While I believe Tower of Doom does capture the D&D atmosphere better, the gameplay of Shadow Over Mystara makes it the superior of the two games. There are some annoying issues, but it this a solid hack-and-slash game, and a personal favorite.
In my last review, I looked at Tower of Doom, the first of two games included in the Dungeons & Dragons Collection for the Sega Saturn. I am finishing my review of the collection now by looking at Shadow Over Mystara, a game that improves upon the first game but is still not without its own failings.
In Shadow Over Mystara, two new characters have been added to the roster, so you may now choose between the fighter, dwarf, cleric, elf, magic-user, and thief. Each of the characters has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and it may take you some time playing this game before you realize which is best suited for you. If you prefer pure hack-and-slash, then the fighter or dwarf is your best bet. It turns out that I really like the thief, but I tend to prefer the quicker characters in games like this.
The control in this game seems to be improved, but perhaps that is due to the new moves that are added. Since this is a Capcom game, it is not surprising that they added in a move that uses the fireball motion from Street Fighter II. When you do this move, you will slide forward and slash, and it is a very effective way of taking care of several enemies. I had a slight problem with the addition of some moves, such as the fighter’s move that looks very much like the dragon punch from Street Figher II. Though the moves may improve playability, they don’t seem suited for a D&D game. Even with the improvements, though, there are still nagging issues, such as how items are picked up. Oftentimes, you will either pick up an item when you mean to attack, opening yourself up for a cheap hit, or you will replace an item you want to keep with one you don’t (or you will keep switching between them instead of attacking). That said, the item management in this game is better, and it is very cool that you can now carry different melee weapons and switch between them. I still would prefer to do this through a pause screen, as dealing with your inventory during the heat of battle can be bothersome, but I have become accustomed to it well enough that it doesn’t give me too many problems now.
Once again, you will see many familiar D&D enemies in this game, including several that make repeat appearances from the last game. Given the wealth of monsters in the D&D universe, it was somewhat disappointing to once again face such enemies as the manticore and displacer beast. Also, there were a few enemies which I didn’t recognize from D&D, and I am curious whether they were created just for this game, as they don’t seem like normal D&D monsters.
Overall, though, this game is more fun to play than the first and a blast if you team up with a buddy. Because of the new moves, the game does not feel so cheap. Even when enemies are knocked off the side of the screen, you can still fight them and inflict a lot of damage. The fact that you can find different weapons and armor is a plus as well. Also, whenever you fight certain enemies, you may slice off a piece of skin or other body part that can be fashioned into an item (it sounds much more disgusting than it appears on screen).
While I believe Tower of Doom does capture the D&D atmosphere better, the gameplay of Shadow Over Mystara makes it the superior of the two games. There are some annoying issues, but it this a solid hack-and-slash game, and a personal favorite. It may be hard to justify the ridiculous prices some ebayers attempt to sell this one for, but it probably comes closer to being worthy of the inflated price than a lot of the other collector games.