Rise of the Dragon

aka: Blade Hunter: Rise of the Dragon, Rise of the Dragon: A Blade Hunter Mystery, RoTD
Moby ID: 98

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 77% (based on 38 ratings)

Player Reviews

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

The future doesn't look good for LA

The Good
In the late Eighties, a small company called Dynamix created Project Firestart, an action/adventure game for the Commodore 64. It had features that were uncommon at the time, including cinematic sequences, video images, and action sequences. All three of these game mechanics formed the basis for Rise of the Dragon, their first MS-DOS adventure game.

Anyone who have seen Blade Runner will know that Dragon shares many similarities with the movie, in both story and style. The only difference is that we are investigating what happened to the mayor's daughter, not tracking down Replicants who pose a threat to society. Maybe it is also a coincidence that your character is also named Blade, and that the game is set in Los Angeles?

The games makes use of an internal clock, which updates every five seconds and is on the top-right of the screen, above your inventory. Like in real life, events happen at certain times. The inventory also has a clock, but with buttons that let you go forward a minute or a whole hour. Having these forward buttons is ideal for skipping time because you spend most of the time doing nothing until near the end of the game. Dragon is the only Dynamix adventure game where a clock is visible on-screen as you interact with the environment.

The graphics are quite impressive. All of the environments look as if they are taken right out of a comic book. The only difference is the animations in most of the environment, some of them, particularly the outdoor environments, blend in with the game's setting (ie: it is always dark and gloomy, no matter where you go or what time of day it is). Beautiful cinematic sequences are scattered throughout the game, and tell the player that something really big is happening. The game's introduction – where we discover what happened to the Mayor's daughter – is superb. Dragon comes complete with a comic book that continues where the introduction left off, where the mayor comes into Blade's apartment instead of contacting him on vidphone.

The realism the developers added to the game is amazing. Nearly everyone you meet remembers what you did to them. There are dialogue branches, and saying the wrong things to your contacts will result in them getting angry, which will jeoparize your chances of getting new leads. Character portraits often accompany the dialogue, and they are complete with facial expressions that reflect the mood they are in.

The music and the sound effects are great, often blending in with what is happening on screen. The game supports popular sound cards at the time, including the Adlib, SoundBlaster, and Roland MT-32. The introduction even contains digitized speech that can only be heard if you are playing with SB. In my opinion, the game's speech is nothing compared to what you hear in the Sega CD version, which does include full speech throughout the game as well.

There are arcade sequences scattered throughout the game, and these are similar to the action scenes in Project Firestart, released one year earlier. These arcade sequences are fun, but the controls need to be getting used to. They also work just like any arcade game – you shoot, jump over things, walk under things, turn off switches, and other stuff. They usually take about two minutes to get through, and it is worth it if you want to see yourself defeat your adversary. If these arcade sequences are too hard, then the game will eventually let you skip them and move on. Dragon gives you the opportunity to save your game before each arcade sequence, and this is ideal if you want a break from all that adventuring and just want to kill some bad guys.

The game can be replayed, especially if you want to take different dialogue branches to achieve the same result. For example, you can cheer your girlfriend Karyn up by giving her some flowers in one game to get a set of keys. Then, in your next game, you can make her angry and still get your keys. Let's say you skip those arcade sequences in one game, but you want to complete them in the next. There are also those alternate paths you need to consider to achieve what you need to do.

The Bad
As I said, you spend a lot of time doing nothing in the game, and the developers could have added more stuff for you to do. Why not do extra stuff at the warehouse instead of just blowing it up, or doing more stuff at other locations?

The Bottom Line
If you played Project Firestart or watched Blade Runner, then you know that the roots of Rise of the Dragon can be traced back to these two titles. With great comic book graphics and excellent sound that blend in with the game's atmosphere, Dragon is sure to please any cyberpunk fan out there. It's worth getting a copy of this game from eBay or other retailer, since it includes a comic book that sets the scene up quite nicely. Out of all the three adventure games Dynamix created, Dragon still remains one of my favorites to this day.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43091) · 2014

Hey, have you forgotten your key again?!..

The Good
Rise of the Dragon occupies a special place among adventure games of the early 1990's, being oddly similar to the Japanese specimens of the genre. Basically, the gameplay here is wrapped around the plot, and the focus is on natural, story-dictated advancement rather than on the essential Western adventure gameplay mechanic (puzzles). However, the game manages to squeeze quite a bit out of this less than promising template and, astonishingly, even introduce its own interesting ideas concerning adventure game design.

