Atlus, the world’s leader in bringing Western gamers awesome Japanese titles that they wouldn’t otherwise see, has announced an official release window for Vanillaware’s gorgeous beat ’em up Dragon’s Crown.

Those of you who played Odin Sphere on the PlayStation 2 should be able to agree with me on two points: One, that the game featured utterly stunning art work that still looks gorgeous to this day, and two, that the official release window announced this morning for the upcoming Dragon’s Crown can’t come soon enough. Fortunately, PlayStation 3 and Vita owners need not wait long for Vanillaware’s latest 2D hack and slash adventure: Dragon’s Crown makes it retail debut here in the West this summer.

You’ll notice that the release window is still somewhat vague. Sorry about that, but Atlus failed to serve up a specific date for the game’s release beyond “this summer.” That could be as early as May or as late as August, depending on how Atlus reads a calendar, so you may not want to hold your breath in anticipation until more information is available.

Now, those of you who’ve never heard of Odin Sphere or Dragon’s Crown are likely wondering why you should care about this upcoming release. Put simply, Dragon’s Crown is a member of the nearly-dead side-scrolling beat ’em up genre. Think of it as akin to Golden Axe (or the recent Scott Pilgrim game, for you kids who’ve only known a single Bush administration) only with a large number of strikingly in-depth roleplaying game-esque subsystems complementing the whole package. Players can choose from one of six character classes and then spend a massive amount of time (given the genre) slashing, kicking and magicking various foes to death as they work their way through the game’s story. Don’t expect anything too novel from the plot – think: Japanese roleplaying game-level storytelling, with all the cliches that would imply – but this lack of literary chops should be forgotten the first time you see the game’s graphics in motion. The screenshot embedded above looks great, but doesn’t really do the game justice. Instead have a look at this trailer from E3 2011. Gorgeous, no?

We’ll have more information on when you can expect to see Dragon’s Crown on the shelves of your local games retailer just as soon as Atlus sends it over, but until then try to track a copy of Odin Sphere. Like I said, thanks to Vanillaware’s talented artists, the game looks gorgeous, even by modern standards, and thanks to its RPG-lite gameplay it should absorb a few dozen hours of your life.

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