Dragon Spirit (Arcade)
Dragon Spirit is an arcade game that was developed by Namco in 1987 and manufactured and released by Atari Games in North America. It was a vertical shooter with the unique twist that you were not controlling some sort of space ship or other aircraft but a Dragon. This didn’t really change the mechanics of the game much. You still had a primary weapon (shooting fireballs) and a secondary weapon (dropping bombs) as well as the ability to collect various other abilities throughout the game (thirteen of them).
The story, such as it is, involves an evil serpent that escapes imprisonment and kidnaps the princess. A soldier is chosen to rescue her and transforms into a blue dragon (I’m a little fuzzy how this happens). In his quest to rescue her, he has to defeat nine of the serpents minions (bosses) before facing the serpent himself.
Shooter fans should really like this game. It’s a solid shooter and offers a unique twist on the typical space theme. The fantasy aesthetic is a nice change of pace and who doesn’t like Dragons?
The arcade version is easy enough to emulate but there have also been a number of ports, sequels and re-releases. The original game was ported to the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, TurboGrafx-16, and NES among other systems. The TurboGrafx-16 version was also released on the Wii Virtual Console. An emulated arcade version also appeared as part of Namco Museum Volume 5 on the PlayStation, Namco Museum 50th Anniversary for the PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PC and Game Boy Advance, on the Xbox 360 as part of the Namco Museum Virtual Arcade and on the PS3 in downloadable for as part of Namco Museum Essentials. The TurboGrafx-16 version is the best port but any one of the numerous compilations with the emulated arcade version is probably a better choice.
There was also a sequel. In the arcades there was Dragon Saber released in 1990 though the original arcade version, PC Engine port and Wii Virtual Console release all only appeared in Japan. Also, the version of Dragon Spirit released for the NES was called Dragon Spirit: The New Legend and was really somewhere between a port and a sequel. It had the same basic theme as the arcade but it was altered more significantly than the other versions.
At any rate, it’s definitely worth checking out and the sequel is worth a try too but you’ll have to emulate the arcade version, the PC Engine version or track down an import for the PC Engine to play that one.
Screen shots above are from the arcade versio of the game.