There is simple logic and realism in the game, which create an illusion of choice. Go out of your apartment without having collected your keys and you'll have a tough time getting back. Of course, you can always make your girlfriend angry by flirting with other women, and she'll flung the keys at you. However, you won't be able to solve the game without her help, so maybe you'll need to figure out another way to get back in. This kind of branching gameplay, as primitive as it is, feels uniquely refreshing after rigidly composed inventory puzzles or maddening "triggers" Japanese adventures are so fond of. Too bad it is barely used in this game.

The atmosphere in Rise of the Dragon is well-done. Beautiful backgrounds with occasional animation reflect the grim futuristic setting nicely. You can see people moving on the streets, neon signs flashing, apartment shaking when a helicopter flies by, etc. Events are presented with lovely comic book-like panels, emphasizing the game's dramatic pace. Despite the very simple interface, some objects that have nothing to do with the progression of the game can be examined, sometimes eliciting comments and thoughts from the main character. The game also has excellent sound effects and fitting music that further enhance the atmosphere.

The Bad
There is a bit too much of trial and error, particularly during the final part of the game or in some of the puzzles. The platform sequence near the end of the game has clunky, stiff controls, and is too hard. It was nice of the game to allow me to skip it and go straight to the final cutscene, but the feeling of achievement and reward was gone. An easier arcade sequence or at least the possibility to save within it would have been more appropriate.

The story is just one big cliche. I couldn't see the necessity of blatantly ripping off the movie Blade Runner in such insignificant details as the hero's name - and honestly, "Blade Hunter" is one of the worst protagonist names I've come across. It all boils down to the confrontation against a cartoony villain; there are no twists or psychological insights of any kind, and all the characters are completely one-dimensional and forgettable.

A much more serious problem is the game's size. More often than not I felt that the developers were showing me brilliant sketches rather than a complete, full-fledged product. For example, the hero's apartment is a fantastic location, but there is no other one like that to explore. Only a few spots allow interactivity, while most others are disappointingly empty. Branching plot could have been done much better as well. I understand that hooking up with a prostitute won't make your girlfriend happy, but why make the game unwinnable because of that?

Rise of the Dragon starts strong, but cannot stay on the same level throughout. By the end of the first game day you'll have seen and experienced pretty much everything the game has to offer. Afterwards, it mostly consists of a fairly monotonous routine: repeated trips to the same barren locations, a few minor discoveries here and there, and a flat, predictable cartoony showdown without any significant events along the line.

The Bottom Line
Rise of the Dragon might be what Japanese adventures always wanted to be: a smooth, cinematic experience that transcends its apparent weaknesses. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean much. Despite the obvious talent behind it, the game comes across as a rather shallow and rudimentary product compared to its more developed Western siblings.

DOS · by Unicorn Lynx (181780) · 2015

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 (8952) · 1999

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

One interactive Sci-Fi novel that wont leave you untouched

The Good
The first thing that struck me where the great looking graphics in Blades small but futuristic apartment. The greatly seductive sound of drops hitting a metal sink together with that distant pixel skyline outside the window drags you right into the screen and universe, a mystical and depressive such. The game is built on hand painted still images and is played in real time, witch means that if you have an appointment at 5 and the time is 3 you just have to wait. The storyline was strongly plotted out for you and there where no such thing as dynamic gameplay, but still they manage to deliver the feeling of accomplishment to the player. Throughout the game you encounter several puzzles that are directly tied to the story. The sequence where you sneak down the sewer to redirect some electrical weiring are a master piece. In short this game with its graphics, sound and music absolutely kidnaps you for a couple of hours and holds you helplessly hostage in they Blade Hunters future universe, you get to live a part of his life.

The Bad
There are a couple of shoot'm up segments in the game that are a total catastrophe. Its blocky steering and inexact shooting gets you extremely frustrated when all you want is to know how the adventure continues. Further more its very short and just as you are about to log on to Ebay to get your self the Blade outfit you´v saved the day and the game is over.

The Bottom Line
An interactive Sci-Fi novel in the Blade runner universe. There are 3 different game types bundled in one. The lined out RPG, the puzzles and the, from the side, shoot 'em up type. Its a typical Hollywood story with a strong atmosphere but a short lifespan. You even play the love life.

