The King Of Dragons (ザ・キングオブドラゴンズ Za Kingu obu Doragonzu ) is a side-scrolling hack 'n slash beat 'em up game developed by Capcom and released in 1991 for the arcades. Set in a fantasy settning, players choose from five characters (Elf, Wizard, Fighter, Cleric, and Dwarf) in order to travel through the fictional kingdom of Malus and defeat the monsters that have taken over, as well as their leader, the red dragon Gildiss.
The setting is very similar to that of Dungeons & Dragons and other medieval fantasy worlds, with familiar monsters such as Orcs, Gnolls, Harpies, Wyverns, Cyclopes, and Minotaurs. The King Of Dragons was ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), added as one of the featured games in Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 in 2006 and later included in Capcom Beat ’Em Up Bundle in 2018.
Much like Capcom's Knights Of The Round, The King Of Dragons features an RPG-like level advancement system. Points scored for killing monsters and picking up gold count towards experience, and the character gains levels at regular intervals. With each level, the character's health bar increases, other attributes such as range improve, and the character also becomes invulnerable for a few seconds. Along the way, different weapon and armor upgrades for each character may also be picked up. The game has 16 levels, though many are quite short.
The King Of Dragons features a simple control system that consists of a single attack button, and a jump button. By pressing both buttons, the character unleashes a magical attack that strikes all enemies on the screen (its strength varies according to the character used) at the expense of losing energy. The fighter, cleric and dwarf can also use their shield to block certain attacks by pulling back right before the impact.
- Meteor - Rains destruction on enemies with a meteor storm.
- Thunderbolt - Thunder strikes the enemy.
- Fire Wall - Burns the enemy with fire.
- Frog - Turns the enemy into a frog.
- Jewelry - Turns the enemy into jewels.
The story below is as explained in the SNES manual. It is worth noting this version is a lot more detailed than the Japanese original, and elements such as Guindon, the king and the name of the land not featured or referenced in the original text.
"For over a hundred years, he had descended like a vulture on the land of Malus and left nothing behind but a scorched ruin where the creatures of darkness could reign. After much pleading by the farmers and townspeople, the armies of Malus were gathered and sent to do battle with the mighty red dragon known as Gildiss. Not a single man returned.
In desperation, the King sought guidance from his wizard, Guindon. Guindon told the king that he could cast a spell that would put Gildiss to sleep for one year, but if and when Gildiss awoke, he would be more powerful. Looking out over the suffering that had befallen his kingdom, the King decided his people could take no more. And so he commanded Guindon to put Gildiss to sleep.
Now the year has almost come to an end and darkness has once again befallen the kingdom of Malus. In the last year, the King has sent forth hundreds of knights to find and destroy Gildiss as he sleeps. None have been heard from again.
Now, as the creatures of darkness stand ready to plunge the land of Malus into the abyss, a new band of adventurers plans to set forth before Gildiss awakes..."
- Ravel the Elf (エルフ ラベル Erufu Raberu ) (age unknown, 175cm, 60kg) - A forest hunter with superb aiming skills, expert in the handling of the bow. He joined the party against the monsters as a member of a clan who seeks peace. The elven archer has the greatest range and speed of all the characters. However, he can not equip a shield and he suffers from low defense and weak attack strength. Furthermore, Ravel's defense never increases throughout the course of the game and his jump is slower than that of both the Fighter and Wizard. By obtaining better bows, Ravel increases the speed at which he fires arrows and their range, while arrow upgrades increase attack strength.
- Leger the Wizard (ウィザード レジェ Uizādo Reje ) (age 28, 173cm, 60kg) - A fighting magician on a journey researching ancient magic, he has joined the party to further his investigation. The wizard wields only a magical staff. He has fairly low defense and speed, but the best magic and the second best range. His attack power is weak early on, but extremely powerful later in the game. The speed at which Leger attacks does not improve, but is alleviated by the multi-hitting ability of his later staves. Defense is improved by various magical upgrades such as rings and amulets.
- Derek the Fighter (ファイター デレク Faitā Dereku ) (age 26, 183cm, 90kg) - A powerful swordfighter on a journey to find the dragon's treasure. Before joining this group, he has already killed a young green dragon with a party of six. The Fighter has the second strongest attack power. His range and speed easily outperform the other shield-carrying heroes (Cleric and Dwarf) and his jump is faster and higher. Derek gains HP the fastest and his speed can make his defense almost as good as the Cleric's. The main thing he lacks is magic, at which he is the weakest.
