Saturday, 12 November 2022

DragonHeart: Fire and Steel - Barf of the Dragon

 If you are an original fan of the Saturn, you may remember a little title known as DragonHeart, starring Dennis Quaid and the late Sean Connery. It was a pretty good film. Not great, not spectacular, but it was entertaining and not a bad watch if you were in the mood for some good old fashioned fantasy. It did well enough to deserve some knockoffs and some film sequels that have actually continued to come out until fairly recently. Yeah, for some reason, the first film came out in 1996 but the latest sequel came out in 2020, go figure. Well, the first film was pretty popular and still has a cult following to this day. That, unfortunately, means it also had a video game that came out for the Saturn, PC and Playstation (it had a Gameboy title too but let's not get too caught up in details). 

This game is a hack and slash platformer that controls like it has rheumatism. Your knight warrior guy walks in a leisurely stroll speed and getting used to this is rather difficult because throughout the levels, you also need to avoid traps. Good luck with that, is all I can say. It's not impossible, but it also demands precise timing that gets to annoyance levels that you may as well not bother with. 

I won't go telling you that the game is outright terrible in all of its mechanics. The hacking and slashing are decent at the very least. The enemies are mundane and basically clones of one another but that can pass as there's obviously a limit with how many people they can photo into the game. There's even some cool elements with the combat like flaming arrows you can shoot at people and light them on fire. 

The problem with this game, though, is the pacing. You slash, block, slash, shoot and repeat. You need to be careful though, because you have an endurance meter. Yes, this endurance meter is probably one of the worst things about this game. The pacing was already bad enough with the walking and blocking mechanics, but then they have to go and limit your attacks by making you run out of stamina.

Presentation is key when it comes to some games, and this one missed the mark. It's not downright ugly to look at but it's just so plain. The photo generated characters clash a bit with the background and it throws off the overall look. The backgrounds are actually quite good, if a bit generic in some places. If they'd maybe replaced the photo realistic people with more Sega Saturn-esque characters, it would have been much more appealing to the eye. As it is now, the two just don't really fit together. It kind of looks like they used a green screen and the keying was just flatout not attempted. 

Yes, I was rather harsh on the game in my Top 20 Worst list, but that's kind of how it goes. If it's taken in spoonfuls, this game really isn't all that bad. On longer playthroughs, though, it drags pretty hard. The slow walking and limited slashing shot the pacing. If you don't slash and block, you'll die pretty quickly, so you need to take everything slow. It's just not a good enough game to merit all of the stalling. The backgrounds are pretty to look at, but that's doesn't really help its case in the slightest. The fact that dragons are scarce is understandable as that's how the movie went as well, but I feel like maybe scattering a few more in for flavor would have helped this game a lot. As it stands, it's just fighting a bunch of guys that look eerily similar and the appeal just isn't there. Virtua Fire Water.

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