Amiga · by Birjer Rosenkrantz (3) · 2005

You're so... green

The Good
The year is 2053 and the setting is dirty Los Angeles. Former private investigator, William “Blade” Hunter, is asked by Mayor Vincenzi to find out who or what killed his daughter, Chandra. It happens to be an election year, so Vincenzi doesn't want the investigation to be leaked to the press. He gives Blade several leads to get started: Chandra was last seen in the Pleasure Dome, hanging out with some guy known as “The Jake”. Blade should talk to The Jake and show him a “vid-transmission hardcopy” of Chandra.

There are at least three versions of Rise of the Dragon, and each of them has their own advantages and disadvantages. The Sega CD version has full speech, which is what the other two versions lack. The different characters are voiced by professional actors, including Cam Clarke, who plays the part of Blade. Like in other versions, you are likely to choose some responses when you are talking to someone. Whether you choose the right responses will determine if they are kind afterwards, or are angry at you. I enjoyed getting an angry reaction from them. Having completed the Sega CD version, I have to say that the speech very much adds to the game's atmosphere. The voices that I like include those belonging to all the Chinese characters, especially Jonny Qwong and Deng Hwang.

Another advantage over the DOS/Amiga versions is the use of great sound effects. These can be heard in scenes when lightning strikes, when someone fires a gun, or when a bomb is exploded. And you can hear machines doing their shit when you spy into the enemy's warehouse. I mostly heard them from playing the arcade sequences, dealing with the different hazards that block your way.

The Bad
There is one scene where Karyn and Blade go out for dinner, but that scene is censored. This is despite the game given a MA-17 rating by the VRC. Anyone who has played the DOS or Amiga version will surely know that both characters don't just go out for dinner, they sleep together as well.

Due to the Sega CD's limited color palette, the graphics have a green tint to them. Although that is bad, I like to think that the game deserves it due to its “MTZ” drug theme. Before Dynamix went ahead of the game, they should have waited one more year when the Saturn came out. By then, they would have incorporated graphics that have more colors than the other versions, making it look more like a futuristic thriller. As well this, they would have made further enhancements to the game.

The Bottom Line
Despite the censorship and the green graphics, the Sega CD version of Rise of the Dragon has one notable advantage over other versions before it: full speech. This adds to the atmosphere of the game. Other advantages include great sound effects, that can be best enjoyed during the arcade sequences. So if you have already played either of the other versions, I would recommend getting hold of the Sega CD version and see how good it is.

SEGA CD · by Katakis | カタキス (43091) · 2007

Better and Worse than the DOS version

The Good
This is the same game others have talked about with the DOS version so I won't echo their comments. The SegaCD version's main advantage is that it has pretty good voice acting added in. This ads more depth to the game than I got from the DOS version. If it weren't for a few things, this would be my favorite version.

The Bad
There is no way out of the arcade sequences. Why put it in the DOS version, but not the Sega CD one. The date scene gets cut off after the toast. Aparently Sega thinks we're allowed to see all kinds of violence, but not a french kiss and implied sex.

And the largest problem. Visualy it does not look as clean as the DOS version. The Sega CD has a very limited color pallete and it shows. However the changes they had to make, do do something interesting with the atmosphere once you get used to it. Take a look at the screenshots

The Bottom Line
If you've played the DOS version and loved it, get this version if you can and compare the two.

SEGA CD · by Jessie Cook (24) · 2002

A dark look at the future

The Good
I liked the plot for the most part. The game seemed very short, but I think the interaction between Blade and Karyn was rather well done. It had already been established that they had a prior relationship, and I liked the fact that making up to her was crucial to the game--Blade couldn't solve the mystery without her. Conversations in this game could be difficult--you had to pick the right responses in order to get the info you needed--I think this is a trademark Dynamix style, because most of the games I've played of theirs seem to require that you pick the right conversation path. The puzzles could be difficult sometimes. The graphics in this game are very nice--they look very gritty. Even though it's a 2D style it's very well done. I'm not picky about graphics, I just like to be able to see what I'm looking at. This game is also done in what reminds me of a comic book format--some cut scenes are actually composed of still shots with text instead of an actual animated sequence. My original copy of this game came with a "comic book", so I think that was intentional.

