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Revenge of the Wounded Dragons

16:2727/02/2010Posted by Simeon PaskellOne Comment

Crime lords and gang leaders take note – if you are planning on murdering any old men or kidnapping anyone’s sister, make sure that there aren’t two brothers (highly skilled in the martial arts) who will hunt you down and kick your butt. This is a mistake that has been made repeatedly through videogame history, and that has been repeated again here in Wanako Game’s Revenge of the Wounded Dragons – a downloadable PlayStation Network beat ‘em up harking back to the glory days of Double Dragon, Dragon Ninja’s and host of other classics.

If there’s one thing the advent of downloadable titles has brought us, it’s in supplying a direct route for lower budget titles to reach the market. This in turn has fostered a roaring trade in retro-themed titles, from the twin-stick shooters of Geometry War’s and Super Stardust HD to authentic arcade experiences such as (the rather wonderful) Outrun Arcade Online and Super Street Fighter II HD Remix. This is definitely a good thing – as much as we all look forward to the next big thing, it is important to hold on to gaming’s rich history and that we can continue to have access to more simple thrills from the past.

Revenge of the Wounded Dragons can certainly be described as simple, but it’s not especially thrilling. Taking control of one of two identikit brothers on a mission to avenge their grandfather’s death and rescue their sister, this is a game about kicking (lots of) ass and not much more beyond that. Played on a 2D plane with 3D visuals, Wounded Dragon’s looks the part (i.e. you could imagine it sitting in an arcade in the late 90’s!), has the required bank of clichéd sound-effects and is very easy to pick up and play – move with the analogue stick or d-pad, punch, kick and jump and pull off the odd special move.

So, while Revenge of the Wounded Dragons knows its place as a simple old-school beat ‘em up, is it a good example of the genre? Well…not particularly. While perfectly playable, there is nothing here to really get excited about with very little that rises above ‘perfunctory’ and very few (if any) original ideas of its own.

This being said, there is some enjoyment to be found here as long as you approach it with suitably low expectations. It’s a title that requires little skill but there are pleasures to be found, such as head-stomping your one-hundredth identikit-henchman, assaulting your foes with a wealth of weapons (from axes to knives to Uzis and shot-guns) and the collectors out there may relish hunting down the gold statues scattered throughout the game. We would also be more than happy to see more titles award you for knocking a ninja off his scooter with a baseball-bat.

There is also a kung-fu b-movie charm underlying the action. Lively anime cut-scenes tell the story (which can be summarised in three words: murder, kidnap, fight!) and music is as chicka-chicka-wah-wah as you’d expect. Much of the animation is also reasonably charming, with some impressively violent finishing moves (our favourite being the ‘Iron Head’ headbutt…ouch!). The two player mode should offer a Sunday afternoon’s entertainment and there are a number of mini-games in which to compete once you’ve finished the story mode.

Unfortunately, it is hard to recommend Revenge of the Wounded Dragons, even at the low £6.29 asking price. Though by no means a disaster, PS3 owners looking for cheap martial art’s thrills are much better served by something like Rag Doll Kung Fu, which is infinitely more charming, more playable and sports higher production values. Wounded Dragons does feel like it has been made by a team with a lot of love for the genre and it is obviously not a title looking to break the mould; unfortunately it fails to fill the existing mould with enough meaty content to justify its existence. If you’re looking to kill a few hours with a mate, then this would do the job; if you want any more than that, steer clear.

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