Diamon Jones: Eye of the Dragon




Genre:   Adventure with action sequences

Developer:   Game Factory Interactive

Publisher:    Big Fish, GFI

Released:  July 2009

PC Requirements:   Windows XP / Vista, 2.5 GHz Dual Core Processor, 1GB RAM, 1421 MB Free hard disk space, NVIDIA 7800 GTX or ATI X1300, DirectX9.0c





by Becky


As Eye of the Dragon opens, Diamon Jones sits drinking in a rundown bar in Shanghai in 193_ (the game never completes the date). He’s lamenting his plight -- no job, no money. He agrees to a bit of thievery, just so long as it pays in cash. Of course he has no idea of the importance of the artifact he has agreed to steal.

So begins a quest that will send our hero, plus a famous American mobster, an Italian opera singer, and other assorted misfits on board the Hindenburg. They will race the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force to the long-buried Lost City, rumored location of the mysterious Eye of the Dragon.

Accidental archaeologist, artificial archaeologist, atrocious archaeologist.

This is the second game in the Diamon Jones adventure series. To learn about Diamon’s debut in Amulet of the World, click here.

Eye of the Dragon reveals a world seeped in cloak-and-dagger intrigue and corruption. Environments are colorful, packed with details to gaze at and beguiling shops and ruins to explore. Random animations enliven most screens. When you assume the role of Diamon Jones, you will cheerfully keep company with scorpions, spiders, a vulture, moving statues, and talking masks.

Our hero is blunt, self-possessed, and facile with one-liners. His face is ugly yet likeable and he struts jauntily. He claims to have been trained as an archaeologist. The world values him, though, as a thief, treasure hunter, and bizarre-problem-fixer-upper.

For the last portion of the game, you play as curvaceous Mary Ocean, a history and archaeology buff. She takes on the game’s super villain while Diamon is…indisposed. She is younger and cuter than Diamon, and the other characters underestimate her – one fobs her off with a dollar and tells her to go buy bubble gum. (Those who patronize her tend later to regret it.)

There’s a surprising amount of physical humor in this game. Standouts are the prologue sequence with the “Battle of the Ancient Seal” and Diamon’s pretzel-like attempts to sit on floor cushions. Language is occasionally salty and the cultural satire is not the least bit politically correct.

“Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.” Robert Benchley

Voiceovers are heard only in the infrequent, slightly blurry cut scenes. All other dialog is presented as unvoiced subtitles. You can speed through some dialogs with one click; others take two or three clicks. Voiced dialogs might have made it easier to ignore all the oddities in the subtitles. At first, I tried to excuse the erratic grammar and strange idioms -- most of the characters aren’t native English speakers after all, and some of the phrases have an outlandish kind of charm.

I picture Diamon Jones as a child, sitting in school. He wears a leather jacket with the image of a unicorn on the back. His teacher stands next to his desk, ruler raised.

Teacher: I want you to improve your attitude. And when you speak, you will use exemplary English!

Diamon: Something hardly comes out of this. What a fool! You make my head whiz.

Teacher: How dare you address me in this fashion! (Her face turns red. Steam issues from her ears.)

Diamon: You think you are a bigwig? That surely bumps my sense of humor!

The dialog and text translations deteriorate as the game proceeds; a couple of puzzles are made more difficult by inaccurate labels on the inventory items. The biggest puzzle of the game is why so much artistic effort went into the environments, characters and music, without a similar effort for the language localization.

The musical background in Eye of the Dragon is unusually varied. It includes perky instrumentals with an Asian influence, dramatic action/thriller orchestrations, classy big band tunes, and even some honky tonk piano music.

“In two words, im possible.” Sam Goldwyn

Generously long gameplay is one of this game’s strengths. However, half of the game time is devoted to mandatory mini-games. Some are quite enjoyable -- the board games, for instance, and the pattern and construction games. But others are timed, and a handful are hair-pullingly difficult.

The tilting marble game is tricky because the ball seems attracted to the “game over” holes. Success comes faster if you take this one very, very slowly. The timed Morse Code mini-game is manageable and more amusing than the endless Morse Code note taking I’ve encountered in other games.

The electrical wiring challenge appears impossible at first (I nearly quit the game in frustration). When I finally understood the pattern of the mechanism, I found it to be an extremely clever timed puzzle.

Eye of the Dragon contains real-time combat mini-games. One of these pits Diamon against a reanimated monster, and for gamers with little action experience, it is the stuff of nightmares. It requires precise and rapid responses to the monster’s random clobbering movements, switching between offense and defense while Diamon’s weapon slowly recharges. At one point, my mouse came apart from vigorous clicking. It took me more than an hour to destroy the monster (much longer than it took to destroy the mouse), and I hated every second of it.

Although the mini-games present the most memorable challenges, Eye of the Dragon has more traditional adventuring as well. Those gorgeous graphics hide some tiny hotspots – if you find yourself stuck, mouse very slowly and carefully over the entire screen. You’ll also encounter dialog challenges and plenty of inventory puzzles, including inventory combinations. The game has a diary/guide that provides goals to give a bit of direction.

Eye of the Dragon was stable and installed with no problems. The only glitch encountered was in a scene with a limousine. The inventory item that should have worked, didn’t. Finally, after checking a walkthrough for confirmation, I took the inventory item and clicked dozens of times all over the limousine, until suddenly (for whatever reason) the interaction was successful.

After all my hard mini-game efforts, the ending cut scene should have been more substantial. Still, as far as adventure game endings go, it gives a satisfactory sense of finality to the story.

“Be quick -- but don’t hurry.” John Wooden

This is the second offering in the Diamon Jones series. An amusing attempt to lampoon archaeology-based thrillers. Third person perspective, point-and-click interface. Mild vulgarities. Significant (though not overwhelming) amounts of character interaction. Many translation errors. You can sometimes click through the dialogs. More than twenty hours of gameplay unless you’re a mini-game expert.

No voiceovers except during cut scenes. Twenty save slots (I could have used at least ten more). No problems with installation. One hotspot glitch.

Inventory puzzles, dialog challenges. A panoply of mini-games, many of them timed and involving significant repetition. No sliders, no mazes, a couple of color based puzzles, no sound puzzles. One extremely difficult combat puzzle that is likely to keep some gamers from completing the game.

The game can be downloaded from Big Fish Games for $6.99 – a very good value.

Aimed at gamers who enjoy detailed historical worlds, jaunty Brits, cloak-and-dagger satire, and mini-games.


Final Grade: B-

My Computer Specs:

Dell Studio XPS 8000

Windows 7 Home Premium

Intel Core i5-750 processor


1024MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 220

Soundblaster X-Fi


November, 2009

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