Dragon Fighter for 8-bit NES/Famicom



Hey, what's going on, YouTube?

This is tabmok99 here. It's been a long time since I made a video. It's my first time ever actually ever doing a video like this–in this format. What I wanted to today was share one of my favorite pirate Famicom games with you. It's called "Dragon Fighter."

First of all, you've really got to admire the artwork on this cartridge. Just the logo is a mishmash of other logos. Like the "Dragon" is clearly from Dragon Ball Z, and the "Fighter" is lifted from "Street Fighter." So I thought that was pretty creative. And then there's characters on here who don't appear anywhere in the game–like Chun Li and Terry Bogard–they're not in this game. So I think what happens is the people who do this artwork have nothing to do with the people who are actually creating the game. I think they just slap on anything that looks related. But having said that, I think it's really cool. I'm glad they used the Mortal Kombat logo in this–that's the reason why I probably bought this cartridge in the first place.

Let me give you some background information first before we get into this game. Back in '97–that was the last time there was really a new Mortal Kombat game–Mortal Kombat 4 was released in arcades. And it was pretty much dead for a while, until 2002, when they released Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. So there were about five years where there were really no new Mortal Kombat games. Not unless you count Mortal Kombat: Gold and Mortal Kombat: Special Forces.

So to fill the void, what I did was I got into the pirate scene. I got into different Famicom games that were coming out. They were releasing Mortal Kombat games on the 8-bit NES systems. But I was always amazed by Dragon Fighter because this was the first crossover game [Years before Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe], where you actually had Mortal Kombat characters interact with characters from other franchises.

To me that always incredible–that you could do things in pirate games that they could never really do in official games. This was back before the fighting community had M.U.G.E.N. and things like that, where people had their own customizable fighting engines.

So at the time this came out, this was really incredible. It had never really been done before. This is one of my favorites actually–not because it's particularly well-done, but more because the concept is intriguing. And of course, this is actually one of the first times that characters from Mortal Kombat and the DC Universe actually interacted with each other.

So without further ado, let's go ahead and get started with Dragon Fighter.

Never heard of Flying Star before, but this was apparently their only game.

There are three different difficulty levels. It starts you off on "Normal" but you could put it on "Easy" or "Hard." But I've got two words for you–impossible. No matter what you do, this game is impossible. So I'm just going to leave it on normal.

It looks like we've got Fei Long (from Street Fighter), the Flash, Wonder Woman, Haohmaru (from Samurai Shodown)... Oh, we do have Terry Bogard after all (from Fatal Fury). We've got a lot of Mortal Kombat–we've got Sonya, Kitana, Liu Kang, and Rayden. That last guy–he's the boss of the game. He looks like Akuma from the profile picture, but he's actually Despero from Justice League: Task Force. Anyway, I'll be Liu Kang.

Oh, I can tell already this is going to be a walk in the park. You know, by NES standards, these graphics are actually pretty good. The special moves are pretty easy to figure out. You've got down forward punch... hold back for two seconds, then forward and kick... pretty much your standard inputs here, what you'd expect. Notice the fireball cancels here. I hate how the computer can just throw you when a real human opponent would never be able to. That's how you know this a real Mortal Kombat game. Okay, that was not fair. Not fair at all. Round two! I like how they brought in all their authentic special moves, like the Square Wave Flight. Here we go! Another throw that would have been impossible if attempted by an actual person! Wow, she made mincemeat out of me. What is mincemeat, anyway?

And this is probably one of the coolest things you'll see in this game–the continue screens. Everything else–all the graphics and everything–have been lifted from other games–but these actually had to be drawn from scratch. Someone actually had to sit there and take the time to draw these. So that took some effort.

Alright, I'll pick Rayden.

I'm trying to do the Superman Torpedo. I'm not trying to just stand there and kick her, like an idiot. C'mon! Got it. Of course, by the time I figure it out, I'm on the verge of death. I can't believe I just got beaten–by a girl!

Okay, when I say this game is impossible, this is exactly what I mean. Well, I definitely can't keep going like this, I need some tips. So I did a Google search on Dragon Fighter, and I found this site. It's a post on Zetaboards by someone named XandeR. And XandeR says that "the computer is too cheap. Even changing the difficulty, the only difference I noticed is that the hard computer does not lose power when the defense is used. The tip itself is to use special moves all the time through a bug, for example: Down, Forward + Punch (continue holding the special button to continue)." Wait a minute, so if I just press Down Forward + B, he'll keep doing the special move over and over and over again. Oh, that sounds way too cheap. I gotta do it!

Down, Forward + B... Just hold it down... Alright! It works! It keeps doing it! Oh, it stopped working. I guess she's on the other side, so I need to do Down, Forward + B again. Well, that's cool that it works. But maybe I don't need it. Maybe I can beat her the old-fashioned way. You know, like it's a regular fighting game. I'm not a "fan" of that move. Cuttin' it close! Alright! Got her! Well, that was close! Onto Round 3. I'm not sure if I like the fireball cancels or not. Definitely takes some getting used to. Alright, well I know this game isn't Smash Brothers or anything, it doesn't have powerups. But I swear, it's like she just got a Starman–she's invincible. I should probably start being cheap with the fireball again. Yeah, probably a little late now.