- Aldo the Cleric (クレリック アルド Kurerikku Arudo ) (age 34, 203cm, 109kg) - A pious and adventurous man, Aldo is on a study journey but he dreams of one day building a cathedral. As a servant of God he's not allowed to wield blades, so he prefers hammers as his weapon instead. The cleric is the largest hero in the game. He has fairly good magic and attack strength, as well as the best defense, although he is a bit slow and has the worst agility of the bunch, able to make only short, and slow hops. He also carries a shield and gains levels much faster than anyone else. His recovery, after using the shield, is the fastest in the game. Aldo is the personal favorite of most players. However, he is slower than the Fighter, and most of the Cleric players have switched to Fighter, due to the faster attacking, and much better hops Fighter has to offer to the aggressive and advanced players.
- Vargas the Dwarf (ドワーフ バルガス Dowāfu Varugasu ) (age unknown, 120cm, 70kg) - A small, yet mighty warrior who wields battle axes. After the dragon attacked his village, Vargas started a wandering trip to offer his help to those fighting against the monsters. The Dwarf, as his name suggests, is the smallest target of the five. He has the quickest melee attack speed and the second strongest defense, is fairly quick, and also has a shield. Vargas has also the longest jump; however, he has fairly weak magic and the worst range: every third strike is a ranged strike (unlike the Cleric and Fighter who alternate between a close and ranged strike).
- Great Dragonian (グレイト・ドラゴニアン Gureito Doragonian ) - A powerful Dragon Knight wearing golden armor and fighting with a "Seven Star Sword" (七星剣 Shichiseiken ), a segmented sword which can be extended to perform whip-like attacks. During the siege of the northern lands, he kidnapped Princess Mari, and is confronted in Level 11 to rescue her. He is an upgraded version of a boss character featured in a previous adventure game, Black Tiger.
- Chaotic Wizard Or (カオティック・ウイザード・オー Kaotikku Uizādo Ō ) - A magician subordinate of the Dark Wizard, he specializes in instant transportation magic. Faced at the entrance of the wizard's tower (Level 13), he teleports around and uses flame and electric magic to attack.
- Majin Hugo (魔人フーゴー Majin Fūgō ) - The Dark Wizard, Hugo is Gildiss' right-hand man. Through his association with the Red Dragon, Hugo can manipulate any flame-related magic. During the siege of the northern lands he took over Castle Garenos as his dwelling, and is confronted at the top tower during Level 13.
- Red Dragon Gildiss (レッド・ドラゴン・ギルディス Reddo Doragon Girudisu ) - The main antagonist, the supreme monster with unprecedented power, his awakening has unleashed monstrous hordes across the land. He remains hidden within a large cavern alongside his massive treasure, and is faced in its confines as the final boss.
- Trent (トレント Torento ) - An ancient living tree standing in the middle of Trent's Forest. Infested by a horde of giant spiders, he shows his gratitude to the heroes by gifting them a weapon and informing them of the siege of the northern lands.
- Herschel (ハーシェル Hāsheru ) - A knight and owner of the castle in the northern lands, under siege by the monster hordes. After defeating the Black Knight in Level 9, he approaches the heroes and request their help in rescuing Princess Mari.
- Princess Mari (王女マリー Ōjo Marī ) - The princess of the lands, Mari led the offensive against the monster hordes during the battle, but was captured by the monsters and held prisoner in the Fort. The heroes battle the Great Dragonian to rescue her, and afterwards she asks them for their aid in retaking Castle Garenos.
- Level 1 - Orc King - Orc Village
- Level 2 - Minotaur - Treasure in an Old Castle
- Level 3 - Wyvern - Battle on a Mountain Peak
- Level 4 - Hydra - Cave of the Hydra
- Level 5 - Troglodyte Brigand - (mini-boss) - To the Nord Isle
- Level 6 - Cyclops - The Giant in the Shrine
- Level 7 - Giant Spider - Trent Woods
- Level 8 - Dragon Rider - To the Castle
- Level 9 - Black Knight - In the Castle
- Level 10 - Wraith - Underpass
- Level 11 - Great Dragonian - Battle in the Fort
- Level 12 - Royal Knights - Castle Garenos
- Level 13 - Dark Wizard - Dark Wizard
- Level 14 - Frost Wyvern - Cave in the Woods
- Level 15 - Cyclops Brothers - Underground Labyrinth
- Level 16 - Gildiss the Red Dragon - Golden Limestone Cave
- In the SNES version, the music played during the boss in Stage 15 is the same music that plays during the fight against Cyclops in Stage 6. In the original version, it is the same music that plays during the fight against the Orc King in Stage 1.
