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Name: Dragonman (70.00% in 1 votes)
Type: STG
Platform: WINDOWS
Company: GameOne Systems
Release date: 1999
Reviewed by: Lamuness

Yet another Hong Kong comic being converted to a PC game, just like Wind/Cloud aka Storm Riders... Dragonman is a HK comic published by Jade Dynasty (yes the owner went to jail awhile ago), and what the comic is about beats me since I rarely read chinese comics, but one thing for sure is that Dragonman comics existed for a pretty long time since the early 90's, and the popularity hasn't dropped a bit at the moment.

The PC game is "claimed" to be a side story from the mainstream Dragonman comic, but since I don't read the comic itself I cannot make a comparison about it. The story is rather cheesy, the typical super hero story, having some evil daemon trying to rule the universe and it's up to the 4 gods which is based on the 4 chinese legendary beasts - Blue Dragon, White Tiger, Red Bird, and Black Turtle to put the evil to justice blah blah blah. What the game also include is characters from another comic (by the same artist) as guest appearances, which although chessy is alright...

Despite the chessy plot, the game itself is beautifully made with some nice innovations. The game is an isometric turn-based strategy game with lovely 3D-rendered backgrounds and most importantly, all characters from the comic are rendered in 3D. The modelling is excellent and the body kinetics is nicely done. Unlike Wind/Clound where animations can occassionally lag, there is pretty much no lagging at all with these sprite animations and magic spell effects, which by the way are really well done. Each character has their own special attack and when they perform such attacks, a full screen 3D movie will be played and although some of them are short, it's pretty dynamic. In addition, certain characters can do a combo special attack for inflict even more damage.

The most innovative aspect of this game is the way the story is layed out. Dragonman uses an innovative CES - Comic Expression System to tell the story. Basically, the entire plot events between battles are told in form of a comic book. Each panel is b/w and the "current" panel will turn to full color and then ballons will pop up with dialogue and sound effect words like Boom, Hahahahaha, Crash (like the old Batman episodes). Don't think that the panels are just still pics; many panels are animated, and what's more to it is that the entire game has 100% cantonese/mandarin voice acting and they are pretty well done (but not perfect). In my opinion, I think it's the first time that I see a storyline portrayed in a comic book format and they did a pretty good job at it.

Dragonman looks really innovative and promising, but there are some drawbacks besides the chessy typical super hero plot. First of all, although the game offers hi-color 3d rendered graphics and 3d movies and 100% voice acting, the game itself requires 1 gigabyte of HD space for installation, and that might cause some problems for some people who do not have a big HD drive (like me). Second, for 1gig of data, the game is a bit too short with only 15 or so battles, and each doesn't take too long to finish. If you are good and stay up all night and play the game, I'd bet you can finish Dragonman in a day or 2.

Overall, Dragonman is really lovely and innovative in terms of game design and audio-visual effects. However, it has a not-too-intriguing plot plus the huge HD space requirement, and most importantly, the game is a bit too short. If you are a fan of HK comics or support HK PC game programmers, you will want to try out Dragonman just to see what HK people can do, even though u may be able to finish the game in half a week.

PROS: Really lovely hi-color 3D rendered battlefields and characters. 100% cantonese/mandarin voice acting, cool special attack movie animations, no lagging from sprites despite its high graphic quality, really innovative CES system to tell the story.

CONS: Story too chessy. Too HD hungry, and the game is a bit too short for such a 1 gigabyte installation.

RECOMMEND TO: Dragonman fans (obviously, people who like HK comics and support HK PC game makers, or just want to see what HK people are made of.
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