Yeah, that kinda sucks... But this continue screen is kinda cool. So I'm not even mad, that's amazing!

Well, let's see what we can do with Sonya.

I'm thinking, since I've seen this same background three times in a row, that each background is associated with a different character. So this park–which appears to be Central Park–must belong to Kitana. I mean, it makes perfect sense for an Edenian princess to have Central Park in New York City has her location, right? Man, I can't believe how bad she is beating me. I think I know she manages to win. She must be using the element which brings life! Alright, screw it, time to be cheap. Up for a game of ring toss? Had a pretty good rhythm going there. Well let's see if I can keep it up for one more round. Okay, I was worried for a second when she jumped over me, because that meant that my fireballs were going to stop working... but I recovered pretty quick. Alright, can't wait to see who's next!

Oh, it's Haohmaru from Samurai Shodown. He was on the cover. It's nice to see a new background. His specials are pretty good. He's a worthy opponent. Unfortunately for him, not worthy enough. It would be really nice if you could change the number of rounds to one. That way as soon as I win–that's it. Next opponent. Move on. Even with the ability to spam my fireballs over and over, it's still really tough. Yeah, he got me. Alright, off to a good start. Yes. So far, so good. Thinks are finally look up tabmok. C'mon, you're almost dead, just die already. Argh, he avoided my bicycle kick. Well, now he's the one who's winning! What gives? Okay, now it's starting to get frustrating.

Alright, let's be the Flash. They never say if it's Barry Allen or Wally West–I guess it doesn't matter. I just think it's funny how they call him "Flash Man." Like every superhero has to have a name that ends in "man"–like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, "Flash Man"–yeah, that works. The sprites for the Flash, and also for Wonder Woman and Despero, come from a game called Justice League: Task Force. I guess in this game, Flash Man doesn't have super-speed. 'Cause that could've helped. Time to spam the tornado. I guess he also uses a tornado. I'm glad they cancel each other out, actually. It would suck if the two of them combined to create the perfect storm. [imitating announcer on Superfriends] Is this the end of Flash Man?

Alright, let's go with the other DC hero in this game–Wonder Woman. And I guess in this game, she's called Super Woman. Haohmaru, what are you doing? You're brutalizing her! The real Wonder Woman would never put up with this! I guess Super Woman uses boomerangs. I gotta say, I am really digging this music. I think I'm gonna set it as my ringtone. It's kind of tricky to time your jump kicks to make sure they connect. Well, great. The only two superheroes in this game are dead.

Heh, she's kinda drawn in anime-style.

Alright, Terry Bogard, you're up! Okay, his moves don't seem as easy to figure out, for some reason. I couldn't figure out his specials at all. That made it really tough! It's tough even knowing the special moves, but without them... whew! Alright, there's one of 'em. Although it seems like kind of a useless one. I can't compete with that guy. He's got a sword and everything!

That's it man. Game over, man. Game over!

Well, I can't just leave things like that. First of all, I'm not a quitter. And second of all, I haven't had a chance to show you all the characters and all the backgrounds yet. So I'm gonna get back in there, I'm gonna play this some more, and I'm gonna beat this thing!

This time, I'll pick Fei Long. Only in this game, he's called Dragon Lee. I guess that's because he's a spoof of Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee is the star of Enter the Dragon, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story... So Dragon's basically a nickname for Bruce. I think it's very strange that we're fighting in Italy. We all know that Sonya was born in Austin, Texas, so it seems really strange to make Italy her background. Well, even though I won, that was a little too close for comfort. Well, it looks like my Rising Dragon Kick beats her Bicycle Kick.

Oh, that's cool, this game has Mirror Matches. You can fight yourself. So it's Dragon Lee vs. Dragon Lee. The move he's doing is a lot better than the move I'm doing. I think I should start mixing it up a little bit. Oh, that's cool, it's the same movement–just reversed. As long as he just sits there and blocks it, taking a little bit of damage, he doesn't stand a chance. I can't lose! Yeah, I think I just found my new favorite strategy. I started out going the wrong way, but that's okay, I can make this work. Oh, you're going to be sorry you threw me in the other direction. You won't live to regret that. I think it's great that computer can't figure out how to break this pattern. And this is a cool background. Clearly it's China, so it makes sense for it to belong to Dragon Lee. Very appropriate. It makes a lot more sense than Kitana being in Central Park or Sonya being in Italy. Here's a fun fact: Shenzhen, which was just a small fishing village in the 1980s, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world and now has a population of over 10 million.

This must be Central City, because I'm fighting its protector–Flash Man. Oh, that's cool, he was doing some kind of a spinny thiny. [Imitating stereotypical generic supervillain] Your speed will not help you, Flash Man! I'm gonna be as cheap as possible; I don't care, I just want to beat the game. If only Flash Man's Rogues Gallery of Villains knew how easy he was to defeat. It's kind of strange that we've had Marvel vs. Capcom, and Mortal Kombat vs. DC... Now we're seeing Capcom vs. DC. Who knows? Maybe one day something like this could be official. [quoting Fei Long] You have trained to be a great loser. Now you must learn to fight!

