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Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll


Hoskat

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Genre: Action

Publisher: Culture Brain

Total time played: 7 Hours

Short review: The best tournament fighter on the NES mixed with a very forgettable side scroller. If it weren’t for a few gripes this game would be a classic.


Interesting links related to Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll


 

Two Games In One!

Throughout the course of Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll you will play two distinct games, one is a side scrolling platformer that plays like Karate Kid or Kid Niki. It is pretty bare bones, quick and easy.

The second is a early Street Fighter prototype that features 1 on 1 fighting that requires a little strategy, but, a lot of luck and quick fingers.

Tutorial Stage

The first time I turned the game on I decided to play it blindly. I quickly ran through the first side scrolling stage and was presented with a tutorial for the Street Fighting section of the game. You then play through 3 training matches.

My first attempt was not good and I ended up getting game over. I was given the option to continue or get a password. I decided to call it a night and wrote down the 4 digit password. The next night I tried again, the password takes you to the start of the game, there was no difference in just hitting “game start”

It took a few tries to get the hang of the fighting stages and even with the tutorial it doesn’t teach you everything you need to know for later in the game.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 2.33.37 PM.png

This tutorial is long and boring, doesn’t tell you everything you need to know and if you fail the next stage you must watch it all again.

What it Takes to Win

On the surface the game is really straight forward. You plow through the Journey stages and then defeat all of the enemies in the one on one fighting. But, if you don’t pay close attention you will never truly beat the game.

You have to collect 6 scrolls throughout the game. Some of them you get just for beating a stage but most you get by defeating an enemy in a very specific way. If you explore the Journey stage well enough you will get a clue to how to defeat the fighter who holds the scroll. These clues are actually pretty decent but unless you know you can’t beat the game without following the instructions you won’t know what you are missing. Each enemy that must be defeated in a specific way can also be beaten the regular way. If you do this the game goes on but you don’t earn the scroll you need to get the true ending.

Side Scroller

There really isn’t much to these levels.

Up jumps, A and B attack.

Every normal enemy moves quickly from one side of the screen to the other, a single punch or kick defeats them. Once 5 enemies are killed the screen darkens and a mini-boss appears. The mini-bosses all have a unique look but are all dispatched in the same way. Punch and kick them until their life bar is gone, try to avoid their projectiles, but if you can’t, it’s not a big deal because you have a much longer health bar than they do.

Throughout the 3-4 Journey stages I only died a handful of times.

flying-dragon-the-secret-scroll-usa.png

Not much to see here, just a simple side scrolling level.

Each boss you defeat drops an item. The items are used to make the stage easier. There are 5 items to collect, the first 4 make the stage easier and the 5th item is a key that you need to exit the level.

I didn’t pay much attention to what the scrolls did, I know one makes you jump higher and one allows you to shoot a projectile. The other two didn’t do enough for me to notice.

The levels are all very short and if you don’t defeat enough enemies to make the boss appear before reaching the door the stage scrolls back to the beginning. The key here is to stand at the beginning of the stage and move as little as possible. Stand in a single spot and kill enemies until the boss appears, defeat the boss, get the item and repeat.

My goal was to have all 4 upgrade items and the key before I walked halfway through the stage.

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After every 5 enemies the screen darkens and a mini-boss appears.

The only other advice I have for this stage is to punch every statue in the level. There are hidden items in many of them. These include a health refill, a 1-UP, and a couple of small upgrades to make these stages easier.

Also, if you collect all 5 items and kill 5 more enemies the mini-bosses still show up. So, once you collect all the items you need don’t kill any other enemies to avoid unnecessary mini-boss battles.

One on One Fighter

This is the meat of the game, I’d say 90% of my time was spent defeating the 12 opponents in these one on one tournaments.

The Basics

The fighting basics are really straight forward. If a red circle appears on your head press UP to block, if the red circle is on your mid-section press RIGHT to block, if it is on your feet press down to block. UP also jumps if there is no red circle on you.

If a red circle appears on your enemy press UP, RIGHT or DOWN plus A or B to attack them. This is what the tutorial tells you.

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90% of my time was spent on these tournament levels.

More Than the Basics

While you are fighting bottles will fly around the screen, if you grab the bottle  it will appear as a white shape below the 6 squares in the top right of the screen. Pressing SELECT will use a bottle which refills a bit of your health. The bottles you collect will follow you to the next battle if they aren’t used. I found it necessary to hoard the bottles until the final battle as it was by far the toughest.

There is a KO meter across the top of the screen. As you hit your enemy the meter fills up, as you get hit it goes down. If the meter fills up all the way you can perform a couple of special attacks. Pressing UP+A+B will perform a spinning kick that if it lands will take off a significant portion of the bosses health. Pressing DOWN+A+B will performing a spinning foot sweep which is more powerful than the traditional kick.

