Back in the dragons and kings era!
by Tibe (2012)
In the early 90's, the editor Capcom met a huge success in the arcades, of course with the legendary Street Fighter II and its many variations, but also with a batch of Beat 'em Up remained in the videogame history as instant classics of the genre. All this had started in December 1989 with the revolutionary Final Fight, and 91' would see tumbling down three direct lineage descendants of this illustrious ancestor: Knights of the Round, Captain Commando and The King of Dragons. These three titles took back the graphic engine of Final Fight, declining the genre with different themes. It's quite logic that the editor uses these excellent foundations for its new beat them up productions, as those have proven to be real benchmark for this type of game. The King of Dragons is set in a medieval world made of demons, elves, dwarves, wizards, knights... and of course dragons and whatnot!
The kingdom of Malus has been invaded by evil creatures led by Gildis, the Red Dragon. You'll have to cross this country through sixteen stages to get the people rid of this evil... and for this purpose, five characters are at your disposal: a warrior, a cleric, an elf-archer, a dwarf and a wizard. Each of them uses a weapon and a shield of its own. Stuff can therefore evolve, as well as power and health of our heroes which can also raise with experience. Attack with A, jump with B, and use magic with A+B. Your character will more or less randomly block enemy attacks, depending on the shield and level you have reached. The game tends to create an 'RPG' atmosphere with leveling up for our warriors by killing enemies, but also with the new weapons and shields to pick up through stages, gold and supplies to regain some life. Oh nothing really folichon, just enough to create an Heroic-Fantasy atmosphere and remind adventure games on past systems, but it stops there: we are dealing with a real big fat Beat them Up, as Capcom have the secret.
The graphics, either the backgrounds or the various characters look like a mixture of Heroic-Fantasy and greek mythology. Some passages are reminiscent of the good old movies featuring Ray Harryhausen's special effects, particularly for Jason and the Argonauts or the cyclops in The Seventh Journey of Sinbad. The colors are well chosen and the drawings are fine, while the sixteen Bosses goes from impressive to downright monstrous, participating greatly to the atmosphere. The backgrounds have a nice effects of relief, in addition to being beautiful and varied: from a forest populated by trolls, we go to catacombs infested with mummies, via a boat filled with skeletons or the cave of a three-headed hydra. The animation and sounds are not lacking in this idyllic picture. Differential scrollings participate to the nice relief effect felt with backgrounds, while the heroes are very well animated, as well as most enemies and bosses.
When playing two or three, a few slowdowns are felt, but overall there's really nothing to complain. Only the soundtrack is a slight notch below, limited by the poor sound capabilities of the CPS. The musics are doing good and fit well in the heroic-antic-fantasy universe of The King of Dragons. The sixteen stages are not super long, but these are all as much epic Boss battles and we won't complain about that! The game is cleared in about forty minutes and as it's not too repetitive, most player might see themselves coming back happily from time to time, alone or with friends, just to try another character or try to improve. The gameplay is fun and it's a pleasure to smash trolls, dragons and ghouls while seeing our hero become more and more powerful. A great Beat them Up, packing an incredible atmosphere and a flawless realization!
|Voluptuous, colored, varied... Disorientation is total, it's as if you were travelling in a Tolkien book!|
|Even when playing three simultaneously, slowdowns are still rare! Everything is sublimely animated, with an impressive amount of animation steps and a perfect game speed.|
|Quality is not premium here, but melodies fit nicely the action and the sound effects are good, while not especially varied.|
|It takes about forty minutes to clear the sixteen stages, and that's not bad: there's also five different characters, 3p simultaneous play and leveling up for fighters.|
|Nothing complex here, you jump, hit, perform a magic trick... the game is nonetheless fun and taking, with items to catch and level ups. Very good!|
|Capcom shows one more time its mastery in the Beat them Up section, with another chef-d'oeuvre this time, in the Heroic-Fantasy style!|
SAME ON THE NEO?
One more absolutely remarkable Capcom Beat them Up , and for this one I can't really see a similar title on SNK 's system. Sengoku and Ninja Combat are contemporary and pack some similarities, but we're still far from the Heroic-Fantasy atmosphere and the fighting system of TKOD.