(Nice unbiased title up there to keep you guessing what my opinion of the game is, right?)
Jaleco are a name I usually associate with quality – they made my favourite arcade platform game (Rodland) and Game Tengoku’s a lot of fun too. Slam Dragon’s another matter entirely – a Playstation fighting game that’s apparently been made by people with no concept of fighting or games or basic human movement.
Of course it’s worth taking a moment to remember that using 3D rendered characters or recorded actors to create a 2D beat ‘em up was massively impressive back in 1993-1994 when Mortal Kombat II and Killer Instinct hit were kings of the arcades… so it’s something of a shame to point out that Slam Dragon came out in 1996, roughly a month after Tekken 2 was wowing Japanese console owners with an arcade-at-home experience to rival the Saturn’s Virtua Fighter 2 (released the year before).
To say that Slam Dragon was a little late to catch the prerendered fighter wave is something of an understatement. Sometimes that’s OK though – a refined title that’s been lavished with love and care is welcome any time, and gaming is littered with perfectly good titles “lost” simply because they came out too early, too late, or on the “wrong” format.
Slam Dragon boasts not one of those admirable qualities. Slam Dragon is a bare-bones beat ‘em up featuring a small roster of personality-free pugilists memorable only for their awkward animations and sub-par FMV win poses. I’d complain about each character’s ending FMV too – if they had one. The Virtua Fighter series gets a pass on this front because it’s deeper than the Mariana Trench and designed so beautifully in all regards it’s rightly considered a boundary-pushing classic. In contrast Slam Dragon weakly copies a few very standard beat ‘em up gameplay devices (power bar, taunts, command normals) and neither polishes them into a serviceable-if-uninspired game or dares to do something crazy that doesn’t work but was worth having a go at.
I’d say more, but Slam Dragon simply isn’t worth wasting anyone’s time over - the most interesting point I can come up with is the unplayable final boss is a blue-bottomed chap in a leather thong named “X”, and he has an attack that fires literally invisible shots across the arena at you. Not even SNK would OK that sort of behaviour for a boss.
On Kimimi’s Scale of Crudness Slam Dragon ranks at –12461A3841 And A Banana, which translates as “Not even fit to be used ironically as a drinks coaster” (which is a fate I happily dished out to Septentrion and Deep Fear).