The first game in the series is Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom, a side-scrolling beat-'em-up by Capcom originally released for the arcades in 1994 which ran on the CP-System II hardware. It was followed by a single sequel in 1996 titled Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara, along with a compilation of both games titled Dungeons & Dragons Collection released exclusively in Japan for the Sega Saturn in 1999. Both Tower and Shadows were released on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Wii U eShop and Steam in June 18th, 2013 as Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara.The games are notable for their unique blending of the Dungeons & Dragons game system and Capcom's then-popular 2D scrolling-brawler engine, put in the limelight by Final Fight back in 1989. The duology is also respected for Capcom's showing their work in regards to using the RPG system's lore and combat rules, and for providing a certain amount of depth to the beat 'em up genre that wasn't previously explored: Characters have multiple special moves, can use items and magic, can collect money to spend in towns, can equip weapons and armor, and can even choose branching paths as well as look for hidden areas, of which there are many.The plot is pretty simple: Six adventurers, hungry for glory, hunt a dragon king/queen and bring peace to the land.An old but useful FAQ is available here.
These games provide examples of:
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Congratulations! You've just saved the gnome village from a monster attack! Please, come and visit...oh, but you're a little big. Don't worry, we have a potion to make you gnome-sized, but it'll cost you.
Adaptation Distillation: Capcom did a pretty good job of breaking down an encyclopedia's worth of a pen and paper game into a beat em up. The closest thing anyone has come close to recreating the experience can pretty much be only found in Castle Crashers or Dungeon Fighter Online (the latter being a real RPG, of the MMO variety.)
A.I. Breaker: If you stall for long enough, non-boss enemies will quit the scene. It's possible to find somewhere that the enemies will be (due to bad AI) unable to reach you with their weapons, so you can just sit there to bypass battles.
Anti-Magic: In a nice nod to the source material, magic users won't be able to cast spells when the Beholder's central anti-magic eye is open and looking in their direction. Of course, good luck figuring out what's going on if you don't know D&D monsters.
Awesome, but Impractical: Many of the pieces of equipment that actually do something useful will also break after taking a few hits. And you will take a lot of hits.
Back Stab: One of the Thief's moves. An instant kill, but requires some setup.
Tel'arin decides to simply blast you with fireballs after losing the duel. When preparing a second blast, Tel'eleron comes out of nowhere, knocks him down mid charge and then blasts him with another fireball. Tel'arin, wounded, retreats.
Bonus Boss: Both games have a Red Dragon as a Bonus Boss, who is every bit as tough as (if not tougher than) the Big Bad.
Boring Yet Practical: Mundane consumables like Daggers and Arrows do surprisingly good damage at range, especially if used repeatedly. Throwing Hammers are like this as well, yet are thrown on an arc that can hit flyers and they stun their target to boot. Large Burning Oils can hit 4 times with a single throw.
Bullfight Boss: The first boss, War Machine, charges at you repeatedly with a mess of kitbashed spears.
But Thou Must: Your options when asked to deal with the Black Dragon in Tower of Doom are "Of course" and "We'll do our best!"
Final Strike. With high enough total EXP count and a Magic-User who's equipped with the Staff Of Wizardry, having every playable character hit every button on the console brings down a literal wrath of the gods that instantly shreds all opponents but the final boss, at the cost of all but one of everybody's hit points and Staff Of Wizardry.
The Desperation Attack, which is a whirl-around-and-hit-everyone attack that drains your HP bar.
Competitive Balance: The dynamic changes between the two games, with the addition of more characters and something of a swap-around.
Cool, but Inefficient: The Storm Blade, Staff of Serpents, Wand of Fire, and Wand of Ice have a neat effect but are just-plain-worse than normal weapons in many circumstances. Meteor Swarm looks nice but is near-useless against the one boss you get to try it against.
Cosmetic Award: High scores from people who defeated the red dragon in the both games have a flying dragon icon.
Dem Bones: Standard skeleton warriors with one-handed swords and round shields.
Desperation Attack: Tapping Attack and Jump simultaneously unleashes a "Panic Attack" which clears out enemies on either side of you and knocks them down, at the cost of some hit points. Although panic attacks are common in beat 'em ups, it is useless here because you have uppercut attacks, magic, sliding, and burning oils for this purpose, and using any of them doesn't damage you in the process. The Elf's version (a shield of floating leaves) is useful and damaging enough to be worth the cost, however.
Many signs are written in "monster script" and only certain classes can read them - whether due to taking it as a bonus language or by having the Decipher Script skill.
Many of the signs also detail some things that would not make sense, such as the beholder's anti-magic gaze, for those who are not familiar with the source material.
The Magic-User can't push statues because his Strength score is too low.
The Dwarf can pick up things from the ground just as quickly as a crouching character.
Does Not Like Shoes: Par for the course with kobolds, goblins, and troglodytes, but unusually, averted with the gnolls in this game, who have footwear. Also applies to the shadow elves (who aren't really wearing much of anything else either).
Dungeon Shop: The orcs living in Synn's castle are perfectly willing to do business with the adventurers who are out to kill her.
Eldritch Abomination: Synn's ultimate plan is to summon a monstrosity known only as "The Fiend." Thankfully (or not), you never get to fight the Fiend, as the Glantri Air Force comes in and blasts the creature back into the pit it spawned from.
