Sunday, 22 April 2018

Dragon's Fury

System(s): Mega Drive, TurboGrafx-16

Genre: Pinball

Developer: Technosoft
Publisher: Tengen

Release Dates:
Japan - October 1991
North America - July 1992Media:GamePro US 036.pdf
Europe - September 1992








In the late 1980's, companies worked relentlessly to get around Nintendo's lockout chip on the NES to produce unlicensed titles for the console. The strict licensing system Nintendo used was a means to improve quality standards, which had been a big contributor to video games market crashes in the early 80's. Companies could only release five games for the NES a year, and had to pay a fee for each game, as well as requiring the games to be NES exclusive for two years.

One of the companies that was able to bypass the lockout chip was Tengen. Tengen had once been part of Atari, but split into a new subsidiary responsible for publishing Namco games in the American market until Namco started just doing it themselves. They also tried to negotiate for a less restrictive licence. While other companies continued to release unlicensed games, it's not surprising that Tengen began publishing games for the NES's new rival, the Mega Drive, including the popular RBI Baseball series. One of their better know games was a unique pinball game called Dragon's Fury.

Dragon's Fury was the name given to the console port of Devils Crush. It had a direct port over to the Turbografx-16 under its original name before being ported to the Mega Drive. Honestly it's not hard to see why - the Turbo was not exactly popular compared with Sega and Nintendo consoles, and the original name sounds, well, a bit crap. Pinball games are not something generally full of depth and replay value, but I must admit I got easily addicted to Dragon's Fury. High scores were something losing significance by the time the NES came out in the mid 80's, so to see it on a 16 bit console in 1992 you would be forgiven for being sceptical. Honestly though, it's the only thing besides beating every mini table that keeps the game going, even though it's kind of a central part of pinball. There is a reason pinball games are pretty rare as of the time of writing, and being expected to fork out £45 for pinball game is a bit too much to ask unless you're super into pinball machines and can't afford to buy one for your own home.


Dragon's Fury has to be given credit for being able to hold attention as a pinball game with only a single table. Some competitors such as Pinball Dreams on the SNES had at least three or four. Although the less said about KISS Pinball on the Playstation the better. But such as the overall design of the table, with skeleton warriors and sorceresses that transform into dragons that the table rarely gets boring. The risks and rewards of each section of the table are also well balanced, and you really want to get up to the top for the extra point difference. You don't really feel like you're playing a pinball game at times, and I mean that in a good way. It draws you in and there are enough hazards and monsters to destroy for points that it feels multidimensional. If it did just feel like a pinball machine it would get old very quickly.


Dragon's Fury has multiple bonus stages. These bonus stages are where you will rack up most of the points, so you want t finish these as much as possible. There are dragon eggs to destroy, castle doors to take down and creepy smiling jars with bats flying out. The most lucrative and difficult of all of these though is the stage 10 mini-game. There is an alien cloud that is very difficult to hit, and often the ball will simply bounce off. hen you can hit it, very often it's positioned over a pit and you go back to the table with minimal points. The mini-games are very well designed sand you will look forward to playing them just for the novelty and freshness but the challenge adds to their value as well.

Graphically the game is well designed and probably the best part of the table is the woman's head, the pretty blonde warrior princess featured on the cover. Repeatedly hit her and she will slowly transform until she becomes a dragon and you will access a mini-game by entering her mouth. Dragon's Fury is spooky yet in spite of the colour scheme you won't have trouble tracking where the ball is. Sadly there is just the one table, and it would have been nice to have a bit more variety in the music on the main table. Speaking of the music, the mini-game music is excellent and among the best in the game. What little music is there doesn't disappoint and the sound effects are competent enough when destroying things.

Ultimately if for whatever reason you're looking for a good pinball video game, this is the one I recommend the most. It's graphically well designed, the mini-games are fun and the music is good. It's just a shame there wasn't more of it. Also the replay value is only maintained by beating your high score - there are no extras to unlock, no hidden mini-games. Dragon's Fury misses out on being a truly great game without these.


Summary

+ Best pinball game out there
+ Creative and creepy stages and table
+ Mini-games are engrossing

- Paying full price for a pinball game is a bit mad
- Minimal replay value
- Only one pinball table


Overall Score

6/10

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