Quiz & Dragons: Capcom Quiz Game
Yes, it's time for another video game review. This time I'm reaching into the depths of obscurity to bring you Capcom's Quiz & Dragons, one of the most truly bizarre games ever put out by the gaming giant. Perhaps it's not quite as weird as Mega Man Soccer or Eco Fighters, but it's still pretty fucked up. As the title so implies, this game combines the frustration of a multiple choice quiz that you didn't study for with, well, dragons. Basically, it's a lot like bar trivia. The only difference that you're competing against wizards and vampires instead of middle-aged has-beens with failing livers. Also, these questions were written in or before 1992, so some of them are more than a little dated. Since this is a fucking trivia game, it doesn't really need a plot. But hey, Capcom gave us one anyway.
Our story takes place in Capconia, a peaceful kingdom whose name I expected to be succeeded by a ™ sign. It's not, but the Seed of Wisdom, which is a crucial part of this ridiculous plot, gets its name in quotation marks. Stylistically, I don't understand what Capcom was shooting for here. As far as I know, quotation marks have one main use: they're used to show you're QUOTING something. Since Capcom just made this seed bullshit up, the narrative clearly isn't quoting anything. I supposed the quotation marks could be there to demonstrate the narrator's displeasure with the object's name. Perhaps this so-called "Seed of Wisdom" does not actually bestow information of any real value. In the next frame, this theory is destroyed when its name is inexplicably changed to the Wisdom Seed and its power is clearly defined. Not only that, but the programmers used insure when ensure would be aesthetically preferable. I probably should have learned a long time ago that it's exceptionally naïve to expect proper English semantics from a Japanese gaming company, so let's move on.
OK, so the plot is this: Capconia is a peaceable kingdom that controls the Wisdom Seed. In the hands of some evil bastard, the Wisdom Seed could bring the world into one of those eras of darkness that we're always hearing about. But since Capconia controls the seed, that's not going to happen. Ever. So unless something horrible happens within the next couple seconds, this is going to be a real fucking boring game.
FUCK! Someone stole the Wisdom Seed! Gee, I never saw that one coming. Apparently, you're going to have defeat an evil warlock named Gordian and his army of viking werewolves if you want to save Capconia. The question is why should YOU have to do this? Where are all of Capcom's other medeival heroes while this shit is going down? Where's Sir Arthur from Ghosts 'n Goblins? Where are Lancelot and Perceval from Knights of the Round? Where's that generic barbarian from Magic Sword? I demand answers. Here's another fucking question: if this Wisdom Seed is so fucking great, why couldn't it help Capconia's ruler forsee Gordian's invasion? None of this adds up.
With his newfound power, Gordian imbues monsters with the power to ask really hard trivia questions. Yeah, that's fucking brilliant. Apparently in Capconia, a bloodthirsty dragon isn't all that scary. But if you take that same dragon and teach it who the original lead singer of Van Halen was, the townsfolk will flee in terror. This is a classic Sophoclean setup; "Oedipus Rex" opens with the title character using his superior intellect to defeat a riddling sphinx who was eating the locals. I think we all know how the rest of *that* story goes. If you can defeat Gordian, maybe you'll get to fuck someone's mom. If you're really lucky, maybe it'll even be someone else's mom.
When King Santa Claus sees the fucking mess that he's gotten himself into, he calls on his four bravest warriors to save the day and his credibility as a sagacious ruler. While the Capconian monarch was not smart enough to avoid disaster, he knows enough not to take on Gordian himself. As a mindless servant of Santa's tyranny, it is your job to preserve his reign. Are you a bad enough dude to answer trivia questions written in the early 90s?
In keeping with its fantasy theme, Quiz and Dragons lets you play as one of four exciting characters: a fighter, a wizard, an amazon, or a ninja. Each character has their own special ability. The fighter has a Wolverine-like healing ability, the amazon can randomly cut away one or two choices, and the ninja can sometimes do double damage. My personal favorite is the wizard because he "can change category often". While the amazon and ninja abilities activate rather infrequently, the wizard is able to pick his own category at least 33% of the time. At the start of a battle, the wizard will sometimes be asked to choose a category, then all questions asked during that battle will be about the selected topic. Since I rather answer questions about Music, Movies, or Television instead of things like Science, Health, or Geography, I find the wizard to be the best character. The amazon is fairly useful too, but the other two suck. Don't pick them unless you're a douchebag.
The basic setup of Quiz and Dragons is very similar to a board game. A really gay board game. You progress through generic areas such as Woods of Legend and Ruined City on your way to Gordian's Palace by rolling a die. And by rolling a die, I mean that a die is automatically rolled for you and you move that many spaces. Did I mention it was gay? Every once in a while you're given the opportunity to choose between two stages or two paths within a stage, but it rarely matters which one you pick. But hey, the illusion of choice prevents dissent. There are three types of spaces: monsters, inns, and elves. Monster spaces each have a name and a number on them. The name tells you what stupid monster you'll fight and the number tells you how many questions you'll have to answer correctly to defeat it. Some monster spaces are larger than others. These spaces are impassable, meaning that you will stop on them regardless of what your roll was. In the early levels, only the bosses will be on large squares, but they are much more plentiful in later levels.
During the course of the game, you might land on an INN space. If you do, some greasy dago innkeeper will challenge you to a fight. If you can answer one question correctly, you'll recover three or four health points. If you fail, you get to keep trying until you run out of vitality, quarters, or both. Answering one trivia question may not seem hard, but as we'll see later, Capcom has included some ridiculously obscure shit in this game.
