A good cyberpunk game that isn't Snatcher on the Sega CD?

Rise of the Dragon [Text Adventure/ Digital Novel Game]

Rise of the Dragon Cover Front

U.S. Game Front

The Japanese front looks similar to the Dos version

Japanese Game Front

Blade Runner

Rise Of The Dragon Is Clearly
Inspired By Blade Runner...From
Blade's Looks To The Momar
Hovercar Reference In The Game,
And Those Are Only
A Few Examples.

-General Information-
Version: U.S.
Year: 1994
Publisher: Dynamix
Developer(s) and Others: Dynamix (Part of Sierra), Sierra On-Line
V.R.C. Rating: MA-17, Mature Audiences
# of Players: 1
# of Blocks: 30 per save
# of Discs: 1
Estimated Market Value as of 01/08/2008: $5 - $10 (USD)
Other Info: There are numerous ports of Rise of the Dragon. Rise of the Dragon was also released in the U.S. in a cardboard box in addition to the large case format.
Quick Game Overview: Available HERE.

When I was growing up, I was never much of a PC game lover. I was weened on console gaming, which appealed to me just as much as any game or beefier port of a console game on a computer. Gaming on a console however is almost an entirely different beast from gaming on a computer. They have different strengths and weaknesses, but one of the main weaknesses of console gaming wasn't just hardware limitations, but at times, an entire genre of games.

The genre in question is "Adventure" games, or more specifically, digital novels. While these kinds of games make many appearances on PC's around the world and on Japanese game consoles, they are mostly absent from U.S. console gaming. While steadily becoming more appreciated in recent memory (particularly on handhelds like the Nintendo DS with games like Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Phoenix Wright, Trace Memory, and others), you didn't have too many options for stuff like this on a console or handheld back in the early nineties. The few chances console gamers did get under the genre were interesting, though not always great. I can still remember the strange times I had playing Princess Tomato and Déjà Vu for the old NES and Sword of Hope for the Gameboy, but where were the DARK, GRITTY, BAD TO THE BONE text-adventure games?

While Sega received some flak for some of their business decisions, it's hard to believe that they didn't draw too much attention for one of the best text-adventure games I've ever played on a console, Rise of the Dragon: A Blade Hunter Mystery. Based off of the original Rise of the Dragon made on PCs, the year is 2053, and the city of Los Angeles has plunged into the "Age of Decay". It's a crowded, filthy, dismal place where anything and everything can happen...and the perfect setting for evil to make its move. The mayor's daughter, Chandra Vincenzi, is having a night on the town until she takes some bad drugs from a crooked supplier. Once taken, she begins to bleed and scream in agony until she becomes a disfigured and dead beast.

This is where you come in. You will take the role of William Hunter, known by most as "Blade", an ex-cop turned private investigator who is hired by Mayor Vincenzi to investigate his daughter's murder and stop the goons who were responsible. You must work discreetly, as he is running in this years election, and you will meet several people along the way. So...wake up, get dressed, grab your pistol, and take the law into your own hands. While you're at it, maybe you'll witness the rise or fall of the dragon, hang out with a prostitute, shoot wannabe gangsters or dig up dirt on Chinese pimps.

This game has all the ingredients of a fine, mature text-adventure: Good dialogue, numerous characters with distinct personalities, descriptive backdrops (with a strong cyberpunk theme), many objectives, several twists and turns, a load of Blade Runner references and a tough-as-nails protagonist. There's cursing, swearing, and some light humor occasionally thrown in for good measure...and it even has a shooting segment or two to get your adrenaline going (so you don't have to run out and pay a premium for games like Snatcher if you don't want to).

The visuals of this game are fairly good and descriptive as far as text-adventure games go. From the shady NPCs that walk and laze about to the flying papers that sweep pass the seedy "Pleasure Dome", this game meets all the requirements that a filthy, futuristic Los Angeles would need. The only portions of the game that don't look very good are the side-scrolling run-n-gun segments, but they suffice since that isn't the main draw for this game and helps break the mold from most standard text-adventure games. The audio is great too, as the voices more or less match the character (even if some are very standard and stereotypical). It should be noted that the voice of Blade is done by the world famous Cameron Clarke, who has done voices for some of the world's greatest games and television characters (from small parts in Aladdin to Grandia II's hero, Ryudo, and much more). It should also be noted that the Sega CD version of RotD is the only one with spoken dialogue. Just don't expect great lip-synching, as good lip-synching with audio was a rarity back in the nineties and still isn't perfected in modern games. The BGM (Background Music) isn't that great, but you don't really notice it much anyway.

The gameplay is where this game really shines. There are a number of things to interact with, and experimenting is what this game is all about. Should you curiously test items on Blade, or should you take them to City Hall for analysis? Should you have a night on the town, or should you spend time with your "sometimes girlfriend" Karyn Sommers? This game has several ways to go about doing your work and many ways to meet your end...some more grotesque than others. The best part about this game is just testing all the ways you can succeed and get into trouble!

Rise of the Dragon isn't particularly long, but it's a great game while it lasts. It probably can't match Snatcher in terms of quality, but this title has a lot of spunk and is well worth owning. I personally recommend it.

- Written by Bel Cain The Eternal -

Game Screenshots

Title Screen Hey baby! Take a load off and have some fun! These guys are pretty bad, but Evil Betty could put them in their place. Pistol...check! Keys...check! License to kill......check! Blade's vidphone shows lots of things...including nagging girlfriends. Fry-brain? Scuzzy hide? The dialouge in this game sounds a lot like Shadowrun's text...who comes up with this stuff?

This review has 32 extra images.

Audio Samples (MP3 Format)

SCD Rise Of The Dragon Intro Theme [Size: 1.36MB]

SCD Rise Of The Dragon Opening Dialogue Sample [Size: 1.72MB]

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