The Bad
I truly disliked the arcade sequence. My understanding of it is that you did have to play the arcade sequence in order to get the closing still shots. I didn't play the arcade sequence at all and got nothing but a black screen at the end. I'm not good at arcade sequences, which is why I play adventure games in the first place. The good thing about Dynamix is the fact that you can at least skip the arcades, but in this case apparently it was detrimental. Some of the puzzles were obscure.

The Bottom Line
Set sometime in a dark future, you play Blade Hunter as he attempts to solve the murder of a politician's daughter. Gather clues and enlist the aid of your allies as you search for her murderer.

DOS · by OceansDaughter (106) · 2001

Blade Runner, meets the Matrix and Big Trouble In Little China

The Good
Rise of the Dragon features a cool science fiction story line that mixes in elements seen with such 1980's films as Blade Runner and Big Trouble in Little China. If you love graphic adventure gaming, set in a dark cyberpunk world, this will be a most enjoyable Sega CD game.

The Bad
First off all, for some reason, certain sexual themes from the computer game did not make it in the Sega CD version. One of the exotic dancers in the bar has been removed and the other one has been toned down. You cannot speak with the punk in the bar and the French kiss and suggested sex scene have been eliminated. It seems odd that such modifications took place, given that the game was rated MA-17. Second, the Sega CD hardware was not up to par with DOS IBM computers of the day, so the graphics looked slightly washed out, with a Matrix-like green tint. Last, but not least, you cannot avoid the few arcade sequences in the game.

The Bottom Line
Rise of the Dragon was one of the few graphic adventure games released for the Sega CD and fans of the genre, especially if they are unfamiliar with the DOS version, should enjoy it. The addition of voice actors greatly adds to the game, but the censorship is simply inexcusable for a game given a MA-17 rating, especially when everything else -- content wise -- from the DOS game seems to be uncensored.

SEGA CD · by ETJB (428) · 2010


The Good
Rise of the Dragon is a pretty atypical game, it's one of those weird adventure games that Dynamix tried to popularize with titles like Heart of China, Willy Beamish and that old secret agent game.

In case you have no idea what of what I'm talking about you should know that come the early 90's, Dynamix tried to put their own twist into the adventure game genre, and released this weird collection of titles that stayed pretty much within the boundaries of the adventure genre, but used a first person perspective, included action sequences and ran against an internal clock among other details.

The changes in the typical adventure game design that simplify item interaction and the inclusion of day cycles and time limits place the focus mostly on scripting and storytelling rather than on mindless puzzle solving. The "adventuring" in these games deals mostly with knowing how to deal with each character and following the storytelling logic of the game while the game world around you does it's own thing, and thus these games work mostly as early ancestors of interactive movies with the point being mostly to enjoy the game world around you. The games also feature a universally simple and streamlined interface with little to no glitches that allow you to access the game's configuration, equip items and interact with the game world with little more than a mouse click, so with those issues solved you can bet there's plenty of room to develop the creative side of things.

Now, Rise of the Dragon is probably the most evolved of these games, and exploits most of this design's true potential for storytelling. Instead of the Kid-simulating quest of Willy Beamish, "Dragon" is a gritty detective story were you have to follow around leads, evidence, clues and need to be in certain places at the right time for things to develop.

The setting of Dragon is a true child of the 80's sci-fi. An edgy, post-modern blend of narrative styles (in this case, the police dramas and its Noir counterparts) mixed into a decidedly pessimistic retro-futuristic world where everything just plain sucks. If you are even slightly familiar with the cyberpunk genre then you know the basics, and they are all here: overpopulated urban sprawls, extreme cultural blends due to the extreme globalisation, corrupt states, rampant crime and lots of assorted garbage on the streets.

Basically the same blend that gave life to Blade Runner, the movie that to this day most closely represents the spirit spawned from this type of sci-fi and which most obviously influences Rise of the Dragon. Just like the movie, "Dragon" also takes several cues from the underground comics of the 80's, specially the European sci-fi that was so popularised in magazines like "Metal Hurlant", and in an excellent stylistic choice, the game's graphics are composed of lovely hand-drawn comic book illustrations that come to life in VGA with loads of colorful details and moody hues. The backgrounds are pretty much ripped from the pages of a comic book, being static screens that nevertheless exploit their perspective and include (being a game and all) looping animations and day/night variations of themselves. The characters themselves are equally rendered, with excellent (albeit completely still) drawings both on the cutscenes and the background overlays. The music is equally well crafted, being composed of a collection of catchy synth tunes that follow the tracks of Vangelis classic soundtrack for Blade Runner. It fits the game like a glove and manages to stay with you even after the game is long finished (I still remember the subway station music as if it was yesterday).

