Blazing Dragons

Review by Jen
March 2003

Blazing Dragons was a short-lived animated TV show of the mid-90s, created by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. The premise is that the dragons are the good guys and the people are the bad guys. The series borrows heavily from the King Arthur legends, in a goofy sort of way.

Illusions Gaming developed a video game based on the cartoon, titled, appropriately enough, Blazing Dragons. It features the same animators and same voice actors as the series, most notably Terry Jones himself, Cheech Marin, and Harry Shearer. It was released for Playstation and Sega Saturn in 1996.

In the game Blazing Dragons, you play the part of Flicker. Flicker is kind of the court lackey, made to handle all of the menial tasks around the castle while the Knights of the Square Table roam the kingdom and joust and quest and suchlike. In his spare time, Flicker is an inventor. He is also in love with the Princess Flame, King All-Fire's daughter and Flicker's lifelong friend.

In a few days a tournament is to be held, and the winner gets to be the next King, as well as gaining Flame's hand in marriage. Flame is not at all happy about having her bridegroom chosen in this manner. Flicker sets out to achieve knighthood so that he may not only enter but win the tournament.

Meanwhile, human Sir George and the evil wizard Mervin plot to create a mechanical Black Dragon so that they might use it to enter the tournament and take over the Kingdom of Camelhot. In addition to this fearsome development, Flicker has to guard against the oily Sir Loungealot, who has designs on both the kingdom and Flame.

And so the game's afoot ...

Blazing Dragons is a third-person, point-and-click adventure game. You do your pointing with the controller's directional keys and your clicking with the buttons. The game is chock full of inventory puzzles and is marred only by the insertion of several unwanted arcade sequences that are not optional.

Really there are only four arcade puzzles, and they're not all that difficult, but you know me—I have an insuppressible need to whine about these things. A funny thing happened on the last one of these arcade puzzles, near the end of the game—I took about 50 or 60 tries at it and failed, and I made my son take another 20 or 30 tries at it and he failed, and then we found out we were doing it wrong. After that wee bit of enlightenment it only took about two or three more tries to complete it. But I was no less crabby about the whole thing.

The humor in the game runs the gamut from the brilliantly hilarious to the "that was dumb" to the "huh? I don't get it" to the "groan ..." On the whole, there were not that many outright giggles in the game, but the overall story didn't rely on the jokes—it stood well enough on its own.

The interface couldn't be simpler—for the most part only the directional keys and one button are used. And the manual contains detailed information on what extra keys you will need for the arcade puzzles—the problem with this is that some people only refer to the manual as a last resort. Not naming any names or anything. The trigger buttons are used to cycle through "verb" choices, which are the standard look, use, walk, and talk.

There is an onscreen inventory icon. If you move the cursor over it and click, you can examine and use the inventory items, and there is also a controller button assigned to this task.

Hotspots are big and clear, and the inventory usage all makes sense within the context of the game. No monkey wrench puzzles here, folks.

There is an option for onscreen text to be displayed whenever there's dialogue. I turned this on because I had a hard time with the English accents at first. A weird quirk soon became apparent—only about four lines of dialogue max are displayed at a time, and the text does not scroll automatically. And the button that forwards the onscreen text is the same button that cuts short a speech, so it was a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. Thus, I would recommend not using the subtitles unless you're hard of hearing.

You can save anywhere in the game, to one of eight or nine save slots, but when you restore you may or may not be returned to the same point in the game. You will never lose inventory or have to repeat puzzles, but you will have to move yourself back to the area in which you left off.

Blazing Dragons is easy enough to complete without a walkthrough and yet puzzling enough to give a real sense of accomplishment for completing it without a walkthrough. And it's fairly short. It all boils down to a fine time on the ol' Playstation. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Illusions Gaming
Publisher: Crystal Dynamics
Release Date: 1996

Available for: PlayStation Sega Saturn

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Where to Find It from $9.96

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