The most useful attack in the game is the throw. To perform this you must perfectly block an attack at your head by pressing UP as your enemy attacks. If you do it properly you will hold the arm of your opponent for about a half second. While holding the arm you must quickly press DOWN+A to throw the enemy over your head. This takes off a significant amount of your enemies health.

A few enemies throughout the game will have a blue circle appear on them instead of a red circle. If you hit this blue dot a few seconds later a red star will appear. Hitting this red star will defeat the enemy in a single hit.

But There’s More

There are 3 enemies who must be defeated in a specific manner in order to collect their scroll:

Scroll 3 – Defeat the 3rd opponent of the 2nd tournament by doing the following:

Do not attack the enemy at all. After 5-10 seconds a red star will appear somewhere on his body. Hit this star to immediately transform the enemy into his true form. Defeat this form to collect the scroll.

Scroll 4 – Defeat the 3rd opponent of the 3rd tournament by doing the following:

Do not attack the enemy that much as you will want him to grab before you defeat him. The grab doesn’t happen too often. If you defeat him before this happens you won’t get the scroll. There is no warning that he is about to grab you, it is the only move in the game that doesn’t first show a red circle on your body. When he grabs you must quickly tap LEFT and RIGHT over and over to escape the hold. If done correctly the enemies true form appears. Defeat this form to get the scroll.

Scroll 5 – Defeat the 2nd opponent of the 1st round of the 4th tournament by doing the following:

Build up your KO meter all the way and perform the spinning kick when the enemy has just a few bars of life left. This will turn him into his true form. Defeat him to collect the scroll. As a side note, this was by far the hardest enemy to defeat and collect the scroll. He had a few moves that are hard to dodge making it hard to fill up the KO meter.

Scroll 6 – Defeat the 1st enemy of the 2nd round of the 4th tournament by doing the following:

Perform two throws in a row by blocking an attack on your head and quickly pressing DOWN+A. After the 2nd throw a red star appears on your enemies feet. Perform a spinning sweep by pressing DOWN+A+B, if this move lands the enemy will turn into his true form. Defeat him to collect the scroll

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 2.36.39 PM.png

A red circle on your head means to block by hitting up on the controller.

Oh, It’s One of Those Games…

After beating the Journey stages and Tournament stages and collecting all the scrolls you are rewarded with an ending screen and then told that in order to really save the day you must play through the game again, pick up the same 6 scrolls as before but this time also find 4 Crystal Balls hidden throughout the Journey stages.

The Crystals are found by punching statues found throughout the Journey stages and are really simple to find. It is just a shame you have to play through every level again to see the true ending, which, is just a single screen shown after the screen you saw by beating the game the first time. The only change in the 2nd quest is you don’t have to play through the fighting tutorial again which saves a few minutes.

Password

From what I experienced while playing and saw online there are only a few passwords in the game. They aren’t even useful. They never start you in a place that saves you much time from just starting over. The only password I found useful was “BAAA” which took you to the first of the final 6 Street Fight matches in the first playthrough of the game.

Once you beat the game once you have to beat it again, because I was afraid the password I was given would not start me on the second quest I ended up playing through the second quest several times in a row until I beat it, just to be sure.

 

Severe Frustration

A few of the one on one fights are tough but fair. If it weren’t for having to defeat a few select enemies in a specific way this game would have been great. I would guess that 50% of my play time was trying to collect scroll 5. Even if I collected this scroll I would usually get so excited and miss die on the next boss. After collecting scroll 5 there are till 4 additional fights and 1 additional scroll to collect. If you get a game over you go back to the side scrolling stage before the final 6 person tournament. This was very frustrating as that last stage and tournament were half of the games length. It was almost not worth having continues or passwords.

Final Thoughts

The side scrolling portion of the game is very forgettable. The fighting portion of the game is the best 8-bit version of a Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat game I’ve ever played. This game came out before either of those making it a pioneer in the tournament fighter genre. Honestly, the game would have been just as good if it were just a fighter. It make other NES fighters Urban Champion and Karate Champ look like the developers didn’t even try. If it weren’t for the frustration of beating enemies in a specific way this game would almost be a classic.

**Note**

The screen in the photo below is shown after both the first and 2nd quests. The ending screen that is unique to the 2nd playthrough disappeared before I could snap a photo. I am not wanting to play through the entire game again to get a picture of that screen which was a let down anyway. So, you all will just have to take my word that I got the true ending.

Fighting Dragon The Secret Scroll.jpg

 


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