Initial release date 1990
Developers Dynamix, Game Arts
Designer Jeff Tunnell
(DOS, Macintosh, Sega CD and Amiga)
Director(s) Jeff Tunnell Alan McKean
Programmer(s) Dariusz Lukaszuk Richard Rayl Kevin Ryan
Artist(s) Randy Dersham (art director) Robert Caracol (concept art)
Writer(s) Jerry Luttrell David Selle
Composer(s) Don Latarski (original score) Christopher Stevens (music) Noriyuki Iwadare (Sega CD)
Platforms Sega Genesis, Amiga, DOS, Macintosh operating systems, AmigaOS, Sega CD
Publishers Sierra Entertainment, Dynamix, Sega
Genres Adventure game, Action-adventure game
Similar Sierra Entertainment games, Adventure games
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Rise of the Dragon is a graphic adventure game released in 1990 for DOS and Macintosh, and later remade for the Sega CD (1993) as well as the Amiga. It was one of the few adventure game titles developed by Dynamix, a company that was better known as an action and flight simulator game developer.
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- Sega CD version
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Gameplay in Rise of the Dragon is similar to that of Dynamix's other 1990s adventure games, The Adventures of Willy Beamish and Heart of China. The screen shows the current room roughly from the protagonist Blade's perspective. Movement occurs with the cursor, which becomes an arrow to proceed to another room or a magnifying glass to get closer to a part of the current scene.
The game has a time meter that reflects the passage of time in the game. Each of Blade's actions takes up a certain amount of time. Some game events will only occur at particular times. The player must find a way to delay the plans of the game's villains, or the game will end after only three days and Blade will not have time to save the day. Travelling between locations can take up a lot of in-game time, so players must plan their moves strategically.
Several puzzles in Rise of the Dragon have multiple possible solutions Blade's activities can influence the plot of the game later on. Game characters remember his earlier behavior, and if he says the wrong thing to key characters they will refuse to help him with his work, which can render the game unwinnable.
Rise of the Dragon features two action scenes and an aim-and-shoot scene. It is possible to beat the game without playing through all of these scenes. If the player tries and fails to complete the action scenes several times, the game will offer the chance to automatically win the sequence and move on to the next scene.
The game is set in a dark cyberpunk version of Los Angeles in 2053. Rise of the Dragon's seedy vision of the future is inspired by the film Blade Runner. The main character is named William 'Blade' Hunter, an apparent tribute to the film. His clothing also resembles that worn by Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard in Blade Runner.
Blade Hunter is a former Los Angeles Police Department officer turned private detective. When the mayor's rebellious daughter Chandra is found dead and horribly mutated after experimenting with a new designer drug, Hunter is called upon to track down those responsible. This leads Hunter to discover an underground Chinese Mafia operation led by a megalomaniacal drug kingpin intent on world domination.
During the game, Blade has to reconcile with his girlfriend Karyn, uncover the mystery behind Chandra's death and the MTZ drug, and sabotage the villains' plans to poison the Hollywood reservoir. The final battle of the game sees drug boss Deng Hwang use MTZ to turn into a monstrous Chinese dragon. The coming of the dragon is foreseen in the game by a street drunkard who raves that Bahumat is coming.
Sega CD version
Developed by Game Arts, several differences existed between the Sega CD and DOS versions of Rise of the Dragon, the most prominent being the addition of voice acting to the Sega CD release. The graphics of the Sega CD version had to use a more limited range of colors than the DOS version, 64 on screen colors compared to the 256 of the computer, which gave it a green tint.
The Sega CD version added voice actors to the game (including Cam Clarke in the main role as William 'Blade' Hunter) and was given a MA-17 rating by the Videogame Rating Council. Unlike the ESRB rating system, VRC ratings do not indicate the reasons why a game received a particular rating, but mature content in the game includes profanity, references to a fictional illicit drug, cross-dressing, prostitution and partial female nudity. A scene with a French kiss and implied sex was removed from the Sega CD release.
Computer Gaming World stated that Rise of the Dragon more effectively depicted a cyberpunk atmosphere than other games. The magazine liked the story, non-text parser interface, audio, and the fact that completing the arcade sequences was optional, and concluded that the game "is not only an outstanding product in its own right, but points the way for the future of graphic adventures". Dragon gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.
In 1991, Rise of the Dragon won a Special Award for Artistic Achievement from Computer Gaming World. In 1996, the magazine ranked it as the 83rd best game of all time, stating: "So good that a rival publisher tried to steal it, this cyberpunk game used rotoscoping, hot spot mapping, and cinematic cuts long before they were standard," as well as the 12th most innovative computer game for pioneering of "using a dynamic, hot-spotted map as the game world travel interface."
Electronic Gaming Monthly deemed the Sega CD version "an almost perfect translation of the PC title." Though they criticized the absence of replay value, they approved of the gritty tone and "atmospheric" graphics, and scored it a 7.6 out of 10.