Due to the subject matter, this article may be slightly NSFW. Nothing too dirty, but you might get some raised eyebrows. Just so you know.
Creative endeavors have always been important in my family. Both of my grandfathers were engineers in one way or another, but both also produced a surprising number of paintings and other artistic works. My maternal grandfather was a lot more prolific… but, then again, he did live about thirty years longer than the other guy. He (that is to say, the grandfather that lived to see 90) painted wonderful portraits, like this representation of my backyard…
And, before his stroke, he also carved a good number of birds. Maybe “whittled” is the word? Whatever, check out this blue jay…
How did he make birds? We just don’t know.
My father seems to be more creative/effective in the kitchen, but my mother picked up the art gene, and has been producing reasons to purchase a bunch of frames since well before I was born. She recently started distinctly taking art classes at the local college (ah, to be forcibly retired), so she has been producing quite a bit of new material at the behest of a rigid grading system. This piece was apparently made with coffee grounds? I don’t understand art.
I, unfortunately, did not inherit the… let’s call it “drawing” gene. No, that’s probably wrong. I probably did inherit the proper genes, I’m just the kind of guy that has absolutely no patience for anything that doesn’t come out perfect the first time. I probably could be a wonderful artist if I were willing to put up with sketching and erasing and moving lines and starting from scratch and ugh I’m just going to go play Pokémon. Maybe I can blame videogames for this, or maybe I’m just an incredible narcissist, but I feel like I don’t have the endurance to level up so that I can draw something better than a crappy hand turkey.
But I appreciate art in its myriad forms, even if I feel like the best I can pull off is every other day essays. As a result, I immediately gravitate toward any videogame with an “interesting” art style. I can… deal with the cavalcade of plastic polygon people drifting around any given AAA title, but I will grant a lot of latitude to any game that indulges an interesting “style”. Frankly, I don’t care how realistic graphics can get, I still want that “playable anime” I was promised back when I first played Lunar (and Guilty Gear Xrd is doing pretty well in that department). Mad World, Limbo, and even Fez are all games that I likely would not have given another look if not for their elegant presentations. Well, maybe “elegant” isn’t the word I’d use for any game that involves a buzzsaw…
So Dragon’s Crown naturally got my attention. It also got everybody else’s attention, because, geez, look at this creature.
And I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout the dragon.
From a global perspective, I can see why Dragon’s Crown’s aesthetic style was panned by the critics. Everything in Dragon’s Crown is dialed up to eleven, and that includes bra size. And, yes, it’s impossible to play this game without trying to figure out what the hell is going on with Amazon’s ass, or Witch’s back support. I firmly and honestly believe in being “politically correct” and not offending entire genders with gross anatomical exaggerations that lead to further misogyny in overt and subtle ways, and Dragon’s Crown only feeds into that millennia old problem. Objectively, Dragon’s Crown is doing a bad thing.
But, in some weird way, I feel bad for Dragon’s Crown. It’s a fun beat ‘em up, and, rather than just rely on the online play or the simply joy of thubbing orcs, an awful lot of effort went into the gorgeous art on display. So, to assuage my confused conscious, I’m going to spend the rest of this article displaying the best, least disgusting art I could find in the Dragon’s Crown gallery. There’s a lot there!
Let’s start with what Dragon’s Crown is known for: some hot chicks. Check out those adorable little Harpy children. Yes, the narration establishes that these lovable avians tore the “photographer” to shreds, but who can stay mad at a face like that? Don’t you just want to scratch under their chins? Maybe with some manner of long stick from a very great distance away? You know you want to.
And while we’re taking a look at the glories of nature, here’s a bugbear family. Wait, I think these are owlbears. Look, what’s important is that some jackass wizard decided to merge predators together until there was something equally charming and homicidal.
Wait, maybe this is the owlbear? No, that’s more like a griffin. Maybe I just want someone to carve this kind of bird. Maybe out of the mightiest tree in the forest.
I guess while we’re on the topic, it’s time to look at a killer bunny. Maybe even an entire cave of killer bunnies? Yes, this game contains a level that is dedicated to Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and nobody ever talks about that. I don’t even know you anymore, Internet.
And let’s call this depiction of the Beholder realm a… homage to Dungeons and Dragons. I’m a big fan of sketching your surroundings, but maybe cool it when giant floating eyeballs are in the vicinity. They’re kinda judgey.
Dragon’s Crown posits that dinosaurs are the natural ancestors of dragons. Yet the well informed know that we’re looking at a pair of flightless birds. I think that mosquito is actually properly scaled to real raptors. There, now I got all the pedantry out of my system for the day.
Okay, I guess it’s important to note that there are some women in Dragon’s Crown that are not going to be permanently crippled by their own chests. There’s also a medieval Laurel and Hardy that live in fear of women with exposed thighs riding flying dragons. Everybody has a niche. Regardless, this piece is dynamic, interesting, and doesn’t involve sexual exploitation at all. Hooray!
