If you've been a part of the Nintendo 64 scene for a while then I'm sure you've heard of Dragon Sword 64 at one point or another. It was a very promising Hack 'n' Slash game developed
by Interactive Studios and to be published by MGM Interactive. Interactive Studios was involved in at least 3 Nintendo 64 projects and yet only one game, Glover, actually saw a release.
The game was completely finished and should've saw a release in Fall of 1999, but it was cancelled by MGM who didn't think the game would be profitable.
All went quiet about this game until April of 2010 when an unfinished PAL version hit the internet. There's no real interesting story behind it, it was dumped anonymously and came with
a really nice readme. Over 6 and a half years later we have another
piece of the Dragon Sword puzzle. Thanks to my good friend Rama, Micro-64 is proud to present a new ROM release: The Dragon Sword NTSC Beta Version!
The ROM is 11.3 MB in size. It was originally on a 32 MB dev cart but 20.7 MB was left blank so we resized it.
Deep inside the ROM we found this interesting bit of text:
It says v 23.0..25-8-99.progress.bmp. This could possibly be a build date. Unfortunately the PAL version doesn't have this.
Now the main menu of the game looks like this:
Adventure works and is where you start your game. When you first begin you pick a character but what's comical is the 4th character hasn't been implemented yet so they put the Chykyn in
as a placeholder. If you do pick the Chykyn then you'll start the game as one of the enemy Ogre Grunt Soldiers. The other 3 characters are working.
VS Mode is where you can play a deathmatch battle against your friend. 3 Levels are working, the Coliseum, Lavatomb, and Ethereal, unfortunately nothing else under VS Mode works.
Nothing under Options works either.
Load Data is the most interesting option here. It's essentially a developers menu that gives you a lot of cool stuff to play with. There's a level select, a place to view enemies, and
you can listen to all the music and sound effects in the game. There is one more option that says View FMV, but there's only one cutscene it plays and then the game crashes.
We'll now go through each level and report on its playability and show some pictures too.
Level 1 starts out with your character breaking free of their shackles. You make your way across a bridge that is immediately destroyed and go through a volcano destroying hoards of
ogres. When you make it to the end you'll fight a boss ogre known as Govner. Defeating him starts the next level.
Level 2 takes place in a swamp and introduces a lot of new enemies including skeletons, spiders, and plants. Later on in the level is a small village where you must raise a bridge. When
you get to the end of the level you'll find a few plant enemies and a Samurai Boss. This Samurai is completely untextured and does not move. You can hit him and knock his health down, but
everytime you hit him he goes higher and higher off the ground until he's too high. I've never been able to knock down all his health. Luckily the exit to the level is right behind him
which you can enter.
Level 3 takes place in a shipyard and involves activating a lot of switches to open doors. The boss at the end of the level is once again unfinished and missing textures. You can at
least fight him. You dodge a bunch of attacks, then he puts his head down and you'll get 1 or 2 punches in. He has a lot of health which makes this fight very slow. He can be defeated
though, and the next level begins once that happens.
Level 4 starts out in a haunted port town. You eventually enter a tavern, before going through sewers and then ending up back on top at a graveyard. There's no boss fight, once you exit
the graveyard you start the next level.
Level 5 Begins right outside a castle in some rather shitty weather. A ton of new enemies are also introduced here. You eventually enter the castle and go through several rooms before
you find the boss arena. Unfortunately there's no boss and no exit so your stuck once you enter this room.
We have to use the level select code to reach this level. From the look of things development on Level 6 was only just beginning. It currently looks like a weird coliseum that's part of
another dimension. You can enter 2 different rooms. Trying to exit the second room crashes the game.
Level 7 is a copy of level 5. There's a Ratman and a giant spellbook which means they were just testing enemies here. You can go up to the castle but the loading zone to enter is not
Level 8 9 and 10 do not exist. Selecting them with the level select code crashes the game.
The last thing we can access with the Level Select is this Test Level. There's a sword and shield you can pick up. Otherwise there's nothing really to see here.
That's all the enemies you can see without the game crashing on console. We tried using an emulator which does not crash to view the rest of the enemies and it worked. Check out this video to see the results.
There's not much music to this game. The game has 8 tracks listed in the developers menu but not all of it is actually music, plus the Boss music is put there 3 times. I ripped the only
3 notworthy tracks from the game. The game also has 139 sound effects that you can hear.
Here's a few shots of that single FMV cutscene that you can view in the menu. This cutscene hasn't been used anywhere in the game yet.
Here's something that's different between the NTSC and PAL version which causes confusion. In the NTSC version you have a fireball attack you can use by pressing Z. All 3 of the available main characters have it and using it drains your red bar. This is a great addition to the game, We busted out a Gameshark and used it to fill this red bar full. The result? You get a huge fire attack that kills all enemies around you. It's very neat! It makes boss fights very easy. In the PAL version the red bar has been removed and it doesn't seem like you can do any magic.
Both versions of the game have a blue bar and if you can figure out what this bar is for please let me know. I've managed to both raise and lower it while attacking enemies but it
doesn't seem to do anything. My best guess is that it's some sort of experience system that hasn't been implemented yet.
This is the placeholder image that some enemies have. Looks a hell of a lot like Darth Maul doesn't it?
Let's end this article with some kind words from the man who brought us this ROM:
"With the Help of Micro-64 I'm happy to present this never before seen early version of the Cancelled game "Dragon Sword".
Video game preservation is an important thing but unfortunately 99% of the time it's very expensive!
Unfortunately I dont have too much of a background story of this one, I found it on a gaming buy/sell facebook page largely based in the UK. I was lucky enough to have someone point it
out to me but the seller had no NTSC console to test it on so it was largely a big gamble, to my absolute joy when I tested the cart it not only worked but was quite a bit different from
the only Rom known to exist.
The seller couldn't give me much info on its background other than he purchased it in a bulk lot.
I hope you all enjoy going through this interesting build and checking out its cool features."
-Rama Shotton / Bobo Mcloud.
I can't thank him enough for releasing something like this. I would also like to once again thank SubDrag as he's a real expert at finding stuff. Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the