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Let's Play ''Rise of the Dragon''!
Black Wolfe

[table of contents]
Let's Read a Manual Disguised as a Comic!
In my The Adventures Of Willy Beamish Let's Play, I referred a few times to Rise Of The Dragon as being a far superior game despite being made a year earlier. I will now show you why.

Ah, Rise Of The Dragon. A game so nice, they Bowdlerized it twice. We'll be playing the original 3.5" floppy version of the game — the one I bought back when the game was new — so we get the deleted scenes and background animations, but the only voice acting we get is in the intro.

As with The Adventures Of Willy Beamish, we begin this Live Blog with the feelies: In this case, an ashcan comic setting up the plot for the game.

That's a dynamic pose, there, Blade.

No, this isn't a case of a bad scan — the comic is in ashcan style, which is to say it came as a bunch of photocopied pages stapled together.

Note that even though the game is billed as "A Blade Hunter Mystery," the comic still retains the title of the game. It is also VOL. 1 and #1 COLLECTOR'S EDITION!

This is more than an introduction to the story and characters — and, in fact, some of this is reproduced in the opening animation of the game, and in color, no less — it gives us a quick run-down of the things we will need to know.

While I'll talk about it page-by-page, I won't be including the entire comic, just images I feel are of particular interest. If you want to follow along, it can be found here. I will be breaking it down page by page.

The inside front cover is an advertisement for an immersive VR system called CEREBRO CEREB-O. It's styled more like an Atari 2600 ad than an ad for one of the then-current game systems, but then the developers were modeling the comic after comics they grew up with.

Pages 1 & 2 are the post-credit opening animation for the game, only in the original black and white lineart instead of the 256-color glory of the game. The only advantage they have over the animated version is that they're not voice-acted.

Page 3: Self-Deprecation and a parody of GRIT's "sell our magazine for cash and prizes" ads that deserves to be shared.

It's a parody of this kind of ad, if you're curious.

I particularly love the Neat Prizes gag:
Like this new Death & Weston Model A-10 .55 Cal, Pump-Action "Hard-Sell"!

And later in the same ad:

You'll find, with the proper sales tools, everyone eager to buy GRIME!

Hint hint.

Page 4: You know those pages full'o'ads you see in comics? This is the only one in this book, but it's worth commenting on if only to point out what jokes work and what don't. (Typos reproduced because who knows if they're deliberate or not?)

STAMPS

(Yeah, that one's BIG.) "Send SASE for a free catalogue." Hmmm, wonder where they get their supply from?
A smoke BOMB. Ha. Ha. Ha.
YYBPYWWYPBRRBYW
That is the final solution to a puzzle that is otherwise a really long game of "Simon" in the final section of the game.

Page 5-7: The mayor calls on our hero, William "Blade" Hunter, to ask him to take on a case. I think all of one person ever calls him William in the entire game. Ever.

I have a proposal that you might be interested in.

Due to hanging around IJBM for too long, and really bad photocopy quality, I Read That As "I have a pedophile that you might be interested in." Um, no thanks, Mr. Mayor. Also, our letterer does not know the difference between a question mark and an exclamation mark.

Page 8: Black dude is named Apollo. Our mystery starts someplace called a Pleasuredome. I like the future a bit more now.

Page 9: Girl in opening animation is the Mayor's daughter, Blade used to be a cop.

Page 10: She died from bad drugs. Blade was a loose cannon cop who doesn't play by the rules. If he succeeds, he gets his pension back. If he fails, IMF The Mayor will officially disavow any knowledge of his actions. Also, the Mayor brought that manual I was talking about earlier.

Page 11: It is entitled... Well...
Yeah. That.

Here we go with the manual itself. The foreword, which is labeled "Forward" is a single quote from Chang Li, who wrote this book, and will show up in the game:
"So you wanna be a Private Eye: Well buddy, you came to the right place."

After the foreword, we have a legitimate Brick Joke:

Dear valued Customer:

Congratulations on your purchase of the A Step by Step Guide to Private Investigation and Other Fun Things, another fine product from the Ximanyd family of companies.

This manual contains: One (dozen) pages which detail everything you need to know to achieve a personally fulfilling and financially rewarding career in the personal investigation field.

You will learn:

Next we have a table of contents, but that's pretty much the exact same thing as the prior list, so we'll just cut to the chase, shall we?  *

Page 15-16: Field Interrogation Techniques. Has a couple of jokes. One of which is "Step Two: Find a field." I wish I was kidding. Also a warning that some conversation options may piss people off, rendering the game unwinnable.

Page 17: Look around at shit. This gets an entire page.

Page 18: There's a thingy  * you get that lets you tap people's phones. It's nominally a "wire tester kit." When the red light flashes, you've fucked up and need to disconnect it or die. It does not warn you to watch the fluctuating voltage that kills you the same way without warning.

Page 19: The Em (Em-Way, short for Electro-Magnetic subway) is free and "relatively safe." Italics indicate words that will be defined in the glossary. The Em takes time. (Looking at a destination by right-clicking tells you how long, but Gameplay and Story Segregation means they can't tell you that. That's why this manual is a bad idea.)

Page 20-22: You get a pulse particle-beam pistol, tiny shaped plastic explosives, and a wire-tester kit. These pages have pictures so you can identify them. Page 22 tells you not to leave the house without your ID card, but not where to find it, which means you can make the game unwinnable in under a minute. It also warns you that Aerosol Personal Protect Devices are only good for getting a buzz, and that body armor is "a good idea."

Page 23: Bribery. Use candy bars for bribery. This comes into play in like one place, but failure to do so can fuck you over on day one. Also, healthy eating is for pussies. You must have "the digestive system of a pachyderm."

Page 24: Sleep must be taken care of. If you stay up too long, you'll pass out and that's a bad thing. I can't remember if you get arrested or mugged or what, so we'll find out! Also, "Handy PI Fashion tips" has this to say:

We recommend wearing clothes, preferably something which hasn't been washed recently, but doesn't smell too bad. Public displays of nudity are generally frowned upon by most members of the law enforcement community.

"We recommend wearing clothes." Pfft.

Page 25 In Its Entirety is full of terms, many of which are jokes, referenced earlier in the book:

Dead duck. PI jargon - means bite the big one.

'effin. Slang for friggin'

Em-Way. Electromagnetically levitated subway system.

Pachyderm. Think skinned mammal such as an elephant or rhinoceros.

pulse particle-beam handgun. A handgun which fires a burst of highly organized associative particles instead of a lead projectile.

'Relatively safe' Euphemism meaning 20% chance of death or dismemberment.

'Repairing' someone else's VidPhone. Euphemism meaning run a tap and listen in on someone's private life.

Valued Customer. Anyone who is willing to shell out the ridiculously large amount of money it takes to buy one of our products.

The last page of the comic is Blade closing the cover on the manual and declaring it to be a piece of garbage. Then we get a letters page despite this being a first issue, two more pages of ads - one for a World War III Action Set, one for a Charles Atlas parody in which what is being advertised is a large-caliber revolver called a "Real Man," which is immediately under an ad for a body building formula called "Dyna-Mix" which includes the lines "Terrorize little skinny guys on beaches! Be a qualified bully!" as its final two lines.

And the back cover has some really nice line-art of the Rise Of The Dragon logo:

That is an awesome logo.

And we're done with the comic. Next, the actual game!
20th Jan '11 2:47:14 AM flag for mods
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