Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Young Dragon

Kung Fu is right up there with zombie flicks, boobs and war as things that kick ass (OK, maybe war doesn't kick that much ass.) Someone over at Addicting Games certainly thinks so, which is probably why we've now got the chance to play Young Dragon, a title which even has you taking on the role of a yellow jumpsuit wearing Bruce Lee ripoff. Sweet!

Yeah, it's all real sweet until you discover the controls are based entirely around the mouse. Now, this works just fine if you're playing a top-down shoot-'em-up or similar game, but not so much when trying to play a side scrolling beat-'em-up like Young Dragon. At least it's simple - Roy (for that is our hero's name) follows your dragon shaped cursor and attacks with a click of the mouse button. He'll also jump or crouch, depending on the position of the cursor. This setup does limit his movements however - take, for instance, Roy's inability to turn around or go left.

Anyway, the story begins when some crazy looking extra from a Mad Max movie invades your dojo and kills your Master.

Damn, that's a Mortal Kombat moment if ever I saw one! The road warrior steals your Master's essence, or something, which makes him almost invincible. You set off to exact your revenge - which may or may not be a wise move, since he's an all-powerful warlord with an army of ninjas at his disposal and you're still technically a trainee.

The game itself doesn't look bad. I mean, I've seen far better graphics in my time, but it's not terrible to look at. If you got drunk and woke up the next day with Young Dragon sleeping next to you, you wouldn't feel awful about it. Until, of course, the emptiness of your shallow existence struck you and you're left alone to wallow in a pit of doubt and self-disgust...

I'm sorry, went off track there. Back to the game!

A parade of ninjas attack you for several minutes (each one politely waiting in the wings until you've killed the previous guy, much like in a real kung fu movie) until you reach this column with a dragon's head on it. Gee, I wonder what to do? If only there was some clue as to how I could get past this obstacle...

All right, so you jump up and kick the dragon's head off, and it releases some kind of red orb that infuses you with a new skill - the Ground Dragon Kick!

So yeah, a jumping kick. Thanks. The move itself can be performed by pressing the S key, but it takes so long that you're better off just forgetting about it.

Hold on a second. Let me get this straight - there are keyboard controls as well as the mouse? If that's the case, why am I using the mouse to move around and fight? What's so bad about maybe using the arrow keys to move, so I could perhaps have a little more control over where I'm going and maybe avoid a few more of the fucking ninja stars that every enemy enthusiastically throws at me from off screen?

I suppose our hero isn't left totally helpless, since power ups will occasionally drop down from the sky. Great - except since you spend most of your time over on the right side of the screen, where the bad guys are, most of these power ups land behind you, and Roy's backwards hop is stupidly slow. But they're usually worth it - weapons like the nunchuks can do serious damage, while a vial of dragon's blood will turn you into a psychotic white haired Dragonball Z cosplayer, able to kick a man's stomach out through his spine!

Seriously fun power ups, and you'll be glad for them. With only one life, you need as much help as you can get, especially since if you die you have to start whatever chapter you're on from the very beginning again. The lack of a save feature also sticks in my craw, but then this isn't a game I'm going to be going back to again and again.

The only other thing of note is the Ninja Death Theater, which allows you to watch numerous Asian men meet a violent demise. Sure, it does nothing for relations with our friends in the Far East, but it is a lot of fun.

Fun, however, is not something you'll find a lot of in Young Dragon. Sure, it's amusing for a while, but the controls soon grate and the repetitive levels quickly become boring. There are a few good Kung Fu games available online, but this sure isn't one of them.

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