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The King of Dragons – Super Nintendo

The King of Dragons – Super Nintendo


Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Release Date (NA): April, 1994

Genre: Beat ’em Up

Nerd Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Reviewed by: theWatchman

*This was review was conducted on an emulated version*


Once upon a time, in the early 90’s, before the world truly realized the monumental shift that Street Fighter II would cause, most of the fighting that was done in arcades was of the side-scrolling “beat-’em-up” variety.

These were simple, yet enjoyable games that would sometimes feature muscle-bound heroes like the ones found in Streets of Rage, and often, fun licensed games featuring the Simpsons or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Capcom was a name synonymous with excellent arcade games, and had their own hit side-scrolling brawler series – Final Fight.

The magic of that early 90’s period was that large studios were more free to experiment with different ideas. One of those experiments for Capcom was a prodigiously titled entry to the beat-’em-up genre: The King of Dragons.

It took a few years, but The King of Dragons eventually made its way out of the arcades, and into Super Nintendo endowed homes in the U.S. in 1994.

On the surface, The King of Dragons had the ingredients and the pedigree to stand as ruler of the genre.

It's an orc in a fantasy landscape!

It’s an orc in a fantasy landscape!

The King of Dragons took its cues from many standard fantasy tropes. Players choose one of five character classes: Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, Dwarf, and Elf to battle their way through a number of Tolkien-esque backdrops, on their way to defeat the evil dragon, Gildas.

On the surface, The King of Dragons had the ingredients and the pedigree to stand as ruler of the genre

Each of the different character classes has their own advantages and specialties. The wizard sucks at hand-to-hand combat, but has powerful magic attacks; the Cleric is slow, but has a decent mix of melee vs magic, the elf is proficient in long range attacks with his bow, etc. It’s all pretty standard stuff for anyone who read through Lord of the Rings or rolled a twelve-sided die playing Dungeons and Dragons.

And that’s really the downfall of The King of Dragons – It’s all just too standard. All too mundane.

It’s all pretty standard stuff for anyone who read through Lord of the Rings or rolled a twelve-sided die playing Dungeons and Dragons.

The combat is your standard side-scrolling, brawling affair. Your chosen character battles his way through enemy after enemy, none of whom are very interesting.

Along the way you collect items like gold and precious gems, which add to your experience points, however, those experience points don’t seem to have any impact on the game. There are no new skills to acquire, no new attacks to be had. The only growth that your character receives is in slight upgrades to your sole weapon and your shield, however, those upgrades share no relationship with your experience points, rendering them pretty much meaningless.

Your character does have the ability to perform a magic attack, which will strike multiple enemies on the screen at once. This comes at

It's a bunch of orcs in a fantasy landscape!

It’s a bunch of orcs in a fantasy landscape!

a cost to your health, so you will have to carefully weigh the risks involved with performing any magic. To me, as a more conservative player, this meant the omission of magic from my repertoire, which left me with only the standard attack ability.

The enemies you face in The King of Dragons are mostly brainless, so the challenge lies in overcoming the multitudes that are thrown at you simultaneously. This isn’t as bad when playing cooperatively with a friend, but it was a tad annoying during a solo run.

this meant the omission of magic from my repertoire, which left me with only the standard attack ability

Enemy varieties range from spear-wielding lizard men, to reanimated skeletons. More annoying, however, are the dummy treasure chests that appear in certain stages, tantalizing you with the prospect of a health upgrade, only to surprise you with a vicious assault.

Graphically, The King of Dragons doesn’t do much to stand out from some of the competitors that emerged on the market at the time. While the visuals and artwork in the arcade release were pretty good for 1991, by the time the home release arrived in 1994, developers were pushing the boundaries of what was previously thought possible on the Super Nintendo.

The stages, while promising in concept, didn’t do much to create a memorable experience. The character models look good for the era, yet are sparsely animated. Boss battles do offer a nice aesthetic break from the hordes who have fallen to your might. Unfortunately, the overall lack of imagination in the combat carries over into these battles, thus diluting the potential impact they could have had.

Boss fights are the most impressive aspect of The King of Dragons

Boss fights are the most impressive aspect of The King of Dragons

Capcom has blessed us on countless occasions with their musical prowess, crafting some of the finest, most memorable melodies in the history of the gaming medium. The King of Dragons is not one of those musical classics. The soundtrack is mostly forgettable, save for one or two tunes that are somewhat decent, along with an equal number that are downright grating.

It’s really a shame that The King of Dragons was not able to benefit from the aforementioned pedigree of the talented development house at Capcom, nor its concept and setting. As an arcade game, it suffers due to a lack of a compelling element to keep players engaged. As a home release, it falters due to the lack of elaboration on the arcade experience.

Despite the quality of its concept, The King of Dragons fails to live up to the lofty potential that its ingredients could have produced.

The King of Dragons will stand in history, not as a conquering hero, but as a champion of mediocrity.

Written by The Watchman

The Watchman

The Watchman is a journeyman gamer who has seen and played a good chunk of gaming history.
He’s also an actor, a reporter, a pro wrestling connoisseur, and some say he’s a cat whisperer.
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Look me up on Xbox Live @ DJKhadoken
Or on PlayStation Network @ Eaglevision_dl


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