- DragonStrike (1990 on DOS, Amiga, Commodore 64...)
Unlike its namesake on computers, this version of DragonStrike is a straight action game with a top-down perspective. Set during the War of the Lance in the Dragonlance world of Krynn, the player controls dragons in missions against the forces of evil.
At the start of the game, one of three dragons can be selected (Bronze, Silver and Gold), each with different attributes in speed and armor and two different breath attacks. In each of the more than 12 missions, several objectives must be completed: enemy dragons must be hunted down, ships sunk and fortresses destroyed. The dragon can change between low and high altitudes to avoid obstacles and enemy fire and to attack certain types of enemies: ground troops can only be destroyed from the lower altitude, dragons only from the higher one. Killed enemy dragons leave power-ups that grant temporary protection, speed, or let the dragon regain health. Some of the missions include boss battles against large enemies like a giant kraken or a powerful dark wizard.
In two-player mode, the second player (who can select a different dragon) can continue in the mission where the previous player failed.
Credits (NES version)
10 People (7 developers, 3 thanks)
Average score: 56% (based on 5 ratings)
Average score: 2.8 out of 5 (based on 11 ratings with 1 reviews)
The simplified mechanics of the game that greatly differ from the computer 3D fliers make for an easier game that goes at a much faster and smoother pace. It's satisfying being able to kill enemies with dragon's breath instead of the slow and patient jousting in first-person perspective, plus easier rotation and altitude change. And in the event of deaths and game over, there's a reasonably short password system to continue where you left off.
The graphics are good as they are and crystal clear so you can seek and destroy enemies without any real problems. It's also satisfying to do dogfights (or is that dragonfights?) against big bosses after you've ploughed through numerous monsters and other dragons. The music tracks are a welcome addition and very fitting to the theme of medieval fantasy. The final boss in the game is the iconic Tiamat, which goes to show how much Westwood utilised from D&D lore.
First of all, when you start the game, you have a partially filled life bar, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense and gives you a disadvantage so you may find yourself killed too early. Imagine starting every level in a Wolfenstein game with only 10% health. The later levels can be quite irritating because of the maze-like layouts that deny you the ability to fly wherever you need without sustaining damage. Of course you can't fly higher to dodge those walls. It is even harder to navigate through narrow canyons, as you have to gradually rotate your dragon to the right angle, it's like a rodent trying to squeeze through a crack. Stunts like quick turning and loop-the-looping might have aided in the aerodynamics. The screen only moves when you're far off in one direction, giving you little to no time to avoid danger since you can't see what's ahead of you far off, not helped by the speed of your flying, it's best to spam your dragon breath to get the advantage. Not exactly strategic.
The Bottom Line
In most D&D games you fight dragons. This one is no exception, but utilising dragons is desirable. A completely different approach from the 3D computer versions, but a fantastic one nonetheless with none of the frustrations derived, although it does introduce a couple of its own problems. Because of this you need to exercise caution in the later levels to bypass them. The game doesn't carry much in the way of strategy, though it can be thought of as a fantasy action. At best you can win in a day if you pick the bronze dragon. This is a title that deserves a deluxe treatment equal to that of Command and Conquer. See if you can get your dragon claws on this NES exclusive and get ready to play away.
NES · by Kayburt (29521) · 2022
Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.
Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Terok Nor.
Game added April 7, 2006. Last modified August 30, 2023.