Codex Gamicus

The King of Dragons (ザ・キングオブドラゴンズ?) is a 1991 side-scrolling hack and slash arcade game by Capcom that allows players to choose from five characters (Elf, Wizard, Fighter, Cleric, and Dwarf) in order to travel through the 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 and Dragons and other medieval fantasy worlds, with familiar monsters such as Orcs, Gnolls, Harpies, Wyverns, Cyclopes, and Minotaurs. The game has 16 levels, though many are quite short.

Much like Capcom's Knights of the Round, 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.

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 in 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 tilting the joystick back right before the impact.


File:King of Dragons Yashichi.png

Gameplay of The King of Dragons.


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, the elf's defense never increases through the course of the game and his jump is slower than that of both the Fighter and Wizard. By obtaining better bows the Elf increases the speed at which he fires arrows and their range, while arrow upgrades increase attack strength. Also, the Bow doesn't really change its appearance.


The wizard wields only a magical staff. He has fairly low defense and average 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 the Wizard 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.


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. The Fighter 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.


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. Whenever the cleric picks up a healing item he heals his teammates too, although it depends on the other character how often this works.


The Dwarf, as his name suggests, is the smallest target of the five. He has the slowest melee attack speed and the second strongest defense, is fairly quick, and also has a shield. The Dwarf 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).


The game was ported to the Super NES in 1994. This port reduces the number of simultaneous players down to 2. The sprites' size were also reduced moderately. It is also possible to assign the magic attack and shield defense to different buttons.

The arcade version is part of Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2, which was released for the PS2 & Xbox in November 2006. This was also in Capcom Classics Collection: Reloaded for the PlayStation Portable.

Game features[]

This was one of the many Capcom games to feature the Yashichi power-up item. In this game, there are three hidden throughout the game, each giving the player an extra continue. Also, although it might be a coincidence, the game's overall style and setting are very similar to the games Capcom later made using the Dungeons & Dragons license in the mid '90s. However, the gameplay was greatly changed.

The music in this game was composed by Yoko Shimomura. Some of the monster voices are identical to those made by Toho Kaiju such as Anguirus and King Ghidorah.

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