more evil behind all of this. He sends Crassus the Fighter, Greldon the Cleric, Lucia the Elf, and Dimsdale the Dwarf out to find out where this greater evil may be coming from. Eventually our heroes find that the Archlich Deimos is behind these attacks and they set forth to the Sable Tower to defeat him.
In Shadow Over Mystara, 2 years pass after the battle with Deimos and our heroes, now joined by Syous the Magic-User and Moriah the Thief, continue their journey through the Broken Lands of Glantri after realizing that Deimos was just part of a greater evil plan, being used by a sorceress named Synn. She has been planning to control the Kingdom of Glantri as well as Darokin. They come to find that Synn is actually a centuries old red dragon bent on capturing the magical forces of the land in order to awaken the ultimate evil, the Fiend.
Both games are beat em ups with RPG elements. The characters all have different abilities, for example the Fighter and Dwarf are more towards physical strength and offensive ability, and the Elf and Cleric both have magical spells at their disposal. In the sequel, magic is primarily limited to the Magic-User, and the Thief can pick treasure chest locks and detect traps. Each character starts at a different level and can earn SP (silver pieces) and XP (experience points) as they progress through the game, enabling them to level up. Enemies drop items such as keys, weapons such as hammers and daggers, spell rings for magic, healing potions, special magic scrolls, and more. All the characters can perform moves such as weapon attacks, throws, dashes, and downward thrusts. In Shadow over Mystara, players can also input Street Fighter style stick and button commands to access a greater number of special moves that are uncommon in the beat em up genre. The player can use their accumulated SP to buy items in shops throughout both games. There are also branching paths throughout each game that are left as decisions to be made by the players that will not only take them through different stages, but also change the ending one receives. In Shadow Over Mystara, there are even more endings that appear depending on factors such as SP remaining and the weapons in your inventory.
Until recently, the only way to play either of these games outside the arcade was through a Japan-only compilation that was available on the Sega Saturn called the Dungeons & Dragons Collection. Compared to the arcade, it was 2-player only, and features that were only available to a game which had 4 players playing at the same time were changed to allow 2 people playing together to have access to them.
In 2013, Capcom re-released both games as Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara HD to Nintendo’s eShop, Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and the PC by way of the Steam service. Not only did the games receive a graphical facelift, many new features such as online cooperative play, leaderboards, the ability to change the game rules and use additional rules one would find in RPGs that differ from the original versions, and a new RPG style challenge system. Players can also obtain coins to spend in the Vault, which has many more features to unlock. Kenji Kataoka, the director from Shadow Over Mystara, oversaw this new remake and contributed many of the original arcade game art and design assets available to be unlocked.
Please join us on the D&D forum thread for further discussion.