previews\ Apr 1, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Legend of the Dragon - PSP - Preview

Do you believe in the legend of the dragon? You may not now, but could see your beliefs take a turn when The Game Factory releases Legend of the Dragon later this year. Based on the cartoon series of the same name, Legend of the Dragon is not your average anime-gone-interactive. This game – like the rare and cherished Naruto series – is a fighting game.

Studying the shadows of other great warriors, the heroes of Legend of the Dragon can attack successively (combos), jump high into air to evade and surprise, and may unleash an inner power that's gained over the course of a vigorous battle. Playable characters include Ang, Ling, Ming, Beingal, Shoong, Billy, Bastet, Aguar, Chang Wo, K Ho, Victor, and Yin Wi. The character selection screen is like those found in any fighting game, with a 6x3 tier of available fighters. Though it's unknown how the final layout will appear, this preview build indicates that there are six characters to unlock.


Tekken and Virtua Fighter have arcade roots and still appear in arcades on occasion, allowing both to get away with a simple Arcade Mode. Gamers eat it up, think of the game as being complete, and rely on the multiplayer (two-player) combat to fulfill their Fight Club dreams.

Having roots that lie with television, not a former game format, Legend of the Dragon doesn't have the luxury of being that basic. Thus, in addition to a Quick (arcade) mode, the game also contains a Quest mode that lets you travel across a 3D world map in search of new challengers. Battles are not random but may appear to be as you hop from place to place. Most areas are nothing more than walkways – point and click to pass through them. When you come to a building (which might look like a small hut), a conversation with a new character is likely to follow. That conversation may or may not lead to a battle.

Whether you choose to battle here, via the Quick mode or Time Attack, combat adheres to the genre's defining rules: last man standing wins. That means black eyes and bloody noses for those who can't find the block button. You'd be surprised how many people forget about its existence. Whenever I forget, I blame it on my dedication to the Tekken series, whose blocking system works differently from most other fighting games.

Several bonuses are being planned for the final version, including an entire episode from the show’s first season.

Attacks are fast and frenzied. Fighters don't merely push forward with an iron fist -- they jump all over the screen, rushing in for the next punch or kick before receiving what is sure to be a painful retaliation. It looks a little too jumpy at this point, but not much tweaking is needed for the game to achieve a worthy level of seamlessness.

Two attack buttons are available – one for punching, the other for kicking. Hold the X button to block; use the shoulder buttons to hop away from oncoming attacks. When your charge meter is full and both shoulder buttons are pressed simultaneously, the true power of the controlled warrior is unleashed. Standard attacks become stronger, and several additional attacks may now be performed.

These "additional attacks" are not merely a kick/punch variation, or some really big blast. They involved the coordination of the attack and integral defense of the enemy. If you are on the receiving end of such an attack, one or more button icons will appear on screen. One scenario had me pressing the X button as fast as possible to ward off a powerful assault. In another scenario, button icons scrolled across the screen. If you tap the correct button at the right time, that's one less hit that will be received. But the damage adds up fast. If you miss a couple buttons, be ready to endure a serious beating.

Fighters couldn’t ring-out in the preview build. Will this change before the game ships?

Brawling its way into stores before summer hits, Legend of the Dragon could have what it takes to become a legendary anime-inspired release. Look for it to arrive on the first of May.

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