In the interest of keeping this video to a reasonable length, I'm going to go ahead and trim it down to just one round per fighter.

Which brings us to Wonder Woman. I'm sorry, Super Woman. And the background appears to be a major metropolitan city. I'm not sure which one. If you notice in the back, there's a building that says "Star." I wonder if that's Star Labs, as featured in the hit TV show–Flash Man. Actually, now that I think about it, it's probably because of Flying Star–the company that made this game. You know what's interesting is that in the comics, there actually is a character named Super Woman. She's from a parallel earth, where all the characters have an evil version of themselves. But with different names. So Wonder Woman's evil counterpart on Earth-3 is Super Woman.

Now this is going to be an interesting round, because it's the crossover that everybody wants to see: Mortal Kombat vs. Street Fighter. And not only that, but it's both of the Bruce Lee-inspired characters. You know, I'm being nice saying "inspired", not rip-offs. But we all know Fei Long was based on Bruce Lee, and we all know Liu Kang was based on Bruce Lee. And here they go, head to head, for the first time, for the last time. Truth be told, I think Liu Kang would win in real life. I mean, he can turn into a dragon. Fei Long is just nicknamed Dragon. As Shakespeare said, "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet." Yes, I just quoted Shakespeare, every video game reviewer does it.

We're back in Central Park. So that can only mean one thing–Princess Kitana. Luckily, I managed to get a hit on her first. That means I'll probably be able to keep her in this trap before she can lay a finger on me. In most fighting games, if you manage to win while your energy bar is 100% full, it'll give you a special message. Something like "Perfect" or "Flawless Victory." It'll be interesting to see if this game does anything like that. I'm kinda thinking it won't. Yeah, no special message.

Alright, finally going up against Terry Bogard, from Fatal Fury. I like how his hat keeps coming off every time he gets hit. Maybe his hat's just too big for him. I don't remember anyone else's hat falling off. I don't remember Rayden's hat falling off. Yeah, you better block. Protect your hat! This background definitely resembles Guile's, from Street Fighter. I mean, it just screams USA. Looks like Terry, isn't gonna parry. Now even though it's happening off-screen, you can still see his fat flying off.

Time to face the thunder god. It's not fair the way he teleports. Only the computer can do it. That move is for the computer only. Now Rayden's background is cool, because–as you can see–there's flashes of lightning. I'm sure if it were possible, they probably would've had it rain also. I'm not sure what this background is, anyway. It kind of looks like a school. It would make more sense if it's a church or temple or something. I'm really glad that even though he can teleport, he's not taking advantage of it. He's just sitting there, taking it. But you can't say, "Sit there and take it like a man," but, he's sitting there and taking it like a god. Well, that doesn't sound right either. Yeah, he's just sitting there and taking it.

So this is the last guy, the final boss of the game. He's called Fire Devil. His profile picture is Akuma from Street Fighter, but his in-game sprites are Despero from Justice League: Task Force. And he's pretty difficult. I mean, everything in the game is difficult, but he's really difficult. Don't let this fool you, I'm just lucky to have caught him in this pattern. It's not so easy to trap him like this. And his background is an active volcano, I mean, how cool is that?

So that's the end of the game. As you can see, they don't have endings for each character, which would be nice. They just have on ending for all the characters, no matter who you beat the game with. It shows you the different special moves for each character. And how much damage they do. So that's cool.

I did some extra research on the game, and I found out that you can actually access that ending sequence by doing a special code on the second controller. You hold the buttons Down, B, and A at the title screen all at once, wait a few seconds, and that sequence will pop up. So you don't even have to beat the game to see that.

So, like I said, I've had the game since the late '90s/early 2000s. Nobody really knows when the game was published, but after doing some research online it looks like the best guess is 1995. That would be the earliest it could've been released, based on the fact that it uses graphics from other games published at that time.

And I was also curious about what the Chinese letters 龍虎膀 meant on the front of the cartridge. So I went ahead and drew them in pencil and paper. And I used an app on my phone called Waygo that will translate Chinese to English. And I found out that, when translated, it literally means, "Outstanding People." So I guess that fits. All the characters are outstanding compared to us mere mortals.

I did some research, and I found that the programmer of the game is Peter Lai, and the hardware design is by Tony Tseng.

So there you have it. There's Dragon Fighter. One of my favorite–and one of the most rare–Famicom games containing Mortal Kombat characters.

One last parting thought, I just wanted to say I thought it was interesting how they changed the names of certain characters, like The Flash and Wonder Woman to Flash Man and Super Woman. Presumably, they did that for legal reasons. They were worried that maybe DC Comics was going to go after them. But you'd think that if anyone would go after them, it would be the people who make fighting games. You wouldn't think that DC would waste their time on some Famicom game made by pirates. You would think that other fighting games–other video game manufacturers–they'd be the ones most concerned about that. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this video, and if so, maybe I'll continue to make more!

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