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Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon

Developer: Ronin Entertainment
Publisher: Universal Interactive
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Similar To: Gauntlet Legends
Memory: 8 blocks
Rating: Teen
Published: 07 :24 : 02
Reviewed By: Ryan Newman

Overall: 2 = Terrible


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Unknown enemies have decided that Bruce Lee's life has become too peaceful as of late and it's time that they do something about it. As if trying to kill him wasn't bad enough, they also torch his master's home and steal a precious relic. Now, he must go on a 70'slicious adventure to make things right. Oh, if only it were that simple…

Gameplay: 2/10
I had heard that this game wasn't so hot. I even heard that from trusted friends. But, I mean, how bad could it possibly be bad? It's Bruce freaking Lee for crying out loud! Oh, how wrong I was; even a legend can be tarnished by the evils of bad developers. The star and legend that is Bruce Lee has no place in this game, as he is fit for something much greater.

About the only thing to survive intact through the virtual transformation would be Lee's trademarked speed, and this is only displayed on certain occasions. Whenever it does work, and a group of enemies fall before a swift barrage of kicks and backhands, the game's true light begins to shine. Seeing the cool moves and taking down multiple opponents was a joy, which gets even better than there are nunchakus involved. However, just as quickly as the light begins to shine, it fades out. Following what few positives there are is a constant and steady stream of negatives.

Starting off, the game is extremely linear, linear to the point of the developers adding any objects to climb up or jump off of seems pointless. With the levels ranging from fishing villages, remote temples, to even bustling locals like Hong Kong, so much more could have been done. Daring back alley escapes, fighting from hut to hut on the roofs, or up fire escapes, the potential is all there, but the levels are so rigid and tiny that nothing is taken advantage of. Add in the fact that the game's constant loading breaks up even the smallest level into so many chunks that it just feels so much longer than it really is and even the most interesting level becomes tiresome. Small annoyances are also abound, for example: the power-ups gained from defeated opponents run out during the loading process, so that double energy boost is pretty much useless after 25 seconds of it was wasted on the loading.

The enemies are all about average with none having any real outstanding designs or providing any cool martial arts feats' that will leave your jaw on the floor. The A.I. is a bit tricky though; endless waves of enemies could fall, but there could be one seemingly average character that would put up one hell of a fight. Then again, that lucky villain could have also attacked at the time when the controls had gone to hell and that four of his friends had just pounded on you at the same time and took you to the cleaners. While that explanation might fit some of the cases, it wouldn't explain how I got through half a level by doing the same kick over and over.

Whenever an enemy dies, they will leave goodies behind. Sometimes it's health or a piece of a dragon, but often it's coins. At the end of levels, the coins can be used to purchase moves, make attacks stronger, extend Bruce's health meter, or to get a new belt. This seems a bit strange to me: Bruce Lee, or as I like to call him, Bruce freaking Lee, has to purchase moves? I understand for the sake of it being a game that something like that would be done, but having to purchase a belt as well? Well, if you chose to ignore that since it's a game, let's go onto something more practical. The saving system is problematic. Since levels take so long to play through due to the loading times, having the save points at the very end isn't something I was pleased with. Not liking the game was one thing, but having to replay an entire level because I couldn't save where I wanted and dying at the hands of 10 men who mercilessly pounded me as I jerked back and forth in circles only made me just turn the game off and - forcefully - take another stab at it later. I thought games were supposed to be fun?

The concept of a Bruce Lee beat 'em up was a good one and I hope it makes a return some day, but I also hope that whoever does it learns from this. The moves are cool and Bruce Lee is someone who definitely deserves a game, but this one just isn't it. However, not all is lost: gamers can always play Tekken and Street Fighter and mentally replace the names of Law and Fei Long with that of the legend that was misrepresented here.

Graphics: 1.5/10
What would have been standard fare on the Dreamcast is made even more dated by the constant technical problems. In fact, this resembles a PlayStation title given the Bleem treatment on the DC. Everything appears so bland and washed-out that any detail on the characters - be it Bruce or one of the various enemies - look extremely out of place. Technically, the game is a complete mess. The screen actually flickers so bad that lines go all the way across the screen and do so at such a frequent pace that I had people asking what was wrong with my TV. To add salt to the wound, there were numerous and long load times; there seem to be a loading screen or a pause for everything, regardless if it was just text coming on the screen or a cutscene. Even the simple act of looking down to a level below you, even though it's just a few steps down, causes loading. Whatever cool animations there were have been completely lost amongst the jerky enemies, screen flickers, and load problems; just a complete mess.

Sound: 3/10
Some of the music fits the atmosphere, but nothing is energetic enough to get the blood flowing. When I'm running into the path of six or so men that want to kill me, I want the kind of music that gives a bit more 'umpf' than normal, to kick in. Instead, I got the same tunes as I did when I was wading through lily pads.

The voice-overs were funny with overly dramatic vocals over enemies who barely moved in some cases; whether this was intentional or not, it was a bonus since it made the game feel like one of Lee's classic movies.

Control: 2/10
My mind is still having difficulties trying to wrap itself around the control scheme. Every time I thought I had finally figured everything out, something would happen that would totally negate any newly-found understanding. While Bruce can run in a limited area, he seems to go on a rigid line when in combat, this is so that opponents can be faced easier, but this leads to several problems. Sure, the line method sounds great in theory, but it's far from practical. The horrid implementation takes away any redeeming value that it might have had. It's so problematic because the other enemies that are around will be attacking at the same time as the one you're facing; it's very annoying to be blocking and fighting one and being pummeled by four or so others, but if you do break the lock and try to fight the other enemies, it's like a crapshoot as your blows might hit them and they might not.

The invisible lines that Bruce fights on are also troublesome as it would seem that every one of them have their own control pattern so that moving from one to another, even if it's during the same fight, will completely throw off the detection of what direction is being pressed. Every action seems to have a weird lag to it; it constantly felt that I was giving a list of moves and watching them play out instead of inputting them on the fly. Lastly, blocking seemed to be a joke as it would work, then stop, then work, but all in a random order so that trying to learn the how-to's seemed pointless. To sum up the experience of trying to navigate Bruce Lee through a virtual world: aggravating.

Overall: 2/10
Just a horrible experience, no matter how you try to look at it. While the premise was shaky to begin with, the cool moves and multiple opponent combat could have really made this a classic; instead, Quest of the Dragon fails in every category and at every opportunity it had to shine. Seeing the better moves just made things worse because it showed the promise of a great game, it's unfortunate that the few positives are hidden underneath unimaginably large mounds of crap. I'm sorry Bruce, you deserved so much better than this.

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Related Links: Universal Interactive