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 (52 reviews)
Release Date: Jul 11, 2014
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"This game... This game is for the hardcore Diehard fans out there."

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
    • Hard Drive: 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
    • Hard Drive: 600 MB available space
    • Sound Card: OpenAL Compatible
Helpful customer reviews
14 of 20 people (70%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 27, 2014
It's like old school games, hard but fun.
This game worth your money when it's on sale or in bundle.
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4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 3
So some people have been saying they like this game coz it's a port of the Neo Geo game and if you want old skool Neo Geo then you might like it. I don't know much about them so I'll go off their word, but here's why I don't like it.

My biggest gripe is you can't strafe, you can only shoot forward so you have to be facing the enemy. This is fine with one or two enemies, but when several attack you at once, some shooting multiple bullets/arrows, you can't run and gun. You have to run and dodge and wait wait for a brief moment to turn and get off one shot, two if you're lucky. Then repeat until each enemy is dead and hope you don't take too much damage in the meantime. So common encounters of low level enemies become frustrating, especialy as most are bullet sponges taking about 6 shots each.

The controls are slow and lumbering. It feels like even moving out of the way of an arrow is harder than it should be. The combat doesn't feel satisfying at all and I only played level 1 but it was so boring! You just shoot slow moving shurikens against slow moving enemies and the kick is mostly useless unless you can finish an enemy in one go coz any more and you -will- take damage.

The difficulty feels hard not because the game is hard but because the controls are bad. I'm a fan of bullet hell shooters and the like so I don't mind extreme difficulty etc but with this I feel my skill is restricted the slow controls so I can't enjoy the game as I do with others. Just on the first level I felt I had to put much more effort in to get through than it needed. Again this might be coz it's from the Neo Geo and you're used to that or want that and that's fine. But with some extra work it could have been a much more enjoyable game.

TL;DR - it's funny, got lots of pervy stuff, slow/dated controls make it frustrating and boring to play, is a Neo Geo port, can't srafe
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 12
I played it for as long as I could stand it, but now I am deleting it, and won't be looking back. Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. The color-coded enemies, each requiring a different attack to kill from a distance without shooting yourself instead, is actually a fairly clever game element, and I for one am a fan of the old-school graphics (and playing style, in part) and attempt at old-school style difficulty. The problem is, the approach used quickly became annoying. The controls are clunky and slow, when compared to what one generally expects, and this is actually the main contributing factor to the sense of difficulty, rather than actual enemy development and such. Combine this with the fact that it has the extremely old-style "must face the enemy in order to shoot them" thing going on, and the primary cause of difficulty in the game is by far the bad controls. The enemies themselves are actually largely easy to kill, even in large numbers, assuming you can make your person face the right direction and shoot with any suitable level of speed, both at the same time, while avoiding shooting yourself. The result is very slow and boring gameplay, with your enemies moving and firing pretty much as slowly as you do. Some reviews indicate that the bosses are really good, but I was already far too bored to continue on to that point. It just wasn't worth it.

Basically, if you're looking for the really old-style gaming from the late 80s or very early 90s, and are ready to deal with slow and clunky controls as well as somewhat poor game design in order to get as much of it as possible, then you might be okay with this. But if you're anything like me, and like even your retro-style gaming to be fairly well-designed and with decent control mechanisms, you'll want to stay clear. There are also a lot of good and honest reviews here from people who played far longer than me, if you have any doubts as to if the word of someone who only played for half an hour is sufficient.
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103 of 128 people (80%) 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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61 of 90 people (68%) 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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32 of 50 people (64%) 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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15 of 21 people (71%) 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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16 of 23 people (70%) 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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11 of 16 people (69%) found this review helpful
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 18, 2014
It’s nothing innovative but that’s fine. Yeah it’s challenging and I won’t lie, dying and having to start from the beginning was rage inducing, but back in the day that’s what games did. If you’re looking for something tongue-in-cheek, nice pixel graphs and a game that doesn’t hold your hand, play Crouching Pony.
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31 of 56 people (55%) found this review helpful
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: July 14, 2014
- works with Xbox wireless controller
- fun beat em up
- awesome art and cutscenes
- Ninja Power
- many powerups
- self-immolation
- hypnotizing boobs

2 different standard attacks. (hit an enemy of opposing color the star is reflected back. close proxy does a kick on either button)
X = blue ninja stars
A = red ninja stars

if lost follow the arrow above your head.
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21 of 42 people (50%) found this review helpful
0.7 hrs on record
Posted: July 16, 2014
Crouching Pony Hidden Dragon suffers from a heavy lack of testing.
I spent the entirety of the FIRST level running in circles to avoid enemies and every now and then get a shot in; I don't think anyone finds that fun for longer than a minute. That being said there is a fair amount of content and it seems (other than the bad gameplay) well polished.
5/10 if you are the average gamer.
6/10 if you like a stupid challenge.
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29 of 58 people (50%) found this review helpful
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 15, 2014
I think the proper japanese term for games like this is "KUSOGE". I would consider myself a big NeoGeo-fan and was hoping this was something like Shock Troopers with boobs. What I got, I cannot even really describe. You wander aimlessly around (the cutscenes are not helping, the "humor" is of the "lol so random"-variety) fighting off goons, picking up stuff, buying stuff - it is rather unremarkable and doesn't feel exciting in the slightest.

It has a stupid "leveling" mechanic, meaning that basic enemies aren't popcorn-like and only die after several hits, I guess they needed to do that in order to make a levelup noticable. To make matters even slower, you have two different projectiles (red and blue) that can only hurt enemies of the same color, hitting the wrong color turns your projectile grey as it reflects off the enemy and damages you.