In addition to inns, there are also ELF spaces on the board. If you are able to answer the elf's question, she will give you a random item to aid you in your next battle. The items include the following: a sword that cuts the number of possible answers down from four to two, a staff that cuts the number of choices down to three, a magic scroll that lets you pick your own category, a healing potion, an extra-healing potion, and a magic ring that highlights the right answers for you. As cool as it sounds, the elf square is actually rather useless. After some monster battles you will find a treasure chest containing one of those items, and the chances of that happening aren't any worse than your chances of landing on the ELF space. But enough of that, now onto the trivia!
Do you like trivia? Do you really, really, really like trivia? If you answered yes to both these questions, you probably still wouldn't want to waste your time and quarters on Quiz & Dragons. If you thought some of the shit in the Pop Culture edition of the Trivial Pursuit DVD game were hard, take a look at the questions above. Those were pretty difficult in 1992 and today you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who could answer them without consulting IMDB. I don't know who the hell Kelli Maroney is and I sure as fuck don't care who was the first man on the cover of Cosmopolitan, but apparently it was Boy George. That's funny, because I thought the question said something about a MAN being on the cover. The Cosmo question also illustrates some of the game's suprisingly infrequent spelling errors. But while Axel Rose and Elton john are almost excusable, there's another question that fucking has Lynard Skynard as an answer. There are way too many questions about obscure movies, short-lived television shows, and random bands you've never heard of. Why the in hell would anyone CARE who played the female lead on the Manimal? The damn show didn't even make all the way through the '83 season. Watch out for plenty of questions about other TV shows you've never heard of such as The Man From Atlantis, Ladies' Man, and Code Red. Be prepared as well to answer line-up questions about Split Enz, The Flying Burrito Brothers, EMF, The Cocteau Twins, and plenty of other recording artists that never mattered. Good luck with that.
Of course, for every question that you couldn't possibly know the answer to, there's two that you probably should. If you seriously can't answer the questions above, there might be something wrong with you. You don't have to like The Godfather or even to have seen it to know that the answer's Corleone. If you don't know the answer to the Good Morning, Vietnam question, I'm not going to help you out. Please review the Pop Culture 101 manual that you were given when you turned 15. So as you can see, the game isn't all bad. You'll encounter grade school level questions about history, geography, Disney, and food. There's also at least one question about ALF. The answer is Gordon Shumway.
Although Capcom would later make two Streets of Rage-style games based on the Dungeons & Dragons license, Quiz and Dragons has nothing to do with TSR's role-playing game. Instead, the game's name is 100% literal. With the exception of Gordian, all of the game's bosses and mini-bosses are dragons. That is, if you're willing to count a wyvern and a gargoyle as dragons like Capcom did. With such blatant disregard for mythology, it's a fucking miracle that Capcom was able to churn out competent D&D games just a few years later. Regular enemies will start quizzing you as soon as you land on their spaces, but dragons feel the need to taunt you beforehand. It's usually some crap about eating your soul or drinking your blood, but it's better than nothing.
Meet the game's end boss, the evil warlock Gordian. Gordian doesn't look a lot like a warlock, but he sure does look awfully familiar. He looks like this guy I know, I just can't quite remember his name. Oh right, it's SATAN. The maximum number of questions that you'll ever have to answer to beat an enemy is eight and it maxes out well before Gordian. Since he also draws from the same question pool as every other monster you encounter, Gordian's not really any more difficult than anything else you fight in the last few levels. He is slightly more eloquent, however. One wonders why the game even needed an end boss.
After you beat Gordian, King Santa congratulates you on a job well done. He doesn't give you any sort of reward or anything, but he does say "I honor you." If I was Japanese, that might have been good enough for me. Personally, I expected more. Hey asshole, if I was powerful enough to beat Gordian then what's to stop me from overthrowing your pansy ass? I demand a lordship, or at least a grandy duchy. If the game ended here, I'd be pissed. But it doesn't.
Just when you thought the ending couldn't get any more retarded, it does. Not only does the king dick you over, so does some smarmy restauranteur. I saved the fucking day and all I get is a soup named after me!? It does say anything about my character getting royalties from this alleged soup, so I am super pissed. Essentially, it's like appearing on the Wheaties box. I'm sure an Olympic gymnast is pretty psyched when she gets her picture on a nationally distributed cereal box, but she has to be at least somewhat pissed that she's making almost nothing while the reigning NBA champions who made it onto the box the month before her can afford as many cars, shoes, and dew rags as they please. There are plenty of quiz games out there, but this is by far the most bullshit one. From that ancient quiz game that Mr. Wizard and his child prisoners would play on his primitive computer to those obnoxious You Don't Know Jack games, you can find a better way to test your general knowledge than Quiz & Dragons.
The bottom line is that this game just isn't very fun. You either know the answer to a question or you don't and guessing isn't particularly exciting or entertaining. I consider myself to be a fairly knowledgeable person and I ended the game having answered only 64% of all questions asked correctly, which is much worse than I did on any other quiz that I've ever taken. This game isn't worth your money, but you'll probably never see the machine anywhere anyway. You might enjoy playing it through once or twice on an arcade emulator, just to see what you know, but there's no replayability beyond that. There's also very little reusable information to be learned from the game. You might impress someone with Meatloaf's real name or REM's hometown, but none of your friends will give a shit when you tell them there was a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep and that it was called Ironweed. Since hosting this ROM would be vaguely illegal, and since it isn't even almost worth megabyte of server space it would take up, I have decided to recreate the experience for you. Prepare for the Quiz & Dragons Trivia Challenge! It's pretty frustrating, but you might as well take it. This article is over.
Posted by: Syd Lexia