Review by Johnny Cairo

Reviewed: 07/13/03 | Updated: 07/13/03

The cutest siezure-inducing shooter of all time!

Shooters are often characterised as incredibly hard, intense games so it's only natural that someone in Japan had the brilliant idea of making a pure shooter aimed squarely at kids. Behold Coryoon: Child of Dragon, the garishly cute product of that idea. Surprisingly enough, it all works well enough that any kid could pick it up and have a blast... until they die. And die. And die again. This sporadically brilliant game is nearly killed by its one major flaw.

Forced unto the world by Naxat Soft in the early 90s, the game concerns, as usual, a madmoiselle facing a crisis that can only be averted by the adorable little wyrm-whelp of the title! In this case, we open to witness a Seemingly Ordinary Day -- a beautiful princess and her pet dragon are engaging in a friendly debate over the possible existence of hidden symbolism in Fellini's Satyricon, when suddenly an evil sorcerer with no arms springs out of the clouds!! Before you can say ''never saw that coming'', though, our ingénue is transformed into a super-deformed ''chibi'' version of herself!!! As she can do nothing but bawl about this sudden turn of events (well, of course; she's a GIRL after all), our hero grits his scotch-brited teeth. Being a dragon of action, he chooses to take matters into his own hands/wings/talons and pursues the cowardly fiend!!!! Never again shall innocent heirs be turned into Ranma 1/2 characters!!!!!

So, with that ultra-dramatic emotional crescendo, our game is underway. Thanks to a rich, melodic musical score, we know we're in for a real tubthumper of a game... or are we? Aesthetically, Coryoon immediately makes a great impression on the gamer, with insane amounts of parallax layers scrolling by at equally insane speeds as the first level (a dark forest) explodes into action. Coryoon, our valiant hero, looks as lovable as a Care Bear plush toy, but without the flagrant ''cute'' factor shoved into our faces. He flaps his wings smoothly, and there seems to be a breathing animation to boot. Then, as in most shooters, enemies come pouring out of the woodwork and it all turns sour before you know it.

Let me elaborate on that final statement. See, all the enemies in this game are either ludicrously huge or tiny. When Coryoon blasts one of these fantastical creatures by means of accurate projectile vomiting, a tiny point bonus flies through the air in the form of a tiny, circular fruit (an apple or an orange), which usually begets the spawning of even more tiny spherical enemies to come flying at you in synchronicity. Vomiting on a stork (bearing a swaddled kid, no less!) can give our whelp a power-up which looks like, you guessed it, a tiny colored sphere. There's so much confusion on these early screens as to what's a power-up and what's an enemy, and this can waste lives in a pinch! For a dragon, Coryoon is about as durable as a sculpture made from candy glass and he'll be obliterated by colliding into many an undetectable enemy before one even makes it to the first boss.

On the flipside there's always lots of stuff going on at once and the framerate doesn't stutter or even slacken its feverish pace, even with fifty little spheroids bouncing around every which-way, and the graphics are just bursting with vibrant color and charming details. The look of Coryoon is not totally unlike modern ''cel-shaded'' games, and the visuals hold up well even today -- especially after things shape up and you're annihilating more conventional evildoers such as deformed bees which sprout smaller deformed bees, or pouting spiders dangling from strings. Bosses are huge, given shooter standards, and tend to use the same tactics of a ''basic attack'' followed by the random firing of lethal fireballs. While chewing up scenery like chronic overactors and exploding with detail, even the lowliest of them must be shot roughly forty quadrillion times before anything good happens.

Gulping down a powerup can either give Coryoon the power to breathe oceans of fire, emit Gunhed-style pulse waves, or microscopic lightning bolts which haphazardly fly out in multiple directions but cannot be aimed to any considerable degree. In addition, Coryoon pays homage to its R-Type roots with a chargable super-attack which allows our hero to vomit more profusely on an opponent. While they provide our hungry eyes with more delectable candy (especially the fire, which actually demonstrates intriguing lighting effects in dark areas!), none of the powerups provide any kind of edge against the opposition, as you must instead rely on inhumanly fast reflexes to save your bacon. If you hand the controller to an impressionable child and leave the room for a minute, it's almost guaranteed that when you return he'll be writhing on the floor, foaming at the mouth and reciting Bryan Adams lyrics. This kind of delerium, previously attained only by the not-so-magnificent RayCrisis, would probably be way too much for a child to handle -- the screen totally saturated with inbound projectiles and leering enemies to taunt you on even after you use up the few continues Naxat allows.

Difficulty this incredulous leads me to believe that the intern at Naxat Soft didn't deliver all the proper memos to members of the development staff and instead gave us an endearing kid's game that's inaccessible to children.

At least the music's really good when you die.

Regardless of the confusion over what audience could better appreciate Coryoon, there's still a solid game standing under all the rubble, and a genuine desire to press on despite the silly plot. The ending, for the few who can reach that sacred plateau, achieves delirious heights of hilarity so lofty that I dare not reveal them. In that respect Coryoon can be seen as a strange spoof on the shooter genre as a whole; it's about time someone attacked it. If you'd prefer that that's the case, then I humbly withdraw my previous grievances and award this game a 10. For those who aren't manly enough to handle the nonstop intensity, stay as far away from this game as possible. For those who can complete this without cheating, congratulations. You've grown your wings and can kick ass with the best of them.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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