Dragon’s Crown’s controversial character designs have been earning it negative scores for sexism, with its “ultimate hardbody” Amazon and “excessively animated” sorceress not proving popular with some elements of the more sexually enlightened western gaming press, to say nothing of its “groping” mini-game.
The review at the centre of the controversy, by Polygon writer Danielle Riendeau, has been proving exceeding controversial and more than a little reminiscent of that surrounding another “disturbingly sexualised” classic:
Dragon’s Crown is a fantasy-obsessed teenaged boy’s dream: crazy, violent and full of impossibly large breasts.
Recalling developer Vanillaware’s previous work on Odin’s Sphere, Dragon’s Crown is a 2D brawler/RPG hybrid starring a cast of over-the-top adventurers in a land of generic fantasy tropes.
The combat and wide variety of enemies play to Vanillaware’s strengths. But the game’s repetitive structure and a troublesome presentation of women prevent Dragon’s Crown from transcending its juvenile influences.
Dragon’s Crown’s serious liberties with female anatomy are distracting. Two player characters — the Amazon and the Sorceress — are explicitly sexualized, with breasts literally bigger than their heads with rear ends to match, and plenty of the screen real estate is dedicated to their respective jiggles and sashays. But at least these characters are powerful women, with agency and a penchant for destroying rooms full of bad guys.
The same can’t be said for the female NPCs that fill Dragon’s Crown’s dungeons and other environments. Most of the women in the game are barely clothed, with heaving chests, backs twisted into suggestive positions, some with their legs spread almost as wide as the screen. They’re presented as helpless objects, usually in need of rescue. It’s obvious, one-sided and gross.
Dragon’s Crown makes a strong first impression. It’s a fun mix of RPG tropes and dynamic brawler action. But I found its over-exaggerated art style alienating and gross in its depiction of women even as it shines in building a world of fantastic monsters and environments, and the forced grind through the same stages dulled my excitement. Dragon’s Crown is a wild place to visit, but it doesn’t quite hold up in the light of day.
Dragon’s Crown is an unapologetic adolescent fantasy
Reviews less preoccupied with moral rectitude clothed as women’s rights have given the game a clean bill of health in spite of its obvious sexism, however:
The game’s “touching” mini-game has also come in for accusations of sexism too, notwithstanding the fact that players can freely fondle the gigantic slabs of muscle which form the male barbarian’s chest as well – this not counting as it is “not sexual”: