Rise of the Dragon

aka: Blade Hunter: Rise of the Dragon, Rise of the Dragon: A Blade Hunter Mystery, RoTD
Moby ID: 98
DOS Specs
Included in

Description official descriptions

The year is 2053, and Los Angeles has turned into a grim place ruled by crime and corruption. William 'Blade' Hunter is a private detective who once was a police officer. He is asked to investigate a horrible murder of the mayor's daughter, whose body was mutilated. As Hunter begins to search for clues that would help him solve the crime, he uncovers a conspiracy involving a deadly drug and a powerful criminal syndicate behind it.

Rise of the Dragon is a futuristic first-person adventure game. The game's visuals are reminiscent of a comic book, with digitized photos of actors and hand-painted backgrounds. Unlike most other adventure games of the time, it relies less on inventory puzzles and more on specific choices made by the player. The game has an internal clock and requires the player to plan the protagonist's moves ahead in order to be in the right place at the right time. Dialogues with multiple choices are utilized as a gameplay tool; a wrong choice will often lead to a premature end of the adventure.

There are two side-scrolling action sequences in the game; both can be bypassed without penalty if the player character dies several times in a row. The Sega CD version does not allow the player to skip these sequences. In addition, it uses a different color palette with a greenish tint, and has voice-overs for the dialogues.

Spellings

  • ライズ オブ ザ ドラゴン ~ブレイド・ハンター・ミステリー~ - Japanese spelling

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (DOS version)

19 People (17 developers, 2 thanks) · View all

Designer and Director
Art Director
Conceptual Art and Characters
Game Development System
Artists
Programmers
Arcade Programming
Audio Director
Music and Sounds
Original Score
Dialogue and Text
Original Story
Quality Assurance Manager
Documentation Design, Layout and Writing by
Special Thanks to
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 77% (based on 39 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 90 ratings with 12 reviews)

Novel story-telling technique + clichéd story = above average game.

The Good
Kudos to Dynamix with Rise of the Dragon, they tried to create a game which plays like a real investigation, it's just a shame that the case is a bit silly. This is Dynamix's first adventure and it attempts a lot, promising a flexible story set in real world time limits. Gimmicks such as these have been claimed on other games and they are normally carried out in predictable ways nowhere near as organic as they promise, after all everything needs to have a system coded. Rise of the Dragon manages it fairly well and feels pretty sturdy.

It tries to pack a realistic punch as you play detective William 'Blade' Hunter, a retired cop called out on a case to investigate the death of the Mayor's daughter. I'll focus on the plagiarism later, but it sets a scene pretty well, also told in the accompanying comic, of a detective in a noir-esque near future etching a living from his tiny flat. You're thrown in at the beginning of the case having been rudely awakened and literally begin in your underwear. I really liked this touch as you have to get dressed to begin, gradually picking away at your leads. At the start the game is fairly unforgiving as you learn how to interact with the game world, so remember to save often. In fact regular saving before and after any action or conversation is a good idea. Just like in real life if you say the wrong thing to a character they can block you out, meaning you'll never get a vital lead. This may seem harsh when compared to most adventures but I quickly got used to spotting dead end conversations and learnt to be more careful about what I said, rather than just trying every option as in many other games.

The interface for the game is very static, but with pretty scenes depicting the nightmare future of Hollywood. I liked the art style, and the small background animations that bring the game alive, though the static nature can make the game boring after a few hours play. The game is mainly mouse driven aside from two arcade sequences which can both be skipped. It looks outdated now, especially as the images don;t occupy the full screen but it works well enough. The game uses a real time mechanic and makes bold claims about it, though I found it hardly played any role in the narrative, only serving to open and close the City Hall, in fact the time feature created a strange event for me (see later). Still the innovation is nifty even if it's not really integral to the game.

Despite my reservations about the plot, the way the narrative unfolds in the game is well managed. It feels natural as new locations are revealed as characters tell you about them, so you nearly always have a clue of what to do next. In fact the game required no leaps of logic to complete and the branching narrative forks smoothly so I wasn't aware of missing anything and despite not getting the optimum ending, felt I had a better dramatic journey. Definitely how the branching is managed is well done and a tribute to the storytelling.

The Bad
Whilst the narrative unfolds well, the over-arching plot is clichéd and borrows heavily from Blade Runner. In fact maybe the developers should have just paid for the license and released it in the Blade Runner world. Even the protagonist's name is 'Blade' Hunter! The neo-noir landscape is nice to see but it's a blatant copy which led me to another interesting point which I'll go into later.