Killed Off Screen: This happens in the first game to someone no matter what you do. If you decide to get someone else to help Fort Cruth, along the way you save a girl from a manticore but later learn that everyone at Fort Cruth was killed. If you go save Fort Cruth yourself, you can later talk to a merchant who tells you that his daughter disappeared in the woods near Fort Cruth, presumably eaten by the manticore (on the other hand, if you save her, she'll thank you herself with a bonus ring and discounted prices). You can't save everyone.
One-Hit Kill: Red Dragon breath - whether from above, the side, or the background.
Our Orcs Are Different: Surprisingly in Mystara, orcs are never fought as enemies. Instead, they are eloquent shopkeepers who know how to do things like forge a dragon's horn into the Dragonslayer Sword.
Palette Swap: Tel'Arin and Tel'Eleron. The latter is a Shadow Elf, the other is a normal elf.
Randomly Drops: The loot from bosses, chests, some enemies and the Thief's stealing attempts may vary slightly.
Remember the New Guy: Mystara treats the Thief and Magic-User as if they have been adventuring with the party since the beginning. The Thief even mentions procuring a MacGuffin from the first game that is important to unlocking the final stage.
First off, this is a branching game, so many bosses are skippable or even mutually exclusive; just take a different route.
In the Labyrinth Maze, should you go there, you can get through the maze without challenging the Black Dragon.
Played with by Tel'Arin's last battle. You do have to kill him, but you can alter the location of his final boss fight if you have a Dwarf in your party, and if you do, his boss fight level will be replaced by a monster romp.
If you save Tel'Eleron in the alternate Tel'Arin battle, he will kill Nagpa for you.
Shown Their Work: Aside from accurately incorporating rules and monsters from Dungeons & Dragons, the games are set in the world of Mystara, the campaign setting that originated with the "Basic" edition of Dungeons & Dragons. The Night Dragon Synn is a major villain in the campaign.
Given the level of accuracy they've shown, the Holy Avenger is an intentional deviation for the sake of interesting gameplay. While the exact details vary among different D&D versions, Holy Avengers can only be used by Paladins (which the game lacks); it's a normal magic weapon if other classes wield it. In this game, it's not even magical in nature.
Shoryuken: All characters but the Magic-User can do this. The Fighter can hit twice with his, and the Thief's includes a free Large Burning Oil for combo purposes.
Silver Bullet: Silver Daggers and Silver Arrows are highly-effective on the undead.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Invoked by the Grand Masters, who consider Tel-Arin (the one of them you fight first) to be the weakest of their number, and defied when you defeat Dark Warrior 2, who is supposedly the strongest but is fought before Nagpa, who serves as The Dragon.
Spider-Sense: The Thief can see traps, including the type of trap.
Spoony Bard: One of the shopkeepers, who claims that he is too old to go adventuring despite looking like a handsome young elf.
Squishy Wizard: The elf in the first game, the Magic-User in Mystara. In fact, the MU is so squishy, he doesn't even have a basic combo attack chain, rush move, "knock-everyone-around-down-at-the-cost-of-some-life" attack or uppercut. To his defense, however, every 1 out of 16 dagger stabs (an otherwise useless extra attack that he has instead of a knockdown attack) is an insta-kill to anything he is fighting, save for bosses, and even they take a significant amount of damage from it.
Stripperific: Both Thief outfits, Synn the Night Dragon, and every Shadow Elf enemy (including the males).
It must be noted that Synn is shape-shifted to look like a blonde woman for most of the game. This isn't a case of a clothes-wearing dragon, half-dragon, or any other variant.
Suspicious Video Game Generosity: Surprisingly for what was designed as a quarter-munching arcade game. In Tower of Doom, you're given the option of approaching Sable Tower either by going around the mountains right away, or resting up and going through a dwarven tunnel where the red dragon Flamewing is located. Try that second option and the game basically asks you, "Are you sure?" and then, "Are you really sure?" Keep pressing on and you find out why it was so insistent — Flamewing will annihilate you, most likely.
In Shadows over Mystara you are warned three times to turn around and leave the cave. The narrator even asks you if you seek annihilation. Then you realize the narrator is the red dragon, and he immediatelyopens up with his One-Hit Kill Dragon Breath.
Teased with Awesome: Some really neat weapons, such as the Sword of Flame, Sword of Frost, or Dragon Slayer, show up in the next-to-last level. There's also a secret store that sells very powerful weapons, that can only be found a few levels from the end. The treasure screen more-directly teases you with awesome by showing you all the awesome you didn't find.
This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Some levels can only be unlocked if you have the right character, the Holy Avenger requires a Cleric to get (but he can't use it), and the Magic User can't push heavy objects.
The Unfought: The Fiend in the second game shows up as part of the ending, but isn't fought.
Vancian Magic: True to the original game, all magic users have finite spells, only rechargeable by beating the level or finding spell scrolls. If you are the Magic-User and you drain your spell tree killing kobolds, you are effectively fucked.
Weapon of X Slaying: The Dragonslayer Sword, which is nearly as good as the Sword of Legend against Synn. Also, the Holy Avenger, which either instantly kills or does extra damage to undead.
"Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The ending of Mystara briefly mentions what each Player Character did after the game. The ending changes based on how much gold your character collected during the adventure.
Wolfpack Boss: Nagpa fights alongside a manticore and a black dragon.