The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

King Of Dragons

I think it’s fair to consider how far the fantasy genre has become in recent years. Whereas all those years ago, it had the sole audience of 10 year olds sitting in their dark basement with a book of rules bigger than the bible recounting spells and gallivanting off on heroic quests to defeat trolls in a dungeon, ironically becoming said trolls later in life when they discovered 4chan (You know you are, don’t deny it). Some point in the early 2000’s, the fantasy genre took off into the mainstream, mostly thanks to  successful film and TV adaptations of Lord Of The Twilight: Potters Dark Materials in the land of Discworld. And you only have to look at video games to see that rubbing off, sure we’ve had Zelda for what feels like forever, but RPG action games set in the land of fairies and unicorns have been selling like hot cakes , World Of Warcraft is the most popular online game ever, Fable is one of Microsofts flagship franchises…god knows why, and I’m not even going to mention that Square Enix series…

Of course, back in the 1990’s, fantasy genres hadn’t quite burst into the mainstream yet, but Capcom were going to try with King of Dragons, or as it’s probably better known; Final Fight goes Medieval and surprisingly, it actually works…sorta. First of all, it’s surprisingly impressive the amount of options of characters. Elf, Fighter, Cleric, Wizard, Dwarf, Zombie, Richard Madely. Ok I may have made a couple of those up…the zombie isn’t a playable character. Each one of these gives you a unique skill set, as you’d expect from this type of game. The elf is faster and has better range of attacks, but the health isn’t very good, the fighter is a more all round character, the dwarf is a dwarf, and Wizard plays shitty glam rock music every Christmas. It’s all personal preference which you choose as the game doesn’t really change depending on your character, which in a way is both good, because it allows you to experiment with different characters and learn their strengths and weaknesses, but it’s also awful because it doesn’t really give you any incentive to complete the game again, ironically this is an arcade game, so someone clearly failed if you don’t want to spend more money to play it again.

And another complaint is that the levels are really short and whilst this is justified with certain enemies being able to cut you like a hot knife through butter, it does seem to make the whole thing seem a bit fickle and pointless. Maybe this games a metaphor for life or something, you go through life and the things you enjoy are too short and and in the end we all get cut to pieces by an undead skeleton. On the plus side, it proves atheism, so thumbs up there. Now if you’ll excuse me, I made myself sad…

Ok, anti-depressants taken, substantial amount of alcohol consumed. Review will continue. So the plot is basically 1 of the chosen 5 has traverse the world and defeat the dragon taking on Minotaurs, Wyverns, Cyclops, skeletons, standard fantasy fare, right? And to its credit, it’s a lot of fun. There’s simplicity in its controls with simply move, attack and jump and there’s some neat RPG style level up techniques. I played as the Elf and at times I genuinely got confused whether I was playing King Of Dragons or a SNES remake of Zelda 2, before remembering that I hate Zelda 2 and stopped playing for about a week, but it’s the Final Fight similarity that brought me back. Taking that and shoving it in a fantasy setting is pretty awesome and the graphics are fantastic, with some of the bosses looking both monstrous and cartoony (play as the fighter and when you fight the Wyvern, at one point it lifts you into the air. BY YOUR NIPPLES) and the music, although reminding me of Zelda for obvious reasons, is equally pretty nice and fitting. Of course, when you beat a boss and the flashing out of place writing gives you an epileptic fit, you’re kind of screwed, but that’s not exactly the games fault…ok, it is a little.

The levels have some nice variety there as well, there’s a forest, a castle, a boat that feels all Clash of The Titans to the point where I expected someone to force feed me a post production rushed 3D level and despite it all being standard fantasy Dungeons & Dragons fare, there’s a cartoony element. All the characters have a special attack that’s literally them roaring, you lose some health, but it kills most of the enemies and if you’re lucky, the character just might roar for ****s and giggles. Oh and there’s an item that turns everyone into frogs. And why not.

And there’s King Of Dragons, to be honest there’s nothing particularly original about it, it’s Final Fight copied and pasted with Dungeons & Dragons, but if you like one or the other, or god forbid, both of them (Unrelated question, are there nerd fight clubs?) What’s there is pretty fun in the end, so it’s very difficult to hate it, and by god I tried. There’s minor flaws, like the skeleton army’s amazing ability to almost insta-kill you and the jumping’s a bit weak, but overall, it’s an enjoyable quick arcade game.  It even supports 2 players, so you and your friend can play together, which is also fantastic…if you have friends…now I’m sad again.

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