But so much about the game world, what about the game? As I mentioned the tight scripting-oriented design works perfectly with the game's concept. Yes, you have an inventory and get to use your items around, but mostly you have to keep an eye out for your surroundings, gathering clues around crime scenes and chatting with the right people and being smart about what you say or not with the use of the good'ol dialogue tree.

The most dedicated scripting feature is of course the game's internal clock, which goes up with every action you make and the travels you take around the city. Not only does it condition several events, ignoring it will cause dire consequences to your investigations, as for example arriving late to a meeting with a contact might result in his death, or not showing up at the correct timeframe might cause you to just waste your time (hint: the club's only alive at night) and wasting time is something you do not want to do, as the bad guys are always on the move and develop their schemes continually. Additionally the game imposes a realistic logic to your character's behaviour and those around him, ie: undercover means you do not wave your gun around asking were the bad guys are hiding (whether you have a weapon equipped or even in your inventory affects what places you can enter and who you can talk), you can't walk around the streets naked and be taken seriously or leave your house and then try to enter without your keys (duh!), and your girlfriend requires a minimum amount of TLC if you want her to stick by you and help you out. Some of these features work as ways of branching your investigation, but mostly they serve as a way to increase the sense of realism in the game and deepen the gameplay with simple details.

The Bad
The graphics in the game are excellent but, due to the low resolution, appear extremely pixellated and a lot of their charm is lost, pity. The story, while including lots of adult themed details and interesting events falls to several shortcomings from a scripting point of view. Basically this is a detective story were you already know who did the crime. Yes, as I understand it, the mystery of solving who did what is not the first priority here, as it wasn't in Blade Runner. But it's fair to note that Dragon is pretty much devoid of the existential and stylistic elements that make BR such an interesting movie, thus leaving you with a pretty bland experience story-wise with extremely clichéd characters. From the wise-cracking and horribly named detective ("Blade Hunter".... PFFFFF!!) to the evil, evil BWAHAHAAHAHAA "evil" bad guy that hides somewhere in the city waiting for you to find him. There are good moments, mostly exploiting the adult nature of the story, and even some interesting developments, like the bad guys hunting YOU down for a second or so. But mostly it's an extremely oversimplified storyline that doesn't do much with all the potential it's got, developing fast into a "save the babe and the world" scenario before you know it.

The action sequences are another point to gripe about. They are pretty much the best proof there is as to why Dynamix never did an action game. They are horrible, poorly-controlled abominations whose only good element is to be able to skip them without penalization after you've failed them enough times (for the record, save for the last hellish one I finished all of them properly, ahum).

I would also have preferred to see more in the way of branching events, as there are some, but not nearly enough for the game to qualify as a non-linear experience. For instance, there's a moment where you meet up with a nice babe in a club, and if you keep laying on the charm, you'll walk home with her to further uhm... "investigate" her leads, however just as luck would have it, you cross paths with your girlfriend and after a scene she dumps you on the spot. Pretty cool, huh? Of course, as soon as this happens a nice sign pops up saying that your ex was critical to the game thus you won't be able to finish your adventure and you'd better reload... Niiice. This game would have been much more of a critically acclaimed classic if little moments like these were fully developed, I mean what if you could have continued the game with the babe from the club instead of your trusty girlfriend, huh? Now there's an option I would have loved to explore, not to mention that without these alternate paths the game falls to the poor replay value problems that would plague interactive movies in the future.

The Bottom Line
Basically the playable version of an issue of Heavy Metal magazine minus the gratuitous sex and gore. Has enough interesting details and game play depth as to be considered a true jewel of the adventure gaming genre (an extremely odd and atypical jewel, but a jewel nonetheless), yet lacks that extra oomph that would have propelled it to videogame stardom. Still, an extremely recommended experience for anyone, and one of the seminal cyberpunk games (Non-Gibson influenced though) from the early 90's.

DOS · by Zovni (10504) · 2004

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

Not as good as it claims to be

The Good
I admit I am not very much impressed by this game, but I am addicted to it, more than my REALLY favourite games. From time to time I want to explore its micro-pseudo-virtual real-time world, watch the time as it passes, and the beautiful sceneries.

