I am always down for a good beat’em up game, and up until a few weeks ago never knew this game even existed! I remember seeing this game growing up and figured it was a USA made RPG (something I was not a fan of back then) and questioned why the elf on the cover was not wearing any pants. At it’s core, King of Dragons is a beat’em up game – you can choose among various character classes and get to run around a fantasy land beating up bad guys and monsters!
The character classes themselves unique and provide different types of gameplay experiences. For instance, the Elf does not get a shield, has low health, but can shoot monsters from across the screen. The Cleric on the other hand gets a giant mace to bash baddies up-close, a shield to block, and more health to withstand the beatings. Each of the 5 classes fits somewhere on this continuum. Strategically, my buddy and I found that having a mix of ranged and close-up attacks worked well and kept the enemies somewhat confused. I really enjoyed how unique each class felt, the only downside being there were no female characters!
Gameplay was also simple and responsive. One button utilizes your attack (e.g., shoot arrow, swing hammer), one button jumps, and one button blocks (if you have a shield). The shield can actually be put on an automatic mode which is how I played, and found that it worked fine. Each class also gets a magic attack, but this costs health to use. Originally I thought that the cost was much to high to use magic, but in later levels where enemies take big chunks of health with each hit, its use became strategic.
Magic can also be found by opening up treasures and jars. It appears as a non-collectable floating icon, and once smashed, it unleashes a magic attack on numerous enemies and does not take up any health. Alongside magic, the health-filling food and “experience” gold can be found sprinkled around the levels.
In terms of design, this game actually has some cool RPG elements. As “experience” gold is collected, your level increases which actually increases the amount of health that you have! In addition, after boss battles, there are usually attack or defence upgrades that not only make you stronger but also change the graphic of your character! This level of detail and care really speaks to the quality of the title.
The real highlight of the design though is the level and bosses. While most beat’em up games have long levels and cheap bosses – this game does the opposite! The levels themselves are quite short, but the bosses are interesting, challenging, and NOT cheap! I got through numerous bosses without taking a hit because I watched and learned the strategy to beat the boss. This was really the selling point for me – it takes skill to get further in this game rather then button mashing and luck.
I found the graphics excellent – characters are detailed and drawn nicely (with upgrades visually showing!) alongside great bosses with lots of variety! Early bad guys were generic looking, but by level 3 or 4 you are fighting scary skeletons and sea creatures that look great! Sound and music was present but definitely not the strong point of the game. I was also disappointed that each hero had the same battle cry.
Overall, I had a great time with this game. It’s unique boss and level design, cool RPG elements, and excellent graphics make it a great choice for gamers wanting to do some cooperative beat’em up gaming. If only there were female hero options for the girls! Final score is 8/10.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10