Dragon is a cancelled action RPG that was in development around 1998 – 1999 by Eclipse Entertainment, planned to be published on PC by Microsoft. The game was based on the chinese mythology, somehow similar to another Microsoft published RPG: Jade Empire. The game was quite hyped at the time and it was featured on Eclipse’s old website and on their 3D Engine page:
“Step into a 3D world more beautiful, more dangerous, and more amazing than any you have ever seen. Explore an ancient Chinese temple, teeming with evil. Play as one of 6 champions, alone, with, or against friends. Bone crunching martial arts, sizzling spell effects, and richly detailed world make Dragon a Grandmaster among games.”
Some more details about the game were published in a preview by Next Generation magazine (issue 51, march 1999):
“Although start-up Eclipse has only one game under its belt (last year’s Jack Nicholas for Accolade), its employees have experience in the game industry everywhere from Infocom to EA to 3D0 to Origin. And Eclipse has already built the engine on which the game will be based, the impressive Genesis 3D, which supports such features as realtime light detraction, true mirrors, vertex morphing, and soft-skin polygon characters.”
“The story is based largely on Chinese mythology. You take the role of either the grandson (slower but stronger) or granddaughter (faster but weaker) of a martial arts master, who has been kidnapped and placed in the dungeons of Quinggong by your father. Quinggong is the Teetering Palace, a temple that borders the mountains, the ocean, and the spirit world. Your job? Infiltrate the temple, defeat your father’s army of supernatural beings, and rescue your grandfather.”
“Although play balancing has yet to begin (which may change things dramatically), the game is about 50% combat and 50% exploration and puzzle solving. The puzzles, thankfully, look to be more than just the “find the switch” dreck that has come to characterize too many action/adventures. In one room, for instance, players are confronted with a river of lava they must cross. Too wide to jump, the solution is to smash a huge clay pot in the room, causing water to flow onto the lava, cooling it.”
“Players fight by using a combination of martial arts and supernatural powers (spells) and grow in skill (by learning new fighting moves and spells) as the game progresses, and separate bars will measure physical and spiritual health.”
Unfortunately Dragon quietly vanished and was never released: today it seems no traces remain online of its existence, but this page on Unseen64. We don’t know what happened to the project, but in late 1999 WildTangent acquired the team: maybe their new owners were not interested in continuing such an ambitious game or Microsoft was not happy with how it was shaping up, deciding to cancel their collaboration.
Ooh, this looks very cool! I love how between games like New Legends and Azurik, Microsoft really wanted both some kind of Asian fantasy game and a Soul Reaver-esque adventure title. This looked like it would’ve been a killer title in terms of fitting in with that kind of thing, which is why it’s weird to hear it wasn’t being planned for the Original Xbox. Still, it looks nice!
indeed, I wonder if the project may have been too ambitious for the team as they only worked on Golf games before it, and maybe gameplay was not as fun as they hoped for :O
Hey! I came across this article while looking up the game again. I was one of the art leads on the project and can say that the cancellation was the result of several reasons – A) It was really ambitious considering we were developing the engine at the same time as the game B) It underwent a few design and scope changes over the course of development and eventually funding fell through after we asked for an extension. That was a bummer as we had just gone through a design phase to make levels and combat cooler and more fun. We had a 2-page article in Next Gen magazine at the time, right before cancellation. I REALLY love wuxia films and we were adding a lot of Chinese mythology based on a member of the team who was also a subject matter expert. We had cool enemies including hopping/floating vampires and it was looking better. But ultimately the budget and time didn’t fit with the release plans Microsoft had. It would have come out before Oni, which was probably our closes PC competitor at the time in that genre. I don’t know if it would have been a huge hit (we had a WAYS to go), but we were certainly trying to make it a fun exploration combat game based on all the cool martial arts movies and mythology that we dug.
thanks a lot for sharing your memories about the project Tony! It’s always interesting to read about a cancelled game from people who worked on it, especially when it was as promising as Dragon!