You’ve seen the film, now play the game. Are you worthy to be a master of the martial arts?
I have to lay my cards on the table. I’m no great lover of beat-em-ups. They’re one of the biggest movers of the games world though and have been for some time. With Virtua Fighter and Mortal Kombat as its rivals, how does Dragon shape up?
Dragon has several different modes of play. As a single player you can choose to follow the plot of the film or just take on the computer for some serious fighting. Two player options include human versus human and two humans versus a computer controlled player. You can also choose from five difficulty levels and three speeds. It’s a brave fighter who tried tough and manic mode.
You control Bruce against the various enemy fighters. The gameplay is the usual frantic hammering of buttons and joypad bashing. There are several modes of combat controlled by your Chi rating. Each successful hit boosts your Chi and each failure reduces it. When your Chi is high enough, you get access to different sets of moves. You also have to keep an eye on your energy level as each hit you take reduces your strength. Luckily, death isn’t always permanent and if your killed, you get a chance to reprieve yourself in one last fight for the right to return again.
There are a total of ten locations, each with a progressively tougher opponent culminating in the Graveyard where you meet the Phantom who was said to be the cause of the real Bruce Lee’s death. One location, the Long Beach Stadium adds an extra twist, you only get 60 seconds to defeat your opponent.
There are so many moves in this game that it would take a serious amount of practice to even remember them all, let alone use them effectively. I counted 39 in total! Luckily, most are a combination of the A, B, C and option buttons which makes it a bit easier in the heat of the battle. Which moves are available depends on the distance between you and your enemy. The manual recommends that you practice in two player mode but with no second player until you get used to the myriad of punches, kicks and throws. A few rounds of this and I was starting to get quite proficient at head stomps. Very satisfying.
The graphics are all hand drawn which in these days of digitised fighters in games like Mortal Kombat, is a bit of a mistake. The backgrounds are nicely drawn but nothing to get excited about. The animation is good enough. By current standards, Dragon is a bit of a letdown in this department. The sound is more of the same with adequate noises and tunes. The high scores and game settings are saved but you can’t save your current position in the story.
A nice touch is a short one page resume of Bruce Lee’s life until his premature demise at 32. I wonder if they’ll ever find out how he really died?
Dragon would have been a great game if it was released a couple of years ago. As it stands, it just can’t keep up with the current crop of beat-em-ups on other machines. It doesn’t even have the extreme violence of Kasumi Ninja to give it an edge. Mortal Kombat III is on the way for the Jaguar though so hopefully we’ll soon have a quality combat title to boast about.
Product Name: Dragon The Bruce Lee Story
Telephone: 01753 xxxxxx
Pros: Lots of moves. Chi feature.
Cons: Average graphics and sound. No game save.