Crouching Pony Hidden Dragon (CPHD) is a brand-new Action/RPG game developed for SNK’s Neo Geo console which came out in 1990. It might look like a straight-forward arcade game, but under the surface is a persistent world with a rich and varied set of rules.
User reviews:
Mostly Negative (62 reviews) - 37% of the 62 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Jul 11, 2014

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About This Game

Senseï is the undisputed chieftain. His followers are well versed in every extortion, infiltration and martial art. Pony and Biki are his best students, his pride and joy. The duo knows the secret chakra technique like the back of their hand (or hoof in Pony's case). Together they rule the city and its surroundings. Although everyone respects and fears them they are hunted by law enforcement agencies.

They are Ninjas.

Crouching Pony Hidden Dragon (CPHD) is a brand-new Action/RPG game developed for SNK’s Neo Geo console which came out in 1990.

It might look like a straight-forward arcade game, but under the surface is a persistent world with a rich and varied set of rules. In CPHD “Run’N Gun” mechanics from the likes Shock Troopers or Ninja commando are combined with playful “RPG” ones from games like Zelda or Secret of Mana.

You'll need to explore every level to find the resources necessary for your progress: coins, health bonuses, resurrection potions, special Ninja techniques, etc. Treasure chests are hidden everywhere. You’ll have to find them to afford equipment upgrades from the ninja shops. In addition Pony and Biki gain experience points by defeating enemies, becoming more powerful over time. Be careful though: you’ll have to use your resources wisely. Health is limited so if you don't equip yourself at the armory you're in for a hard time. Money is limited too however: you'll need to choose these investments carefully!

Make new friends: a local multiplayer co-op mode lets a second player drop in at any time. It’s even more fun, even more frantic and even more strategic!

Lose old friends: there are the same numbers of resources no matter how many players there are; will you share or will you hog everything?

Have a good adventure!

Why create a game for Neo Geo?

Several reasons pushed us to develop for this console. The Neo-Geo is a legend amongst consoles, and is the one we dreamed of throughout our childhood and teenage years. For this reason, when we decided to bring our main character “Ninja Pony” to life, we wanted his early adventures to take place in the Neo-Geo universe. Thus we are offering our beloved Pony this welcoming present: to be born into the world of this “Rolls Royce” of consoles. Having our character emerge on cartridge is a way of enshrining him in the Pantheon of video game heroes, alongside Sonic and Mario. It's a way of going back in time! It also made sense with regards to the character's back-story. Crouching Pony Hidden Dragon relates the teenage years of Ninja Pony. This parallels the advent of the Neo-Geo in the history of video games: this console personifies gaming's teenage years.

Last but not least there were technical challenges we were eager to overcome. We realized that there were very few traces of the tools and documentation required to develop games on Neo-Geo. What's more this arcane knowledge was gradually disappearing!
We had to become archaeologists, investigating, looking for clues, piecing together how these games were developed. We created our own software and hardware pipe-lines, started working directly in pixel art again, etc. We were able to leverage our experience working on “modern” video games in returning to blow the dust off these old techniques. It was an exciting job, a true act of video game craftsmanship!

Why bring the game to PC?

When we announced the Neo Geo version many expressed regret at not being able to play the game. Since our main ambition at Le Cortex is to offer original play experiences to as many people as possible we wanted to avoid restricting the release to Neo-Geo connoisseurs and collectors. So we decided to port the game to the gamers' platform of today: the PC. And in case you were wondering this is indeed a full native port, not the Neo-Geo ROM being run via an emulator!

About Le Cortex

Le Cortex is an independent French Studio located in Paris. We design, write and develop games which aim to offer brand new play experiences.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP/7/8
    • Processor: 2.5 GHz Intel Pentium 4 / AMD Athlon 64
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800GS / ATI Radeon HD 3870 or better
    • Storage: 600 MB available space
    • Sound Card: OpenAL Compatible
    • OS: Windows XP/7/8
    • Processor: Processor:Core i5/i7 or equivalent
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800GS / ATI Radeon HD 3870 or better
    • Storage: 600 MB available space
    • Sound Card: OpenAL Compatible
Helpful customer reviews
113 of 139 people (81%) found this review helpful
4.9 hrs on record
Posted: July 16, 2014
Well, the bosses were fun. And it was kind of funny.

Let me start by pointing out that the gameplay is shamefully shallow. You have pretty much one attack and will spend most of the game kiting (the melee mechanic is useless, and will get you killed). The color coded-enemies are a nice gimmick, but not enough to make you have to think about which button to mash.

