VC Weekly 334

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe’s guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo’s download service. Written by Sam C Gittins

Two NES titles previously unreleased in Europe, it's like a mini Hanabi festival! Anyway enough from me and on with the games!
Available for download this week we have...     

Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll
Kung-Fu Heroes

Price: GB £3.49, EU €4.99
Publisher: Culture Brain
Developer: Culture Brain
Released: 1989
System: NES
Originating from Japanese arcades in the mid-eighties, Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll takes a different direction to that which you might expect from such a game being that it comes after Kung-Fu Heroes; also released in this same edition. You take on the role of Ryuhi who is a Shaolin Monk who lives in rural China; after your teacher is set upon by thieves who steal the Secret Scrolls of Hiryu-no-Ken leaving him for dead, it is the dying wish of your master that the scrolls be retrieved so you set off on a quest which takes you to a Tournament where you'll do battle against the Tusk Soldiers who are linked to the missing scrolls, you must beat them to be successful in your mission.

Nothing too out of the ordinary to start with then, if anything this title is rather ambitious in the way in which the story is fleshed out not only from sequences but within the structure of the adventure as well; in the first part known as "The Journey" you'll be partaking in side-scrolling stages which will require you to fight hordes of enemies plus bosses so as to improve your Jump, Kick and Punch abilities all the while grabbing cash to boost your score but most importantly also acquiring keys so that you can enter matches within the tournament. After beating these first platforming based trials it's straight into the fighting matches, which you'll probably not be too surprised to learn that they play out just like your average fighting game, it's perhaps most comparable to Shanghai Kid which is one of the developers earlier titles, you have areas pointed out which might be ripe for attack which is useful in addition to some pretty decent special moves, ultimately it all comes down to just blocking and attacking at the right moments.


Sadly the visuals aren't really up to much even for a NES title released at this time, the platforming sections are sparsely detailed plus they don't have much charm to them at all while the fighting areas at least have backgrounds but they are hardly that taxing on the 8-bit hardware. On the musical side you get what you'd expect from a title such as this, a score which fits in with the Martial Arts theme but one that is unfortunately not nearly varied enough, all of the sound effects are perfectly reasonable though.

It's always sad to see a game which tries something different yet ultimately does not succeed in bringing anything particularly noteworthy to the table, utilising two distinctly different styles is certainly interesting even if the execution of this appoach is less than optimal. Though it's not a complete loss as at the very least the mechanics within the game have been refined from the companies previous efforts, so at the very least it's something of a lesson learned even if it is a rather harsh one; this still might be of interest to anyone interested in the general Martial Arts theme but I wouldn't personally advise purchasing it unless you've a real desire to own it.   

Verdict : A title of two halves that tells a nice tale but nothing beyond that.


Price: GB £3.49, EU €4.99
Publisher: Culture Brain
Developer: Nihon Game
Released: 1988
System: NES
Another title based on Martial Arts from the same developer - originally Nihon Game - spawned within the Super Chinese series originally in arcades but then later ported to the beloved NES years later. Taking on  the role of either Jacky or Lee - a second player can play too - you are on a quest to rescue Pincess Min-Min from the Dragon Army in addition to reclaiming ten stolen treasures, all in a days work of course.

During the course of the adventure you'll be fighting your way through eight castles, karate-chopping anyone who gets in your way while avoiding a copious amount of treacherous traps; upon beating back enough enemies you'll then progress to the next area. There are also bonus stages to contend with providing you're skilled enough where you can unlock bonus points plus other incentives. You have an interesting set of moves at your disposal including punches bound to the A button, with kicking techniques limited to the B button providing you have the required power-ups, then finally you have various sword slashes which requires multiple button presses and of course a sword within your inventory... it's certainly different.

There are some interesting items you can pick up along the way if you're willing to sacrifice a few rocks in the process, shattering them will often reveal a treasure chest item which will either enhance your punches or kicks, they can also reveal hidden traps sometimes which is handy. Other pickups in the shape of a ball can either include bags of money to increase your score or perhaps slightly more useful is the gun ball which grants you projectiles which are ever useful for taking out the wide range of enemies you'll come across including cats firing laser beams or even a dragon man who you'll need to defeat in a certain way.


Visually appealing this title has a lot of charm within its presentation, a lot more so than any other game within this small series, all of the castles have their varying styles which are colour-coordinated along with the enemies while the Chinese roots are plain to see within its simple but lovable design. The music is rather reasonable too, perhaps still repetitive in places but remaining true to the theme with some decent sound effects keeping it all together.

If you wrre to play this on your own then you can expect a reasonably challenging if only slightly grating experience over time, however if you can convince someone else to fight alongside you then this transforms the game for the better into a more tactical type of play which works well. You'll still tire of it after only a playthrough or two but at least this way it's more enjoyable and adds that extra bit of longevity; overall if you're a fan of this style of title then you will surely get more out of it, you could do a lot worse than Kung-Fu Heroes so by all means take a chance on it.  

Verdict : A title which will keep everyone Kung-Fu fighting... for a short while.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

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