One of the most depressing parts of being a lifelong gamer is the inevitability of certain games losing their luster as the years roll by. This is most often true of arcade games. The intoxicating atmosphere of the arcade is something that doesn't really go away, and it always evokes a special kind of nostalgia. In recent years, a healthy collection of arcade game ports has made its way to the digital marketplace. And unfortunately, many of these games have not held up well. I downloaded versions of The Simpsons
and was utterly shocked that I actually used to spend quarters to play them. Iron Galaxy Studios has quickly established itself as the savior of the arcade space. Their exceptional Street Fighter
arcade ports are the standards to which all other arcade games must hold themselves. Their latest project combines two niche arcade classics into a single package, Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
. This old-school beat-em-up isn't always fair, and it most certainly isn't deep, but if you've got some friends to join the ride, it's a hell of a time.
Having played neither Tower of Doom nor Shadow Over Mystara, I cannot vouch for the quality of the emulation on display. However, since Iron Galaxy's steady hand is at the helm, I'm confident that what we have here is exactly what we had back then. Neither of these games breaks any new ground in the fantasy space, but several classic heroes and foes are well represented. Animations are high-impact and fun to watch, even though you'll have seen most of what there is to see within the first ten or so minutes.
Chronicles of Mystara sounds like a classic Capcom beat-em-up; that applies to both the sound effects and the music. The music is generic fantasy fare that sometimes borders on plagiarism (I hear Back to the Future and Star Wars trying to break out of the soundtrack all the time), but it's charming all the same. The heroes of the Dungeons and Dragons universe let loose with battle cries and mystical abilities. It all sounds great.