You have to mash the button, by the way, you can't hold it down. It made my hand hurt.

There's also some elements that are really just lazy. Semi-random enemy spawn instead of custom-built levels. Enemies deal damage to you as soon as their animation starts, instead of having hit detection, which looks and feels really cheap.

The rpg elements are VERY poorly implemented. You get xp and level up, but that isn't meaningful because the game is linear and you can't grind. At least, I don't think you're supposed to be able to?

None of that is the real reason I couldn't bear to finish the game. Enemy spawns are based on movement, or something, which you have to do to kite your enemies. So occasionally you'll just get cluster♥♥♥♥ed out of nowhere and wind up with a ton of enemies on the screen, and you with NO crowd control ability.

What happens next is gimmick number 2, which locks you in one screen whenever there's a bunch of enemies around, and only lets you out when you've killed them all. This will often happen when a wall or a pit or something is taking up most of the screen, making you pretty much doomed.

It's not even stable. If a bunch of enemies spawn behind a wall (trust me they will) they'll glitch into it and become unkillable. You'll have to restart the level.

Man, the bosses were GOOD. Like they came from a different, better game. But they really phoned it in for the rest of the game, and that's where you'll spend most of your time. Give this one a pass, please.
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65 of 97 people (67%) found this review helpful
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: July 14, 2014
Crouching Pony Hidden Dragon is a bare bones Neo Geo port. I didn't notice any upscaling option for the graphics, so Neo Geo quality is what you get. Keyboard controls are customizable, however, and there is an option for coop on the same keyboard.

Gameplay consists of color-coordinated top-down brawling that borders on the insanity of a bullet-hell shooter. You must chose whether to play as Pony or Biki (AKA boobs), and after the barest of tutorials (you can walk right past it) you are thrown into the game. You can throw blue shurikens and red ones, and will encounter red, blue, and purple enemies. Red shurikens kill red enemies, blue kills blue, and purple is immune. However, all enemies can be killed at close range with kicks. Any shurikens thrown at the wrong color will come flying back at you, so coordinating in the chaos is paramount. There are additional powers, coins, and watches to collect, and a constant timer at the top of the screen adds pressure that isn't really needed but dosen't really detract either.

My only gameplay issues (I actually find it fairly easy to ignore some of the worst "humor") stem from how easy it is to dodge INTO a group of enemies instead of AWAY FROM, and the extremely low frequincy of health pickups.

So far, CPHD is very intense and very fun. Recommended for classic-game nuts who don't mind odd humor (or French developers).

To the best of my knowledge, CPHD has nothing to do with My Little Pony, for those concerned.

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35 of 56 people (63%) found this review helpful
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: July 16, 2014
Okay, I was going to write a long review on this, but I think I can fit this in a short review:
  • This game is clunky due to your firing rate being slow, the movement being slow, the lack of a strifing option and the enemies being bullet sponges
  • Good luck trying to level up: It took me until mid second stage to even reach lvl 2. You'll probably be too poor to buy any upgrades by then either
  • The framerate's clunky, the game's juvenile and the animations are quite cringeworthy.
  • Level design: It's easy to get lost, and the indicator arrows don't help. Not to mention they're quite dull
  • The polarity system in this game (red shots and blue shots) is unnecessary and so is the arena mechanic (which is made worse due to the clunkiness)

I tried to stomach the game and beat it, but it's just bad. Levels are tedious, gameplay's slow, and the RPG mechanics are tedious. The game looks bad as well. If there's anything good, I'd say the much is pretty decent for ambience. But that doesn't save the game. This game is about ninjas? Well leave it in the shadows and go play a good game released on the Neo Geo... like Shock Troopers, or Metal Slug.

Verdict: Do not buy. It's horrible in too many ways.
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18 of 26 people (69%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
8.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 18, 2014
Some people might have some trouble with the game's difficulty , but since it's supposed to mimic old school games, this is to be expected - I'd even say that it's a requirement for a "retro" game to be a little on the hard side ;)
If you stick with it though it's really worth the effort: the game really comes into its own after the first couple of levels which are actually some of the hardest! Even so the game's surreal sense of humour is worth playing for in itself, and the pacing is good for the mid- to late-game with some really interesting encounters to deal with as new elements are introduced.

Well worth giving a try :)
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17 of 25 people (68%) found this review helpful
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: July 18, 2014
Played around 2-3 hours of Crouching Pony Hidden Dragon. I'm a fan of the old-skool graphics and really like the art style. If you like old arcade style games or owned a Neo Geo back in the days you will definately like this.
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