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Rise of the Dragon is a graphic adventure game that was released in 1990 for the DOS computer and later remade for the Sega CD (1993) as well as the Amiga. It was one of the few adventure game titles developed by Dynamix, a company that was better known as an action and flight sim game developer. In some sense, this game was an experiment by Dynamix to expand its development repertoire (to other game genre) since the company was bought out by Sierra On-Line in 1990. The Sega CD version added voice actors, (including Cam Clarke in the main role as William 'Blade' Hunter) to the game and was given a MA-17 rating by the Videogame Rating Council, most likely for profanity, references to a fictional illicit drug, cross-dressing, prostitution and partial female nudity.

In 1991, Rise of the Dragon won a Special Award for Artistic Achievement from Computer Gaming World magazine.[1]

StoryEdit

The game is set in a dark cyberpunk version of Los Angeles in 2053. Rise of the Dragon's seedy vision of the future is inspired by the film Blade Runner. The main character is named William 'Blade' Hunter, an apparent tribute to the film. His clothing also resembles that worn by Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard in Blade Runner.

Blade Hunter is a former Los Angeles Police Department officer turned private detective. When the mayor's rebellious daughter Chandra is found dead and horribly mutated after experimenting with a new designer drug, Hunter is called upon to track down those responsible. This leads Hunter to discover an underground Chinese Mafia operation led by a megalomaniacal drug kingpin intent on world domination.

During the game, Blade has to reconcile with his girlfriend Karyn, uncover the mystery behind Chandra's death and the MZT drug, and sabotage the villains' plans to poison the Hollywood reservoir.

The final battle of the game sees drug boss Deng Hwang use MZT to turn into a monstrous dragon. The coming of the dragon is foreseen in the game by a street drunkard who raves that Bahamut is coming.

GameplayEdit

File:Risearcade.png

Gameplay in Rise of the Dragon is similar to that of Dynamix's other 1990s adventure games, Willy Beamish and Heart of China. The screen shows the current room roughly from Blade's perspective. Movement occurs with the cursor, which becomes an arrow to proceed to another room or a magnifying glass to get closer to a part of the current scene.

The game has a time meter that reflects the passage of time in the game. Each of Blade's actions takes up a certain amount of time. Some game events will only occur at particular times. The player must find a way to delay the plans of the game's villains, or the game will end after only three days and Blade will not have time to save the day. Travelling between locations can take up a lot of in-game time, so players must plan their moves strategically.

Several puzzles in Rise of the Dragon have multiple possible solutions. Blade's activities can influence the plot of the game later on. Game characters remember his earlier behavior, and if he says the wrong thing to key characters they will refuse to help him with his work. This can render the game unwinnable.

Rise of the Dragon features two arcade-style action scenes and an aim-and-shoot scene. It is possible to beat the game without playing through all of these scenes. If the player tries and fails to complete the arcade scenes several times, the game will offer the chance to automatically win the sequence and move on to the next scene.

Sega CD VersionEdit

Several differences existed between the Sega CD and DOS versions of Rise of the Dragon, the most prominent being the addition of voice acting to the Sega CD release. Blade Hunter is voiced by Cam Clarke on the Sega CD.

The graphics of the Sega CD version had to use a more limited range of colors than the DOS version, 64 on screen colors compared to the 256 of the computer, which gave it a green tint. This tint has been compared to some of the images seen in The Matrix movies.

Another notable difference between the two versions of the game is the removal of a scene with a French kiss and implied sex from the Sega CD release. These changes were made even though the game was given a MA-17 label by Sega of America. This was likely due to public concern in the early 1990s about sexual and violent content in popular video games such as Night Trap and Mortal Kombat.

There are other small changes from the DOS and Sega CD version : The munition clip for the handgun (at the side of the computer) was removed. In the Pleasure Dome, where Darcelle is playing card, there is only one dancer. The one in the bikini was removed. As well, where the naked dancer dance, part of her show was removed, it's more simple now. At the bar, in Pleasure Dome, the punk guy can't be talked to. The arcade scene couldn't be passed even if you die more than 5 times. There is no text and only voice in the Sega version.

ReceptionEdit

The game was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #170 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[2]

ReferencesEdit

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