The King Of Dragons

A game that’s great for your elf

Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS -

Who needs Dun­geons & Dragons when you’ve got this classy Cap­com al­ter­na­tive?

» Ar­cade » 1991 » cap­com One of the great things about grow­ing up in Poole was that there was no shortage of ar­cades to visit. When I wasn’t hav­ing to visit fam­ily or do home­work, I would try and spend ev­ery wak­ing hour of the week­end at Poole Quay Amuse­ments and was just as happy to watch peo­ple en­joy­ing the lat­est games as I was playing them my­self. It’s largely home to fruit ma­chines to­day, but in the Eight­ies and Nineties it was a par­adise for new games and I would try and ex­pe­ri­ence as many of them as pos­si­ble.

It was here that I first played The King Of Dragons, and it made quite a huge im­pres­sion on me at the time. I have al­ways en­joyed Dun­geons & Dragons, and Cap­com’s game felt like an un­of­fi­cial take on the fran­chise, which fea­tured all my favourite mon­sters, in­clud­ing mino­taurs, orcs and gi­gan­tic dragons. Hell, even the avail­able char­ac­ters are ef­fec­tively stan­dard char­ac­ter classes from the popular role-playing game. Af­ter de­posit­ing your credit you could choose be­tween an elf, dwarf, fighter, mage and cleric, each with their own strengths and weak­nesses and choice of weapons.

Cap­com’s scrolling beat-’em-up may have been generic in its ap­proach and style but its re­liance on copy­ing well-known myth­i­cal mon­sters was pleas­ingly fa­mil­iar to me. It also helped that it’s a re­sound­ingly solid fighter with chal­leng­ing bosses, de­cent com­bat me­chan­ics and a neat magic sys­tem ac­ti­vated by press­ing both fire but­tons to­gether. The avail­able char­ac­ters all play dif­fer­ently to one an­other and the abil­ity to play with two other play­ers at the same time en­sured you could cre­ate a nicely bal­anced party to take on all the fan­tasy crit­ters that Cap­com in­sisted on throw­ing at you.

Per­haps more im­por­tantly (at least from my point of view) Cap­com’s game set the ground­work for its su­pe­rior D&D games, which took the lev­el­ling up sys­tem of The King Of Dragons and ran with it, de­liv­er­ing ar­guably two of the best ex­am­ples of the genre in the process. That later suc­cess is ar­guably owed in part to The King Of Dragons, and its in­clu­sion on Cap­com’s re­cent Beat ’Em Up Col­lec­tion high­lights just how en­ter­tain­ing it still re­mains to play to­day.

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