Unfortunately despite copying the visual style of Blade Runner, the story avoids any moral questioning in favour of a straight beat-the-bad-guy story. What begins as a potential mysterious case never really develops with any twists and even ends with a shoot-out. It falls back on a dose of mysticism, though luckily it never develops into a super-natural threat. As a character Blade never progresses nor shows any sign of weakness to make him more rounded, wasting the game system really.

This may or may not be considered a bug, but the time system does produce some quirks. For example I completed most of my investigations on day 1, only to have to literally pass time for events to catch up. For example I triggered a meeting to happen 'immediately' but then had to wait 12 hours for it! In a more general sense the time system is inconsistently applied, whilst the City Hall opens and closes on a daily schedule, the same people play the same game of cards for four days non-stop. I put this down to the dangers of modelling time a game, when most adventure games rely on one event triggering another.

My final gripe was the terrible music. In places it tries to sound like Blade Runner, whilst in others it just settles for annoying. If only they had spent longer on it and also tried to create smooth sound-scapes to augment the pretty pictures, ones that faded between scenes. I know it would have been hard with the software of the time, but consider that standing outside the night-club has the same music at the same volume as standing inside!

I forgot another small gripe – the box art seems to be designed to repel, it's mainly a picture of a brick wall!

The Bottom Line
I like what Rise of the Dragon was trying to be. With it's focus on realistic life and detective work, characters who can block you out and the aspect of time, it really tries to be a complete experience. However it does this with a hammy plot – if you want to kill people why turn them into dragons first? The plot is straight-forward, though it probably needs to be to allow the plot to branch and weave back in again and work effectively. Despite the static nature of the interface, the branching and above aspects make it a good game to play.

This game feels like a project in creating a story with branching plots, with it's consequential rough edges. Dynamix's next game Heart of China tries to learn from this, but I think Rise of the Dragon is better for taking the serious engaging tone. Heart of China pointed out the plot branches, destroying the illusion of choice, whereas Rise of the Dragon opts for immersion.

One strange thing I felt whilst playing is that whilst the game steals it's setting from Blade Runner, Westwood's licensed Blade Runner game borrows a lot of mechanics from Rise of the Dragon. Despite being a 3rd person game, Blade Runner shares a similar time mechanic requiring sleep and waiting. It also has a very similar method of navigating around the city (though so does Discworld Noir). Furthermore it's method of uncovering facts through normal investigative techniques is similar, plus there's the odd arcade sequence. In fact in some ways Rise of the Dragon is like a tech demo for Westwood's Blade Runner!

DOS · by RussS (807) · 2010

An immersive world that completely captures your interest without frustrating your intellect.

The Good
Rise of the Dragon was Dynamix's first attempt at a purely graphical adventure, and it was largely succesful. While some people dismissed it as too easy, I found it quite immersive. Gameplay is achieved best with the mouse, where you use the pointer to examine elements of your location, manipulate objects, and throw switches. Its easy to learn, but it doesn't cheat--you have to equip your gun before you can fire it, for example, and if you leave your gun eqipped all the time, you run the risk of scaring the people you run into (because they can see your gun brandished).

The music is great, not because it reaches out and grabs you, but because it doesn't try to. The music is always underneath the scenes, and in some places, does a fantastic job of representing what the character is supposed to be feeling. A particular favorite section of mine is the very first scene where you're in your apartment; even with a simple Adlib card, the music you hear while exploring your surroundings not only does an excellent job of describing how you feel, but almost attempts to describe how your environment feels, if such a thing is possible.

The graphics are very good; each screen was illustrated traditionally on canvas and then digitized. While many of the themes are borrowed liberally from Blade Runner, some areas of the game manage to find their own vision.

The Bad
You would think that graphics digitized from original art would look really great, but some screens are not dithered as well as they could be, which is annoying if you're nitpicky about those kinds of things. (To judge for yourself, take a look at the many ROTD screenshots here on MobyGames.)

ROTD runs in realtime, which is normally a good thing; you can't just sit around poking at everything. But this can get frustrating as well--at one point you have to save your girlfriend while a timer is ticking down to zero in the background. This is unnecessarily manipulative.

Worst, though, is the inclusion of a weak action sequence thrown in at the very end of the game, which is completely inappropriate (and also very hard to win!). Thankfully, if you die too much in the endgame arcade sequence, the game offers to let you skip it to see the ending.