And here’s special guest victim Vincent to remind us how women usually look in this game.
But while we’re underwater, let’s look at the glories of the deep. This is really the beauty of art, as even if we lived in a world with horrible, toothy fish, it would be nigh impossible to get a picture that involved this much color and perfect lighting. Okay, I guess a professional could maybe pull it off, but the shutterbug would probably be well and truly devoured before developing the film. Still, if you’re going to dedicate yourself to your craft…
And speaking of photography, how did a picture of me fishing get in here? I apologize, we’ll save my vacation slides for another article.
Here’s why I don’t trust Smokey the Bear. Forest fires get a bad rap.
On the other branch, here’s a fine reason to study fungi forever. Doesn’t this just look like the most relaxing study session you’ve ever seen? Granted, it probably smells terrible, and is moist beyond reason, but assuming that old man hasn’t been mush-boomed, parasect-style, I kinda want to live in that Mushroom Kingdom. Or at least visit.
And we’ll close this article with the fate that awaits us all: death, and eventually becoming a giant skeleton warlord. Why does the skeleton only wear armor on his shoulders? To hold up his cape. And why does he wear knee-high metal leggings? Well, have you ever tried to clean a giant skeleton’s toes? I think the answer is obvious.
Hey, at least you can’t complain about showing off too much skin on a creature with no flesh.
FGC #204 Dragon’s Crown
- System: Playstation 3, Vita. Wow, I remember this game came out during that five minute period when the Vita looked like the more desirable system.
- Number of players: Four! And that’s local and online. Do you know how rare that is on a non-Nintendo system in this day and age?
- Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: I mentioned it briefly in the article, but I love everything about this game except for the fact that my favorite class (Amazon) is completely unusable if there is a real life woman within twenty yards. I had a hard enough time explaining why Ramona from Scott Pilgrim is running around in her underwear! Graphical misogyny aside, though, I adore the general gameplay of this title, and I even enjoy the concessions to the “beat ‘em up outside of an arcade” that the travel/retire system creates. There’s an actual reason to pay attention to your health/lives! Who would have thunk it?
- Graphical Misogyny: I don’t think it’s impossible for a female character to be dramatically underdressed and/or far too well-endowed and still be a good role model, but at about the point your mermaids have prominent asses, it’s hard to debate the intention of a lot of this style.
- Favorite Class: I’m going for Amazon Prime. She eventually earns the screw attack, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than somersaulting around the battleground swinging an enormous axe. Everybody else in the game is a distant second place.
- Did you know? Dragon’s Crown was “shopped around” for years, and was originally intended for the Sega Dreamcast. I mean, okay, it’s basically just “a really good beat ‘em up”, but that seems like a long time and a lot of console generations to get a project to fruition. I’m just glad it came together in time for a system with free online multiplayer.
- Would I play again: I’m unlikely to play the game from start to finish ever again, so I can kiss any endings but Amazon’s good-bye. On the other hand, I’m likely to throw around that axe again just for the sake of slaying dragons, so it’s likely I’ll play this one again.
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Psychonauts! Venture deep into the minds of the insane! And pick up some milk! Please look forward to it!
Wow, that’s some awesome art there. Wish Vanillaware would port this game to PS4 like they did with that Odin’s Sphere remaster-remake thingy.
Anyway, an interesting art style has definitely sold me on buying, renting, or rebuying more than one game. My love of pre-rendered background art (or really, love for detailed backgrounds in general) is a big reason why I remember the PSone era and its Square, Capcom, and tri-ACE output so fondly, and why I was disappointed by Bravely Default’s towns not having more to see.
Also my love for awesome sights and exploration is why I’ve taken an interest in walking sims. Even on a budget, I’ve seen plenty of great art direction.
Speaking more recently though, cool stuff to see is why I decided to take advantage of the recent PSN sale after checking out some screenshots. Broken Age’s absurd but lovely art really spoke to me (especially for half the price of a Starbucks coffee), and Wild Arms 3 and Okage: Shadow King both looked a whole lot better than I’d remembered.
“There’s also a medieval Laurel and Hardy that live in fear of women with exposed knees riding flying dragons.” Uh… I don’t think those are her knees.
Damn body part identification typos…
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“Wish Vanillaware would port this game to PS4 like they did with that Odin’s Sphere remaster-remake thingy.”
About 1 & 1/2 years later…
I’m finally playing this game! Rolling with Wizard for now, partially ‘cuz I consider him the least ridiculous* of the playable character designs but also ‘cuz I can set things on fire and turn boxes into golems.
By the way, wanna play a game together sometime? Apparently Dragon’s Crown Pro on PS4 supports playing online with the PS3 and Vita versions, so if you wanna get in some cross play with your Amazon or try rolling a new character I’m game. Just shoot me a note on Talking Time. 😉
* Speaking of ridiculous character designs, that magic shop lady is, um, something. Way to make me never wanna play this with another human being in the same room, game. O.O;
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