- In the arcade version, there are often skeletons of deceased soldiers laying around in the background. They can be attacked for hidden treasure. There were removed or replaced with treasure chests in the SNES version.
- The arcade version rewards points when an enemy's projectile is countered. The SNES version does not.
- The point total for each treasure is shown in the arcade version, but not the SNES version.
- In the arcade version of the fight with the Hydra in Stage 4, all three heads attack at the same time. In the SNES version, only two heads can fight at once with the third head coming in after one of them has been defeated. Also, the American arcade version shows the hydra's heads' necks being snapped off of its body, whereas in the SNES version, they are simply shown falling to the ground as if it were still attached to the body due to Nintendo's censorship.
- In the arcade version, when treasure lingered around without being picked up, a thief would rush over and pick it up to steal it. He can be stopped by attacking him. He'll drop the treasure and leave behind a satchel of his own ill-gained goods. He was removed from the SNES version, where the treasure simply just vanishes.
- Little rabbits flee in the beginning and end of the first stage in the arcade version. They're not shown in the SNES version.
- The fight with the Black Knight in Stage 9 was harder in the arcade version. During battle, he has two extra dragons to aid him in battle. They were likely taken out of the SNES version because it was deemed too hard or the cartridge didn't have enough memory.
- The pictures of the characters the player(s) meet have lip sync to match their dialogue in the arcade version. The SNES version has still pictures of the characters.
- A couple of background features were left out of the SNES version and shown only in the arcade version. For example, the nighttime sky moves in the background as if time were passing in the fight with the Cyclops at the end of stage 6, and there's a firewall blocking the courtyard at the second dragon rider in stage 9.
- In the arcade version, if a character dies but then rejoins, after a stage is cleared, the player have the option to change their character or stay with the one they originally selected. In the SNES version, they play as the character they originally selected throughout the whole adventure.
- What happens after the epilogue is different in both versions. In the arcade version, there are credits of the staff who worked on the game. Fairies fly by and present the names and Gildiss will either smash them with his fist or blow them away with fire. In the SNES version, there is a recap of all the bosses that appeared in each level.
- Derek, Ravel, Leger, Vargas and Aldo made cameo appearances in the Japan-only release Adventure Quiz: Capcom World 2 as opponents.
- Ravel the Elf was one of two characters considered to be an Assist Partner in Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes alongside Lancelot from Knights Of The Round. Atsushi Tomita wanted to include both characters because he liked them, but had to scrap them because "he wasn't making a game tailored to his preferences".
- This was one of many Capcom games to feature the spinning Yashichi power-up item. In this game, there are three hidden throughout the game, each giving the player an extra continue.
- The cover art for the Super Nintendo version of the game was painted by Julie Bell, who, around the same time, did the US cover art for Demon's Crest.
Arcade Version [Game Masters]
Based on their known roles, a proper staff roll would closely resemble the following:
Planner: Chin, Tomoshi, Tolaya, Gyo
Scroll Design: HK, Yama, Mikiman, Miyao, Iwai
Object Design: SSS, Mizuho, Hayashi, Manbou, Guych, Dany
Programmer: Blbon, Ogachy, Hirabe, Wakio
Presented by: Capcom
The King of Dragons, like many other games during this era of gaming, credited its staff in its default Score Ranking Table, which is as follows:
- 1st 100000 Blb
- 2nd 80000 Wak
- 3rd 50000 Ogt
- 4th 10000 Sat
- 5th 5000 Sad
Box Art and Advertisement
- Gamest Extra Vol. 81: All Capcom (October 15, 1992). "Capcom Game Character Encyclopedia". "Protagonists" section.
- The King of Dragons (April 3, 1994). Japanese game manual pg. 11-23
- Secret File #18 - Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes. Page 9