The Bottom Line
Rise of the Dragon is one of my all-time favorite games. If you haven't played it, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

DOS · by Trixter (8954) · 1999

Dark Sci-Fi Crime thriller with some mature content

The Good
Rise of the Dragon for the Sega CD takes advantage of the CD storage capacity by having most of characters dialogue read by actors. Where as the original DOS version of the game had to rely strictly on-screen text.

The acting is actually quite good -especially the voice actor for Blade - and its probably some of the best example of voice acting in a classic point and click graphic adventure game.

The port over to the Sega CD did mean having fewer on-screens colors to work with in comparison to the PC. To address this hardware limitstions, the designers choose to give the game an green tint to the futuristic city.

It actuallys makes the game's environment seem a bit more mysterious. It is hard to describe, but the look and feel of the game reminds me of the first Matrix film.

The designers of this game did an excellent job in creating a dark sci-fi world that you want to explore and learn eveything about.

This game is an excellent story in the adventure game genre and one of the best games ported over to the Sega CD. It is a shame that this game was not ported over to a newer game system.

The Bad
Rise of the Dragon maintains most of the mature themes from the original DOS game, i.e. profanity, drug use (albeit a fictious one) and the many death sequences and bad alternative endings.

The Sega CD game certainly earned its MA-17 label by Sega's own short lived video game rating council.

It's alll rather tame compared to the content seen in Grand Theft Auto, but in the early 1990s home console systems tended to be much more leery about mature or taboo content in a game.

The censorship seen in the Sega CD port is mostly concerned about sexuality. Mild Some of the DOS violence was toned down, although the biggest censorship issue seems to have been all about s-e-x.

Sexual jokes and innuendos are left in tact, but French kissing and implied sex scenes were cut. Their is also a dancer in a night club who was much more "visible" in the DOS game.

Apparently, some things in the video game were just too mature for a CD game given a MA17 label. It is unclear whether or not Sega ordered the content changes or maybe the designer thought did so "voluntarily".

The censorship does not alter the story line significantly. However, given how the game was already classified as being for older games, it seems silly that the original content was censored.

The Bottom Line
Rise of the Dragon is a DOS classic adventure game that is well designed for the CD format. The futuristic setting is diverse and technologically advanced, but also ripe with corruption, urban decay, vice and a serious drug problem. Its a littke bit film noir, and a little bit Blade Runner.

SEGA CD · by Edward TJ Brown (118) · 2015

[ View all 12 player reviews ]

Trivia

Development

Rise of the Dragon appears to have been coded in Turbo C++.

Messages

Messages hidden in the main executable:

Boy, am I tired. Better get some sleep in about an hour. You have chosen to run the game with only %s bytes of memory! You are on your own! (this is presumably when the user has decided to run the game without enough free DOS memory available)

References

  • One of the patrons in the Pleasure dome is named "FU BAR".
  • David Wolf makes an appearance outside the Pleasure Dome--he strolls past in a tuxedo if you wait long enough. (David Wolf was the main hero of Dynamix's earlier game David Wolf: Secret Agent.)
  • In Heart of China, another game from Dynamix, if you talk to some people in Ho's bar, some people will say "Bahumat lives!". A reference to the main villain in Rise of the Dragon.

SEGA CD version

The Sega CD has automatically-converted graphics from the 256-color originals, but (probably due to the Sega's limited color palette and palette restrictions) everything has a green cast. Check screenshots for comparison. Also some things were cut from the game: an ammo clip besides a telephone, all but one strippers in the bar and a sequence in which the protagonist has sex.

Versions

Rise of the Dragon was released in two separate packages for the PC: A 256-color VGA/MCGA version that took up about 7 megabytes, and an EGA/CGA version that, understandably, took up half that size. The 16-color EGA version, on the other hand, has mostly redrawn graphics based on the 256-color originals.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1991 (Issue #88) – Special Award for Artistic Achievement
    • November 1996 (15th Anniversary Issue) - #83 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #12 Most Innovative Computer Game

Information also contributed by PCGamer77

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Related Sites +

  • Game Nostalgia
    Provides extensive background info for Rise of the Dragon, pictures of the cast, full credits with shots and info about the design team, specific details about the game, various goodies, all musical themes, shots of every location in the game, saved games, a list of reviews, including a "nostalgic "review and tech specs.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 98
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Trixter.

Amiga, SEGA CD added by POMAH. Windows added by Cavalary. Macintosh added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: Shoddyan, Sciere, martin jurgens, Patrick Bregger, Starbuck the Third, ZeTomes, Shankao, Kayburt.

Game added March 20, 1999. Last modified June 11, 2024.