So far, the game has been an excercise in kiting as getting up close will get you killed, since there seems to be no notable hitstun. Not exactly what I had in mind when I bought this. And honestly, I cannot think of any way to make this even more "not fun" as it is right now. Visuals (backgrounds in particular) are downright ugly and the soundeffects (picking up gold!) are straight from 1992 shareware-hell.

I usually give games more time to shine, but this has been such a disappointment straight away that I feel very sorry for anyone shelling out serious money for a MVS/AES cart. Maybe item-upgrades turn this into a wonderful game, but the base mechanics lack all the punch, so much in fact that I highly doubt it gets dramatically better. In my opinion there are enough dumb grindfests like this already, we don't need another one - especially not if it disguises itself as an arcade-game lacking all the hype/rush a proper arcade-game should have. I mean, I got bored playing on my first "coin" - that's how bad this is.

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11 of 24 people (46%) found this review helpful
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 16, 2014
There's not much to recommend about this game. It's mediocre at best. The gameplay was both bland and annoying, the graphics were almost monochromatic, the controls were not nearly responsive enough for an action game, and after I died once, I had no desire to try again.
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2 of 7 people (29%) found this review helpful
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 19, 2014
Never have I played a game since Deadly Towers in the late 1980's that I could describe as 'the antithesis of fun'. Where do I even begin with this title?

Old school or not, CPHD plays like garbage. You attack color coded enemies with color coded shuriken. Failing to do so launches your weapons right back at you. Okay, not the biggest problem except the enemies bunch up so red and blue enemies stand in the same spot. Now which do you throw at them? Add to this with purple enemies who MUST be dealt with using weak melee attacks (don't count on stun animations, they keep hitting you), numerous enemies who basically fire bullet hell style at you (your character is a large, clumsy, and slow target despite being a ninja), and a lack of strafing... you have a recipe for disasterously bad controls.

Did I mention the enemies automatically move up a plane slightly to avoid your shots while they charge, but can still hit you from angles you can't attack them? Because they all do this. It gets better. Enemies don't die in 1-3 hits. Even when you fully power up using the pointless damage power ups in the shop, they still take about 7-9 hits. You're forced to keep back tracking and quickly turning to get any shots off on the enemy and they chase you at near equal speed the entire time. Oh, and moving back from where you came can spawn more enemies. Except sometimes it doesn't. It doesn't make a lot of sense. Further, if you get caught in a screen by about 7+ enemies, 'arena mode' is declared, which leaves you unable to leave the immediate screen you're on while even a single one of them is alive. It doesn't help how utterly small playing field is (you can easily get attacked by enemies of unknown color from off screen) or that the arena mode borders make it even tighter.

If there's a story, I barely understand it. Something about retrieving a chest because some old guy dressed as Batman in his BVDs demands it. You play as one of the two gimp ninjas (Literally. The game has a constant sexual innuendo theme.) which consists of a guy in a vinyl horse outfit named Pony who says nothing but 'oompf!' during the cut scenes or the resident eye candy, Biki, who is a hood wearing thong bikini clad bimbo. The animations for these two are nice and the old school pixelation is kind of enjoyable, but neither them nor their world is really that interesting. Scenery is filled with the aforementioned sexual innuendo in everything, from carpets to blow up dolls to ♥♥♥♥♥♥ inspired dungeons. There's innuendo and then there's just bashing someone in the head with it. I get the impression these are supposed to be funny, but it just falls flat usually. Still, it was a little amusing as an easter egg to find the original character from Metal Slug as an orgy statue.

Gameplay is not even remotely fun or all that skillful. Enemy appearances are frequent and random in allocation. Power ups last mere seconds. There is a complete lack of any way to navigate the twisty dungeons- you get an arrow pointing to the goal, but no explanation how to get there... meanwhile, you're on a timelimit and constantly being assaulted by obnoxiously hard to fight enemies. Bosses... are reasonably designed. They're mostly bullet hell encounters, but you typically fight them without the enemy adds, at least.

This game feels hastily put together. Horrid controls, miserable gameplay, and a great sense of 'stuff is happening just because'. If they bothered revamping this a bit and putting actual work into it, such as strafing or achievements, it might be a little better. But I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. I only have it thanks to a Humble Bundle. In no way, shape, or form should you pick this title up. It's not so bad it's good, it's just awful. Avoid it no matter what.
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1 of 5 people (20%) found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Posted: March 26
not worth the money
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0 of 3 people (0%) found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 28
SO GOOD! 10/10

This game taught me to not take good games for granted. I have a new outlook on my game library because of this game.

Never buy it.
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9 of 22 people (41%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 9, 2014
I am Pony and a Ninja!

What would be awesome than this!
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6 of 16 people (38%) found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 9, 2014
To be brutally honest this game does not deliver. Gameplay is not decent, controls are complete garbage, do not waste money on this game.
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6 of 16 people (38%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 13, 2014
I tried playing for a bit, I really thought it would be great but the lack of strafing mixed with the environments being confusing as to where to go it just wans't enjoyable.

I also feel like the color system was just bland, I don't get why it's even there. You shoot red doods with red stars, and blue doods with blue. Great, what does that do for me? It doesn't add much if any skill to the game, it just makes shooting annoying and breaks the flow so much.

For a top down shooter this game is extremely slow paced with systems thrown in that do not makes sense for the type of game that it is and do nothing but slow it down even more than it already is. Without the extra unneeded systems thrown in this game's pace would just be bearable, but at current it is simply disgusting.

Would not recommend.
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4 of 12 people (33%) found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 4, 2014
Giant cup of WTF.
Seems fast paced. Controls are inhospitable. Only fires in the direction of movement, meaning you spend 90% of your time running in circles so you can nget lined up to shoot.

Meh game.
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