Those clever folk at Ratalaika Games are at it again, with the release of not one, but two games – all rolled up into one bundle of gaming goodness.
The Legend of the Dragonflame Highschool Collection has gathered two games as one – The Legend of the Dragonflame Highschool Part 1 and 2, promising to bring to the Xbox all the beat ‘em up action you could ever need. But is this another case of nice achievements, shame about the game, or does it actually provide a decent challenge? Well, let’s don our school uniform and find out…
Now, as I’m sure you will agree, there is nothing more important in a fighting game than a coherent narrative. And luckily, there is just such a narrative here. Whether it makes any sense I’ll leave up to you to judge.
It appears that we play a character called Ryuichi, a young child who goes to Dragonflame Highschool. The leader of the nearby Hell Highschool kidnaps our sister in order to get us to fight him; to prove who is the strongest. So off we go, battering anyone who stands in our way. The story of the second game is almost identical, although this time we are on a field trip to Osaka, but again, we end up fighting all the different High Schools on the way to the boss of the game. You’ll want to disconnect your brain and let your fists do the talking throughout your time at Dragonflame Highschool.
What should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever played a Ratalaika Games title before is that this one is a retro styled, almost 8-bit looking title. The game is presented as a series of static screens, containing varying numbers of tiny enemies, as we are tasked with defeating everyone in order to progress to the next screen. The character sprites are pretty small, and while they have a modicum of personality, there isn’t a massive amount of detail on display – either in the backdrops or in the characters.
Sound is okay as well, functional at least, and while there are no voice overs (the story, such as it is, is presented in speech bubbles), it does all feel like it’s been ripped straight out of those cheesy 1980’s martial arts movies. All in all, the game is presented in a reasonable manner, nothing more.
In terms of the actual combat and it’s safe to say that we can treat both games as one, as they play out pretty identically. Street Fighter II this isn’t, with a button to jump, a button to punch and a button to kick. Jump kicks? All present and correct, and once you figure out that jumping kicks are the most powerful attacks in the game (which should take about thirty seconds, to be honest) the rest of The Legend of the Dragonflame Highschool Collection becomes pretty surplus to requirements. Even the “hardest” bosses are able to be locked into a cycle of “jump kick, back off, jump kick, back off”, rinsing and repeating until they fall over. To call the fighting system in these titles simplistic would be overstating the case a massive amount.
There is an attempt at making The Legend of the Dragonflame Highschool Collection a little bit deeper, which is always good to see. As you defeat enemies, they drop coins, and every so often you will find vendors that you can spend these coins at. These come in the shape of either a cafe or book stores; the latter of which will let you use skill books in order to learn new attacks and moves to unleash on your foes. The only slight issue with these products is that the basic jump attack is already the best attack in the game, so these are unnecessary.
That other shop is some form of cafe, where you can spend your hard earned cash on different types of food. There is food that raises your attack, food that raises your defence, and finally food that raises your maximum health. These foods apply these buffs permanently, so grinding some foes, and then spending the cash on attack and health, will soon make you pretty much unbeatable.
For a change for a title to come from Ratalaika, the Xbox achievement list is set up in such a way that not only do you have to finish each title to earn the full amount of sweet Gamerscore, but there are even some hidden foes that have to be found and defeated. This is fortunate, in a way, as the fighting action is in no way strong enough to be the hook that will keep you playing. The collision detection is very much an issue attached to that, and as things play out as some sort of pseudo 3D, it is very possible for your attacks to miss entirely, seeing your jump kick fly past your foe. Lining yourself up at the top of the screen is the easiest way to try to line the enemies up correctly.
All in all, The Legend of the Dragonflame Highschool Collection is another excuse to pad out your Xbox Gamerscore in a quick and easy manner. To beat both games, from start to finish, you’re looking at less than thirty minutes, and so the time to Gamerscore ratio is pretty good. As a game in its own right, The Legend of the Dragonflame Highschool Collection is very much okay. There’s nothing overly good leaping out at you, and while the combat is ropey, the graphics are pretty poor as well, so it all balances out.
This is not a game that anyone will fondly reminisce about in the coming years, but for a quick Gamerscore hit, it just about works.
The Legend of the Dragonflame Highschool Collection is on the Xbox Store