Knights of Valour 2 Nine Dragons

Original Title
Official Website
Nine Dragons is an expanded update of IGS’ side scrolling beat ‘em up Knights of Valour 2, and the final entry in the series on their PGM hardware.
The most immediate difference is the character roster - the previous title had just five selectable characters and a further four hidden away with cheat codes; Nine Dragons has up to fourteen available as standard with a further four unlockable via secret commands. The new characters are in fact alternative versions of the original nine but rather than being mere palette swaps they have their own unique move sets.
The other major change is that before the player is able to choose their character they are taken to an all-new mode select screen with four possible options -
E Mode: This is the beginner setting allowing the choice of the basic nine characters and the game is truncated to just three stages.
N Mode: Standard gameplay. All fourteen characters are available and the game runs through the full set of levels.
R Mode: Expert ranking mode – much the same as N Mode, but overall more difficult. The ability to view and enter rankings on the official website is no longer available.
C Mode: This is very different from the others as it’s a boss rush mode. The player faces eight (or sixteen, if three or four players are present) bosses that are either selected at random or chosen by themselves.
One final difference is that the base difficulty levels in the service menu has increased from four possible settings to six. Knights of Valour 2 offered arcade operators a choice between easy, normal, hard and hardest; Nine Dragons inserts a very easy and very hard setting into this menu.

The game uses a four button setup like most PGM games – there is only one attack button but a combination of fighting game style commands and the ability to chain moves together (the game counter will register up to 999 hits!) gives characters the flexibility to handle situations in a variety of ways. Special moves are divided into two categories – those that require qi and those that don’t. Moves that don’t require qi can be performed as often as the player likes, however they are not as powerful as their qi-consuming counterparts. The qi gauge fills up whenever an enemy is killed or the player is hit, and this gauge can hold a maximum of five charges. Should all else fail each character has a “desperation” move (press A+B together) to get them out of tight spots at the cost of some of their health. Each character has their own way of getting out of danger; Guan Yu swings his spear in an arc from front to back whereas Pang Tong simply vanishes for a split second.

Not all skills are offensive – characters have the ability to briefly block (and if successful, counterattack) oncoming enemies as well as perform other evasive moves such as jumping, crouching and dashing. All of these manoeuvres come with their own unique attacks, giving the player further opportunities to create combos on the fly.

Being based on the popular Three Kingdoms era the game features many characters and settings from the novel – playable characters include the likes of Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu and Pang Tong facing off against famous generals such as Cao Cao and Xiahou Dun. Hidden boss encounters can be triggered under various circumstances along the game’s multiple routes. Performing specific requirements can also enable the player to enlist bosses as temporary playable characters.
Items and equipment are also found along the way and as with the bosses not all are left in plain sight. Items can be dropped as well as used – either to free up inventory space or to pass on to another player. Equipment not only boosts attack or defence but also holds other properties – enhancing attacks with elemental properties or reducing the risk of succumbing of status effects.
To date their have been no ports of any PGM games to home consoles or PCs.
IGS created one final version of Knights of Valour 2 for their new PGM2 hardware, titled Knights of Valour 2 New Legend.
There seems to be a fair bit of confusion about this series, partly due to IGS’ insistence on renaming games for every region and partly due to pirate/hack versions muddying the waters, so the lists below should hopefully help clear things up (the original Knights of Valour 2 is simply called “Knights of Valour 2” in all regions). English translations are rough approximations and overly literal, sorry.
The following are all the same game:
Knights of Valour 2 Nine Dragons - This is the English title.
三国战纪2群雄争霸 (San Guo Zhan Ji 2 Qun Xiong Zheng Ba/Three Kingdoms War Era 2 Outstanding Heroes Power Struggle) – This is the mainland China/Hong Kong title.

三國戰紀2飛龍在天 (San Guo Zhan Ji 2 Fei Long Zai Tian/Three Kingdoms War Era 2 Flying Dragons in the Sky) – This is the Taiwanese title.

武将争霸 (Wu Jiang Zheng Ba/Military Leader Power Struggle) – This is the Asian (outside of China/Japan) title. Some other videogames also share this title in China.

三国戦紀武将争覇 (Sangoku Senki Bushyou Souha/Three Kingdoms War Era Military Commander Struggling for Victory) – This is the Japanese title.

The following are all possible variant titles of the PGM2 sequel:
Knights of Valour 2 New Legend – This is the English title.

三国战纪2盖世英雄 (San Guo Zhan Ji 2 Gai Shi Ying Xiong/Three Kingdoms War Era 2 Unrivalled Heroes) – This is the mainland China title.

三國戰紀2 橫掃千軍 (San Guo Zhan Ji 2 Heng Sao Qian Jun/Three Kingdoms War Era 2 Total Annihilation) – This is the Taiwanese title.

三国戰紀2 亂世英雄 (Sangoku Senki 2 Ransei Eiyuu/Three Kingdoms War Era 2 Troubled Era Heroes) – This is the Japanese title.

Just to be clear – there are no other games in the Knights of Valour 2 series other than Knights of Valour 2, Knights of Valour 2 Nine Dragons (or regional equivalent title) and Knights of Valour 2 New Legend (or regional equivalent title).