8. DRAGON’S KINGDOM (33%, issue 13)

And so to a game which some people think was treated rather harshly by Commodore Format, although it should be pointed out that ZZAP! hated it only marginally less – rating it at 38%. First things first: Dragon’s Kingdom is a clone of Ghosts N’ Goblins. At times, it’s almost identical. Which isn’t a bad thing theoretically: GN’G is a great arcade adventure, although plenty loathe it for being so hard. The bad news is that Dragon’s Kingdom takes away the snazzy graphics from the concept and makes it even more frustrating!

True, if you're invincible and you're playing it for free on an emulator it's not bad for a while. But without a cheat mode, and for ten quid? Release the hounds.

[CLICK TO READ ORIGINAL REVIEW] True, if you’re invincible and you’re playing it for free on an emulator it’s not bad for a while. But without a cheat mode, and for ten quid? Release the hounds.

You control a small, Badly Drawn Bloke sprite who travels left to right on a scrolling landscape. You have to reach and defeat an evil demon called Griffin. Along the way you leap over rocks and pits, climb ladders, cross bridges and fight off the demon’s adversaries. You have two lives: a small hit takes away half a life, but allows you to continue. Another touch, and you’re back to the last restart point.

You’ve got an infinite amount of swords to throw, but later on you’re forced to pick up an axe (it can’t be jumped over or avoided). “Unfortunately”, says reviewer Steve Jarratt, “it’s crap”. It sort of moves in an arc shape, often avoiding enemy sprites entirely. And that’s just one of many poor elements of game design here: CF points out it wouldn’t have been acceptable even back in the Commodore’s earlier years. This game arrived in 1991, when the standard was being set by the likes of Creatures 2 and First Samurai. Dragon’s Kingdom can’t even get its spelling right.

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ZZAP! didn’t like the game much either – and again point to how old fashioned it was by the standards of 1991. In spite of the slightly higher rating, parts of the review are actually harsher on Dragon’s Kingdom (the music isn’t so bad in places, but granted – like the rest of the game, dated).

There are some who think this game is actually a bit of fun – and with a trainer, it probably is a bit better. But minus a cheat mode, and bearing in mind it cost a kid £11 to buy on its original release, why would you buy it when you could pick up the brilliant game it badly emulated for four quid on budget? CF

CF SAID: “Avoid it as you would a rabid doberman.”

WE SAY: Dragon’s Kingdom has its moments. But it’s hardly the under-rated classic some of the forum keyboard warriors would have you believe: there are only three levels, it’s full of poor design, and it’s just too hard. There are far better games out there – including the one it shamelessly attempts to be. 


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