What I like is mainly its atmosphere. First of all I like Blade Hunter. He, as well as the story itself, are cliches, but it seems like he jumped out from a classical story... a futuristic detective archetype, as I would imagine him: trench coat, ponytail, scar on a cheek, and the replies he gives (most of them chosen by you) are really in accordance to his personality. Blade Hunter IS a well-developed character, no matter how small is the game, no matter that won't see him again in a future game.

Although I don't really enjoy, I appreciate that Dynamix attempted to create a self-efficient game world, as realistic as possible, with distances, time that passes, day night circles, characters with their own personalities and different ways to talk to them, alternative solutions and alternative endings. Although the designers didn't take fully advantage of its full potential, sometimes you have the feeling that you are actually visiting that micro-world: everyone has a vidphone device (note that there is a [useless] 'cellular vidphone in the hovercar. A red herring, but also a touch of realism.), everyone needs chocolate, everyone is lost in the dystopian future, and lost according to his own character.

The manual is something that everyone would like: an imaginary magazine featuring a comic with Blade, and except that, advertisements, articles, mail, that put you in Blade's world, with a lot, a lot of humor.

As I said, despite small, the game is quite deep. After 10 years, I just learned that the game doesn't end when you lock yourself out, forgetting your ID in your house. Actually you don't really need it! There is a way to enter your apartment without it and I just learned the way!!! I am sure there are some other 'secrets' that I haven't seen in any walkthrough... yet

There are also some touches of reality, like the name of the person you talk to, that appears in the dialogue box (if you know it), or not (if he hasn't introduced). However this isn't actually useful in the gameplay or the plot development.

I also like how arcade can interact with the rest of the game. Having used too many mini-bombs will prevent you from using them in the arcades. If you manage to claim some useful stuff, like the vest, will make the arcades easier. And no, I don't think that they are THAT frustrating as some think

The Bad
As I said, the game doesn't really takes advantage of a REAL virtual reality it claims to represent. Apart from some alternative solutions to puzzles, and various ways to approach persons or situations, there are no real plot branches.

For example offering Karyn flowers will trigger the date/dinner cutscene. But the plot won't evolve differently from the gamer who missed the opportunity.

The characters of the bar are an example. You can just play with them, try some alternate responses to see how they react. But all this is possible, during day one. After that, you can't 'explore' or play any more and it won't affect the plot (apart that you can be led to a dead-end with a wrong reply).

Also, in dialogues the game tries to be so realistic, that it manages to be unrealistic. Each dialogue is unique, a taken or lost opportunity. You can't retry a dialogue, even if in reality you wanted to ask a question you missed before. In the game, the question will be lost for ever

The manual tries to convince you how important a feat to make a 'virtual reality' game it was.

Some things will be used once, and they need their appropriate time and place. While some can be used to pass alternatively through some dead end (if you missed an opportunity earlier), others, like the Napent, won't help you pass through other difficult situations. The Napent can be used only once, or other times FOR FUN without changing the story. Not as versatile as I'd like.

Time passes realistically, indeed, but only to distress you. Almost nothing changes through day and night. Persons will be there always, except the City Hall. Quest for Glory was more realistic! There is no puzzle which you can/must do BECAUSE it's night and everyone would be absent.

Also, some scenery is ugly. The hand-drawn graphics are indeed comic-like, but sometimes they are poor. Blurry, unclear, the rough outlines are not what you'd expect to see in a comic book.

Finally, the arcades, although enjoyable, they are ridiculous. A VGA arcade game with early 80's gameplay: totally unrealistic walk, jump and movements, and slow, slow bullets. The bad guys can be shot once, while you need several shots to die.

The Bottom Line
I think it's worth looking, a classical game with many many good elements. Too bad it was not fully implemented, at least as much as the documentation wanted us to convince it is.

DOS · by Boston Low (85) · 2006

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Scaryfun, S Olafsson, Joakim Kihlman, Jo ST, Big John WV, Tomas Pettersson, RhYnoECfnW, Narushima, xPafcio, Patrick Bregger, McTom, Alsy, Gonchi, SlyDante, Omnosto, BurningStickMan, Terok Nor, Mr Creosote, Víctor Martínez, Zeppin.