Looking at the ad for Dragon’s Fury at first glance, it’s tempting to think that it could be an RPG until you read the print calling it a pinball game.
But it wasn’t just any ordinary pinball game. Published by Tengen, a company that some might recognize for performing its own “jailbreaking” on the NES’ security chip in order to get around Nintendo’s publishing restrictions, Dragon’s Fury pit players on a table straight out of fantasy RPGs.
You didn’t just hit the ball – you used it to bowl over flaming demons and beat on a multi-headed dragon against a backdrop of wickedly cool pixels. You smashed monsters for points and bonus stages would throw you against legions of monsters that your silver sphere would gleefully crush. It was an interesting twist to the pinball genre and quite fun for what it was especially with its rocking soundtrack.
Interestingly enough, Dragon’s Fury is actually a port of Devil’s Crush which was developed by Naxat Soft for the Turbografx-16. Technosoft, the wizards behind the Thunder Force series, did the conversion for the Mega Drive/Genesis. Today, if you have a Wii, you can get Devil’s Crush as a Virtual Console release.
Devil’s Crush (which was also a sequel to Naxat Soft’s Alien Crush), also went through a few interesting change when it came over here. In Japan, it’s known as Devil Crash. It also originally had a large pentagram as a part of its board design and then it was changed to a star, though some have said that you can see how the game originally looked in some of the old screenshots used in the packaging.
Smaller pentagrams scattered around the three-screen high table were also turned into six pointed stars that looked like Stars of David, a popular censorship substitute in more than one game back then that appears in titles such as Ninja Gaiden on the NES.
Why the change up? What might fly in Japan isn’t so acceptable everywhere else, just as swastikas are verboten in Germany forcing more than a few WW2 games to alter it into the Iron Cross if they want to be sold there. Risking sales over a symbol that some would take to imply satanism wasn’t in anyone’s best interest. It still isn’t today depending on what you want to play where.
Though things have loosened up in many other ways since the days of Bionic Commando’s Master D and the swastika-less majesty of Wolfenstein 3D on the SNES, there’s still a bit of that going on. The port for Devil’s Crush on the Wii’s Virtual Console apparently made another change to the “David’s Stars” that were used to substitute for the pentagrams – now they’re triangles.