It has been a long time since I’ve fired up my TurboGrafx-16 (or PC Engine for those of you outside of North America) and played China Warrior or Ninja Spirit. I pretty much forgot that games of that sort even existed, seeing as the most popular franchise of that ilk, Double Dragon, has been dead since the 90s. Ok, so there was a Gameboy Advance game that came out 6 years ago, but much like a dwarf tax attorney, it was short and boring. Here we are, about to bring in 2010, and I’m here writing about a game that is nothing if not pure nostalgia.
Revenge of the Wounded Dragons is the story of two brothers out to save their kidnapped sister and revenge the death of their grandfather. Yes, this story has been told more times than Jenna Jameson has had to clear her throat, but unlike her, it never gets old. The classic trope is used here as the simple device to get going, but told in some pretty cool motion-comic cut-scenes. Think of a more staccato and less animated version of the Anime in Kill Bill and you get the idea. They also throw in the cheesy 70s music in for the full effect, but thankfully, if you tire of that, this game lets you use your own custom soundtrack. Man, why can’t more games do this?
The fighting can be done solo or with a partner in two-player on the same system. Unfortunately there is no on-line multiplayer, but they do have a leaderboard. Yay! The move set for the fighting is fairly simple and limited. Don’t expect to have to do any crazy combos or complicated maneuvers to get the job done. This game is old school, so you just need to kill, move, pick up weapons and power-ups, and go back to step 1. Where things to liven up is during the two-player modes. A decent variety of team-up moves are here, with some pretty cool executions and combos that you can’t get on your own. The two-player aspect comes in handy during the boss fights as well, which can be a little tricky.
There are four chapters (Village, Forest, Red District, Monastery) divided into six parts each, which brings the total to about 24 unlockable areas. With the way the save game works, you just progress and move on to clear the levels by reaching the bosses chapter stops and the game will make those levels available to you again if you decide to quit or run out of lives. You don’t have to worry so much about saving your game or having to back track with this method. The total run through of the game, not counting the mini-games that you also unlock (more on those later) is about 3 hours. There are also multiple difficulty levels, provided you want your ass handed to you faster.
While there is a little bit of “been there, done that” to this game, each new area brings some interesting possibilities. For instance, you can get a trophy for knocking a bad guy into the mouth of an alligator. Any game with that as an achievement has to get a few extra points. While the game isn’t bloody or gory at all, the fact that you can snap peoples necks with your feet, as well as some other brutal moves, lends a good amount of violent satisfaction that wouldn’t normally get from a bloodless game. They also manage to throw in the necessity of some platforming skills. Actually, this game may have just as much in common with the original Prince of Persia as it does with those old TG-16 games I mentioned earlier, especially when you fail to grab hold of a ledge and fall on to some spikes. Doh.
There are four types of minigames, Lanterns, Labyrinth, Chicken Hunt, and PvP. Each have multiple stages, and different ways to progress. Neither are outstanding, but they add some value to the $9.99 price of entry. All in all, with the simple but satisfying fighting engine, the mixed margins of difficulty, “cool” soundtrack and stereotypical Asian-voice-o-rama, the title is worth picking up at the low cost. You may not come back to it every day, but if you want to relive those moments of games gone by, without having to blow into your cartridges or wipe down your HuCard, than by all means give this one a go. You could spend 3 hours doing much worse things, like watching The Langoliers miniseries on VHS. At least you’ll have some fun with this one.
ESRB Rating: Teen with Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes and Violence.
Overall Grade: B