Commodore User

Dragon Ninja
By Imagine
Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #64

Dragon Ninja

It was only in July that we reviewed Data East's beat-'em-up, but then Ocean release games as soon as the coin-op appears these days - in Robocop's case they sell the rights.

Dragon Ninja transports the ninja style beat-'em-up, like Double Dragon, to which this has many similarities, away from the Orient to New York. The President of the USA has been kidnapped and it's the job of a chap going by the unlikely name of Mr. Bad Dude to rescue him. He's built like a docker this lad and he needs to be because the screen is rapidly filled with all manner of assailants intent on stopping his progress. You can resort to time-honoured martial arts skills to deal with the scum, but weapons dropped in the struggle come in useful for extending your reach, although their carriers don't hang around too long.

There are eight levels of frantic action to battle through before you reach the final confrontation with the Dragon Ninja himself. Level 1 begins on the streets of New York where you get a taste for the action, battling left to right across several screens until you reach the first major end-of-level baddy - a fire-breathing fatty.

Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja

Level 2 begins with you perched precariously on the back of an articulated trailer. Fight your way towards the cab and beat the knife-wielding, armour-plated ninja who appears and you'll reappear for level three down in New York's sewers where a green ninja spliners into a whole army. Success there takes you onto some dense woods, then in level five the top of a train, some caverns in level six until finally after seven levels of action you reach the Dragon Ninja himself as he's about to escape in a helicopter.

This is another of the worthy list of beat-'em-ups converted by Dave Collier, and it's possibly his best yet. The size and detail of the characters is extraordinary. Each one uses four sprites with hi-res overlays and there's some pretty serious multiplexing going on to stop the screen exploding into pixels.

The backdrops are all impressive, particularly in the brighter sections of the game like on the lorry and train, where the artwork is impressive and convincing.

Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja

Sound at the moment is limited to a boppy tune and spot effects, although the original featured shouts of "cola!" each time you replenish your energy with a bottle.

The game itself is multi-load but in two parts only, so although you're sent back to the beginning when you die, it's not so desperate.

My one problem with Dragon Ninja though is the gameplay. It's very samey and so was the coin-op, and for all the nice graphics and frenetic action in the world it's not a classic. As a conversion it's excellent, but somehow that's not just the point I feel.

Mike Pattenden

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