Title  : Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon
Platforms  : Microsoft Xbox
Publisher  : Universal Interactive
ESRB Rating  : Teen
Game Rating  : 4.3
Review by  : Ken Gagne

I've longtime been a fan of Jackie Chan and, more recently, Jet Li – martial artists who use their powers for good, albeit on the silver screen. He who started it all is no longer with us, but those who remember Bruce Lee will find his memory dishonored by Universal Interactive's Xbox game, Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon. 

Featuring players as Bruce Lee, this 3D beat-em-up is in the style of Double Dragon or Final Fight. The hero runs through temples, jungles, and streets, occasionally encountering swarms of ninja and other assailable foes. At this point he punches, kicks, and jumps his way through these lifelike mannequins. Gold he collects can be used between levels to increase his repertoire of maneuvers. 

This gameplay features little variety. Though the combat rounds can come with different stipulations — timed brawls, nunchaku fights, and more – each battle is essentially the same. There's no non-combative action that requires well-timed jumps, or puzzles in which Bruce must collect keys. 

Since fighting is the game's main attraction, it's important to learn how to do it well. Unfortunately, the training mode is dysfunctional; despite the presence of a sensei, there are no lessons to master or techniques to perfect. Many facets of the actual gameplay, from using dragon power to purchasing new ranks, are described only in the manual, and even then not fully. What the manual does detail are eight pages of attack moves — but when it comes right down to it, players will find themselves mashing buttons to execute moves quickly enough to mow down the neverending waves of enemies. 

Control can often be an issue. Since this game is 3D, one might expect "down" to move Bruce toward the screen, but instead he'll duck. It's actually a sensible setup, but requires practice. More troublesome is locking onto an enemy and attacking it, as unlike most movies, these villains don't take turns in pummelling the protagonist. Powerful moves can knock several opponents flat, but generally Bruce will find himself overwhelmed, with too many enemies and not enough continues to see his way through them all. 

These enemies are generic palette-swapped clones of each other, and lack the articulated 3D model of Lee himself. The slow motion that occurs at the end of each battle is stunted and anything but dramatic. Constant loading times are minuscule yet noticeable, reminiscent of the graphical slowdown of older systems. Bruce's alto squeals are annoying; sadly, their authenticity puts them at the top of the game's very bad voice acting, which ranges from inappropriately unaccented to clipped, cheesy accents. 

Bruce Lee may be a master of martial arts styles, but not the beat-em-up gameplay style. This genre is decades old, and the presence of the Dragon Master is insufficient garnishing. Poor control, boring gameplay, too difficult… too many missed punches.


This article is copyright (c) 2002, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 15-Jul-02