Dragon Spirit – Addictive yet Painful

So, the evil serpent of hell rises up from his pit and decides to strike at your kingdom. He unleashes a horde of dinosaurs on the world that take over land, sea, and air. If that doesn’t suck enough, he steals your princess and is holding her captive. If you were in this situation, what would you do? Well, Amul, the hero of this dazzling shooter that started its life as an arcade game, decided his best course of action would be to pray to the gods for strength. The result? Amul is granted the powers of the Dragon Spirit and can transform into a powerful dragon spirit. When in Rome? Do as the Romans do! Thus is the setting for this highly addictive and surprisingly high quality (audio and video) for the time game.

The game started life as an arcade game and soon found its way to all of the consoles in the console wars of the 90’s. The most widely played version was the Nintendo version and it was this version that I played initially. However, based on the reviews I have read and my own experience, the Turbo Grafx-16 version was the version that was most like the arcade as far as video and audio quality are concerned. It is for this reason that one of my recent purchases on the Wii Virtual Console was the TGx16 version.

The game is designed much like the flying shooter games that made arcade gaming so popular such as Space Invaders and the original Gradius. however, the concept is made different because your character is a dragon not a spaceship and you shoot fireballs not lasers. Power ups include multiple heads (up to three) and different “color” as well as several upgrades to increase your firepower. The green dragon power up is very fast (smaller) and has crazy strong fireballs. The pink dragon is invincible for a short time (like the Star power up in the Mario series). The white dragon is the ultimate in firepower, the flying rail gun – if you have all three heads then he will shoot 3 fireballs at a time out of both right and left heads and will fire 5 fireballs at a time out of his center head… that means 11 shots at once! You also get power ups such as extra “hearts” to take more damage and fire power-ups to allow you to slowly become a flying machine gun.

Now comes the purpose of the title of this entry. So what’s the big deal about the game? It is HIGHLY addictive. Anyone who has ever had a desire to fly will like the concept of soaring over the skies as a dragon, you will further enjoy the dragon aspect if you like Dragons, Knights, and so on. For someone who loves fantasy like me, this was a dead on choice and it just so happened that you have the chivalrous aspect of saving the princess as every good guy should.

However, you will quickly find that as addictive as the game is, it is painfully difficult even on the easiest setting (only available on the NES version). Even with only one head, you are the biggest thing on the screen (aside from bosses) and with three heads, you can imagine how much easier you are to hit when everything around you is shooting at you. To add insult to injury, some enemies explode when hit, some of them are on the ground which requires you to fire a ground bomb at just the right angle and location to destroy them. If that wasn’t enough, the terrain requires you to move all about or run into a rock or other obstacle and be caught by the ‘forward scroll’ of the game. Luckily, you have a series of continues that act like “1-Ups” and allow you to start back where you left off when (trust me, “if” does not fit, it WILL happen) you die. However, you only get 2 of these from the beginning and you can only increase this as you get deeper into the game. Suffice to say, you often use all your continues within the first two stages if you aren’t practiced in the game.

Your dragon battles his way through 8 stages with the final two stages battling through the palace of Zawell the Hades Serpent to face him and save the princess. If you can manage to take on the evil Hades Serpent and kill him, you will transform back to a human and accomplish what every heroic knight could want, marriage to the princess and the rights to be king of the land. Check this game out but be prepared to devote hours upon hours to battling your way through mountains, lava fields, jungles, frozen tundra, and other wonderful terrain. It may take some work but you will find that the reward of the end scenes is well worth it for the retro gamer!


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4 Responses to “Dragon Spirit – Addictive yet Painful”

  1. Jason says:

    I believe that you are mistaken about this title being on the SNES. I have it for the NES, and a quick google search for the title on SNES yields nothing. With that aside, you are correct about the addictiveness of this game. I let a friend of mine borrow it a little while back, and when I went over to his place the following day, he had already beaten it. I presume he stayed up late the night he borrowed it and beat it. I say this because, he was having a rough time after the first stage and was getting pretty pissed, and being that he beat it that night, I would say that he was addicted as well.

    • RGB says:

      Thanks for catching me on that note. You are 100% correct, it was on the Nintendo not the SNES. I was writing an SNES article the same day that I wrote that one so I put the wrong system on there during the post. I have since made all the SNES modifications to reflect NES. Oh and welcome to my first real commentor! Based on your blog and your email address as well as a link to my dear friend Annette’s blog, you must be one who fancies the retro world as well. Glad to be on the blogosphere with such awesome folks!

      • Jason says:

        Retro stuff is great! The NES is my all time favorite system. I collect for that system(any Nintendo system for that matter).

        Check out my site, and leave a comment. If you want trade links, that would be sweet. Let me know! 🙂

        • RGB says:

          Sure thing! I will link you up. I already checked out your website recently and I like the retro stuff on there, ESPECIALLY the Mario console, that was AWESOME! I apologize that I do not update this blog regularly but I try to focus on quality not quantity.

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