Heart of the Dragon logo

Hey, eine neue Mixtur aus Action und Adventure! Ich habe mich geradezu darum gerissen, dieses Game testen zu dürfen - nächstesmal bin ich schlauer...

In Heart of the Dragon geht es um die Abenteuer von Master Chi und Tommy Lee bei ihrem Kampf gegen das Böse in der Welt. Während Tommy Lee als stahlharter Muskelmacho der Mann für's Grobe ist, hat sich sein Freund Chi eher auf Zaubern, etc. spezialisiert - wie es sich für einen asiatischen Weisen auch geziemt.

Und so zieht das ungleichbare Paar halt durch düstere Wälder ganz düstere Höhlen und noch viel düsterere Burgen und Ruinenstädte, um Prinzessinnen zu retten, (simple) Rätsel zu lösen und allerlei Gegenstände aufzusammeln.

Sobald Dick und Doof einer Monster-Patrouille begegnen, können sie entweder flüchten, einen Bestechungsversuch wagen oder sich zum Kampf stellen. Das war's auch schon - mehr ist den Programmierern leider nicht eingefallen.

Die Grafik ist einfach zum Davonlaufen: Lediglich bei den Kampfsequenzen wird ein einigermaßen brauchbares Bild präsentiert, während man sich den Rest der Zeit viermal dasselbe im Miniaturformat anschauen darf (zur Auflockerung bekommt man noch ein ebenso großes wie sinnloses Richtungskreuz zu sehen).

Die kämpfenden Sprites sind dann zwar recht stattlich, dafür aber lächerlich animiert, und die Joysticksteuerung ist zäher als Ahornsirup. Und der Sound? Nun, schätzungsweise vier-einhalb digitalisierte Töne, die praktisch ständig wiederholt werden!

Bliebe noch der Spielwitz - ich sag Euch, was davon zu halten ist, sobald ich ihn erstmal gefunden habe... (Manuel Semino)

Heart of the Dragon logo

If pushed to sum up Heart Of The Dragon in one sentence, then I guess I would say something like "Well, it's very American isn't it?" Let me explain myself. Who but the Americans would stick together a simplistic adventuring game (sort of like Obitus several steps down the evolutionary ladder) and a one-or-two player martial arts beat-'em-up, then evnvelope the whole thing in technical excellence and some ridiculous bragging ('featuring Anatomation for anatomically true animation effects' etc)?

There's a lot of pseudo-technical guff ('my game's got faster frame animation than your game!') on the back of the box, and it really is a load of old cobblers.

Actually that's probably being a bit too harsh. Although the adventure sequences are quite naff (despite the 4096 colours apparently used!), the music has a cinematic quality, and visually the fight sequences are fairly appealing.

No, it's in the actual attention to playability that Dragon (like many martial arts games before it) falls down. Okay, so there are 192 colours this time, pleasing backdrops, and splendid animation of two completely different characters (Tommy Lee fights, while Master Chi levitates and fires 'psionic' bolts at the bad guys), but what's really missing is any feel to the thing. It just is a case of wiggling the joystick a bit to execute a few moves, in the vague hope that they will somehow combine into the correct way to execute your opponent.

The main selling point of the game seems to be that you'll be knocked over by the graphics, and when that quite conspicuously fails to be the case it really doesn't leave much left for it to stand on. Certainly the fights with the various different baddies are nothing to write home about (though Rock Men's hilariously obscene 'weapons' have to be worth a few extra points!) and once you've discovered just how minimal the fantasy aspect is you'll soon be ready to go pack up and go home.

A good laugh for ten minutes maybe (get your friends round to check out those Rock Men!), but there's no way anybody should actually go out of their way to play this (and certainly no way they should blow this amount of money on the blooming thing). Sorry Avatar, come back when you can add technical effects to a game, rather than vice versa.

Heart of the Dragon logo

Step info an oriental world of mysticism, magic and martial arts mania courtesy of this thump 'em up which has 192-colour arcade screens and 3-D graphics.

Assuming the persona of Tommy Lee, Kung Fu expert and superstar, you have to overcome the nefarious sorcerer, Li-Kuan, which is a hard task for the thick-skulled and brawny hero. Luckily, help is at hand in the shape of austere, snowy-haired ascetic, Master Chi. He will assist in the quest with magical powers of levitation and deadly psionic blasts.

Travelling around the country brings many gifts including magical aids and healing potions. These have the desired effects of breathing back life into the dying and ward off evil spirits.

Moving around the area is done via the adventure screen, which is the decision-making portion of the game. A compass informs you of direction, so boy scouts and orienteering experts amongst you may breathe easily. The arcade (fight) screens bring up the baddies; amongst their numbers are mutant rock dwellers, half-snake women and horrific monsters. The scenery changes from mountains to forests to unbridgeable chasms. Making a map of the terrain may prevent travelling in ever decreasing circles!

Tommy Lee has a range of moves which are controlled with the joystick. They include the high jumping spin kick, which is very useful for attacking foes without incurring much injury. Additionally, smaller adversaries can be dispatched with a subtle low kick. The game is a colourful romp which has plenty of activities, exploits and puzzles to keep one occupied. What seems to be lacking are smooth-moving sprites - the monsters tend to lumber around in an ungainly and awkward fashion.

Basically, Heart of the Dragon comprises standard gameplay spiced up with an impressive colour range and a comprehensive number of adventures. Not one to set hearts or dragons on fire, but an average and moderately enjoyable addition to the ever-bustling martial arts games collection.