Black Dragon is a scrolling platform shoot-em-up set in a fantasy world and is the spiritual successor to the Capcom classic, “Makaimura” (“Ghosts’n’ Goblins” outside Japan).
The player takes on the role of a barbarian hero who must jump and fight his way through a variety of colourful, enemy-packed levels, collecting treasure and weapon power-ups and rescuing the trapped ‘wise old men’ that litter the levels.
Rescuing the wise men sees the player awarded ‘Zeny coins’; these are the game’s currency and allow the player to buy such items as weapon and armour upgrades, keys for treasure chests, anti-poisoning potions and health potions from the shops that appear on each level. Occasionally, a rescued wise man will also offer to sell the player weapon and armour power-ups.
The barbarian hero is armed with a spiked mace on the end of a long chain, as well as unlimited throwing daggers. Both these and the armour worn by the barbarian (which offers limited protection from enemy attacks) can be upgraded by finding or buying the relevant power-ups.
The sprawling, eight-way scrolling levels are packed with hidden bonuses to encourage and reward exploration. These bonuses are in the form of weapon and armour power-ups, as well as valuable treasure items. Many levels also include a hidden dungeon and each dungeon is filled with both bonus items and trapped wise men.
Special items that reveal coins, upgraded armour, or simply bonus points can be found by attacking certain walls.